|Why Cyrus Jones has a chance to join a very exclusive group of players on Sunday||02.03.17 at 12:42 pm ET|
HOUSTON — Cyrus Jones has had an up-and-down first year in the NFL, but if the Patriots win on Sunday, the rookie will join some incredibly exclusive company.
The former Alabama cornerback and special teamer has a chance to be a part of a very short list of players that have won a national title one year and a Super Bowl the next. If the Patriots beat the Falcons, Jones would be part of a group that includes Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett (Pitt in 1976, Dallas in 1977), William Floyd (Florida State in 1993, San Francisco in 1994), ex-Pats cornerback Randall ”Blue” Gay, linebacker Eric Alexander and defensive linemen Marquise Hill (LSU in 2003, New England in 2004) and Courtney Upshaw (Alabama in 2011, Baltimore in 2012).
For all the struggles he’s endured this season, Jones acknowledges he has the chance to be part of a rare feat.
“It’s definitely a pretty special thing,” Jones said. “A lot of guys go to college and never have a chance to make it to a national championship. I was lucky enough to be able to win two. Guys come to this level and some of them have never made the playoffs. I’m here after winning two national championships at Bama, and in my first year here, I’m in the Super Bowl.
“It’s definitely a blessing. I’m grateful to be in this position and be a part of this great organization. A great group of guys. I’m ready to go out there and do my part.”
HOUSTON — Devin McCourty knows there’s a time and place for everything.
The veteran Patriots safety, appearing in his third Super Bowl Sunday, believes this is not the time to make a political statement.
In light of the recent demonstrations against President’s Trump immigration orders, celebrities like Lady Gaga have indicated that they would like to see some sort of statement of inclusion during the Super Bowl.
Lady Gaga, an outspoken opponent of the President, indicated that she would be making the same statement during her 13-minute halftime show that she has been making all along.
During the preseason, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a firestorm by kneeling during the national anthem in protest of what he felt was discrimination against Muslims and unfair treatment of minorities by police.
Several other players in the NFL, as well as other sports, followed with statements of their own. McCourty and Martellus Bennett raised their fists during the national anthem in the regular season opener in Arizona.
The Celtics locked arms together in unity during the national anthem in a preseason game against Philadelphia at UMass.
But McCourty said Thursday he will not be making any such statements on Sunday.
“Nah. I did that for a reason,” McCourty said. “I didn’t do it all season so I wouldn’t do it now. It was to get a point across. I was able to talk it and spread that word and do different things with that. I think it was good a learning experience for me to be able to speak out on something I felt passionate about.”
What did McCourty take from the experience in September?
“I was actually about to speak with some officers and do different things like that in Boston,” McCourty added. “I thought it was a great thing. Myself, Marty and other teammates getting involved with being able to learn different aspects of life and what other people go through. It was a good experience.”
HOUSTON — On Thursday, Julian Edelman appeared to have some trouble remembering the name of one of his critics.
At media availability in Houston, the Patriots receiver was asked about the recent charge from Keyshawn Johnson, who said the Patriots wideouts probably wouldn’t make other 53-man rosters.
“When you see guys that fail and play for other teams at the receiver position, they can go to New England and excel and everybody goes, “Oh my God, Oh my God, these receivers are top of the game.’ Well, they couldn’t excel with other teams because of the system,” Johnson told 92.9 in Atlanta. “If they were on other teams right now, they probably wouldn’t be on the 53-man roster.”
Edelman took a few seconds to respond when asked about the statement.
“What did you say. Who?” Edelman replied.
Keyshawn. Keyshawn Johnson.
“Oh, Keyshawn,” Edelman said. “Isn’t he the disgruntled neighbor that like was waving down Bieber or something? Oh. That’s cool.”
Edelman added a small wink to punctuate the exchange. But the point had been made.
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HOUSTON — During Super Bowl week each team gets a designated pool reporter at each practice and gets to speak to the coach afterwards.
Peter King of MMQB.com has the Falcons this week and afterwards on Thursday, Falcons coach Dan Quinn told him he is “concerned” about Pro Bowl center Alex Mack and his injured left fibula.
“I just know his toughness and strength is so great,” Quinn said after another brisk and quick (88 minutes) practice on Rice’s grass practice field adjacent to Rice Stadium. “The good thing is I know he’s feeling better than he did in the NFC championship game. But yeah, I’m concerned. I’m not panicked, but I’m concerned.”
Quinn noted how a lot of the offensive protection is key for the center going against the Patriots defense.
“This game, because of the multiple fronts by New England, requires a lot of prep work by the center,” Quinn said. “Identifying this look, this front, this player’s positioning, they [Mack and back up Ben Garland] spend a lot of time in the film room together normally … and I would say it’s been even more these two weeks because this opponent requires even more.”
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HOUSTON — Jimmy Garoppolo was supposed to start the first four games of the season because of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
That didn’t actually happen because in Week 2 against the Dolphins, Garoppolo suffered a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder. The Patriots’ Week 3 game was on a Thursday night, so he was almost immediately ruled out of that, but Week 4 against the Bills remained a possibility.
Despite doing everything he could to play in the game, even practicing on a limited basis that week, he just couldn’t get enough range of motion in his shoulder to play.
In fact, the quarterback said wasn’t until that Sunday morning he was told he wasn’t going to play.
“[I was] close,” Garoppolo said Thursday. “I mean, it just — things didn’t work out. The coaches kind of — I don’t know. It just didn’t work out, I guess.”
Added Garoppolo: “Throughout the week I was being optimistic trying to mentally get ready to play, but sometimes the shoulder can’t do the things you want it to do when you’re injured liked that.”
The Patriots were shutout by the Bills, 16-0, in the final game the team played without Brady.
Despite some speculation at the time of the team pressuring Garoppolo to play, he said that wasn’t the case.
“No. The whole organization, we’re a team organization,” he said. “We’re looking out for each other. Pressure is not the right word. People wanted you to play. I wanted to play. It sucked not being out there. That’s your team and it wasn’t fun.”
Working as hard as he did during training camp and over the first two weeks of the season, it was a real bummer for him to miss the two games that he did.
“It sucked. It was terrible,” Garoppolo said. “Just kind of one of those freak accidents. Things are going to happen. You’re going to get injured, people are going to get hurt, whatever it may be. That was the first time in my career, so it wasn’t fun.”
But, now that it is in the past, Garoppolo feels satisfied with what he did in Weeks 1 and part of 2, going 43-for-63 passing with 502 yards and four touchdowns.
“Yeah, I mean I did everything I could. I prepared as well as I could, had good practices, went out and performed well. Like I said, it sucked I couldn’t go all four, but Jacoby [Brissett] came in and did a great job.”
HOUSTON — Although Michael Floyd has been a member of the Patriots for just under two months, the organization has made a good first impression.
Floyd was claimed off waivers by the team in late December following his release from the Cardinals following a DUI arrest. He played in the final two regular season games, AFC divisional round, but with all the receivers healthy, Floyd was the odd-man out in the AFC title game and would appear to be the same again for Super Bowl LI.
The 27-year-old will be a free agent after the season, but is hoping to return to New England.
“I hope to be back in Foxboro,” Floyd said. “I love it here. I hope that I can make that happen, for sure.”
Added Floyd: “I have no idea how that process works. I haven’t experienced it, but I’m sure it’s exciting and I can’t wait. I hope I’m here.”
Floyd has made a ton of progress in learning the offense since he joined the team and admitted it would be tough to leave after putting all the work in to get caught up with the offense.
“Yeah, I think just moving forward and just learning each and every single day,” Floyd said. “There’s not a time in my life or being on this team that you can afford to not learn. There’s always a time for learning and I think that’s for me.”
|How Martellus Bennett scared the crap out of Tom Brady||02.02.17 at 11:37 pm ET|
HOUSTON — Tom Brady was speaking to the assembled media for his scheduled press conference on Thursday afternoon and in the middle of him talking there was a loud, “Hey Tom!” shouted out of no where.
After a half second pause, Brady said, “Hi, Marty,” as it was Martellus Bennett walking behind the podium.
“That scared the crap out of me,” he said after composing himself. “Marty, go to sleep. Go rest.”
Coincidentally, the next question was about Martellus Bennett and the quarterback praised the tight end’s toughness.
“Well, I think with Marty, football absolutely is No. 1,” Brady said. “He has a high football IQ, and I have so much respect for Marty to come in — being in the different organizations that he has — and he came right in from OTAs, didn’t miss any practices all through training camp.
He’s been available every game this season. He’s played several different positions, and he’s practiced almost every day, too. And I wouldn’t say he’s feeling great at this point in terms of his body. But he’s fought through it. He’s got a lot of mental toughness.”
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