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Julian Edelman reaches two franchise milestones in win over Bills 12.29.13 at 11:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — With all the injuries and departures that have taken place within the Patriots passing game following last season to this point in 2013 there remains one constant besides quarterback Tom Brady – wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Edelman continued his career-year Sunday, hauling in nine passes for 65 yards in the Patriots’€™ 34-20 win over the Bills at Gillette Stadium. Of Brady’€™s 14 completions, nine went to the fifth-year receiver, who completed his first full 16-game season since being drafted in 2009.

Julian Edelman broke two franchise records in Sunday's win over the Bills. (AP)

Julian Edelman broke two franchise records in Sunday’s win over the Bills. (AP)

“I don’€™t think there’€™s ever been any question about Julian’€™s skills or his toughness or his competitiveness. Yeah, you’€™re right,” said head coach Bill Belichick, when asked if playing in a full season helped Edelman’s development. “This is the year he’€™s been able to stay on the field and certainly his production has paralleled his time on the field. He’€™s done a good job with his opportunities. He always practices hard, plays hard, prepares well. He’€™s always a tough guy you can count on from that standpoint and this year he’€™s been healthy.”

Being healthy was one of the main reasons for his breakout year, which saw him catch over 100 passes with a 12-yard reception in the second quarter. He entered the game with 96 catches and finished with 105, good for sixth on the all-time Patriots list for catches in a season. He became the first Patriots player not named Wes Welker to reach the milestone since 2001 and Troy Brown.

“I don’€™t know what the significance is,” Edelman said. “I do know that we went out there and played a pretty solid game. There were mess-ups, which, I mentally was the guy who screwed up that formation in that four-minute offense situation. I’€™m a little bummed about that, but it was definitely a good team-win and it was good to clinch that first-round bye.”

Edelman also eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark with a five-yard catch in the opening quarter, becoming just the 10th player in franchise history to do so, as he finished the year with 1,056. While the accolades are special, Edelman maintains helping the team win is more important.

“I mean, it’€™s cool and everything, but you really go out there and play for other things, like playing in the last game of the year and winning that game,” he said. “We put ourselves in an opportunity to go one step closer to that. It is definitely kind of cool, just with the road; it’€™s been a crazy road. It’€™s definitely been kind of cool.”

Playing in just 11, 15, 13, and nine games respectively in his first four years in the league due to injury or players ahead of him on the depth chart, Edelman’€™s record-breaking day did have some special meaning to him.

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Wes Welker: ‘I have been around long enough to know a tough guy when I see one’ 01.18.13 at 9:42 am ET
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Wes Welker sports a shiner under his left eye from a hit in the Texans game last week. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Wes Welker sports a shiner under his left eye from a hit in the Texans game last week. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Wes Welker isn’t about to be intimidated – on Sunday’s stage or any stage for that matter.

Goodness knows, people have tried.

There was the Ryan Clark hit in the Steelers game at Gillette in 2008. There have been numerous attempts by the Jets and Dolphins over the last five seasons. There was a big hit delivered by Texans safety Glover Quin in the second quarter of last week’s game at Gillette Stadium.

Still, no one has succeeded in keeping Welker from standing up to punishment and running routes over the middle. He even has a shiner this week thanks to the punishment from last week’s game.

But ask Welker if anyone intimidates him, and he laughs at you the same way he laughs at the defense trying to punish him.

“Intimidate me?” Welker replied Thursday when asked the question.

The reporter brought up the Clark hit from 2008.

“I don’t know. I don’t know about intimidating me or anything like that,” Welker said. “There are guys that talk trash. There are guys that try to hit you and do all these different things but I feel like I have been around long enough to know a tough guy when I see one.”

Does it fuel Welker?

“Sometimes, it just depends. Sometimes it’s dirty or in bad taste,” Welker said.

Welker stands 5-feet-9 and weighs just 190 pounds. Welker was reminded Thursday the NFL is played by enormous individuals. For those that aren’t blessed with that kind of size, what does he use to overcome that?

“I think the two key things are being tough and being smart,” Welker said. “Being able to take those hits and do all of those things and at the same time being smart and understanding what the defense is doing and being able to attack it in a certain way where you can maybe make those windows just a little bit bigger where you are not taking those hits and things like that. I would attribute it to being tough and being smart and really understanding the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Troy Brown is right: Bill Belichick doesn’t let his former stars beat him 12.12.12 at 5:06 pm ET
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Bill Belichick doesn't let his former stars beat him. (AP)

Bill Belichick doesn’t let his former stars beat him. (AP)

Former Patriots receiver Troy Brown said this week on Mut & Merloni that Patriots fans shouldn’t worry about former New England great Randy Moss giving the Pats trouble when the 49ers come to town Sunday. The reason? Because Bill Belichick won’t let him.

“If there’s somebody on that team that will beat the Patriots on Sunday, it will not be Randy Moss,” Brown said. “He will not score a touchdown on Sunday night.”

Brown explained that Belichick makes a point of it to limit his former players when they play again him.

“Just from what I know, when [Belichick] plays against former [Patriots] that have played for him, those particular players will not beat him,” Brown said. “I saw him put two guys on Terry Glenn when he came back with Dallas to play here. We were going to win the game. It was just the fact that he didn’t want Terry to catch a touchdown or make a big play.”

Brown knows Belichick better than most people, and going through the game logs, it’s pretty clear he has a point. Glenn, who made a name for himself in New England before talking his way off the team, had his least-productive game of the 2003 season when he played the Pats as a member of the Cowboys, catching just one ball for eight yards in a 12-0 Patriots win.

That stat line (one catch for eight yards and no touchdowns) was repeated by Moss when he played the Pats after they traded him to the Vikings in the 2010 season, suggesting that perhaps Belichick does indeed game-plan around star players who had played under him in New England. Here’s a look at how some of the more notable Patriots from the Belichick era have fared against him after leaving New England.

Drew Bledsoe
-Nov. 3, 2002: 28/45, 302 yards, TD, INT
-Dec. 8, 2002: 32/51, 328 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
-Sept, 7, 2003: 17/28, 230 yards, TD, INT
-Dec. 27, 2003: 12/29, 83 yards, INT
-Oct. 3, 2004: 18/30, 247 yards, TD, INT
-Nov. 14, 2004: 8/19, 76 yards, 3 INT

Lawyer Milloy
-Sept. 7, 2003: 5 combined tackles (3 assisted), sack
-Dec. 27, 2003: 8 combined tackles (4 assisted)
-Nov. 14, 2004: 15 combined tackles* (5 assisted)
-Oct. 30, 2005: 3 combined tackles (2 assisted)
-Dec. 11, 2005: 8 combined tackles (4 assisted)

*Career-high

Terry Glenn
-Nov. 16 2003: 1 reception, 8 yards

Ty Law
-Dec. 4, 2005: 5 combined tackles (1 assisted)
-Dec. 26, 2005: 2 tackles, interception returned 74 yards for TD
-Nov. 13, 2008: 3 tackles

Willie McGinest
-Oct. 7 2007: 2 assisted tackles

Randy Moss
-Oct. 31, 2010: 1 reception, 8 yards

Richard Seymour
-Oct. 2 2011: 3 tackles

It appears Brown has a point, as a couple of strong showings from Milloy and a pick-6 for for Law are the only bright spots on a rather lengthy list of games from star players. As for Belichick not letting those players beat him? Brown was right about that, too: In those games (there’s some overlap due to Bledsoe and Milloy’s time with the Bills), the Patriots went 11-2. Neither of those losses were the direct result of former Pats’ big games, though Milloy sacked Tom Brady in the memorable 31-0 drubbing Buffalo gave the Pats to open the 2003 season, a game in which Bledsoe only needed a mediocre performance (17/28, 230 yards, TD, INT) thanks to Brady’s four-interception day.

As the Patriots prepare for the 49ers, it’s safe to say that Moss isn’t the same player he was when he set the single-season touchdown reception record in 2007. He can “still run,” as Brown noted, but history shows it should be a quiet night for him on Sunday.

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Troy Brown tries on his Patriots HOF jacket for first time and thanks fans 09.13.12 at 2:41 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Troy Brown took part in what’s become an annual tradition on Thursday.

Every year, before the first Patriots home game of the season, new inductees into the team’s Hall of Fame try on their red jacket for the first time in a photo op at The Hall at Patriot Place. Then, the Saturday night before the home opener, they are inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Among the highlights were his recollections of the time then-Patriots head coach Bill Parcells cut the Marshall product in final cuts before the 1993 season.

“It was something I deserved,” an honest Brown said Thursday. “I didn’t play very well in the preseason. I had the good fortune of talking to Bill for a long, long time at the National Football League Hall of Fame in Canton when Curtis Martin got inducted. We talked and we chatted for about an hour and talked about all those things and all those good days. He was really proud of the way things turned out for me after all that stuff, down to being cut. He was really happy about it and I’ve always had a tremendous respect for Bill Parcells and the way he went about doing things.

“He’s a tough guy and he had his beliefs and he stuck with them, but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t try to prove him wrong. It made me a better player, I think. It made me a better person and everything else. Being cut is not fun because I was out for over half the season that year. I came back and I lost my number – I used to be Irving Fryar [No. 80] and I came back as Stanley Morgan [No. 86]. It wasn’t fun. He kind of beat me up a little bit when I got back. Obviously, when the season was over, it’s my second year and I’m still a free agent; I didn’t know what was going to happen in the offseason and if they were going to sign me back or not. He did again and gave me another opportunity and it’s been pretty good since then.”

Here are the rest of the highlights from Thursday’s Q and A at the Hall at Patriot Place, courtesy Patriots media relations.

Q: What do you expect your emotions to be on Saturday?

TB: I don’t know. I’m usually a pretty happy person. I don’t think I cry very easily. It just brings back a lot of memories and hopefully I’ll see a lot of familiar faces that I haven’t seen in awhile. I think this is a great way to cap off what everybody – Bill [Belichick] was talking about a great career that I put together for myself with the help of so many people – it’s a great way to cap that off. I don’t want to say bring it to an end or close it out, but just to cap it off. You can’t get any greater honor than this when you’re a Patriot.

Q: Do you feel like you can still play?

TB: Every once in awhile I do. I can call Bill [Belichick] up right now and tell him I have four of five good [plays] in me, but in all actuality it would probably be one play and I’m done but I could go out and block somebody probably.

Q: Vince Wilfork’s description of you included the word leadership. How does that make you feel.

TB: It’s great because when Vince came onto the scene with us, I think my leadership abilities had already blossomed. Before he got here, Vince didn’t know me as being this really, really quiet guy in the corner. Kevin Faulk always talks about me as a leader even though I didn’t talk a whole lot and do all those things, but for a guy like Vince to say that and to watch him play the game the way he does, I think [the idea] that some of the way I went about doing things rubbed off on him means a lot. You did your best to set a good example.

Q: You use the word blossom. How does leadership blossom? How did it work out in your case?

TB: For a long time I didn’t realize it. I just talked about Kevin Faulk just now and I never really realized that he was watching me as much as he was. I was kind of the same way – I watched a lot of guys, I watched everybody. Just how they went about doing things and things they said and did, I kind of learned from that. When you don’t realize it, you just don’t. When you finally realize what position you’re in and how you have to be a good example for the rest of the guys to study and take care of their bodies and do all those things. I was probably in my 10th or 11th year, somewhere in there. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nick Caserio talks about introducing flexible rookies into the system 07.28.12 at 6:50 pm ET
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FOXBORO — On the heels of a story from Friday on rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower and trying to balance how to best take advantage of his versatility against his overall professional development, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio weighed in on the idea that you have to manage your expectations your expectations when you’re faced with a rookie that has Hightower’s skill set.

“Certain players learn at different rates,” Caserio said before Friday’s practice. “It’s really whether or not they can take … really, you start let’s say day one of training camp or the first day in pads, the installation goes in, you go out there, you practice that, you make the corrections, you come back the next day and there’s going to be another installation that goes in.

“Are they able to retain the information from the previous day? Can they carry that over when you add multiples in? It’s a matter of how the player handles that. If the player can handle more, then you can give him more. If he can’t handle as much, then you give him less. You just try to find that balance between giving the player too much and letting him also go out there and be able to play and execute at an optimum level.”

When it comes to introducing versatile guys into the New England system — and the Patriots brought in several this offseason, including Hightower, defensive lineman Jake Bequette and defensive back Tavon Wilson — there are different rules for different players.

“If they’re in a specific role, the more multiples they can handle — whether it’s in the kicking game, whether it’s in pass coverage, whether it’s run defense — then it’s going to enhance their ability to get on the field,” Caserio said. “Troy Brown was out at practice the other day. There probably isn’t a better example of a versatile player really in all three phases of the game. Not everybody can do that. You start with a foundation, you introduce some concepts and some different things and see who can handle what. Maybe one player can handle more relative to another so that’s just part of putting the team together and seeing who can handle what.”

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Troy Brown’s Q&A with the media from Tuesday morning 06.05.12 at 2:05 pm ET
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Here’s the complete transcript of Troy Brown’s Q&A with the media Tuesday morning.

TB: First of all, I thank each and every one of you for being here. I do appreciate it. I definitely want to say thank you to the many fans that voted and put me in this position. You guys feel free to fire away whenever you’re ready.

When you look at this accomplishment and honor, do you get a little bit nostalgic for how things started for you with the Patriots? It’s been almost a 20-year association you’ve had with the team now. “Yeah, somewhat. You look back on it – and I always look back on it – where I started from and how shaky things were and how unsure things were for me for a long time wearing that Patriots uniform. I think it was like seven years in there where it was always pretty unstable for me. I look back on it now and I realize now how much the fans really did appreciate what I was doing when, at times, it seemed like some other people around the organization didn’t seem to realize that. When it comes down to it, I always played hard for my teammates and played hard for my coaches no matter who it was and ownership and you really wanted to go out there and make our fans happy. I think that now that I realize how much they appreciated the way I played the game, it does make me feel really good.”

How would you rate yourself on the basis of natural ability? When you think of Hall of Fame, you think of supremely talented players. Where would you put yourself there? “I was always athletic. I didn’t have some of the skills that you see a lot of the athletes have. I could jump, I was quick, I could catch and all those types of things, but when it came to just flat out speed, that was something I had to work really hard at. I got better and I got faster and I think it showed. When I hit 28, 29 years old – I was probably 30 years old – I was running my best times ever in the 40-yard dash. That worked out in my favor. Maybe I don’t have all the things that you would think a guy my size would have, but I think I read some quotes from Bill [Belichick] and it’s kind of hard to make up for some of those things, but when you have the heart and determination to go out there and get something done and you go out there and you play the game like you love it, you can make up for a lot of things that you don’t have.”

Did that make it more satisfying that you were able to do that? “Oh yeah. I’ve loved football since I was a very tiny kid. I always figured out ways to be successful at it. Since I played Pee Wee Football, I always seemed to be on a team and surrounded with good people and good coaches. I was always able to go out and find a way to win games and that just came along with me. It’s just a part of who I am; you always find a way to get things done. It does, it makes me feel really good to know that I had to continue to work to make myself better and continue to work to convince other people who were evaluating me that I deserved to be on their football team. Thank God for Bill Belichick, Charlie Weis and all those guys that gave me an opportunity there to be a starter in the NFL. It worked out for me and it worked out for them too, so definitely a big thank you to them also.”

When you retired, did you think that something like this, getting into the Patriots Hall of Fame, was only a matter of time? “Yeah, those are things that kind of cross your mind from time to time. I’m not one that’s big on accolades and all those things and praise. I did my job and I’m proud of what I did and how I did it. As a player, you get to see all those things: I saw Stanley Morgan go in, I saw Ben Coates go in and all those guys go into the [Patriots] Hall of Fame, Bruce Armstrong. Yeah, you think about all those things because I see it, I played with some of those guys and you’re able to see them go in there. When you walk into the Hall of Fame and see the displays in there and all those things – and me not being a person who’s big on all those types of things, when you see somebody’s personal stuff hanging up in there, yeah it does make you feel special and you want to be a part of that. Any human being would want to be a part of it, so it did cross my mind once I was done playing that maybe one day I would get to go back there and be in the Hall of Fame along with some of the greatest Patriots to ever do it, and I’m completely honored to be a part of that group now.”
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Troy Brown among former Patriots who are headed to ‘boot camp’ 06.04.12 at 4:04 pm ET
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Troy Brown will be headed to "Broadcast Boot Camp." (AP)

Former Patriots wide receiver and kick returner Troy Brown will be one of 23 current and former players who will take part in the sixth annual “NFL Broadcast Bootcamp” at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, N.J., the league announced Monday. Brown, a co-host on WEEI’s “NFL Sunday” and analyst for Comcast SportsNet, will be a part of the program, which will run from June 18-21.

The program, which runs from June 18-21, is directed by the NFL Player Engagement and NFL Broadcasting departments, and covers a wide range of topics with instructors from each of the NFL’s broadcast partners — CBS, ESPN, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, SiriusXM, Dial Global Radio, plus local radio and TV.

Brown will be one of several former New England players to take part this year. Chad Brown, who was a linebacker with the Patriots in 2005 and 2007, will also be there, as well as linebacker Corey Mays (who was on the New England roster from 2006-2007), quarterback Kevin O’Connell (2008) and kicker Shayne Graham (2010). Tackle Matt Light, defensive lineman Dan Klecko and safety Artrell Hawkins are among the former Patriots who have taken part in the program.

According to the NFL, of the 105 players who took part in the Broadcast Boot Camp from 2007 through 2011, 44 have earned broadcasting jobs as a result of their participation.

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