By: Steve Balestrieri
Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division:
Say What? Owners of Ravens, Colts Adamant to Goodell That Brady’s Suspension Must Stand:
In yet another bizarre twist of the already twisted Deflate-gate story, ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio reported on Friday that a “very vocal minority” was urging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell not reduce Tom Brady’s suspension at all. Speaking on the San Diego station ‘Mighty 1090’, Paolantonio said, “You’re angering some of the hard-core owners out there,” speaking in terms of reducing the suspension.
“I know who they are and I’m gonna name ‘em right now: Jim Irsay of the Colts. Steve Bisciotti of the Ravens and others in the AFC who believe the Patriots have gotten away with murder for years and have not been publicly punished properly.”
Were They In NYC?: A couple of things stand out on this…and while we all know Goodell works for the owners not the fans or the players, none of the owners were present at the Brady appeal which is “supposed to be” fair and impartial. How can they urge Goodell to keep the four-game ban when they never heard the evidence and testimony in the appeal?
Having the two team owners of clubs the Patriots defeated in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl complain, reeks of sour grapes. And the fact that the mainstream media isn’t screaming about this defies description. Just picture what the outcry would have been a few years ago if Robert Kraft had urged Goodell to not reduce the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger when the Steelers QB had been accused of a sexual assault.
Irsay and the Colts have had a bullseye on New England since the playoffs of 2003 and 2004. They went so far to have the rules changed on pass interference by the NFL’s Competition Committee which then Indy GM Bill Poilian sat on.
Now the Colts have dropped their last six games to New England including two huge blowout playoff losses including the 45-7 beatdown in the Deflate-gate game. Bisciotti’s team lost a close playoff game last year when the Patriots used unusual formational groupings that left the Ravens confused and embarrassed. Coach Jim Harbaugh cried foul, but the officials had the correct ruling and could even be heard on the sideline cameras telling Ravens defenders who NOT to cover.
After Harbaugh and Ravens complained, Tom Brady shot back with a comment that the Ravens “need to read the rule book.” Baltimore and Indy have a close relationship now that Colts head coach Chuck Pagano came from the Ravens organization.
Surprised that the next week when Colts GM Ryan Grigson emailed the league about the Patriots supposedly deflating their footballs? You shouldn’t be.
Grigson stated that the Colts suspected the Pats were doing this in the November game in Indianapolis. This is extremely suspicious since it would be the Colts who would be in charge of the protocols concerning the footballs prior to the game.
Both of these owners obviously have short memories about getting away with rule breaking, since it was Irsay who went thru a messy DUI/drug case in Indianapolis just a year ago that included a damning video of his arrest.
Bisciotti last May trotted out the victim in the Ray Rice abuse case and in an orchestrated farce had Janay Rice take the blame for being knocked unconscious in an elevator. They even used their official Twitter account to issue the following, “Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.” That tweet was quickly deleted. Janay Rice claims that the team urged her to apologize, Bisciotti later in September lamented that it was a “bad decision by all” letting Janay give a statement.
But in the grand scheme of things, being “generally aware” that “more probable than not” that an equipment violation was being violated is just intolerable for these two.
Paolantonio’s wording was curious however…was it paraphrasing or did the owners of the Colts and Ravens really say that the Patriots “were getting away with murder” for so long? Curious why? Just take a gander at the statue standing next to the one of Johnny Unitas at M&T Bank Stadium.
Training Camp To Begin, Rosters Will Begin to Take Shape:
The Patriots open training camp on Thursday with a 9:15 a.m. practice scheduled to kick things off. Many positional battles will take place and there are plenty of slots available, even for a team that won the Super Bowl last season.
One of the most fun exercises during Training Camp and the pre-season is the predicting of the team’s 53 man rosters. Although it is early and the pads haven’t even come on yet, many of us have already posted a pre-TC projection. Here is a few to take a look at.
Within the next few days, you’ll be able to play GM of the Patriots on PatsFans.com and use our interactive Roster Picker to pick your own 53 Man Roster and post it up for others to see. It is always a fun exercise to see how your inner-Belichick plays out.
Pats STs Locks Down Punter Allen:The Patriots announced on Saturday that Punter Ryan Allen has signed a three-year contract extension according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Allen is entering his third NFL season and would have been a restricted free agent after 2015. The left-footed punter made big strides in his second season with a 46.4 yard average and cutting his touchbacks in half from 12 to six.
With Allen’s signing, the Patriots kicking game has signed both the punter and kicker (Stephen Gostkowski), to long term deals just prior to training camp beginning.
Pats Hoping Tarel Brown Returns to Form at CB: On Thursday the Patriots signed free agent cornerback Tarel Brown to a one-year contract. The team had the former Niner and Raider in twice for visits this spring.
Brown was a solid corner for San Francisco but signed a one-year, prove-it deal with Oakland in 2014. He played 1000 snaps for the Raiders before landing on IR with a foot injury. He had no interceptions and a career low four passes defensed last season.
We took a look at the signing earlier this week and gave our take on whether Brown will return to form and fight for starting reps.
Eastbound and Down…..News from around the AFC East:
Williams Has Big Shoes To Fill On the Jets:
New York Jets rookie defensive lineman Leonard Williams, the #6 pick in the NFL Draft this season has been getting praise from the coaches about how fast he’s picking up the Jets system. Coach Todd Bowles spoke about Williams’ maturity and his athleticism.
Williams’ quick rise is good news to the team as he’ll be replacing Sheldon Richardson who was suspended for the first four games of 2015. With an already stout defense around him…Williams should be an impact player as a rookie right off the bat this season.
Dolphins Release QB Freeman:
Josh Freeman’s comeback bid with the Miami Dolphins didn’t last long. Less than three months since signing the former Buccaneers and Viking’s QB, Miami released Freeman prior to training camp even getting started.
The Dolphins are already set at the position with Ryan Tannehill locked into his starters’ position and being backed up by Matt Moore.
Freeman had a rough 2013 season with Tampa Bay, before landing at Minnesota. He was out of football for the entire 2014 season. This release may signal the end of the line for the 27 year old former first round draft pick, quarterback who could still vie for a backup role elsewhere.
Bills Harvin Named “Most Hated” in SI poll:
Wide receiver Percy Harvin who signed with the Bills this spring was named the “Most Hated Player in the Locker Room” in a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated this week.
Harvin had his issues with Seattle and Minnesota and was known for his blow-ups with fellow receivers Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin.
But thus far, his stay with the Rex Ryan-led Bills has been a study in being a team-first guy. He’s been on the same page with the coaches and teammates and he’s been friendly with the both the media and his teammates.
Harvin’s problems in the past stemmed mainly for the way the offense was utilizing him so that will bear watching once the season unfolds and Ryan settles on who his starting quarterback is going to be.
Harvin, speaking to the media during spring workouts says he’s a different person. “I just ask people to judge me off of what they see, which is what I did in New York,” Harvin said…”Which is why you heard nothing.”
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