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Pats personnel chief Nick Caserio acknowledges Hall of Fame finalists 04.19.16 at 2:37 pm ET
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Nick Caserio

Nick Caserio

Prior to his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio paused to give a shout-out to the three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame: Kevin Faulk, Mike Vrabel and Raymond Clayborn. Caserio acknowledged that he didn’t get a chance to watch as much of Clayborn as the other two, but still said the former New England defensive back had “an accomplished career; 12 years, 161 straight starts, 37 career interceptions. A great football player.” However, he was closely connected with both Faulk and Vrabel, who played a major role in the first three titles of the Patriots era.

Caserio on Faulk: “Kevin Faulk basically made himself into the great player that he was. There are stories that go back that he basically taught himself how to pass block. He didn’t know how to do it when he got here. (He) worked with Dante (Scarnecchia) to try and get better in that area and he embodied a lot of things that we look for in football players. (He) was as dependable, was productive, and he’s given back to football. (He’s now) coaching down there in Louisiana. It’s a credit to the career that Kevin has had.”

Caserio on Vrabel: “Mike’s career kind of speaks for itself. He was asked to do a number of different things, some of which he had never done before. He probably thought he had the best set of hands of anybody in the NFL. Quick story, we go out there for pregame warmups and I used to throw to him before the game and if the ball ever hit the ground it wasn’t because of his hands, it was because the quarterback that was throwing was pretty bad. He always talked about his hands were better than Hines Ward, but that was Mike. He played linebacker, played tight end, played free safety in practice.

“(They’re) tremendous nominees. We’ll see how the process goes, but certainly a tip of the cap to that group. Congratulations to them.”

Voting continues through May 14 at

Read More: Kevin Faulk, Mike Vrabel, Nick Caserio, Raymond Clayborn
Poll: Which Patriots Hall of Fame finalist are you going to vote for? 04.14.16 at 6:08 pm ET
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Read More: Kevin Faulk, Mike Vrabel, Raymond Clayborn,
Reports: Texans assistant Mike Vrabel turns down 49ers defensive coordinator position 01.22.16 at 11:56 am ET
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Former Patriots linebacker and current Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel apparently is staying put in Houston.

The three-time Super Bowl champion has been receiving high praise for his coaching efforts over the last two years, and has drawn some interest as a result. Multiple reports say Vrabel interviewed with new 49ers coach Chip Kelly on Tuesday but has turned down the offer to be San Francisco’s defensive coordinator and will remain with the Texans.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien worked hard with general manager Rick Smith to finalize a new contract with Vrabel and keep him with the team, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Before his current stint with the Texans, Vrabel had coached at Ohio State (his alma mater) for three seasons. His ties to the program led him there, just as his ties to former Patriots coaches led him to Houston.

With Vrabel having been coached in New England by current Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, Houston served as a comfortable destination for Vrabel’s first professional coaching gig. He likely will remain a hot commodity for teams in need of a defensive coordinator in the coming seasons.

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Read More: Mike Vrabel, Romeo Crennel,
Mike Vrabel remains one of Bill Belichick’s all-time favorites 12.09.15 at 1:29 pm ET
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Mike Vrabel and Bill Belichick spent eight seasons together in New England. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Mike Vrabel and Bill Belichick spent eight seasons together in New England. (Elsa/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has coached for a long time, but there are only a handful of players in his all-time pantheon of retired favorites: Mark Bavaro. Troy Brown. Lawrence Taylor. Tedy Bruschi.

On Wednesday, it was clear that former linebacker/defensive end Mike Vrabel deserves a place on that Mount Rushmore.

Vrabel, who played in New England from 2001 through 2008, was known as a tough, cerebral player who was able to do whatever it took to succeed. One of the most versatile players in the New England system over the last dozen years — he also caught passes as a pat-time tight end — the pass rusher was more than willing to switch up positions in practice, even playing the role of former Ravens safety Ed Reed.

“You’d just say “Go back there and go with what you see and if you want to gamble, gamble.’ Mike would do that. He would love that,” Belichick recalled of Vrabel. ‘He would drive [Tom] Brady crazy doing that, like ‘Aw, he’ll never be there on that pattern.’ But it’s Ed Reed, you don’t know where Ed Reed would be. He was usually wherever the ball was — he somehow got there.

“Mike did that. You could just see his overall passion for the game, whether it be playing multiple positions, playing offense, defense, he had a great understanding and awareness of the total game and loved to play it, loved to play tight end. He’d go in and take a couple of plays at receiver.”

On Wednesday before practice, Belichick said it was easy to see Vrabel as a player who would transition to coaching sooner rather than later once his playing days were over for several reasons, including the fact that he never held back when it came to making suggestions.

“Definitely. Mike and I talked about that a lot,” said Belichick. “He’d give me advice and would tell him, ‘Mike, when you’re a coach, you’re calling the defenses, you should go ahead and do that. Here’s why we’re not going to do it or that’s a great idea.’€™ Or ‘Yeah, we can do that. I’m glad you brought that up.’

“You could even see it then [after five years], and his career wasn’t even half over and he was already kind of thinking about coaching. You could kind of tell when he got done playing, that’s what he was going to do. Yeah, I think that came out pretty early.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Mike Vrabel,
Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi among ex-Pats who pass first step in becoming members of Pro Football Hall of Fame 09.16.15 at 10:17 pm ET
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Eight players with deep roots on the New England football scene were announced as Modern Era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame‘s Class of 2016, it was revealed on Wednesday.

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe, defensive linemen Fred Smerlas and Willie McGinest, linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel and defensive backs Rodney Harrison, Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy were all named Wednesday as part of a group of 108 individuals who are under consideration for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2016. The nominees consist of 93 players (51 offense, 33 defense, 9 special teams) and 15 coaches. (Check out the complete list here.) The Modern Era nominees will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists in November and, from there, to 15 finalists in January.

Eighteen finalists will be presented to the full 46-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee during its annual selection meeting on the eve of Super Bowl 50. The finalists will consist of 15 Modern Era finalists, the recently named senior candidates, Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel, and 2016 contributor candidate Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

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Read More: Drew Bledsoe, Fred Smerlas, Lawyer Milloy, Mike Vrabel
Thieves poach 3 Super Bowl rings from Mike Vrabel, and he’s pretty ticked 11.08.14 at 5:16 pm ET
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Mike Vrabel is an angry man. He has every right to be after thieves broken into his Houston area home and stole his three Super Bowl rings he won with the Patriots.

Vrabel, now the linebackers coach for the Houston Texans, tweeted Saturday that burglars broke into his home and took the jewelry.

Vrabel took to Twitter to express his outrage. “To all the Houston area pawn shops: 3 super bowl rings are headed your way. Courtesy of the m—– f—— who smashed our back door in.”

Vrabel wasn’t alone. His wife, Jen, lit into the culprits of the crime.

According to a spokesperson for the Bellaire Police Department, the break-in took place around 11 a.m. Saturday. The Texans are on a bye this weekend.

Vrabel was a starting linebacker on the Patriots teams that won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX. He was also a favorite receiving target of quarterback Tom Brady.

A championship ring from the Patriots’ Super Bowl XXXVI season sold on eBay in April 2012 for $50,000.

Read More: Bellaire, houston texans, Jen Vrabel, Mike Vrabel
As expected, new Texans coaching staff has heavy New England influence 02.05.14 at 5:39 pm ET
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The Texans and new head coach Bill O’Brien announced Houston’s new coaching staff on Wednesday, and it’s hardly a surprise that it has a heavy New England influence.

Joining O’Brien — who spent five seasons on Bill Belichick‘s staff with the Patriots — will be Romeo Crennel (former New England defensive coordinator who will also serve as DC in Houston) and George Godsey (who was the Patriots’ tight ends coach, but will be quarterbacks coach with the Texans). In addition, Patriots players Mike Vrabel (linebackers) and Anthony Pleasant (assistant strength and conditioning) will join O’Brien’s staff as assistants.

‘€œWe’€™ve put together a great staff of enthusiastic and passionate coaches with good character who have successful backgrounds in coaching,’€ O’€™Brien said in a statement issued by the team. ‘€œIt was important to put together a group who will be great teachers and I’€™m excited to begin our preparations for the 2014 season.’€

The following is a portion of the press release issued by the team:

Crennel comes to Houston following a three-year stint with the Kanas City Chiefs (2010-12) where he served as defensive coordinator (2010-11), interim head coach (2011) and head coach (2012). Prior to Kansas City, Crennel spent four seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2005-08) following a highly successful stretch as defensive coordinator with the Patriots from 2001-04, where he helped the team win three Super Bowl titles. His first role as a defensive coordinator came in 2000 with Cleveland after stints with the New York Jets (1997-99), New England (1993-96) and New York Giants (1981-92).

Godsey joins the Texans after three years with the Patriots, first as offensive assistant in 2011 and then as tight ends coach the past two seasons. Prior to joining the Patriots, Godsey spent the previous seven seasons (2004-10) at Central Florida under head coach George O’€™Leary, who O’€™Brien coached with at Georgia Tech from 1995-01. Godsey played quarterback at Georgia Tech from 1998-01, where he first crossed paths with O’€™Brien, the running backs coach from 1998-00 and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2001.

Pleasant was the defensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2010-13 after working with the team as part of the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship in 2009. The former defensive lineman played 14 seasons in the NFL, including separate stints under Crennel’€™s guidance with the New York Jets (1998-99) and Patriots (2001-03)

Vrabel served as defensive line coach at Ohio State for the 2012-13 seasons after starting his coaching career as the linebackers coach for the Buckeyes in 2011. A former NFL linebacker for the Patriots, Vrabel was a part of three Super Bowl victories (2001, 2003, 2004) in his 14-year NFL career.

Read More: Anthony Pleasant, Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, George Godsey



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