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Around the AFC East: Dolphins, Bills pull off narrow victories 09.15.13 at 5:12 pm ET
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With the Patriots having Sunday off, it gave us a chance to check out what’s going on in the rest of the AFC East. Here’s a quick look at what happened in the rest of the division over the weekend:

Dolphins (2-0): Miami won a highly entertaining contest Sunday against the Colts and Andrew Luck, coming away with a 24-20 victory to stay unbeaten on the year. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 23-for-34 for 319 yards and one touchdown to give Indy its first home loss in 12 months. Miami, which is 2-0 for just the second time since 2004, saw Mike Wallace (nine catches, 115 yards) and Charles Clay (five catches, 109 yards) go over 100 yards receiving. The Dolphins needed the firepower, as Luck had the Colts in position to pull off another comeback win — he had the ball at the Miami 23-yard line with 1:45 left, but tossed three incompletes and was sacked on fourth down to finish things.

Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Falcons

Jets (1-1): Like the Patriots, New York also had the weekend off, but managed to make its share of headlines with the decision to place quarterback Mark Sanchez on injured reserve with a designation to return. While coach Rex Ryan said he believed Sanchez could contribute later in the season, the move means that Sanchez will be on the shelf for the next eight weeks. (The earliest Sanchez could be back is Nov. 17 at Buffalo, following the Jets’ bye week.) That means that for the foreseeable future, the quarterback job belongs to rookie Geno Smith, who was a bit of a mixed bag in Thursday’s loss to the Patriots. The West Virginia product was 15-for-35 for 214 yards, and was sacked four times and intercepted three times.

Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Bills

Bills (1-1): Buffalo got its first win of the season on Sunday with a dramatic 24-23 victory over the Panthers, thanks in large part to rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who connected with wide receiver Stevie Johnson on a 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left to lift the Bills. Manuel engineered a game-winning drive late in the fourth, a nine-play, 80-yard series where he went 6-for-8 for 51 yards. (He ended the game 27-for-39 for 296 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.) Manuel got some help down the stretch when Carolina (and former Boston College) linebacker Luke Kuechly was penalized for pass interference on a third down play with less than a minute to go to help keep Buffalo alive.

Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 at Jets

Read More: Andrew Luck, EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, Luke Kuechly
Miami’s Mike Wallace on Patriots: ‘You never count those guys out’ 07.22.13 at 2:43 pm ET
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Some think that after an offseason that saw them lose Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez and saw Rob Gronkowski undergo multiple surgeries, the Patriots are ripe for the picking.

But Miami’s Mike Wallace doesn’t believe that’s the case. The new Dolphins receiver told USA Today that as long as New England has Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, they can’t be written off.

“As long as they have [Brady] behind center, anything’s possible,” Wallace said Sunday. “As long as they have Coach Belichick up there, man, you never count those guys out.”

“You never want to say, ‘Oh, this happened and that happened,’ because as soon as you say that, they come back at 12-4, 13-3,” he went on. “You learn just to accept the Patriots for who they are. But at the same time, we’re in the same division as them and we want to win the division. If you’re not playing to win, why are you playing the game?”

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Free agent updates on Wes Welker, Michael Hoomanawanui 03.12.13 at 5:02 pm ET
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Five Patriots-related notes as free agency starts to kick into high gear:

‘€¢ According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, wide receiver Wes Welker is expected to test the market, and Schefter said Tuesday afternoon that it “may take a little time” for a deal to come together for the slot receiver. Earlier on Tuesday, the NFL Network reported that Welker was waiting on a first offer from the Patriots.

‘€¢ The Patriots have tendered restricted free agent tight end Michael Hoomanawanui at $1.323 million, according to Field Yates of ESPN Boston.

‘€¢ Defensive lineman Paul Kruger has signed a five-year deal with the Browns for roughly $40 million, according to various reports. The 27-year-old Kruger broke through in a big way for the Ravens this past season with nine sacks and six passes defensed for the eventual Super Bowl champions. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder will fit nicely with the Browns — it’s not believed that the Patriots were ever seriously interested in acquiring the Utah product.

‘€¢ Buffalo has cut quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Harvard product — you guys know he went to Harvard, right? — signed a big deal with the Bills in 2011, but it never happened for him in Buffalo. The 30-year-old Fitzpatrick finished the 2012 season with a 61 percent completion rate, to go along with 24 touchdowns, 16 picks and 3,400 passing yards, but now becomes the best free agent quarterback available, which could potentially affect the trade market for Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett.

‘€¢ Wide receiver Mike Wallace has reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with the Dolphins. The 26-year-old Wallace, who spent the last four seasons with the Steelers, has 235 career catches for 4,042 yards (an impressive 17.2 yards per catch average) and 32 touchdowns. Now, he’ll face the Patriots twice a year, and in two career games against New England, he has 18 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns.

Read More: Michael Hoomanawanui, Mike Wallace, Paul Kruger, Ryan Fitzpatrick
NFL free agency update: Victor Cruz’s agent change not a good sign for Patriots at 11:19 am ET
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Any team looking to land Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz would need to surrender a first-round draft pick, as the Giants have said they are placing a first-round tender on him. Plus, the Giants would have the option to match whatever offer Cruz receives from another team.

Combine that with the fact that Cruz recently hired Tom Condon, an agent with whom the Patriots reportedly prefer to avoid, and it appears New England will not make a run at the former UMass star, even if Wes Welker leaves New England.

Cruz had 86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, his third in the NFL.

Meanwhile, Steelers free agent receiver Mike Wallace, who had been tied to the Dolphins in multiple reports, might have a suitor in the Vikings, who have an opening after they agreed to trade Percy Harvin to the Seahawks. Via Jeff Darlington of NFL Network, the Dolphins believe that Wallace’s price might go as high as $13 million per year.

Read More: Mike Wallace, Victor Cruz,
Report: Mike Wallace linked to Patriots 03.09.13 at 3:34 pm ET
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Free agency doesn’t officially open until Tuesday afternoon, but there are plenty of rumors that have been attached to the Patriots through the early stages of the weekend. Here are a few of the latest updates:

‘€¢Wide receiver Mike Wallace has drawn the interest of the Patriots, according to a report from Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Wallace, 26, has emerged as one of the best deep threats in the league with 235 catches in the last four years, and has averaged 17.2 yards per catch in that period. With the New England wide receiving corps in a state of flux — the Patriots have only three receivers under contract for 2013 — and with New England with some additional money under the cap after Tom Brady’s renegotiated deal, he could be a candidate to be signed by the Patriots.

‘€¢In that same vein, New England could be interested in wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who will apparently be cut loose by the Ravens. The 32-year-old Boldin, who caught 65 passes this past year for Baltimore, is a big, physical receiver who could bring a new dynamic to the Patriots’ passing game. Boldin had a terrific postseason — he had 22 catches in the playoffs, including five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC title game and six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. He was a possibility for the Patriots as a free agent in 2010, but ended up signing with the Ravens. (We write extensively about Boldin and what he might bring to the Patriots here.)

‘€¢Among the notable players released were Steelers defensive end James Harrison. The former Defensive Player of the Year was cut loose when the two sides couldn’t agree on a cap-friendly contract. The 34-year-old, who is a five-time Pro Bowler, is expected to have several suitors, including the Ravens, Browns and Texans. (One interesting note regarding Harrison: He told Josina Anderson he’d welcome the chance to play for the Patriots.) In addition, multiple repots indicate that running back Reggie Bush will not be back in Miami, with sources telling the Miami Herald that the former Heisman Trophy winner will “categorically” not be back in South Florida. And the Bills have apparently reached an agreement on a four-year. $20 million deal with cornerback/return man Leodis McKelvin.

Read More: Anquan Boldin, James Harrison, Leodis McKelvin, Mike Wallace
Bill Belichick explains why Champ Bailey can ‘match up against anybody’ in the NFL 10.06.12 at 1:36 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Wes Welker knows how hard it’s going to be to get open on Sunday against the Broncos, especially when perennial Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey is matched up against him.

“He’s just a great ball player,” Welker said of the 34-year-old corner. “I think he just gets out of bed and he’s just great. He’s very patient and does a good job to get his hands on you and plays really well. Smart guy, instincts, all those things and it’s why he’s stayed around so long.”

There’s been so much focus on future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning that it’s easy to overlook another sure-fire Hall of Famer in Bailey. He has more Pro Bowls than any cornerback in history with 11. He is a six-time All-Pro and has been the NFL Defensive Back of the Year twice.

Welker has had a decent amount of success in his battles with him, catching 22 balls in four regular season games for an average of 11.4 yards per reception. He’s averaged just over 64 yards a game but only two touchdowns in the four matchups. He had six catches for 55 yards and a score in the 45-10 romp over Tim Tebow‘s Broncos in the playoffs last January.

“Just have to be very precise and keep him on his toes and make sure you’re really mixing it up on him and being physical and doing things necessary to get open,” Welker said of what a receiver must do against the decorated corner. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andre Johnson, Bill Belichick, Calvin Johnson, Denver Broncos
The 10 biggest questions entering NFL free agency 03.13.12 at 12:57 am ET
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With free agency set to start at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, here’€™s a look at the 10 most important questions, with an eye toward what the Patriots might do:

1. Where’€™s Peyton going to end up? The quarterback is the biggest name in the free agent class, and will almost certainly command the biggest deal on the open market. Manning and agent Tom Condon are playing their cards close to the vest to this point, but it sounds like Arizona, Miami, Denver and Seattle are in the mix to this point. In addition, Tennessee is also reportedly poised to make a full-court press for Manning’€™s services.

2. What sort of impact is Peyton going to have on the rest of the free agent market?
A lot of his former Indianapolis teammates are also now available, including wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, running back Joseph Addai and tight end Dallas Clark. Chances are good that whoever will land Manning probably has a very good shot at landing at least one of his former mates, and subsequently, revamping a sizable portion of their offensive scheme.

3. How will Peyton affect the market for quarterbacks?
It’€™s not just the free agent signal callers like Matt Flynn who stand to be affected by Manning’€™s decision. Incumbents like Kevin Kolb (Arizona) and Tim Tebow (Denver) could find themselves on the street if Manning ends up in their respective area codes. That could ultimately create a secondary series of ripples for a handful of quarterbacks.

4. What’€™s going to be the course of action for the Patriots?
In New England last year, it was either a boom-or-bust with last year’€™s free agents: the big names (Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco) were busts, while the middle of the road guys (Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and Brian Waters) were some of the best free-agent signings of the Bill Belichick Era. This year? There are some intriguing fits for this team that wouldn’€™t break the bank, including Brandon Lloyd and Richard Marshall, while Mike Wallace remains a big-ticket possibility that would also cost them a draft pick.

5. Who will the Patriots lose?
New England isn’€™t necessarily on danger of losing any of its elite players, but there are some intriguing UFA’€™s on the roster, including wide receiver Deion Branch, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, offensive linemen Dan Koppen and Dan Connolly and Anderson and Carter, all of whom have been important pieces of the puzzle over the last few seasons with the Patriots. Anderson figures to be a sought-after commodity: a 28-year-old who finished with 10 sacks, he could be in line for a decent-sized payday.
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 free agency, 2012 NFL Free Agency, Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter
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