|Victor Cruz is ‘looking at life through a different lens’ after visiting Sandy Hook family||12.18.12 at 9:19 pm ET|
With his salsa TD celebrations and a Super Bowl championship, Victor Cruz has brought much joy to the fan base of the New York Giants. On Tuesday, he tried to give something else on his day off from the Giants — comfort to one of the families that suffered a horrific loss last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The UMass product traveled to Newtown, Conn., on Tuesday, visiting with the family of a Jack Pinto, a 6-year-old boy killed Friday in the Sandy Hook shooting.
Pinto was a Giants fan who called Cruz his favorite player. The wideout visited the family for more than three hours, a day after the boy was laid to rest wearing a No. 80 Cruz jersey.
“Much love to the entire Pinto family. Great people with huge hearts,” Cruz tweeted after leaving the home. “Looking at life through a different lens.”
Cruz wrote “Jack Pinto” and “My Hero” on his cleats prior to the Giants’ 34-0 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday.
Cruz and the family made it clear they wanted no publicity about the visit, a point made clear afterward.
“It was a successfully private moment, and I’d prefer to keep it that way,” a guest told NFL.com afterward. (For video of Cruz, visit NFL.com)
Cruz, like many players and coaches around the NFL, was nearly in tears before Sunday’s game, as the NFL paid tribute to the 20 children and six innocent adults who were murdered in the massacre at Sandy Hook.
Clearly, a moment like Tuesday helps players and families alike on the long and difficult road to coping and healing.
|In case you forgot, Bill Belichick thinks the world of Mark Bavaro||09.12.12 at 5:13 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Next week, we will again – no doubt – hear from Bill Belichick on how safety Ed Reed is winding up in Canton someday. And with good reason. The safety had a pick-6 on Monday night, igniting the Ravens to a 44-13 thrashing of the Bengals before a national TV audience.
But on Wednesday, we were reminded just how much he thinks of a player he used to coach in New York. Mark Bavaro is in the upper stratosphere of players he’s ever coached. Belichick – of course – was the defensive coordinator with the Giants and on the team’s defensive coaching staff for years and saw close up what kind of battles Bavaro would have with his two stars on defense – Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks.
“All the obvious things: tough, strong, physical, good catch radius, tall, good in the red zone,” Belichick said when asked to compare Bavaro to Rob Gronkowski. “Mark was a tremendous player, I mean tremendous player. In my opinion, there aren’t many…I don’t know if there’s a more complete tight end than Mark Bavaro. There are guys that have stats that are in the Hall of Fame and whatever, but talk about a guy that could line up across from Reggie White and actually block him – that alone would meet my criteria. Great in the red zone, tough, played great in big games, didn’t make any mental mistakes. He was always at the point of attack and you could always count on him: played hurt, played tough, played against the best players in the league at his time and really he handled himself well. Played against the two best outside linebackers in football every day in practice and that was a war.
“I mean, that was a war. [Carl] Banks and [Lawrence] Taylor will tell you that. When they got to the game, there wasn’t anybody that was tougher than they were. I’m sure Bavaro would tell you the same thing about those two guys after going against Banks and Taylor in practice. Whoever they were blocking, it probably wasn’t as bad as going against those two. It was a great competitive situation in practice. Training camp was awesome. Those are three good football players, every day, very competitive, trying to get the best of the other guy, but they all got better. Mark was great. He was a tremendous player.
Belichick realizes those days are long gone with the new CBA.
“Yeah, two-a-day practices are definitely gone,” Belichick said remorsefully. “We kissed those goodbye last year.
Why are tight ends so valued by Belichick?
“I just think a tight end is involved in a lot of plays,” he said. “He’s involved in the running game. He’s involved in the passing game because he’s in the middle of the field. He’s involved in pass protection. There’s really no way, there really aren’t hardly any plays where that guy is out of the play. He’s a central guy in pretty much whatever you want to do. And the more versatile he is, the more things he can do, then defensively the harder he is to defend. If you have to defend a guy in the passing game, then that’s an issue.
“You have to worry about them running behind him, that’s an issue. You have to worry about his speed, that’s an issue. You have to worry about him breaking tackles and catching short passes and turning them into long plays. The more versatile any player is, the more valuable they are. At that position in the middle of the field – with skill players are involved in every play, they give you more options.”
Here’s the rest of Wednesday’s transcript from Belichick’s session with reporters at Gillette Stadium, in which he also heaped praise on Troy Brown as he enters the Patriots Hall of Fame this weekend and the athleticism of the Cardinals, this week’s opponent. (Courtesy: Patriots media relations): Read the rest of this entry »
|Ryan Mallett: ‘I feel a lot more confident in what I’m doing’||08.30.12 at 12:21 am ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The key question coming into camp for Ryan Mallett was just how much improvement could he show in the preseason.
After going 8-for-15 for 40 yards in seven possessions of the first half Wednesday night, the answer might still be up for debate.
“Not bad,” Mallett said after New England’s 6-3 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium. “There’s good things, bad things, stuff like that when we go look at the film, we’ll be like, ‘I could’ve done this better. I could’ve done that better.’ It’s just something you learn from.”
Learning wasn’t something he had a lot of opportunity to do a year ago. His preparation was shortened greatly by the lockout, limiting the number of live game reps he had.
“Last year, I didn’t really know too much, coming in late didn’t help,” Mallett said. “Having the spring and then the camp now was crucial for me, and I feel a lot more confident in what I’m doing.
“We’ve been practicing together for three or four weeks now. I wasn’t thinking about that. I just wanted to go out there and play.”
Mallett led the Patriots offense on it’s only scoring drive, leading them 51 yards in 12 plays during a four-minute, 58-second drive in the second quarter. Brandon Bolden finished it up by running three times into the line to set up Stephen Gostkowski‘s 20-yard field goal.
“As a quarterback, I don’t like the [term] game manager. You want to go out there and make plays when they present themselves. You don’t want to force anything but I don’t know about managing the game. You have to stay within yourself when you’re playing the game.
“It doesn’t change anything for me. I’m just going to go out there like I’m preparing to start every week and get the game plan down, get the opponent down, and keep moving along.”
With Wednesday night in the books and Friday’s two late TD passes at Tampa Bay, has Mallett shown enough to overtake Brian Hoyer as the No. 2 QB on the Patriots behind Tom Brady? Only head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels know for sure. But Mallett was the only Patriots quarterback not to get strip-sacked in the preseason. Brady was victimized twice and Hoyer was stripped late in the fourth quarter Wednesday, leading to the game-winning Giants field goal. Read the rest of this entry »
|Halftime analysis: Patriots 3, Giants 0||08.29.12 at 8:28 pm ET|
Two quarters are in the books, and the Patriots hold a 3-0 lead over the Giants in the final preseason game of the year for both teams. Here are a few quick notes:
•Ryan Mallett got the start at quarterback for the Patriots and was 8-for-15 for 40 yards. Brandon Bolden provided the bulk of the New England offense — he ran hard, and while he fumbled a punt return (one that was recovered by Jeff Demps), he finished the first half with 15 carries for 59 yards, as well as three catches for 16 yards, both team highs.
•The punters were by far and away the stars of the first half. Zoltan Mesko was a very busy man in the first half as he punted six times for a 45-yard average for the Patriots, with a long of 54 yards. Steve Weatherford continued his impressive performance from Super Bowl XLVI, punting six times for a 47-yard average, including a long of 64 yards.
•Other than right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, the Patriots opened with backups on both sides of the ball in the first half on both their opening offensive and defensive drives. Good news for Patriots fans — Vollmer looked solid. It was against the New York backups for a portion of the reps, but at the same time, just seeing him out there should give New England fans cause for some optimism about the state of the right side of the offensive line. (He sat after the first two series.) Marcus Cannon and Dustin Waldron saw time at right tackle, and the latter gave up a bad sack late in the first half.
•As for the rest of the offensive line, they shuffled a few different combinations in and out, most notably at center where Dan Koppen, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Donald Thomas all took reps. Overall, the protection was pretty good — however, a protection breakdown came on the first play of the second quarter led to a sack of Mallett. (It appeared that running back Eric Kettani was trying to talk to Mallett when the two were coming off the field, but it looked like Mallett was having none of it.) In addition, Darrion Weems allowed Adewale Ojomo a free shot at Mallett.
•One guy who got a lot of work out of the gate was running back Bolden. With Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen sitting out, Bolden got a ton of reps in the first half. Another guy who got a lot of work was running back/returner Jeff Demps, who worked as a returner and occasional running back. He finished the first half with two carries for 11 yards, one kick return (19 yards) and three punt returns (10 yards).
•Mallett struggled with touch early — on one third-down screen pass, he put the ball in a tough spot for Bolden. He caught it, but the running back couldn’t reach the sticks for a first down. A small thing, but something that he still needs to work on if he wants to get to the next level. He also appeared to hold onto the ball too long while standing in the pocket at time. There was some good with Mallett, as he appeared to build confidence as the half continued — he had a nice rollout and connection with Alex Silvestro that led to a first down. He also had a pair of first downs picked up on consecutive plays, one on a five-yard completion to Kerry Taylor and another on a 15-yard run by Bolden. Read the rest of this entry »
|Setting the scene: Patriots-Giants||at 4:51 pm ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD — Ideal conditions will greet the Patriots and Giants in their preseason finale at MetLife Stadium.
The forecast here calls for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-to-upper 70s as both teams look for a valuable chance to make final decisions in advance of their final roster cutdown from 75 to 53 by Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
This, of course, marks the first time the two rivals have met since New York’s 21-17 win in Super Bowl XLVI in February. The Giants lead the preseason series, 13-8. The Giants beat the Patriots, 18-17, in Week 4 of the preseason in 2011, marking the first of three wins over the Patriots in a span of six months.
There’s no word on how much, if at all, Tom Brady will play in the preseason finale. Brady was hit early and often last Friday, hitting the turf six times in the first half, throwing a pick-6 that was returned by Tampa Bay’s Mark Barron and getting strip-sacked for the second time in as many preseason games.
Just 90 minutes before the 7 p.m. kickoff, Brady was spotted running pass routes with Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez taking turns as quarterback. Brady ran a corner route and attempted a one-handed grab in the end zone before dropping it. Rob Gronkowski later joined as an observer. It’s a near certainty that all four players won’t be playing and will make their next on-field appearance on Sept. 9 in Nashville.
The Giants announced an hour before the game that Mathias Kiwanuka, Michael Boley, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Will Beatty and Ahmad Bradshaw would not be starting. All six are expected to sit out the preseason finale. There was no announcement on Eli Manning.
Still, the focus against the Giants will be getting one final look at several players who figure to be on the roster bubble, such as Jermaine Cunningham, whose hit to the ribs of Michael Vick on Aug. 20 knocked the Eagles quarterback out of the game.
Twenty-three players, including Brady, Vince Wilfork, Gronkowski and Hernandez were among those out two hours before kickoff getting stretching in with conditioning coach Harold Nash, an indication they may not play in the preseason finale.
The Super Bowl champion Giants open the regular season in exactly one week in this building against the Cowboys.
Teams with scouts with seats in the MetLife press box Wednesday included the Bills, Bengals, Ravens, Titans, Buccaneers and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
|Chandler Jones: ‘I’m a different player’ than Jason Pierre-Paul||08.14.12 at 9:51 am ET|
FOXBORO — For those who have closely watched Chandler Jones at Syracuse and watched in him camp with the Patriots from the OTAs to minicamp to know, there’s one current NFL player that comes to mind — Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants.
The 23-year-old right defensive end out of South Florida played a key role in the Giants “NASCAR” front that steamrolled opponents in the playoffs last year, on the way to a second Super Bowl win over the Patriots in five seasons.
The similarities are there: Jones is only 22. He is the same height (6-foot-5) and 15 pounds lighter. And both are known for their speed rush off the right end and their ability to get to the quarterback and their length to tip balls at the line of scrimmage.
But Jones made an attempt after practice Monday to put the brakes on any further comparisons.
“Jason Pierre-Paul is a great player,” Jones said. “And I’m a different player from him. I’m not going to sit here and compare us two. But he’s a great player and I respect his game. I have no comment on the comparison.”
Can Jones, as a rookie, be the same kind of disruptive force Pierre-Paul has been in two NFL seasons for the Giants? In two NFL seasons, JPP as he is so known, has 111 tackles, 21 sacks and four forced fumbles. Impressive numbers and numbers the Patriots would surely take in their defensive scheme.
“I come out and work my craft and I work on my moves, if it’s speed or power, I take what the offensive line gives me,” Jones said. “Whatever they give me, I take.”
|A frustrated Gisele stands up for her man but rips Patriots receivers||02.06.12 at 3:42 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The frustrations of another Super Bowl loss spilled over for Gisele Bundchen as she left the luxury suites of Lucas Oil Stadium after her husband Tom Brady and the Patriots fell to Eli Manning and the Giants, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI Sunday night.
While making her way toward the elevator, Giants fans were harassing the supermodel, yelling, “Eli rules, Eli owns your husband.”
She responded to her entourage.
“You [need] to catch the ball when you’re supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot [expletive] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time,” she said in a video obtained by TheInsider.com. “I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times.”
That was an obvious reference to Wes Welker, who dropped what would have been a first down on the Patriots’ next-to-last drive and would have likely sealed the win.
Aaron Hernandez also had a drop of a pass over the middle on the last drive of the game.
The video of Gisele’s outburst can be found here.
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
- Dwight Freeney Signs With Chargers; Pats Showed 'Last Minute Interest'
- USA Today: Gronkowski Dealing With Back Issue, Could Face (Another)...
- Patriots Sign Second-Round Pick Jamie Collins
- New England Patriots Links 5/17/13 - Hightower Understands Work Ethic...
- Rapoport: Gronkowski Forearm Surgery 'Imminent'; Likely To Be Monday
- Kyle Love Claimed By Jaguars; Joins Brandon Deaderick
- On Kyle Love