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Vince Wilfork concedes Jamie Collins is ‘pound-for-pound’ best athlete on Patriots 12.13.14 at 8:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork has seen a lot over his 11 seasons with the Patriots. But he’s rarely seen an athlete as gifted as Jamie Collins play with him on the Patriots defense.

“He’s something special but I’m something special, too. He’s probably the most, pound-for-pound, athletic guy we have. The things he can do, the way he can move, the way he can jump, it’s amazing. I’ll give him that nod,” Wilfork conceded Friday.

But what’s truly amazing and appreciated by Wilfork is the linebacker’s ability to pick up the system and leadership role in just his second season. Last week in San Diego, with Dont’a Hightower out with a shoulder injury and Jerod Mayo lost for the season with a knee injury, the leadership and communication role was turned over to Collins.

“From last year to now, it’s unbelievable what we ask him to do, and he steps up every week. Last week was a big week for him. With Hightower not playing and him stepping into the role, the quarterback of the defense, he did a great job. It just goes to show you the importance that work and just being focused and coming to work and getting the defense working the right way, it just goes to show you how committed he is to being a great football player.

“We love everything about him. That’s one of the things we do around here, move guys around and sometimes when you’re called upon, you have to be able to step up and play. It’s good to have a guy like that on our squad where we can move him around in different places and get a lot of production out of him.

“It’s tougher for opponents to game plan with guys like that. That’s been a staple of our defense, being able to move guys around a little bit here and there, make the offense figure it out on the run. Sometimes, that’s tough to do. We just have to continue to play at a high level, especially now in December. You want to win ball games later in the year. It starts now. It started last week with a great road win for us. Coming home, a chance to win a division. It doesn’t get any easier, I’ll tell you that.”
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Read More: Jamie Collins, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, nfl
Vince Wilfork leads NFL ‘brothers’ sending out thoughts, prayers to Cam Newton following car crash 12.09.14 at 3:29 pm ET
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Cam Newton is treated after being pulled from his vehicle after an accident Tuesday. (Charlotte Observer via  Twitter)

Cam Newton is treated after being pulled from his vehicle after an accident Tuesday. (Charlotte Observer via Twitter)

Cam Newton suffered two transverse process fractures in his lower back and is in “fair condition” following a two-car accident on Tuesday, according to a statement released by the Carolina Panthers. The team said Newton suffered no further serious internal injuries.

According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, the accident took place around 12:30 p.m. ET just outside the team’s stadium. Both Newton and the driver of the other vehicle were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Panthers released a statement saying the 25-year-old Newton will be held overnight for observation but that the franchise quarterback “is in fair condition and undergoing tests at Carolinas Medical Center.”

Team owner Jerry Richardson told the Charlotte Observer that Newton is “in good shape,” after speaking with Carolinas Medical Center doctors.

“At this point, it looks like he’s just got scrapes and bruises, but he should be OK,” a source told ESPN’s Ed Werder. “He’s going to be sore and beat up, but he should be relatively OK.”

A witness told the Charlotte Observer that Newton was “alert” but “in pain” at the scene of the accident.

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork led the players around the NFL wishing Newton well.

Read More: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Vince Wilfork
Things get testy at end of Patriots-Lions game 11.23.14 at 6:41 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Things got interesting at the end of the Lions-Patriots game Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

It all started when the Patriots were attempting a 20-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining and Lions’ defensive tackle C.J. Mosley jumped Patriots long-snapper Danny Aiken. It drew a personal foul penalty and an automatic first down. Instead of just taking a knee to run out the clock, the Patriots handed it off to LeGarrette Blount for his second touchdown run of the game.

Things didn’t end there as when the Lions were taking a knee to officially end the game, Lions center Dominic Raiola dove at the knees Patriots nose tackle Zach Moore (see Vine below). Also, Blount and Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh reportedly exchanged words after the game, too. Suh left the Lions locker room before the media was allowed in.

“I cut him,” Raiola said via the Detroit Free Press. “We took a knee, so I cut the nose [tackle]. They went for [a touchdown]. They went for a touchdown at two minutes. They could have took three knees and the game could have been over. It’s football. He wants to keep playing football, let’s play football. Not a big deal. It’s football.”

Vince Wilfork didn’t agree.

“I didn’€™t see anything,” said Wilfork. “I just heard what happened, but that was stupid. I didn’€™t see it, but from what I heard … You’€™re taking a knee. They’€™d get mad if we were just to blow up one of their players, so I mean, it’€™s just uncalled for. But at the same time, you always have to protect yourself, so you always have to play with your neck on a swivel and being alert for 60 minutes and it came down to it today on a bonehead play like that. But luckily no one got hurt and we can move on.”

Read More: Dominic Raiola, LeGarrette Blount, Ndamukong Suh, Vince Wilfork
Rodney Harrison on D&C: Bengals ‘just pathetic’ after latest embarrassment 11.07.14 at 10:12 am ET
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NBC NFL analyst Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss Thursday night’s Bengals-Browns game and the state of the Patriots as the team goes into its bye week. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Bengals, playing at home against their AFC North rival, struggled all night during a 24-3 loss. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed just 10 passes for 86 yards and threw three interceptions. It was the fifth-worst statistical game for a quarterback since 1960.

Said Harrison: “First of all, if I was a member of that organization, I don’t know if I would’ve went on a limb and paid [Dalton] just based off of everything that’s happening in prime-time games as well as in the playoffs. But everyone acts like it’s a surprise of what’s going on with Andy Dalton and inconsistent play. Marvin Lewis, he has to take a big responsibility, but that’s something we can talk about later. But Andy Dalton, just his performances, the inconsistencies, and we’ve seen it from this team this entire year from the Patriots and the Bears and from the Indianapolis Colts shutting them out. From the tie with Carolina to last night, it’s just pathetic.”

Continued Harrison: “You look at Marvin Lewis, and I see this team last week, he was smiling, he was enjoying the victory. But they’ve been so inconsistent, and part of that is the lack of preparation with the players.”

While the Bengals battle their own problems, the Browns have moved to 6-3 and into a first-place tie in the AFC North.

“I don’t believe in the Browns like a lot of people,” Harrison said. “It’s easy to look at a team’s record and jump on the bandwagon. Just last week, or was it the week before, where they lost to Jacksonville, then everybody kind of jumped off the Browns. Then all of a sudden they’re back. Cincinnati, it’s one of those teams that’s hot and cold. I just don’t believe in the Browns right now. I like what they’re doing, I think Mike Pettine, I mean, he’s probably on pace to be Coach of the Year, not Bruce Arians. But I look at that team still far, far away now.”

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Read More: Andy Dalton, Brian Hoyer, Rodney Harrison, Tom Brady
Patriots foursome on remarkable flag-free streak this season 11.06.14 at 12:14 pm ET
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Rob Ninkovich is one of four Patriots regulars who has yet to be flagged this season. (Getty Images)

Rob Ninkovich is one of four Patriots regulars who has yet to be flagged this season. (Getty Images)

We have taken lots of time this season to talk about the Patriots penalty woes over the first nine games of the season — as well as the new points of emphasis that have created an occasionally flag-happy environment. But on the flip side, there’s also something to be said about showing an ability to avoid penalties to this point in the year. The following players have played at least 350 snaps this season (per Pro Football Focus) and have yet to be flagged:

Defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich — 584 defensive snaps — This is nothing new for Ninkovich, as he played 1,256 snaps last season (per PFF) and was only penalized once. In all, he has two penalties since the start of the 2012 season. PFF has him as one of two 3-4 outside linebackers in the league with at least 500 snaps and no penalties — Oakland rookie Khalil Mack is the other.

Safety Devin McCourty — 581 defensive snaps — Like Ninkovich, this is hardly a shocker, as he’s almost always at or near the top of the list in most snaps and fewest penalties. McCourty has taken just one penalty since the start of the 2013 season. (Per PFF, McCourty is one of nine safeties with at least 580 snaps who has yet to draw a penalty this season.)

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork — 485 defensive snaps — The veteran defensive lineman had an abbreviated 2013 season because of an Achilles’ injury, but he’s on an impressive streak of 13 straight regular-season games (dating back to last season) without a penalty. That represents a seismic turnaround for the big man, who led the team with six penalties in 2012.

Running back Shane Vereen — 357 offensive snaps — The only Patriots offensive player who has at least 350 snaps who has yet to be hit with a penalty, Vereen leads a group of running backs who have yet to be flagged for a penalty this season. Remarkably, Vereen has not been flagged for a single penalty in his NFL career.

Read More: Devin McCourty, Rob Ninkovich, Shane Vereen, Vince Wilfork
Patriots defense rises to occasion against Peyton Manning, powerful Denver offense 11.03.14 at 1:34 am ET
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Brandon Browner (39) and the Patriots defense played physcial and was able to shutdown Peyton Manning and the Broncos. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images).

Brandon Browner (39) and the Patriots defense played physical and was able to shutdown Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Sunday’s win. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It was a statement win for the Patriots in their 43-21 romp over the Broncos.

Scoring 43 points was a statement for the offense, but also overlooked is the defense, which allowed just 21 points to the powerful Denver offense that came into the game averaging 32 points a game –€“ the best in the NFL.

How impressive was limiting the Peyton Manning-led Denver offense to just 21 points?

In 56 career regular season games as the quarterback of the Broncos (including Sunday), Manning and Denver’€™s offense has scored 21 points or fewer in just six games.

“We just knew what the game plan was and if we just execute it well and communicate well, then we’€™ll be in good shape,” Vince Wilfork said. “And we did that. It wasn’€™t perfect, but at the same time, the majority of the time we did what we wanted to do and we played the game how we wanted to play it and it worked out for us.”

Although Manning threw for over 400 yards, most of the damage was when it didn’€™t matter — either in garbage time or on first and second down. When it mattered most, Manning and Denver’€™s offense couldn’€™t get it done.

The Broncos were 3-for-11 on third down and 0-for-4 on fourth down in the game, a major reason why they couldn’€™t find any rhythm offensively all game.

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Read More: Devin McCourty, Peyton Manning, Vince Wilfork,
Can Dominique Easley, Casey Walker and Zach Moore give Vince Wilfork more of a breather? 10.25.14 at 3:10 pm ET
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Dominique Easley

Dominique Easley

FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork can’t play every down anymore. Nor do the Patriots want him playing all the time anymore.

After playing 64 of 69 snaps in Buffalo against the Bills, Wilfork’s snaps fell to 78 percent (68 of 87 snaps) against the Jets. Still, Wilfork is certainly on pace to earn his 70 percent participation clause that will kick in his $3 million guarantee. He has already played 78.9 percent of his snaps this season. His 377 snaps is 162 more than Chris Jones, the next closest on the line.

But with injuries to Sealver Siliga and Chandler Jones and the departure of Tommy Kelly, there’s a need to make sure there’s insurance behind Wilfork.

This is what the Patriots had in mind when they drafted Dominique Easley and Zach Moore and signed Casey Walker off the Carolina Panthers practice squad in late September. It’s why they have brought in Alan Branch to see if they can resurrect his career after some off-the-field transgressions.

But most of the focus now is on Easley, a player like Wilfork who could make the transition from inside to outside on the defensive line.

“Easley has really played all those spots across the board from college and even back from when we had him here in the spring and then when he was able to practice in training camp,” coach Bill Belichick said Friday. “He’€™s worked all the way from outside the tight end to on the center’€™s nose, so everywhere in between: zero to two-I, three, four, five, six, seven, nine. He’€™s been at every spot.

“That is unusual. He’€™s got a unique set of skills that allow him to do that. [He’€™s] quick enough to play outside, enough playing strength to play inside, to a degree. Good instinctiveness in terms of recognizing blocking schemes. There are a lot of different things that can happen when you’€™re in there between a guard and a center or a guard and tackle compared to when you’€™re outside of a tight end. You’€™re seeing the game kind of from the inside out as opposed from the outside in. it’€™s different. I’€™d say there aren’€™t a lot of guys that comes real easy to. There are a few, but not a lot.”

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Read More: Casey Walker, Dominique Easley, New England Patriots, Vince Wilfork
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