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Patriots official Twitter account takes former NFL executive to task over insensitive remarks about Brazilian soccer team killed in plane crash 11.30.16 at 10:43 am ET
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Former NFL executive Joe Browne recently retired after 50 years in the league office, but the Patriots are keeping their eyes on him.

On Tuesday, Brown tweeted — and then deleted — about the deadly plane crash that virtually wiped out Chapecoense, an inspirational Brazilian soccer team.

“NFL club partnership so strong that if there were tragedy similar to Brazilian soccer crash other NFL clubs would restock affected team,” Browne tweeted from his account, @JBeonTheHill.

The Patriots official twitter account immediately fired back, which caused Browne to delete the tweet in question and issue an apology for his “ill-timed and poorly worded” observations.

For those wondering, Comcast’s Tom Curran noted that Browne was no favorite of the Patriots for his perceived bias against the team, and furthermore suggested that rebuking him so publicly via the team’s official Twitter account would not have been done without ownership approval.

Read More: Chapecoense, Joe Browne, Patriots,
Julian Edelman touchdown dance dedicated to dead rapper, not Merton Hanks, in Patriots win 11.21.16 at 11:01 am ET
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Anyone who saw Julian Edelman’s funky-chicken strut following a 3-yard touchdown in Sunday’s victory over the 49ers probably assumed the Bay Area native was sending some love to former Niners safety Merton Hanks, who used to celebrate big plays with a seizure seemingly involving a quintuple-jointed neck.

Not so, as Edelman explained to reporters in San Francisco after the game.

“It was for Mac Dre,” Edelman said. “He’s no longer with us. It was something if you played football in the Bay Area, you know about it. If you don’t, that’s your fault.”

For those who don’t know, Mac Dre was an Oakland rapper who was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting after performing in Kansas City in 2004 at age 34. The move Edelman copied was known as, “The Thizzle Dance,” per the good folks at NESN.com, and it was in honor of the man who gave us such works as, “Stupid Doo Doo Dumb,” and “Heart of a Gangsta, Mind of a Hustla, Tongue of a Pimp.”

Edelman caught eight passes for 77 yards, one score, and one dance in the Pats’ 30-17 win.

Read More: 49ers, Bay Area, Julian Edelman, Mac Dre
Former Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson rushes to defense of Jamie Collins after Patriots fans rip linebacker 11.07.16 at 12:30 pm ET
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Jamie Collins got beaten for a 26-yard touchdown in his Browns debut on Sunday, earning condemnation from Patriots fans on social media, but a former teammate jumped to his defense.

Free agent wide receiver Aaron Dobson, recently released by the Lions, couldn’t stand by while Pats fans piled on Collins on Sunday after he blew the coverage that allowed Jason Witten to haul in a 51-yard touchdown during the Cowboys’ 35-10 blowout on Sunday.

Dobson later responded to a fan who said the negativity was simply their way of trying to understand why Collins was sent packing.

The Patriots cut Dobson at the end of training camp after three disappointing seasons since being drafted in the second round out of Marshall. He caught 53 passes for 698 yards and four TDs here.

In the last month, he has reportedly had tryouts with the Cardinals and Colts.

Read More: Browns, Cowboys, Jamie Collins trade, Jason Witten
Stock Watch: Who’s up, who’s down for Patriots after preseason finale against Giants 09.01.16 at 10:22 pm ET
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New linebacker Barkevious Mingo was all over the field Thursday night against the Giants. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

New linebacker Barkevious Mingo was all over the field Thursday night against the Giants. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

Taking a quick look at who was up and who was down for the Patriots in Friday’s preseason game against the Giants

UP
Linebacker Barkevious Mingo — Mingo had six tackles (five solo) and was all over the field in his preseason debut with New England, looking very impressive while playing deep into the contest. Frankly, if it wasn’t for Tom Brady, Mingo’s performance would have been the biggest story of the night. It’s debatable how much he’ll be able to bring to the table once the regular season gets underway, but he was certainly a big positive in Thursday’s preseason finale.

Linebacker Jamie Collins — You can pretty much name anyone on the defense at the start of the game, but we’ll go with Collins here, who was flying past everyone else on the New York side of the ball in the early going. The Human Cheat Code finished with four tackles and a sack for 10 yards. There’s a lot to like about the state of the New England defense heading into the season, but the Collins/Dont’a Hightower combo at linebacker is maybe the best part. (Related: Hightower had a sack of his own on the night in limited action.)

Running back D.J. Foster — The rookie out of Arizona State finally got on the field, and showed a really nice skill set. He was OK between the tackles (nine carries for 22 yards), but flashed some really nice ability in the passing game with nine catches on 10 targets for 110 yards, all of which were game-highs. It wasn’t all great for Foster, as a second-quarter fumble put the brakes on a New England drive. But his performance will force the New England coaching staff to make some tough decisions when it comes to cuts at the running back spot.

Punt returner Cyrus Jones — Jones had a sharp-looking punt return in the fourth quarter for 34 yards. It was his second impressive return of the summer, and another sign that this should be his job — at least on a part-time basis — sooner rather than later.

The offense at the end of the first quarter — Tom Brady’s second-quarter scoring drive was the peak of the evening for the New England offense. The sequence ended with a nifty 7-yard pass play from Brady to Keshawn Martin for a touchdown, but included nine plays for 67 yards and took 3:39. On the drive, Brady went 6-for-7 for 64 yards and completed a 30-yard pass to Foster and a 20-yard pass to Julian Edelman along the way.

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Read More: Barkevious Mingo, Clay Harbor, Cyrus Jones, D.J. Fluker
Snap Judgments: Jimmy Garoppolo starts, gets plenty of help in Patriots’ preseason win over Saints 08.11.16 at 10:49 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo finished 11-for-18 for 168 yards on Thursday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo finished 11-for-18 for 168 yards on Thursday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo started and played the entire first half, going 11-for-18 for 168 yards in Thursday’s preseason opener, a 34-22 win for the Patriots over the Saints.

Garoppolo, who started a preseason game for the first time since 2014, got the call in place of Tom Brady. The youngster was shaky out of the gate but finished strong, going 8-for-11 for 135 yards down the stretch in the second quarter. Malcolm Mitchell suffered a nasty elbow injury late in the second quarter and did not return, but had four catches for 55 yards while he was on the field. Marcellus Bennett added three receptions for 33 yards, while Brandon Bolden added 33 yards on four carries.

Rookie Jacoby Brissett replaced Garoppolo to start the second half, and ended up 7-for-13 for 68 yards. Running back Tyler Gaffney added nine carries for 64 yards and a touchdown in the second half.

But the big story on the evening was Garoppolo, who finished with 40 snaps. He engineered one scoring drive, a four-play, 84-yard sequence that was highlighted by a 56-yard pass play to running back James White and was capped off with a 1-yard run by LeGarrette Blount. The Patriots had a touchdown opportunity at the end of the second quarter come up just short when a Garoppolo pass to the end zone for James White from the New Orleans’ 9-yard line was knocked away at the last second, sending the teams into the locker room with New England holding a 17-16 halftime lead.

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Read More: 2016 training camp, Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots, saints
What we’ll be watching for in Patriots’ preseason opener vs. Saints at 10:04 am ET
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Will it be The Jimmy Garoppolo Show Thursday night against the Saints? (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Will it be the Jimmy Garoppolo show Thursday night against the Saints? (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Here’s what we’ll be keeping an extra close eye on when the Patriots meet the Saints in the preseason opener for both teams Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

Who plays: Reportedly, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman will not play. For the record, over the last 10 years Brady has sat for the first preseason game three times: 2014, 2011 and 2008. (For those of you projecting six months down the road, the Patriots reached the Super Bowl on two of those occasions.) As for Gronkowski and Edelman, both have consecutive-game preseason absences on the line. The big tight end hasn’t played in a preseason game since 2012, missing 13 straight. And Edelman has missed five consecutive preseason games dating back to last year. Not that it’s a huge surprise, but count on Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis and Sebastian Vollmer not to play as well, as they’ve been out of action to this point all summer.

Quarterback reps: As we have said all summer, not all reps are created equal. (That’s one of the reasons we’re not obsessively cataloguing who gets what opportunities every day when it comes to 7-on-7s.) Keeping in mind Bill Belichick’s directive at the start of camp that the goal was to make Jimmy Garoppolo as ready as possible for the regular season, it’s a sign that in this case, the value of preseason game reps trumps those in practice. For those of you wondering how much work is too much for Garoppolo, here’s a look at his preseason stat line from 2015.

vs. Green Bay — 56 snaps, 20-for-30, 159 yards, 1 INT
vs. New Orleans — 70 snaps, 28-for-33, 269 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
vs. Carolina — 33 snaps, 13-for-17, 126 yards, 1 TD
vs. NYG — DNP

One more note on Garoppolo: While the circumstances were different, it’s worth noting that the last time he started in the preseason, it was 2014 finale against the Giants. In that one, he went wire to wire, playing 69 snaps and finishing 22-for-42 for 284 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

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Read More: 2016 training camp, Aaron Dobson, Bryan Stork, Chris Long
Report: Robert Kraft among investor group vying to buy UFC 06.16.16 at 6:14 pm ET
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Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft is already synonymous with winning in football, and apparently he wants to expand his empire to include the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

According to a report on ESPN, Kraft is part of a group attempting to buy the UFC in a deal that could top $4 billion. The report, from business reporter Darren Rovell, said that Kraft and other investors have agreed to put up $25 million to $50 million each with WME-IMG in conjunction with Dalian Wanda Group. WME is co-chaired by Ari Emanuel, reportedly the inspiration for Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold character on HBO’s Entourage.

A group of investors from China are also in the running for the wildly successful UFC, the brainchild of former Boston resident Dana White.

The UFC, which has made crossover stars out of fighters like Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, and Chuck Liddell, reportedly grossed over $600 million last year.

Bidding is drawing to a close and could be decided on Friday, ESPN reported.

Read More: Dana White, Kraft Group, Patriots, Robert Kraft
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