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Remember when the Patriots didn’t like Jeffrey Kessler? 08.20.15 at 5:01 pm ET
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NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler has been working on behalf of Tom Brady throughout the Deflategate court drama. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler has been working on behalf of Tom Brady throughout the Deflategate court drama. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

No disrespect to Jabaal Sheard or Scott Chandler, but the most important offseason weapon the Patriots gained might be Jeffrey Kessler.

The NFLPA attorney, who reportedly helped Tom Brady take another step toward vindication on Wednesday, has been a sizable part of Brady’s defense team throughout the Deflategate process. According to those who have been in the courtroom on the two occasions Brady’s team has clashed with the league in front of Judge Richard Berman, Kessler has been every bit the showman, dominating the discussion while making the league look foolish.

“No one in the NFL knew anything about the Ideal Gas Law — I think I studied that in 9th grade science class,” Kessler said with a smirk in court on Wednesday, reportedly drawing a smile from Berman.

But there was a time not so long ago when he didn’t hold such lofty status among Patriots fans. Kessler, who had had a love-hate relationship with the Patriots for some time now (he worked on behalf of Bill Belichick in 2000 to try and get the coach extricated from his contract with the Jets so he could take over in New England), was on the other side of the skirmish in 2006. That’s when the team was embroiled in a nasty dispute with veteran Deion Branch, and the team gave the wide receiver carte blanche to try and seek a trade over the course of the last week of August, as long as it received what was deemed to be adequate compensation. (In a strange twist, the team issued a two-sentence press release: “The New England Patriots have given Deion Branch permission to seek a trade and negotiate a contract with other clubs. This permission will extend until Sept. 1, 2006.”)

Depending on who you talk to, Branch and his agent were able to work out a new contract with the Jets, with the Patriots set to receiver a second-round pick in return. Branch, a second-round pick of New England in 2002, would get a six-year deal and head to New York as one of the leading options in the Jets passing game.

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Read More: Deflategate, Deion Branch, Jeffrey Kessler, Tom Brady
Deion Branch on MFB: ‘When Tom [Brady] is ready to hang it up, that’s when he’ll do it’ 05.30.14 at 2:14 pm ET
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Former Patriots receiver Deion Branch joined Middays with MFB to talk about the state of the Pats. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Branch played a combined seven seasons on two separate occasions in New England with Tom Brady as his quarterback, and won a pair of Super Bowls with him. Since the Patriots drafted quarterback Jimmy Garopolo in the second round of this month’s draft, Brady’s window as signal-caller has been questioned on multiple occasions.

Branch sees no end to Brady’s career anytime soon.

“Tom’€™s window is when Tom is ready to hang it up,” Branch said. “That’€™s being very open and honest about it. Tom is a hard-working guy, and I think when Tom is ready to hang it up, that’€™s when he’€™ll do it.”

Branch does, however, believe that Patriots made a good decision in drafting Garoppolo.

“They have to do what’€™s in the best interest of the organization,” Branch said. “I think that’€™s what they did. To add another quarterback obviously picks up the competition level with [Ryan Mallett] and the young man. I think Mallett’€™s ready to go. I think he’€™s ready to make that next move.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Deion Branch, Middays with MFB, Tom Brady,
Broncos sign former Patriots defensive back Marquice Cole 01.14.14 at 5:25 pm ET
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Time for more gamesmanship.

One week after the Colts picked up ex-Patriots receiver Deion Branch in the days leading up to the AFC divisional playoffs, the Broncos announced Tuesday afternoon they have signed former New England defensive back Marquice Cole.

The 30-year-old Cole has spent most of the last two years with the Patriots as a cornerback and special teamer. In his NFL career, the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder has played 64 career games and totaled 36 tackles with four interceptions and 14 pass breakups to go with 51 special-teams stops. New England released the veteran cornerback on Dec. 26.

Cole figures to help shore up a depleted secondary that recently suffered the loss of cornerback Chris Harris, who tore his ACL in the recent playoff win over the Chargers.

From a defensive perspective, Cole had been relegated to a rotational spot behind Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan this year, so it’s debatable how much he can still bring to the field when it comes to pass defense. However, he remained a fairly regular face on New England’s special teams, and could provide depth for Denver at that spot as well.

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Read More: Chris Harris, Deion Branch, Marquice Cole,
Patriots Friday injury report: Aaron Dobson (foot) ruled out Saturday, Alfonzo Dennard, Kenbrell Thompkins questionable 01.10.14 at 3:48 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots officially ruled out deep threat Aaron Dobson for Saturday night’s AFC divisional game against the Colts at Gillette Stadium. Dobson re-injured his left foot in the season finale against the Bills.

Another receiver, Kenbrell Thompkins is one of two Patriots listed as questionable for the game. Thompkins has been battling a sore hip. Also questionable is cornerback Alfonzo Dennard with a sore knee and shoulder.

Logan Mankins was one of nine players officially “probable” for the game. Mankins injured his left ankle in the season finale against the Bills and returned to practice this week, but was limited in the full practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Patriots only conducted a walkthrough on Friday at Gillette Stadium, customary for the day before a game.

Aqib Talib (hip), Marcus Cannon (ankle), Rob Ninkovich (ankle) Josh Boyce (ankle) and Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) were not on the injury report at all during the week after appearing on the last injury report before the game against the Bills.

Devin McCourty is still listed as limited with a concussion but is officially probable for the game. McCourty missed the season finale after sustaining a concussion in the win over the Ravens on Dec. 22.

For the Colts, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) has been ruled out. With Reggie Wayne also out on injured reserve recovering from a torn ACL, Andrew Luck will be forced to find different ways to get the ball to receiver T.Y. Hilton among others in the passing game, including former Patriots receiver Deion Branch, who was signed on Monday by the Colts.

Here is Friday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot) OUT

Limited Participation
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) QUESTIONABLE
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder) QUESTIONABLE

CB Kyle Arrington (groin) PROBABLE
S Devin McCourty (concussion) PROBABLE
LB Dane Fletcher (groin) PROBABLE
S Steve Gregory (finger/knee) PROBABLE
OL Logan Mankins (ankle) PROBABLE
OT Will Svitek (ankle) PROBABLE
RB Shane Vereen (groin) PROBABLE

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin) PROBABLE
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder) PROBABLE

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Alfonzo Dennard, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Deion Branch
Heath Evans on Mut & Merloni: If Patriots are in close game vs. Colts in fourth quarter, ‘I’d be nervous’ 01.08.14 at 2:44 pm ET
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Former Patriots running back Heath Evans, now an NFL Network analyst, joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview Saturday’s Patriots-Colts playoff game and discuss other NFL news. To listen to the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Evans cautioned the Patriots need to be wary of Andrew Luck‘s ability to run with the football, and he said the Colts have a chance to pull out a win if they can keep the game close entering the final period.

“I go back to the Carolina game for New England,” Evans said. “Cam Newton didn’t beat you guys with his arm. He beat you guys with three or four opportunistic runs. Well, Andrew Luck can dice you guys up with his arm if your coverages aren’t sound. Then he can pop off for those two or three opportunistic runs as well.

“We’ve seen the Patriots play great defense; we’ve seen them play average defense. Brandon Spikes, you’re missing a thumper. We know this Indianapolis team hasn’t been able to run the ball consistently this year in any way. But golly, you talk about Vince [Wilfork] and [Jerod] Mayo and now Spikes — all the different lumps this team has taken along the way. I’ve never second-guessed Bill [Belichick], but you kind of keep asking yourself, how long can Bill and Matt Patricia find these game plans to cover for these huge missing parts.

“So, Andrew Luck, if they’re in it in the fourth quarter, I’d be nervous, I’ll just say that.”

Added Evans: “I know Bill well enough to know [Coby] Fleener‘s not going to be open, there’s going to be a game plan for T.Y. Hilton. It’s going to be other guys that have to step up and make plays. And that’s just where Luck has shown that ability for these last two seasons, just to make things happen. Is he [Tom] Brady yet? No. Is he [Aaron] Rodgers yet? No. But doggone, this guy just finds a way to get it done.

“If they can get the ball rolling in the ground game, that’s going to take focus away from T.Y. Hilton where you might slip in one of those deep shots that break your back late in the game. I just think it’s ball-control offense on the Patriots’ side of things. Brady and his boys are going to have to be spot on. You can’t see the young mistakes from young players. I think this will be — as Bill’s probably been preaching all week — it will be a turnover-driven game. Who’s giving the ball up, who’s getting extra possessions and then who’s not?”

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, Heath Evans
Bill Belichick isn’t buying ‘way overrated’ intel impact of Indianpolis Colts WR Deion Branch at 11:38 am ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick isn’t worried about Deion Branch giving away trade secrets this week prior to the Patriots’ showdown with the Colts at Gillette Stadium.

The Colts signed Branch on Monday and the natural question was raised: Could Branch, who played several stints in New England, provide valuable Patriots-based information that helps in game planning?

“I think that’€™s way overrated,’€ Belichick said. “A lot of time the information in those situations is misinformation, because things have changed from whenever that person [played for the opposing team]. I’€™m not saying that in any particular circumstance, I’€™m just saying in general, a lot of times a player who has been with another team tells you, ‘€˜This is what they do, this is their call, this is this, this is that,’€™ and then it turns out that’€™s really not what it is.

“€œSo, honestly, we have enough trouble doing all the things we do and getting them right and getting everybody to do them well. I’€™m sure they have the same thing with the amount of volume that you have in your different systems, and the amount of volume that you face on the other side of the ball. To be able to not only know everything you’€™re doing but also be able to figure out everything they’€™re doing, it’€™s pretty overrated.”

In baseball, they change the signs. In Foxboro, will Belichick do the same?

“€œWe’€™ll do whatever we think is best,” Belichick said.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots
Colts coach Chuck Pagano: Just made sense to sign ex-Patriots WR Deion Branch 01.07.14 at 3:55 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Tuesday that there was no ulterior motive when it came to signing former Patriots receiver Deion Branch.

In a conference call with the New England media, Pagano said that there were several factors in play when it came to adding Branch, including the fact that they had brought him in for a workout last month, he was local, and he has a track record of success.

“We had worked out Deion three or four weeks ago,” Pagano said of the 34-year-old Branch. “[General Manager] Ryan [Grigson] and his staff bring in guys every week to work out and have guys that you know about and give physicals to in case you have an injury here or there, and we were a little bit short at the wide receiver position, and we had worked out Deion.

“He came in and had a great workout for us, he was in shape, he’€™s local, he’€™s right in our backyard, so we knew about him and knew who he was from a physical standpoint. Again, every decision we make is based on two things: what’€™s best for the team and what helps us win, and we feel like we got a guy that’€™s a former Super Bowl MVP that’€™s played a lot of good football at a high level, so he can help us.”

It’s debatable how much impact Branch will have on Saturday night — he only has a handful of days to try and get up to speed in a new system. But Indy quarterback Andrew Luck said he was looking forward to connecting with Branch.

“€œI definitely will pick his brain,’€ Luck said in a conference call with the media. ‘”œHe’€™s going to be a great addition to our team. I haven’€™t had a chance to sit down yet. We’€™ve been rolling in and out of meetings.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise of Branch Tuesday.

“Deion had a great career here — I think he was here for seven years or north thereof,” Belichick said. “Very smart, professional player. Great leader. One of the top guys we’€™ve had here in terms of off the field work ethic, leadership, intelligence, preparation, all those things. He had some very productive seasons here. He’€™s a tremendous person. He’€™s had a great career.”

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Bill Belichick, Chuck Pagano, Deion Branch



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