Patriots Gameday Notes to Monitor Sunday Afternoon vs. Bears

October 25th, 2014
The last time the Bears traveled to Foxborough, Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad got the starts out wide. Eight years have since passed, and it will be Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall this time. (Dennis Wierzbicki - USA Today Sports Images)

The last time the Bears traveled to Foxborough, Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad got the starts out wide. Eight years have since passed, and it will be Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall this time. (Dennis Wierzbicki – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Eight years have passed since the Chicago Bears last visited Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots. The date was Nov. 26, 2006, and the final score was a Patriots’ 17-13 victory, but the game itself has been remembered for what transpired with 11:34 to play.

It was then, with the score tied at 10 apiece, that Tom Brady took a 3rd-and-9 snap from shotgun and felt the pocket collapse. He ran. And four seconds later, he juked, heading right as eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher headed left.

The one-on-one gauntlet ended in a first down, and ultimately a touchdown.

Much has changed since then. Urlacher is now awaiting immortality in Canton, Brady is now 37, and Chicago’s roster is no longer headlined by the likes of halfback Thomas Jones, wideout Bernard Berrian, D-lineman Tommie Harris, deep man Nathan Vasher or return man Devin Hester.

As for New England’s roster, suffice to say tight end Ben Watson will not be leading the team in receiving this time around.

Things will be different on both sides of the ball when the 3-4 Bears and 5-2 Patriots encounter each other in Foxborough at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Here is a closer look at what to monitor when the two do. Read the rest of this entry »


Saturday Slate: College Prospects to Watch in Week 9

October 24th, 2014

2015 NFL Draft

NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa

Whatever your opinion might be about the controversial ending to the Notre Dame vs Florida State game Saturday night, this one fact can’t be debated. Jameis Winston can flat out ball on a football field. He had one horrendous decision in the second quarter when he was in full retreat mode backwards, stopped, and flung a pass high over the middle which was easily intercepted. However, take away that one play from Winston, and he played a flawless game. He came out on fire in the second half, completing his first thirteen passes and he ended the night with 273 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Read the rest of this entry »


Scouting Report: Shawn Oakman, DE Baylor

October 24th, 2014

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

The Patriots are entering a tough stretch of their schedule. These next six 6 games could very well define not only their season, but their draft status as well.  Unfortunately, they will not be playing at full strength, especially on defense, which will make this stretch even more difficult. Last week, the loss of Jerod Mayo was clear, especially against the run. Now the Patriots will be without Chandler Jones, arguably their best (and maybe only) pass rusher.  With the position being so thin now, it highlights how important it is to have a stable of pass rushers at the team’s disposal. That is why I decided to continue my look at potential pass rush options for the upcoming draft and give Shawn Oakman a look. Read the rest of this entry »


Akeem Ayers Brings Uncertainty, But Could Bring More to Patriots

October 22nd, 2014
After more than three seasons in Tennessee, Akeem Ayers has arrived in Foxborough. But his purpose remains to be seen. (Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports Images)

After more than three seasons in Tennessee, Akeem Ayers has arrived in Foxborough. But his purpose remains to be seen. (Jerome Miron – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Akeem Ayers played 10 snaps over two games for the Tennessee Titans this season, and he was inactive for five more. But the New England Patriots saw something in the 2011 39th overall draft pick; something that could potentially help a depleted front seven at minimal expense.

Time will tell if that something pays off.

There is reason to temper expectations for a 6’3” 255-pound linebacker that took only sixth-round pick to acquire – along with a seventh-rounder – from Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon. Yet there is also reason to expect Ayers will have a purpose in New England’s defense if he can acclimate to it. Read the rest of this entry »


Well-Traveled Jonas Gray Awaiting Role in Patriots Backfield

October 22nd, 2014
On his third team since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012, Jonas Gray waited until last Thursday to play in his first NFL regular-season game. (NFL Game Rewind)

On his third team since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012, Jonas Gray waited until last Thursday to play in his first NFL regular-season game. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Jonas Gray waited. The Pontiac, Mich., native found himself in a crowded Notre Dame backfield consisting of Armando Allen, Robert Hughes, James Aldridge and Theo Riddick, garnering a total of 75 carries over his first three years in South Bend.

But he found his way into an expanded role as a Fighting Irish senior in 2011, filtering in behind Cierre Wood to take 114 carries 791 yards on his way to the first 12 touchdowns of his collegiate career. With those 12 scores, though, Gray’s collegiate career was over.

He had started five games and appeared in 34. Yet as the 2012 NFL draft got underway that April, Gray would have to wait once more. His name was not among the 253 players and 19 running backs selected over three days and seven rounds.

It was among the Miami Dolphins’ undrafted signings, instead. Only the 5’10”, 230-pound undrafted rookie would never play in a regular-season game for Miami; he was placed on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury during the 2012 training camp. He was later released following the 2013 training camp.

Gray cleared waivers and joined the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad, where he remained for the duration of the campaign. But when the Ravens’ campaign ended in Week 17, so did Gray’s tenure with the team.

He embarked on a new tenure with the New England Patriots on Jan. 2, 2014. The reserve/futures signee proceeded to hold onto a spot on the 90-man roster, then 75-man roster seven months later. He played in all four preseason games, and led the team with 142 rushing yards on 37 carries.

Gray continued to hold on, even after he was waived during August’s final cuts. And when Stevan Ridley was lost for the season only six weeks in, the 24-year-old was promoted from the practice squad and handled an opportunity he never had in Miami or Baltimore. Read the rest of this entry »


Inside Out: How Chris Ivory, Jets Broke Rightward vs. Patriots

October 21st, 2014
Chris Ivory and the Jets broke ground against the Patriots (Mark L. Baer - USA Today Sports Images)

Chris Ivory and the Jets broke ground against the Patriots on Thursday night in Foxborough, and it wasn’t all through the middle.  (Mark L. Baer – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The New York Jets ran the ball 43 times against the New England Patriots last Thursday night. In the process, 218 rushing yards were gained, and that output marked the most a Jets team had registered versus a Patriots team since 1990.

It could have been the four days of preparation. It could have been the fact Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork had combined for 288 defensive snaps since Week 6. It could have been alignment and tackling technique. Or, it could have simply been the urgency of a 1-5 Jets squad on the road versus a division rival.

Whatever was at play, 14 of New York’s carries went through the right B- and C-gaps of the offensive line to the tune of 87 yards while New England fought for containment. Read the rest of this entry »


The Turf Report Mid-Season Rankings: Upperclassmen on Patriots’ Radar

October 18th, 2014
NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Northwestern

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon could join former teammate James White in New England’s backfield next season. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano

With the Turf Report taking the past couple weeks off, figured it would be appropriate to return with some mid-season rankings. Lets take a look at who’s stood out from the pack, and which amateur backs might be donning a flying Elvis on their helmet next fall?

Last Sunday’s season ending knee injury to Stevan Ridley has cast some uncertainty in Foxborough as to what the Patriots will do after this season at running back. Both Rildey and Shane Vereen are impending free agents, and there’s no guarantee either will return after 2014. The following are potential Junior and Senior prospects that should be appealing to New England this spring. I broke them down into three tiers and detailed the ones that could land on Belichick’s radar.

Read the rest of this entry »







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