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Former teammate Larry Fitzgerald says new Patriots WR Michael Floyd is ‘a great pickup’ 12.15.16 at 8:28 pm ET
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Michael Floyd (left) and Larry Fitzgerald are longtime friends.  (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Michael Floyd (left) and Larry Fitzgerald are longtime friends. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

If Michael Floyd needed a character reference before signing with the Patriots, it sure sounds like he could have gotten one from Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald, a former teammate of Floyd with the Cardinals before Floyd was cut loose and later acquired by the Patriots, told reporters Thursday that Floyd was like a “brother,” and he hopes he has great success down the road.

“I can’t give you my true feeling because people might get upset with what I really feel, but Mike is like my brother,” Fitzgerald told reporters, prior to the news breaking that Floyd had signed with New England. “I’ve known Mike since he was 13 years old; we come from the same place. I love him dearly.

“And like any other family member, I never turn my back on him no matter what. I’m going to support him.”

Fitzgerald said that when Floyd hit the market following an arrest for a DUI on Monday, teams called him to try and get additional info.

“I got a couple calls [Wednesday] from people around the league, head coaches, GMs, and I told them my honest opinion of him,” Fitzgerald said. “I think he’s going to be a great pickup for whoever lands him.

“You’ve got a young guy who’s hungry, he’s eager to make plays on a contract year. He’s got a chip on his shoulder now — not that he didn’t already have one, but he’s got a bigger one — and I hope he goes and makes a deep playoff run.”

The 27-year-old Floyd was the 13th overall pick in the 2012 draft, and had 242 catches for 3,739 yards and 23 touchdowns in his four-plus years in the league. But a DUI earlier this week — on the heels of a college suspension for alcohol-related incidents — and consistency issues likely played a sizable role in his release.

All that being said, Fitzgerald is going to continue to root for his friend.

“Contrary to reports, Mike was never an immature guy,” Fitzgerald said. “He had his incident in college, but we all make mistakes. I’ve made mine, everybody in this locker room, everybody in life has made mistakes.

“It’s just, when you play in the National Football League and you’re under the microscope and everything you do is micromanaged. Mike is a good young man. He’s somebody I highly respect and care about deeply. I just hope that he finds himself in a situation that he’s happy with and he can have a long, prosperous career.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd,
Bill Belichick on D&H admits he made 2 mistakes in win over Cardinals 09.12.16 at 6:16 pm ET
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Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 23-21 win over the Cardinals on Sunday night where he admitted to making two mistakes in the game. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

With the Patriots leading 23-21, it was third-and-23 on the Patriots 47-yard line with 1:10 left in the game. Carson Palmer found Jaron Brown for 18 yards to get down to the Patriots’ 29-yard line. Since Arizona had no timeouts and it was fourth down, their field goal unit rushed on to the field with roughly a minute to go and the clock running.

Many thought Belichick would call timeout right there to preserve as much time for the Patriots as he could, but he didn’t. Instead, he called timeout with 41 seconds left, as the Cardinals didn’t appear to be in a rush to get the kick off.

After the game, he explained his reasoning for waiting to call the timeout, but then on Monday admitted he probably should have called it sooner.

“What happened last night was they hit the pass on third down, so it brought up fourth-and-5, or something like that. There were two options,” Belichick explained. “One, they could kick a long field goal, or two, they could go for it on fourth down. Fourth-and-5, which is reasonable so it was a quick what are they going to do? Once they sent the kicker on, it looked to me they were going to go right to the line and kick it. So I didn’t initially call the timeout and the field goal team got lined up pretty quickly, but [Chandler] Catanzaro went back and was kind of warming up and kicking off to the side so he could see he wasn’t going to go over to the kicking spot and they were going to let time run down before he kicked it.

“What I should have done was probably taken the timeout as soon as they completed the pass, but I didn’t want to do that because I thought they might just go right out and kick it and we would have our timeout for our final drive in case we needed to use a timeout on a completed pass in bounds to kick a field goal. I wanted to save the timeout if I could, but then it got to the point where I could just see they were going to let it run down and even if I lost a little bit of time there by not doing it initially, I still felt like there was still 20 seconds on the 40-second clock and I don’t want to lose all this so if he makes it at least we’ll have some time on the back end.

“That is why I took it and as it turns out — putting a little extra time on the kicker, whether it helped or not — I don’t know if that was too big of a factor. Initially, I didn’t think we would need to do it, but they played it smart. They bled it out and forced us to use it.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Larry Fitzgerald, Stephen Gostkowski,
Scouting Report: What you have to know about Patriots-Cardinals 09.10.16 at 1:43 pm ET
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Sunday will mark Jimmy Garoppolo's first start as a professional. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Sunday will mark Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start as a professional. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to Sunday’s regular-season opener for the Patriots and Cardinals in Arizona:

WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL

When it comes to the ground game, New England is coming off a woeful finish to 2015 that saw them finish with just 87.8 rushing yards per contest, 30th in the league. Injuries to LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis left the Patriots relying on Steven Jackson and James White down the stretch and into the playoffs; in hindsight, it was easy to see why the offense stalled the way it did in Denver. Lewis is still on the shelf (look for White to at least try and replicate Lewis’ impact), but the majority of work will fall to Blount. The 29-year-old, still a 6-foot-1, 245-pound bulldozer, is what he is at this stage of his career — a big back who should be trusted to carry the ball 15-22 times a game and hit that 4 yards per carry average fairly consistently. From this viewpoint, he’s still without peer when it comes to the four-minute offense. We’ve referenced this before, but it still bears repeating; per Football Outsiders, Blount rushed 87 times for 406 yards (4.7 yards per carry) when the score margin was greater than 15 points and 78 times for 297 yards (3.9 yards per carry) when the score was closer. If the Pats get into a similar situation on Sunday, it’s all Blount down the stretch.

On the other side of the ball, for a team that plays so much dime/sub, Arizona has help up relatively well against the run: The Cardinals were sixth against the run last year (91.3 rushing yards per game) and ninth when it came to yards per carry allowed (3.9). But good teams have found a way to exploit their occasionally suspect run defense. In the last 10 games of the 2015 season — including the playoffs — the Cardinals allowed 100 or more yards rushing five times, and in a sixth game they allowed 99 yards on the ground. In their last three games (one regular-season contest and two playoff games), Arizona allowed an average of 144 rushing yards per game, including 152 in the NFC title game against the Panthers. We’re not saying the Patriots have a shot at 150 on Sunday night. Just that Blount could get a surprisingly high number of carries on some power runs with fullback James Develin and a two-tight end set with Martellus Bennett and Clay Harbor or AJ Derby. That’s all.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL

And now, we step into the great unknown with Jimmy Garoppolo. Well, maybe not the great unknown, but with Garoppolo getting the start for these first four games, we’ll finally get a sense of where he is in his overall development. The kid had his positives and negatives over the summer, looking like he took a step back in Week Three after two good games to open the preseason. Regardless, based on what we’ve seen to this point, expect the Patriots to lean on short and intermediate routes with the likes of Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Bennett. While he could speed things up a bit, Garoppolo will likely try and play it conservatively with checkdowns to backs, tight ends and quick outs to receivers. The bottom line? Garoppolo needs to get the ball out quickly and efficiently for a few reasons, including the fact that the offensive line remains in a statement of flux and the Patriots can’t afford to let pressure be an issue.

Chances are good that a large part of that pressure will come from old friend Chandler Jones, who has already impressed his mates to the point where they believe a 20-sack season is in reach. (It’s worth noting that when it comes to sacks, Jones’ most productive month is September.) Jones will be looking to cut down on cover time for the Arizona coverage defenders, some of the best in the league. Cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Tyrann Mathieu and hybrid Deone Bucannon are some of the best in the league at what they do. The biggest opportunity in the passing game for the Patriots might come when Garoppolo tries to target Brandon Williams, a converted college running back expected to start at cornerback opposite Peterson. The 23-year-old Williams has yet to take a regular-season snap in the NFL.

One more thing, as it relates to Garoppolo. We have really no way of measuring this, but it certainly looked like the Patriots ran more plays this summer (in training camp and preseason) designed to get him on the run; rollouts, bootlegs, whatever, where they have him use his legs and (maybe) try and minimize some sketchy offensive line play at the same time. They got him on the run and created some movable pocket situations. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was impressed with Garoppolo’s speed. It’s something to watch for Sunday.

WHEN THE CARDINALS RUN THE BALL

The 6-foot-1, 224-pound David Johnson might be the most multidimensional threat the Patriots face all season long. The 24-year-old out of Northern Iowa is coming off a rookie year where he rushed for 125 carries for 581 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns, and figures to move into the every-down role this year, supplanting veteran Chris Johnson. (The older Johnson led urge Cardinals in rushing last season with 196 carries for 814 yards and three touchdowns.) The Patriots were ninth against the run last year, having yielded an average of 98.8 rushing yards per game, and were 11th in yards per carry allowed at 4.0.

WHEN THE CARDINALS PASS THE BALL

Arizona will feature one of the deepest passing attacks the Patriots will face all season. The Cardinals were one of just two teams last season to have three players finish the year with 800 or more receiving yards (New Orleans was the other). According to Football Outsiders, for eight straight years Arizona has ranked either first or second in the league in the percentage of plays with four or more wide receivers. Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer likes to chuck it, whether it’s to Larry Fitzgerald (career-best 109 catches for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns last year), John Brown (65 catches for 1,003 yards seven touchdowns last year) or Michael Floyd (52 catches for 849 yards and six touchdowns in 2015). And then, there’s Johnson (36 catches, 457 yards 4 TDs last year). As for the Patriots, if you have a combination of Malcolm Butler (with help) on Fitzgerald and Jamie Collins eyeing Johnson out of the backfield, that puts some added pressure on the likes of Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones and one of your safeties when it comes to coverage. If the preseason is any indication, the New England secondary is up to the challenge — the Patriots were tied for second in the league in interceptions in the preseason with seven.

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Read More: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chris Johnson, David Johnson
5 things you have to know about the Cardinals: Arizona looks to take next step toward greatness in 2016 09.05.16 at 12:24 pm ET
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Arizona's Carson Palmer is at the controls of one of the best offenses in the NFC. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Carson Palmer led the Cardinals to the NFC title game last season. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Five things you have to know about the Cardinals, who will host the Patriots in the regular-season opener for both teams Sunday night in Arizona.

1. When everyone is healthy, their passing game is really deep.

The Cardinals were one of just two teams last season to have three players finish the year with 800 or more receiving yards (New Orleans was the other). According to Football Outsiders, for eight straight years Arizona has ranked either first or second in the league in the percentage of plays with four or more wide receivers. Bottom line? Carson Palmer is going to test the depth of the New England secondary right out of the gate. Palmer was in the top five of most major passing categories last year, including total passing yards (4,671, fourth), touchdowns (35, tied for second), yards per game (292, fifth) and passer rating (104.6, third). He’s a big, strong pocket presence.

”Carson’s definitely willing to stand in there and deliver the ball under pressure and wait until the last second to get rid of it,” Bill Belichick said of the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Palmer on Monday. “He’s a big, strong guy. He’s big for a quarterback and has a good frame. I’m not saying any quarterback wants to get hit a lot, but there’s some guys that can absorb more of those than others. He’s not as big as (Ben) Roethlisberger, but he’s a big quarterback.”

Everyone knows about the greatness of Larry Fitzgerald, and the undoubted first-ballot Hall of Famer still is Arizona’s first option in the passing game. He’s coming off one of the finest years of his career (career-best 109 catches for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns) and undoubtedly will face Malcolm Butler for much of the evening. John Brown and Michael Floyd are as good as there is as No. 2 and 3 options. Brown is a 5-foot-11, 195-pound scooter who had 65 catches for 1,003 yards seven touchdowns last year, while Floyd’s size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) makes him an intriguing target for Palmer. He had 52 catches for 849 yards and six touchdowns in 2015.

The backs also are utilized as part of the passing game, with David Johnson working as a multidimensional threat. The 6-foot-1, 224-pounder had a dynamite rookie campaign in 2015, finishing with 36 catches for 457 yards and four touchdowns in the passing game.

2. Speaking of David Johnson, he’ll be one of the best multidimensional running backs the Patriots will face this season.

As we’ve already said, Johnson was the best option out of the backfield for one of the best passing teams in the league last year, but he also can bring it when it comes to running the ball, with 125 carries for 581 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns. He was second on the team to Chris Johnson, who ended up with 196 carries for 814 yards and three touchdowns, but if the preseason is any indication, David is likely to get more carries than Chris in 2016.

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Read More: 5 things you have to know about, Cardinals, Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro
Larry Fitzgerald ‘wouldn’t shed any tears’ if Tom Brady misses Week 1, but hopes he plays Week 2 05.24.16 at 2:54 pm ET
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Larry FItzgerald wouldn't mind Tom Brady missing Week 1. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Larry FItzgerald wouldn’t mind Tom Brady missing Week 1. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

It will be an exciting season opener in Arizona Sept. 11 with the Patriots taking on the Cardinals, highlighted by Chandler Jones facing his old team.

New England may or may not have quarterback Tom Brady as he could be suspended the first four games because of Deflategate.

Although they are friendly, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald would prefer Brady misses the game, as that would obviously benefit the home team.

“C’mon man. I think that’s a pretty easy question to answer,” Fitzgerald said Tuesday. “I love Tom. That’s my man but if he doesn’t play I wouldn’t shed any tears. I’d love to see him back the next week though.”

Brady and Fitzgerald both appear on Westwood One with Jim Gray on Monday Night Football’s pregame show.

If Brady is suspended, he would miss games against Arizona, Miami, Houston and Buffalo — the final three being at home.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Brady,
Bill Belichick: Sammy Watkins is ‘Larry Fitzgerald-like’ 10.08.14 at 10:21 am ET
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Sammy Watkins has 24 catches for the Bills. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Sammy Watkins has 24 catches for the Bills. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick offered high praise to Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins on Wednesday, calling the Clemson product “Larry Fitzgerald-like” in terms of what he was able to do last week against Detroit.

Buffalo’s first-round pick this past spring, Watkins has inserted himself into the Offensive Rookie of the Year race with a series of impressive performances, including seven catches for 87 yards in last week’s win over the Lions. In that game, Watkins had an acrobatic catch on the Bills’ last drive where he tipped a Kyle Orton pass to himself and took it an extra 20 yards.

“[He’s] big, fast, very athletic, excellent hands,” Belichick said. “The catch that he had at the end of the game against Detroit was Larry Fitzgerald-like. He’€™s a tough guy to miss throwing the ball. He has a great catch radius. Long arms, good hands, strong hands. He’€™s pretty good.”

The 6-foot-1, 211-pounder has started all five games this season for the Bills, and has 24 catches for 284 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Larry Fitzgerald, Sammy Watkins,
Ryan Mallett on his future: ‘You can’t control what you can’t control’ 08.06.14 at 2:52 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — Ryan Mallett knows the clock is ticking.

Bill Belichick announced Tuesday that his back-up quarterback will get a lot of playing time this preseason. Mike Mayock believes he is a starting quarterback in the NFL and has been “popping” in practice.

“I haven’t [heard the praise] but I’ve always felt that way about myself because I’m confident in myself. I appreciate his nice words but I’ve always felt that way,” Mallett said.

There are many who feel Mallett is at a key crossroads of his young career, entering the final year of his four-year rookie deal. Mallett is not one of them.

“I don’t [think about the future]. I live day to day, man. I’m happy where I’m at right now,” he insisted. “I’m having a blast. I’m on a great team. I’ve got a great organization around me. My teammates are awesome. That doesn’t cross my mind. I’m just doing whatever I can to help my team every day.

“€œYou can’€™t control what you can’€™t control. It’€™s the uncontrollable. You have to deal with it. I was dealt the hand I was dealt, so I’€™m playing cards.”

Now comes the fun part for Mallett. He actually gets a legitimate chance to show it in game competition. Mallett has played in just four regular season games in his three years behind Tom Brady. He’s attempted four passes. But Thursday night, after Brady comes out (likely after one or two series), Mallett gets to show that he can reach a consistent level of play that critics say he has yet to achieve.

“€œI’€™m very excited about the opportunity to be able to play a lot,”€ said Mallett, who has totaled just four pass attempts in the regular season over the last three years, coming in at the end of four games. “€œI haven’€™t really gotten too many chances during the regular season because I have a pretty good guy in front of me. Any time I get to play, I look forward to it.

“I’m just trying to get better every day. We’re out here working, especially against these guys. It’s good for us to see another team. Going against our defense, they see the same stuff a lot of times so they start cheating a little bit so it’s good to get out here against a different team and see where we’re at.”

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Arizona Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald, New England Patriots
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