|NFL free agency update: Victor Cruz’s agent change not a good sign for Patriots||03.12.13 at 11:19 am ET|
Any team looking to land Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz would need to surrender a first-round draft pick, as the Giants have said they are placing a first-round tender on him. Plus, the Giants would have the option to match whatever offer Cruz receives from another team.
Combine that with the fact that Cruz recently hired Tom Condon, an agent with whom the Patriots reportedly prefer to avoid, and it appears New England will not make a run at the former UMass star, even if Wes Welker leaves New England.
Cruz had 86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, his third in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Steelers free agent receiver Mike Wallace, who had been tied to the Dolphins in multiple reports, might have a suitor in the Vikings, who have an opening after they agreed to trade Percy Harvin to the Seahawks. Via Jeff Darlington of NFL Network, the Dolphins believe that Wallace’s price might go as high as $13 million per year.
|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.
|Rating the Roster, Part 2||02.11.12 at 7:50 pm ET|
With the 2011 season in the rear-view mirror ‘ and the Patriots facing a number of key personnel decisions ‘ it seems like a good time to break down the current 53-man roster, taking a look at who might be the most valuable members of the franchise.
We arrived at this list by considering a combination of factors, including overall ability, positional versatility, expectations, contract situation and place on the depth chart. We also looked at what might be best described as intangibles ‘ loosely defined as a mixture of clubhouse character and willingness to work. In all, it helped us determine the overall value of each player within the Patriots system.
A quick note: The 53 players were taken straight from New England’s postseason media guide, the most up-to-date listing available. That means injured players such as Andre Carter, Mike Wright, Jermaine Cunningham, Dan Koppen and Ras-I Dowling, as well as practice squadders, are not included for purposes of this exercise.
We started with No. 53 through No. 26. Here’s No. 25 through No. 1:
25. Punter Zoltan Mesko: A borderline Pro Bowler, Mesko had an excellent year and was singled out earlier this season by an NFL scout we spoke with who acknowledged his work when it came to helping the Patriots win the battle of field position, especially early in games when New England was struggling to score points. Should be one of the best in the league for years to come.
24. Defensive back Sterling Moore: Released by the Raiders in September, he ended up playing significant minutes down the stretch and into the postseason. He made what was likely the defensive play of the year when he knocked the ball out of the hands of Baltimore’s Lee Evans in the AFC championship game. Regardless of what the Patriots do in free agency or the draft, he has played his way into the regular rotation of defensive backs going forward.
23. Tackle Sebastian Vollmer: It was a lost season for the big German, who struggled with back and foot issues for much of the season. Presuming that left tackle Matt Light will return as the starting left tackle in 2012, Vollmer will face a fight for his starting job next year at the right tackle spot with Nate Solder.
22. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski: A very good year for Gostkowski, who remains one of the more steady and consistent kickers in the league.
21. Defensive lineman Kyle Love: Love is likely the best and most consistent young defensive lineman on the roster. He played roughly half the snaps for the Patriots this season at the defensive tackle spot, and gained a wealth of knowledge playing much of the season alongside Vince Wilfork. It will be interesting to watch his progression into 2012, especially with a lockout-free offseason.
20. Wide receiver Deion Branch: He’s not the receiver he once was, but he maximizes the tools that are still at his disposal, including his smarts, his knowledge of the game and his relationship with Tom Brady. Prior to a couple of ill-timed drops in the Super Bowl, he still showed a knack for coming up big in big moments. A free agent, he’s one of the really intriguing decisions the Patriots face this offseason.
19. Running back Stevan Ridley: An interesting rookie year — he showed genuine flashes of greatness at times, running the ball for 5.1 yards per carry with real explosiveness. But there were a couple of fumbles late in the season, which ultimately meant that an occasionally promising year ended on something of a sour note. With a good offseason (lockout-free), he could push BenJarvus Green-Ellis for the role of lead back in 2012.
18. Defensive end Mark Anderson: One of the pleasant free agent surprises of 2012 (along with Andre Carter and Brian Waters), Anderson saw his role expand over the course of the season from that of a pure third-down pass rusher to a more complete defender. He’s not quite a complete three-down player yet in the New England system, but certainly progressed over the course of the season. Like Carter, his better-than-expected performance on a one-year deal will leave the Patriots with a decision to make at the start of free agency.
17. Tackle Nate Solder: The Patriots’ Rookie of the Year, he had a very good rookie season, working as a right and left tackle, a part-time tight end as well as getting reps on special teams. (According to Pro Football Focus, he was eighth on the offense in total snaps with 1,044, more than veterans like Dan Connolly, Deion Branch and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.) He struggled in the Super Bowl, but will almost certainly push Vollmer for the starter’s job at right tackle in 2012.
16. Running back Danny Woodhead: An up-and-down season for Woodhead, but when he was on, it was clear he’s emerged as a mostly positive heir to Kevin Faulk as the teams’ third-down/changeup back. (He’s not the blocker Faulk is, but has shown himself to be a statistical equal in several other areas.) Woodhead had a very good Super Bowl, and stands ready to be an integral part of the New England offense going forward.
15. Cornerback Devin McCourty: A mixed bag this season for McCourty, who struggled mightily in coverage over the first half of the season but did show some improvement over the second half, returning to his old physical self. He flashed some versatility late in the regular season and into the playoffs with a move to safety on third down and other passing situations, and he didn’t appear overwhelmed when he made the switch. Like Julian Edelman, he’ll bear watching in minicamps and other OTA’s when it comes to where he lines up. What the Patriots ultimately decide to do with him could have a sizable impact on the rest of the secondary.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Super Bowl Tweets, 3 p.m.: Patriots arrive at Lucas Oil stadium||02.05.12 at 3:43 pm ET|
Giant buses now leaving hotel, bound for Superbowl XLVI … tweeted NFL Network reporter Albert Breer. Has been a crazy scene here at the Giants hotel. Lobby packed with friends and family, temporary bar set up there.
The official Twitter page for the Patriots tweeted not long after, Team buses are pulling into Lucas Oil Stadium.
As for the players …
Patriots and Giants players alike have been interacting with fans on Twitter, replying with gratitude for their encouraging words and faith.
In a response to this tweet by a fan: This is the day you’ve been waiting 4! *insert backflip here*, Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton tweeted: And you know this man!!!!
Even R&B singing sensation and TV personality Ciara tweeted praises of Cruz.
2 Day was soooo much fun! Victor Cruz taught me how to salsa! The Cruz Salsa! Watch The Insider tonight at 7pm pst!
Hartford Courant sports columnist Jeff Jacobs tweeted: Victor Cruz refuses to salsa on command from freaky guy.
While it may appear that Cruz is known for his spiced-up dance moves on the sidelines of almost every game, CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted: If Victor Cruz is the Super Bowl MVP, he’ll make more in marketing than his yearly salary ($450,000).
According to a recent tweet quoting a movie, Patriots defensive end Andre Carter is keeping his sense of humor despite the big game.
What cologne am I gonna go with? London Gentleman, or wait. No, no, no. Hold on. Blackbeard’s Delight.-Anchorman
Even amidst the constant bustle in a city that proudly never sleeps, the Super Bowl tends to make a fair share of noise. And with the hometown Giants playing tonight on football’s biggest stage, the New York newspapers are unsurprisingly dominated by Super Bowl XLVI.
Beginning right where the Patriots and Giants left off in Super Bowl XLII in 2008, Steve Serby of the New York Post predicts another Giants victory behind the arm of Eli Manning and his ability to once again best Tom Brady.
Wrote Serby: It used to be that Tom Brady was the last man you would want standing between you and the Lombardi Trophy. It was Eli Manning who shattered Brady’s aura of invincibility one magical, momentous night four years ago, and it is Eli Manning who will deliver an emphatic reminder tonight against Brady and the Patriots and bring the Lombardi Trophy back home. It is Eli Manning who has Brady’s number, and it is Eli Manning, more than any Giant, who knows how to finish. It is Eli Manning, unlike any other New York quarterback, who has not trembled at the sight of the diabolical man in the hoodie on the enemy sidelines, Darth [Bill] Belichick.
It is Eli Manning who shows up at Super Bowl XLVI with the right arm and brain his big brother always had and the toughness Phil Simms always displayed. It is Eli Manning who will be cheered wildly by the pro-Giants crowd inside Lucas Oil Stadium, and by fans all so eager to adopt Peyton’s little brother. ‘I think he’s battle-hardened,’ Bill Parcells said. Now do you understand why Gisele wants family and friends to pray for Tommy? Yes, Eli is in Brady’s class … and Manning doesn’t have to flinch at the menace of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck coming for his head.
Building on Serby’s final point, George Willis of the Post wrote that the Giants defensive line is ready to pressure, fluster and neutralize Brady just as it memorably did in the last Super Bowl match-up between these two teams.
Wrote Willis: It’s a chance to put the finishing touches on a season of triumph, which at one point looked much like one of misery. Tonight, this unit without a nickname will chase Brady and history. It all comes down to simple math, really. There won’t be enough New England blockers to double team Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Dave Tollefson on the same play, which means Brady is going to be under pressure. The frequency of how much that happens and the amount of disruption caused will determine if the Giants beat the Patriots.
Many have speculated and talked at length about the factor of revenge in this year’s Super Bowl, given the history that exists between these teams and franchises. Some, most notably Patriots players, have downplayed the importance of revenge.
|Super Bowl Roundup: New York papers delve into Gisele’s email and Gronk’s antecedents||02.02.12 at 10:28 am ET|
In an interesting piece of investigative journalism, the New York Post managed to obtain an email allegedly written by Gisele Bundchen asking those close to her to support husband Tom Brady in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
The Post ran part of the email as follows: This sunday will be a really important day in my husband’s life. He and his team worked so hard to get to this point and now they need us more than ever to send them positive energy so they can fulfill their dream of winning this super bowl … So I kindly ask all of you to join me on this positive chain and pray for him, so he can feel confident, healthy and strong. Envision him happy and fulfilled experiencing with his team a victory this sunday.
The Post seemingly reached out to Bundchen after securing the email, as it included a response from her in the story.
I am surprised that you received this email, Bundchen wrote in a different email to the Post. It was a private note only sent to close friends and family.
The article does not say how the Post found a copy of the email, but it does go on to detail how the email reflects less confidence from Bundchen than Brady showed at the Patriots’ send-off Sunday, when Brady told fans, “Hopefully, we’ll have a lot more people at our party next weekend.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Super Summary: Wednesday morning roundup of Patriots/Giants coverage on WEEI.com||02.01.12 at 7:16 am ET|
YES, THERE WAS SOME NEWS ON MEDIA DAY
— Whereas Gronkowski’s status for the game remains to be determined, the Patriots will feature a significant presence back on their line. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia told WEEI.com’s Chris Price that Sebastian Vollmer will be available for the Super Bowl. Even if Vollmer is available for just a few snaps, Scarnecchia added, his impact will be significant.
— Meanwhile, running back Stevan Ridley told WEEI.com’s Kirk Minihane that he “definitely” will be active for the Super Bowl after being an inactive in the AFC championship game, presumably for letting loose a couple of fumbles.
— There has not been a suggestion that Matt Light‘s availability for the Super Bowl is in question. He was, however, a no-show on Media Day due to a descent into the Hades of intestinal turmoil, as Mike Petraglia chronicles.
— Amidst all of the comings and goings, Christopher Price says that the Super Bowl ultimately will come down to the performance of the Patriots offensive line against the Giants defensive front. He breaks down that task here.
HOW DO YOU COUNT TO OCHO?
— The absurdity of Media Day has come and gone. There is a very strong chance that, with it, so, too, has the relevance of Chad Ochocinco to this Super Bowl.
Despite the fact that he did not have a podium, the Patriots’ wide receiver was surrounded by a throng of reporters and captivated the crowd with all kinds of interesting and sometimes contradictory comments. He said that being in the Super Bowl was a dream come true and dismissed the notion that the experience was bittersweet. But he also claimed that even a Super Bowl victory would not remove the frustration of the season.
Unanswered? Whether he will be a contributor on Sunday. Minihane says that these are the last days of Ochocinco in a Patriots uniform, and that no group hugs appear to be forthcoming on his way out the door.
THE MOUTH(S) THAT ROARED: NEW YORK AND THE GIANTS GO THE INFLAMMATORY ROUTE IN DISCUSSING THE PATRIOTS Read the rest of this entry »