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Teammates support Tom Brady at Best Buddies event 05.30.15 at 1:02 am ET
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ALLSTON — Tom Brady hosted his annual charity football game on Friday to benefit Best Buddies International, a nonprofit organization that aims to create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Brady was not the only current Patriot in attendance. The quarterback was joined by the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Dane Fletcher. Jones wasn’t spotted at Friday’s OTA, but was present at Harvard Stadium to be with some of his teammates.

Brady didn’t address the media like he typically does at halftime, likely because of his pending four-game suspension, which he is appealing.

Edelman and Amendola entered the game in the second quarter as members of opposite teams, with Edelman suiting up for Team Natixis and Amendola seeing time for Team Hublot. Brady targeted and completed passes to both during their time on the field, as he served as quarterback for both teams.

At halftime, the pair helped Brady take part in a throwing endeavor that involved him completing five passes to receivers at increasing distances. Each successful pass marked another sum of money that Hublot would donate to Best Buddies and Edelman and Amendola served as the final two targets. Both caught their respective passes and aided Brady in raising the donation total to $25,000.

In his street clothes during the fourth quarter, Ninkovich joined Team Hublot and was responsible for the team’s winning score. He picked off Brady and returned it to the red zone before flipping it to a teammate for the touchdown that gave his team the win in the final seconds.

Also in attendance were Governor Charlie Baker and comedian Dane Cook. They played in the fourth quarter and each caught a pass from Brady.

Brady, a Global Ambassador for Best Buddies, served as one of the events three co-chairs, the other two being Guy Fieri and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III. The Event Chair was John Hailer, President and CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management for the Americas and Asia.

Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe and President of Hublot Latin America Rick de la Croix were also at the game to launch a Best Buddies cycling watch, some of the profits of which will be donated to Best Buddies.

Brady will also take part in Saturday’s Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port, which features a charity walk, run and ride.

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Read More: Best Buddies, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady
Friday Patriots OTA observations: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo evenly split QB duties 05.29.15 at 4:32 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the quarterback duties Friday.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the quarterback duties Friday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Here are some quick takeaways from Friday’s OTA practice session, the first open to the media, which was held on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.

— Although attendance was next to impossible to take with the players not wearing numbers, even none on their helmets, here’s an unofficial list of players who weren’t present: Alan Branch, Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, AJ Derby, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Chris Jones, Brandon LaFell, Jerod Mayo, Sealver Siliga, Matthew Slater, Sebastian Vollmer and Ryan Wendell. Wendell was spotted leaving the field in street clothes as the media filed in.

— Long snapper Joe Cardona, the Patriots’ fifth-round pick this year, was present even though he hasn’t officially signed. Since he is coming out of Navy he needs special clearance to delay his deployment and potentially start his career. There’s no word if that has been approved yet.

— There was a drone flying overhead for the entire session, adding to the cameras already stationed high above the field. The Cowboys were seen using one as well earlier in the week.

— Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the snaps fairly evenly between 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. In 11-on-11’s, Brady went 7-for-11, while Garoppolo went 8-for-11. Brady’s favorite target was Julian Edelman, while Garoppolo looked for Aaron Dobson a lot. Brady was as animated as usual, yelling lots of encouragement to his receivers.

— Brady got some goal line work with Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui and James Develin. The group ran plays without facing a defense.

— On the other end of the field, Jake Bequette caught passes from third-string quarterback Garrett Gilbert. It was reported earlier Friday by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the defensive end drafted in 2012 will get some action at tight end this summer.

— Running back Jonas Gray appeared to bulk up a great deal in the offseason. He will be in the mix in the back field, which is one of the deepest positions on the roster.

— There was a great deal of special teams work done, led by new coach Joe Judge. Edelman, Danny Amendola and Jonathan Krause all got chances to return punts.

— The team will continue with OTAs next Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Thursday’s session being open to the media.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Joe Cardona, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady
Julian Edelman to people who dislike Patriots: ‘They hate ya if they ain’t ya’ at 1:40 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The general consensus among the country is the Patriots are not very well liked, as a recent poll (courtesy of the Washington Post) named the Patriots the second-most hated NFL team.

From winning four Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick era, to Tom Brady‘s success, to the recent Deflategate developments, the nation generally dislikes the Patriots.

Julian Edelman was asked what he thought about people’s dislike of the Patriots and his answer was simple and direct.

“They hate ya if they ain’t ya,” Edelman said following Friday’s OTA session on the back fields of Gillette Stadium.

Brady is faced with a four-game suspension following the release of the Wells Report, although he is appealing. Edelman isn’t even thinking about that.

“We’re not even thinking about the first four games, we’re just focused on trying to get this offense going and learning everyone’s names, trying to learn background information on everyone,” Edelman said. “It’s one of those things where you can’t look into the future, you can’t look into the past. There’s been good things that have happened in the past, there have been bad things that have happened in the past. There are good things that will happen in the future, and bad things that will happen in the future, it’s more about how we can improve today and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

If Brady were to miss time, second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would be in line to step in and start in his place. With the quarterback having to lead the offense and demonstrate leadership qualities, Edelman said he doesn’t think this will be an issue as every member of the Patriots shows leadership qualities in one way or another.

“You see leadership from a lot of people,” Edelman said. “Jimmy has had leadership. Josh Boyce has had leadership. Everyone has had a little bit of leadership. If you come in and work your tail off, you go and try and lead by example. It’s one of those things.”

With the possible suspension hanging over Brady, Edelman was asked what the team can do to show support for him. Again, Edelman brought it back to the team and working on getting better, building on the first part of the offseason, and he didn’t comment on Brady.

“What we can do is try and come out here and get better every day, worry about what we can control,” Edelman said, “What we can control is taking things from what we learned in the classroom and develop them on the field and taking drills to team stuff. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady,
Julian Edelman on Robert Kraft backing organization: ‘It’s always great to see everyone sticking together’ 05.18.15 at 7:28 pm ET
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Although speaking very briefly, Julian Edelman showed his support of Patriots owner Robert Kraft standing by the team in wake of Deflategate and the Wells Report findings.

Kraft has put out multiple statements backing the organization and Tom Brady in particular over the past week. Edelman said he expects “nothing less from him.”

“Unbelievable — Mr. Kraft — it’s ran like a family, the organization, I expect nothing less from him,” Edelman said at teammate Rob Ninkovich‘s charity event Monday night, “Ninko’€™s Ping Pong Challenge” at Blazing Paddles next to Fenway Park. “It’s always great to see everyone sticking together.”

“I love having Mr. Kraft. Like I said, it’s good,” the wide receiver added.

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Read More: Deflategate, Julian Edelman, Robert Kraft,
Julian Edelman lands at No. 91 on NFL Network’s ‘Top 100′ countdown 05.07.15 at 1:12 pm ET
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Julian Edelman enjoyed the celebration around the Patriots' Super Bowl title. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman enjoyed the celebration around the Patriots’ Super Bowl title. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

In non-Deflategate news, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman came in at No. 91 on the NFL Network’s “Top 100″ countdown on Wednesday night.

Edelman is the first New England player on the list, which is put together through a vote of the players. In the segment, several players were asked about Edelman’s abilities.

Tom Brady makes receivers. When Tom needs a play, he’s going to Edelman,” said Pittsburgh’s Ike Taylor. “‘I’m going to wait until he gets open, I’m going to wait … he’s open.’ Bam. We got action.”

“Someone just called him the hardest cover in football. His quickness is crazy,” said his teammate, fullback James Develin. “It doesn’t get much tougher than Julian Edelman, The guy takes huge hits, shakes them off and keeps on ticking.”

“You can’t cover him, man. It’s hard to cover him, one on one,” said teammate and safety Patrick Chung, who called him “crazy.”

“He’s always making those plays that normal players don’t make,” said Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith. “That’s what makes Edelman one of those guys that stands out.”

This is the first appearance on the Top 100 list for Edelman. Check out the full segment on him here.

Read More: Ike Taylor, James Develin, Julian Edelman, Patrick Chung
Best draft picks of Bill Belichick era, 2015 edition 04.28.15 at 11:00 pm ET
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Bill Belichick has struck draft weekend gold on a number of occasions. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick has struck draft weekend gold on a number of occasions. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the draft around the corner and our last glance at the best draft picks of the Bill Belichick era looking a little dated, we decided to put together a new list of some of the finest draft moments in recent New England history under Belichick.

As was the case the first time around, in putting together the rankings we took several things into account.

One, impact on and off the field. While production clearly figures into the rankings — and is the first and most important measuring stick — many picks (particularly guys like Tom Brady, Matt Light, Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork) would go on to demonstrate terrific leadership skills and, as a result, become cornerstones of the franchise.

Two, overall draft value. Some later-round picks are ranked higher on our list than first-rounders because it says something about a late-round pick if he exceeds expectations. (That’s why you’ll see so many fifth-, sixth- and seventh-rounders near the top of our list.)

And three, something we’ll call intangibles. It could mean a consistent ability to produce in big moments or simply rise above an unfortunate situation to succeed in the NFL.

With all that in mind — and with the understanding we’ll follow this shortly with the worst picks of the Belichick era — here’s our list.

20. Matthew Slater (5th round, 153rd overall, 2008): The UCLA product was a man without a position when he arrived, and was a perennial candidate to be cut before the start of the season in his first few years in the league. But he’s become one of the most highly respected guys in the New England locker room, not just because of his high character and good nature off the field, but for his special teams skills on the field. Voted as a three-time All-Pro by the Pro Football Writers of America, the son of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater has been named the special teams captain four times in his seven years in the NFL. Along with Dan Koppen, the best fifth-round pick in the history of the franchise.

19. Matt Cassel (7th round, 230th overall, 2005): After working as the primary backup to Tom Brady for three seasons — following a career at USC where he was a backup to a few signal-callers, including Carson Palmer — he stepped into the starters’ role in 2008 for a year and demonstrated that he was good enough to compete at the NFL level. Cassel threw for 3,693 yards while helping guide the Patriots to an 11-5 season.

18. Stevan Ridley (3rd round, 73rd overall, 2011) and Shane Vereen (2nd round, 56th overall, 2011): We’ll pair these two together because they had such a significant impact on the New England running game as a duo the last few years. Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards in 2012, and 2,817 yards (and 4.3 yards per carry) in his four seasons with the Patriots before signing with the Jets this offseason. Meanwhile, Vereen was one of only five running backs last year to finish with at least 50 catches and 50 carries, and his 11 receptions in Super Bowl XLIX were a big part of New England’s win over the Seahawks. Vereen inked a free agent contract with the Giants in March.

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Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Bryan Stork, david givens
Trip to White House only small part of Thursday’s journey for Patriots 04.24.15 at 7:41 am ET
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President Barack Obama walks with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick prior to Thursday's ceremony at the White House. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama walks with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick prior to Thursday’s ceremony at the White House. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The chance to be feted at the White House and meet President Barack Obama was just one part of the Patriots trip to Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Another part of the trip is the annual journey to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, something the team did before the trip to Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a tradition the team began doing that after winning Super Bowl XXXVI.

“Look, those are the real heroes; those guys are out there fighting and dying for our country and protecting our freedom, so we all have a lot to be thankful for,” said coach Bill Belichick. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. They make what we do possible. There’s no way to express the gratitude that I feel for what they do.”

“That was a great experience,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “To see the soldiers that were in Afghanistan and Iraq, having a visit with them and a couple of the players, Mr. Kraft, coach Belichick, so that was a great experience too and put some perspective on how great we have it as athletes. It’s an honor meeting the President and all of the troops that we met at the Walter Reed Hospital too.”

“It was a great time, a tremendous time,” defensive end Chandler Jones said of the Reed visit. “Like coach said, those guys are the real heroes. I was shocked at how many Patriots fans were in there, those guys, Gronkowski and Edelman and Jones jerseys in there, not even knowing that we were coming. It gives you a different outlook on life, and I just want to thank those guys if they’re watching; they really are the true heroes.”

“It’s unbelievable to see these young men and women serving their country and going out there and seeing the things that you see there,” said wide receiver Julian Edelman. “It definitely puts life in perspective, and like coach said, those are the true heroes.”

Read More: Barack Obama, Bill Belichick, chandler jones, Julian Edelman
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