|Vince Wilfork doing Vince Wilfork things with Texans||08.09.15 at 5:33 pm ET|
Buddy is looking down and smiling tonight!!! There will never be another one, on and off the field!!! #55 in #HOF2015
|Vince Wilfork gives a Hall of Fame salute to ex-Patriots teammate Junior Seau||08.08.15 at 11:40 pm ET|
|Checking in with some old Patriots at their new addresses||08.03.15 at 11:41 am ET|
With the Patriots taking a day off from camp, that presents us with an opportunity to check in with eight of the players who were on the roster last year who have since moved on to new teams.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis: The Jets cornerback hasn’t taken any passive-aggressive shots at his old employer over the last few days. Instead, he’s been working with the rest of the rebuilt New York secondary over the course of the first few days of camp in Florham Park. The Jets’ Twitter feed provided some cool-looking Vines of some of the one-on-one drills between Revis and wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Cornerback Brandon Browner: Browner, who turned 31 on Sunday, left the Patriots on good terms as a free agent over the offseason (he posted his championship ring and the nice note from Robert Kraft on Instagram last month), but the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder did reveal an intriguing nugget over the weekend: He told reporters that when the Patriots “asked me to take a pay cut, you know, it was time to get up out of there.” He projects as one of the two lead corners in the New Orleans defense for 2015.
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork: The longtime Patriot signed with the Texans in the offseason and figures to be one of the foundational elements of Houston’s defensive line. Wilfork revealed this week that his daughter Destiny agreed to allow her father to sign with the Texans was if she could meet J.J. Watt. Mission accomplished.
Running back Shane Vereen: While there was plenty of talk initially about potentially utilizing Vereen in more than just a third-down role, it appears now that he’s starting to settle in as the Giants‘ third-down option out of the backfield. Vereen said this week there are a number of similarities between the offense he was a part of in New England and what’s getting used to in New York.
Running back Stevan Ridley: The former Patriots back was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of Jets training camp. Ridley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last October against the Bills, has expressed optimism that he can get back on the field sooner rather than later, but at the same time, he said in June he does not want to create “false hope” regarding his health. Ultimately, the goal is to be back on the field for Week 1 of the regular season.
|With Vince Wilfork gone, Patriots defense looks to likes of Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich to fill leadership void||08.01.15 at 1:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO — While much of the offseason focus is on how the Patriots’ defense will survive the offseason departure of cornerback Darrelle Revis, from an off-field perspective, the loss of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork looms just as large.
The veteran, who was an absolutely essential part of the Patriots success since he arrived as a first-round pick in 2004, left for the Texans in the offseason. And while it’s one thing to talk about his departure from a purely statistical standpoint, his leadership skills were just as valuable. Now, it will fall to a new generation of defensive players to guide younger players in the same fashion that Wilfork did for the last decade.
Two of the likely candidates to assume more of a leadership role on the defensive side of the ball in 2015 are safety Devin McCourty and defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich. McCourty arrived in 2010, while Ninkovich was picked up as a street free agent in 2009, making them two of the senior members of the New England defense. (Linebacker Jerod Mayo is the only one with more service time with the Patriots. having first shown up in 2008.) Both talked this week about facing an increased level of expectations with Wilfork no longer in the locker room.
“The key to being a leader is just being yourself,” McCourty said. “I continue to just do that — be myself. I think obviously, there’s a big hole with Vince being gone, but I think we have good leaders on this team. Obviously there’s myself and Mayo. Guys like (Dont’a) Hightower, Jamie (Collins), Chandler (Jones), Rob (Ninkovich). Those guys have been playing for awhile, along with (Patrick) Chung. So we just have to keep trucking and keep going forward.”
“Vince was obviously a great figure in the organization, and I have tons of respect for him. But the way that the business works, there will always be turnover — you’ll always lose guys. That just happens across the league,” Ninkovich said.
He added: “For us, it’s continuing to do what we’ve done in the past, and that’s coming to work hard every day and setting a good example for the young guys of how to prepare and how to practice and get ready for the football season. For me, it’s not going to be rah-rah, speeches here and there. It’s going to be coming to work every day and doing my job at a high level and leading by example.”
|Countdown to camp: Defensive line||07.29.15 at 3:51 pm ET|
As training camp approaches, we’ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We started with the offensive side of the ball and now we’ve shifted to defense with the cornerbacks, linebackers and safeties, now we take a look at the defensive line.
Depth chart (regular-season stats via Pro Football Reference): Rob Ninkovich (53 tackles, 8 sacks), Jabaal Sheard (25 tackles, 2 sacks), Chandler Jones (37 tackles, 6 sacks) Dominique Easley (6 tackles, 1 sack), Sealver Siliga (21 tackles, 2.5 sacks), Alan Branch (14 tackles), Jake Bequette, Chris Jones (16 tackles, 3 sacks), Joe Vellano (4 tackles, 1 sack), Zach Moore, Malcom Brown (rookie), Trey Flowers (rookie)
THREE THINGS WE KNOW
1. It’s a different group than a year ago. While they may have lost only one player, it was their leader Vince Wilfork. Without Wilfork it will surely be a different group and they will need someone to step up and take on a leadership role, which will likely be Ninkovich. The team also went out and signed Sheard, who was a free agent after spending last season with the Browns. While they will be without the biggest guy in the middle, the talent is still there to keep up the success.
2. Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard will be good. The Patriots could have one of the best outside pass rush grouping in the entire league with these three. Ninkovich has had eight sacks in three straight seasons, Jones had six in an injury-plagued 2014 season and Sheard will benefit from having the other two players with him. These three rotating in-and-out will likely create matchup problems for opposing defenses and allow the Patriots to get constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks when they choose.
3. They will need to make more of an impact. Last season the secondary was the group which led the defense and this year it will be the front-seven with the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington in the secondary. It will likely be the opposite of things from last year, as this year it will be the front-seven taking some pressure off of the secondary rather than the other way around like last season.
|A familiar ring: Current, former Patriots gather for lavish ceremony to celebrate Super Bowl XLIX win||06.14.15 at 11:19 pm ET|
In the latest chapter of an eventful offseason, the Patriots got their Super Bowl XLIX rings in a ceremony at Robert Kraft’s home in Brookline on Sunday night, part of an evening that included several former players reuniting with their old mates to celebrate the championship.
“I have been blessed to host four Super Bowl ring ceremonies, and just like the rings we present, we have tried to make each ceremony a little bigger and a little better than the one before,” Kraft said. “Football is the consummate team sport. These championship rings represent all that the team endured and overcame together. The players on this team will forever be bound by the memories this ring represents.
“The presentation of the rings is one of my favorite moments. I love watching the expressions on the faces of each of our players and the range of emotions they experience when they see the ring for the first time and the pride they all have when they put it on. Tonight’s celebration is really a culmination of a job well done.”
Of the four ring ceremonies, this was the third held at Kraft’s home. The one held in June 2002 to celebrate the win over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI was part of a team get-together at a private waterfront ceremony at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
While former players like Vince Wilfork and Tim Wright apparently made the journey to celebrate with their now ex-teammates, one former player who was not present was cornerback Darrelle Revis. According to one report, the cornerback was going to send his mother to pick up his Super Bowl ring because he had a “prior commitment.” However, a team spokesman indicated that Revis’ mother was not in attendance. (There was a report that Revis’ mother had been turned away at the entrance. That report was denied by a source.) For what it’s worth, Revis’ absence didn’t appear to put much of a damper on things — at least by the looks of the Twitter accounts of various players.
According to the team, in 2003 and 2004, when the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls, the championship rings were adorned with 104 and 124 diamonds respectively. This year’s rings, handcrafted by Josten’s, features 205 diamonds, and are cast in white gold. On one side, the recipient’s name sits atop the ring, along with the years of the franchise’s previous Super Bowl Championships in ’01, ’03, ’04 and 2014. Each player’s number, encrusted in diamonds, sits just above the Gillette Stadium logo. The other side of the ring features a Super Bowl XLIX logo with the final score, 28-24, on the left and the team’s overall record, 15-4, on the right.