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Report: Sterling Moore signs with Patriots practice squad 11.02.12 at 7:54 pm ET
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Sterling Moore

A couple of days after being waived by the Patriots, cornerback Sterling Moore has returned as a member of the practice squad, according to ESPN Boston. The 22-year-old Moore has 13 tackles and one forced fumble over the first eight games of the 2012 for New England.

Moore was originally signed by the Patriots off the Raiders’ practice squad on Oct. 5, 2011, and spent the majority of the rest of the regular season between the practice squad and the 53-man roster before ultimately being signed to the 53-man roster on Dec. 23. Moore appeared in six regular season games with three starts in 2011 and played in all three playoff games.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder has played in 14 regular season games with three starts in his two-year career and appeared in all three playoff contests last year. He has registered 25 total tackles, 2 interceptions, nine passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He earned NFL Rookie of the Week Honors following his Week 17 performance vs. Buffalo last season, in which he made his first two career interceptions, returning the initial pick 21 yards for his first NFL touchdown.

Read More: Sterling Moore,
Patriots confirm release of Sterling Moore and Alex Silvestro and addition of two others 10.31.12 at 6:34 pm ET
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The  Patriots announced Wednesday that they have re-signed linebacker Mike Rivera and defensive back Derrick Martin. The team has also released defensive back Sterling Moore and tight end Alex Silvestro from the practice squad. Here’s the bulk of the announcement from the team on the moves:

Rivera, 26, made the Patriots 53-man roster out of training camp this year and played in the first two games of the season before being released on Sept. 19. He was signed by Miami on Sept. 25 and played in one game for the Dolphins before being released on Oct. 3.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder spent most of last season on the Patriots’ practice squad after being released by Miami following training camp. Rivera originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent out of Kansas by the Chicago Bears in 2009. After being released by Chicago, Rivera was signed by Tennessee to the practice squad. He was released by Tennessee after training camp in 2010 and joined Green Bay’s practice squad before being signed by Miami to the 53-man roster late in the season.
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Read More: Alex Silvestro, Derrick Martin, Mike Rivera, Sterling Moore
Sterling Moore on AFC title game: ‘It reminds me how close I was to losing the game’ 09.21.12 at 8:35 pm ET
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Sterling Moore has mixed feelings about his highlight play in the AFC Championship. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — It remains one of the best highlights for all Patriots fans who watched the end of the AFC Championship last January at Gillette Stadium. Sterling Moore swipes the ball out of the hands of Lee Evans in the end zone, a catch that if it had been made, would’ve more than likely given the Ravens a come-from-behind win over the Patriots and a ticket to Super Bowl XLVI.

Moments later, Billy Cundiff pulled a 32-yard chip shot wide left and the Patriots had a 23-20 win and date with the Giants in Indianapolis.

The assumption would be that Moore watched the play over and over in the offseason. Not so much.

“Not much, I kind of moved on from it,” Moore said Friday. “I probably took a couple days after the game, but once the offseason came it was kind of on to the next season.”

Friends and family brought up the play but he never did.

“Quite a bit in the offseason, but I just tried to shrug it off and not draw attention to it,” he said.

There are times where he can’t avoid, like when he’s watching the NFL Network.

“I’ve seen it quite a bit, but most times I try to change the channel every time it comes on,” Moore said.

The reason?

“It kind of reminds me how close I was to losing the game,” he answered without hesitation. “That one and then of course the one against the Giants in the Super Bowl, those two plays I don’t really like to watch.”

The one Moore refers to in the Super Bowl, of course, was the fourth-quarter catch on the sidelines by Mario Manningham on the first play of New York’s game-winning drive. The ball thrown perfectly by Eli Manning fell right into Manningham’s arms between Moore and Patrick Chung.

With Moore moving on, he’s fitting in more and more into the Patriots sub packages. He played early and often on Sunday against the Cardinals.

“A lot more comfortable,” Moore added. “It’s night and day for me, cause I came in, didn’t know the techniques they wanted me to play, didn’t really know the defensive schemes, I was just kind of thrown out there. This year I know who I’m out there with, I know where they’re going to be, and I know the scheme. It helps slow the game down for me.”

Read More: AFC Championship, Lee Evans, Mario Manningham, New England Patriots
Sterling Moore still can’t watch the final quarter of Super Bowl XLVI 04.05.12 at 9:00 pm ET
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Sterling Moore had an eventful 2011, going from undrafted free agent in Oakland to starting defensive back with the Patriots. (AP)

Unlike some of his teammates, Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore has gone back and watched Super Bowl XLVI. Well, most of the game, anyway.

“I’ve watched the first three quarters of the game — I refuse to watch the last quarter,” Moore said Thursday when asked about February’s loss to the Giants. “That’s just me — that’s just my opinion. Of course, people want to talk about the game all the time and what happened on that last drive.

“It’s tough, but I have no problem talking about it. I can watch the first three quarters, but I can’t watch the last quarter, especially that final drive. Of course, I know my view is a little different than some of my teammates, but to each his own.”

The 22-year-old defensive back had a whirlwind 2011, going from Oakland’s practice squad to playing a major role in New England’s secondary. Even after he joined the Patriots, he remained a relatively anonymous face for several weeks: There was the famous story of him shopping at Best Buy and being mistaken for an employee, and in his first start against the Jets in a nationally televised game in November, NBC didn’t have footage of him for their intros, and so they had to use a headshot.

But he finished the year with three starts, seven tackles, two passes defensed and two interceptions in the regular season. And he found himself in the thick of things in the postseason — he broke up what would have been a sure touchdown pass in the waning moments of the AFC championship game when he knocked the ball away from Ravens’ receiver Lee Evans. And he had a pair of passes defensed and three tackles in the Super Bowl loss to the Giants.

Now, with the season three months in the rearview, he’s allowed himself a little time to look back on a memorable year, both for himself and the Patriots’ secondary.

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Read More: Lee Evans, Sterling Moore,
Free Agent Snapshot: Jim Leonhard 02.27.12 at 11:35 pm ET
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Jim Leonhard (AP)

We continue our look at 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason with a breakdown of safety Jim Leonhard. With the understanding that the NFL’s franchise tag window is from now until March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:

Jim Leonhard
Position: Safety
Age: 29
Height: 5-foot-8
Weight: 188 pounds

The Patriots need to build some depth at safety, and while this wouldn’t be a high-profile move, but an intriguing one. The Wisconsin product is a smart, savvy veteran who has made his bones the last couple of seasons as the most integral safety on the New York roster. He suffered a torn patellar tendon last year and missed the second half of the 2011 season, but is expected to be ready for 2012. He’s not expected to be re-signed by the Jets, and could be had for relatively little cash (perhaps as low as the veterans’ minimum) because he’s coming off the injury.

In addition, there is value to signing someone away from your divisional rival, a player who has hurt you in the past. (The Patriots tried to do the same thing this past year with defensive lineman Shaun Ellis, but Ellis had little left in the tank.) Leonhard hasn’t been particularly impressive against New England over the course of his career, but he is credited in several circles as being one of the players who helped come up with the game plan to beat the Patriots in the divisional playoffs in 2010.

Patrick Chung is solidly in place as one of the safeties going forward, but the rest of the position is up in the air. Safety James Ihedigbo is an unrestricted free agent, while cornerback Devin McCourty spent some time at free safety in sub packages and Sterling Moore also displayed a similar versatility. Leonhard has a reputation as a solid player who is a positive locker room presence. While he doesn’t have the wheels that he used to and struggled in coverage the last couple of years, he would be competitive with the current group of New England safeties.

(One more important point: If the Patriots are looking to improve at the safety spot in the draft, it doesn’t appear that there will be many impact players available in the draft, other than Alabama’s Mark Barron and – perhaps – Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith.)

Why it might not work: Leonhard is an old 29, he’s lost a step and because of the injuries he’s suffered over the last few seasons, he’s developed a rep (fair or not) of being injury prone. (He’s been IR’ed over the last two seasons.) He’s smart and could bring some of the state secrets from a divisional rival, but it’s questionable what sort of impact he could have long term on the New England defense.

Read More: Devin McCourty, free agent snapshot, Harrison Smith, James Ihedigbo
Dowling’s status raises some interesting questions about Patriots’ cornerback situation at 4:56 pm ET
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Where should the Patriots put Devin McCourty? (AP)

With the news that cornerback Ras-I Dowling is progressing well from his offseason hip surgery, it opens some intriguing questions about the Patriots’ cornerbacks going forward.

While there’s some talk about New England using one of their first four picks on a corner — Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama are two first-round possibilities, while Montana’s Trumaine Johnson is a second-round candidate — if the team decides Dowling is healthy enough to start the 2012 season, the Patriots might not be so inclined to pursue a cornerback in this year’s draft, at least not early on.

Dowling is an intriguing defender. Taken with the first pick of the second round in 2011, the 6-foot-1, 198-pounder started at corner in the regular-season opener against the Dolphins before getting hurt in Week 2.

“He’s a great guy and a wonderful person,” said Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield, a college teammate of Dowling’s. “He cares about his teammates. I think he’s going to be a great player. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people next year, for sure.”

If he was back at corner in 2012, Dowling would join a group that includes Sterling Moore and Kyle Arrington. In addition, Nate Jones and Antuwan Molden (two unrestricted free agents) remain candidates to return in 2012 for the Patriots at the position.

Dowling will also join Devin McCourty in the secondary, but the question remains: Where should McCourty play? After a Pro Bowl season as a rookie, he appeared to regress in 2011 at corner, and was moved to safety late in the season in New England’s sub packages. He certainly did not appear to be overwhelmed at free safety when he was there down the stretch and into the playoffs.

“I think they have to make a decision on McCourty,” said Greg Cosell, an NFL Films producer who breaks down game film on a weekly basis. “Because after his rookie year, you thought he might be on his way to being a top five or six corner. This was his second year, and it obviously didn’t work out that way to the point where he got moved to safety.

“I think they’re going to have to find a slot corner. Because obviously we know they played [Julian] Edelman there on the way up to the Super Bowl. They put Arrington there. They put Molden on the outside. At the end of the day, they’re still going to need a corner because I’m not sure they can consistently line up with those three as their corners if he still wants McCourty to be a safety in the sub packages. I think that would need an improvement.”

While McCourty struggled at corner at the start of the season, his former college coach believes he’ll make the adjustments necessary to succeed long-term.

“He’ll be back. There’s no doubt about it,” former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said when asked about McCourty at the NFL scouting combine. “I know he got bumped up a little bit. He’s been fortunate that that hasn’t happened to him very much in his career.

“I know one thing,” Schiano added. “If he didn’t play at the level that he did the year before, it had something to do with it, because he’s as committed a football player in his preparation and the way he takes care of himself physically that I’ve been around. So he’ll be back.”

Read More: Antuwan Molden, Chase Minnifield, Devin McCourty, Dre Kirkpatrick
Kelvin Beachum already has a bunch of connections to the Patriots 02.25.12 at 9:51 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Kelvin Beachum is a guy who already knows more about the Patriots than your average college prospect.

First, the offensive lineman out of SMU had Adrian Klemm as his positional coach with the Mustangs the last three years. Klemm was New England’s second-round pick in 2000 and spent five injury-plagued seasons with the Patriots. Second, current SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason was at Fresno State when current Pats’ offensive lineman Logan Mankins was there, and talked up Mankins’ to Beachum on a consistent basis. And third, Beachum was a college teammate of current Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore.

All this makes Beachum eminently qualified to discuss the possibility of playing in New England. He loved the opportunity to play for Klemm, who has since moved on to become the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at UCLA

“It was wonderful. He brought the intensity,” Beachum said of Klemm. “The calm, cool and collected side of things that you need to have in the game, but he also talked about seven seconds of violence, which was our motto for our offensive line. Being able to establish a violent nature for seven seconds and then be able to regain your composure then go out and do it again.”

Beachum is a 6-foot-3, 306-pound offensive lineman who played left tackle all four seasons at SMU, but figures to move to guard in the NFL. It was a move made by Mankins out of college, who became one of the best interior linemen in the league relatively quickly. While at SMU, Mason certainly gave him an idea of Mankins’ journey.

“He talked about [Mankins] a lot. He just talked about how massive he was, how he was just a big mauler for them when he was still in college,” Beachum said of Mason. “He didn’t have any tape on him, but [he talked about] the type of work ethic, the type of man he was, the type of character he had both on and off the field. He just talked about the qualities he had and what made him a good player.”

Beachum, who projects to be a late-round pick in April, can lean on his former college teammate Moore to provide him with some idea of what it takes to survive in the league as a relatively unheralded player coming out of college. Moore, who was an undrafted free agent coming out of SMU who cut by the Raiders in September, became a key member of the New England secondary over the second half of the season.

Beachum talked about some of the good times the two had as teammates.

“Man, he was a funny guy. He always had some jokes to go along with whoever he was locking down in practice,” Beachum said of Moore. “We used to call him 210. He was about 210 pounds and we called him a fat corner. But he dropped the weight. He’s done a wonderful job adapting to the NFL and is becoming a real good corner.”

Beachum said he tried his best to remain close to Moore during this past season but wasn’t always easy.

“We stayed in contact,” Beachum said. “Any time I was able to see him play — sometimes in Texas, you don’t get all the New England games — any time I was able to see him play, just shoot him a text and say, ‘Good game, bro.’ He’ll text me back and say, ‘Appreciate it, just keeping grinding.’“

Read More: 2012 combine, Adrian Klemm, Kelvin Beachum, Logan Mankins
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