Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Akeem Ayers Brings Uncertainty, But Could Bring More to Patriots

Wednesday, 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. (more…)


Well-Traveled Jonas Gray Awaiting Role in Patriots Backfield

Wednesday, 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. (more…)


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

Tuesday, 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. (more…)


Saturday Slate : Week 8 College Prospects to Watch

Saturday, October 18th, 2014
How will Winston top his latest blunder?

How will Winston top his latest blunder?

NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa

And the capital of the college football world is…Mississippi? Huh? You may have never thought it was possible, but the two best teams in the country are Ole Miss and Mississippi State. I thought Ole Miss would struggle last week…quite the contrary. They took care of Texas A&M rather easily. Get out your 2017 NFL draft big board’s however, A&M true freshmen WR Speedy Noil will be at the top of the list. Reminds me of Sammy Watkins, except I think Noil is farther along than Watkins was his freshmen year at Clemson.

Autograph Gate: Week 7 saw my number 1 overall prospect, Todd Gurley, suspended indefinitely for receiving compensation for his autographs. I know what you’re saying, number 1 overall for a RB is insane. I agree, and if I was on the clock at No. 1 I wouldn’t be taking Gurley. But to me he’s the best player in all of college football, so that ranking is justified. I actually think him being suspended is a positive for Gurley. NFL evaluators have seen more than enough to know Gurley’s once-a-decade ability, and this suspension (if he doesn’t play another snap this year) all but guarantees he will be healthy for the NFL combine. I see Gurley as a top 5 talent, and I don’t see the Vikings (wherever they end up) passing up the opportunity to draft the best RB prospect since…well… Adrian Peterson. But it’s too early for that talk. Also in autograph gate, the ‘always something’ Jameis Winston. Seriously, if it isn’t one thing its’ another. As of 10/15 he is still clear to play, but the future looks shaky. Not playing the rest of the year could hurt Winston, and maybe even see him fall out of the top 3-5 picks where he seemed to be all but a lock. (more…)


Patriots Defensive Tackle Casey Walker Quietly Making His Name

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
No. 98, defensive tackle Casey Walker, has left a mark in his short stay with the Patriots. (NFL Game Rewind)

No. 98 – defensive tackle Casey Walker – has left a mark in his short stay with the Patriots. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Not much was known about Casey Walker when the New England Patriots claimed him off the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad.

He was the corresponding move to defensive tackle Sealver Siliga landing on short-term injured reserve. He was big, listed at 6’1” and 334 pounds. And he was a 2013 undrafted free agent by way of Oklahoma, where he played 33 in games, started 22, and finished with 49 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, two fumbles recoveries and two pass deflections.

For the rest, you’d have to dig a little deeper.

Walker did not have a Wikipedia page, nor did he have an NFL tackle on his resume. The 24-year-old had spent part of the 2013 season on Carolina’s practice squad, and returned for the 2014 preseason. He logged 95 snaps over the course of it, and received the fifth lowest Pro Football Focus grade among the Panthers’ 39 participating defenders.

Walker was waived during 53-man roster cuts on Aug. 30, subsequently rejoining the team’s 10-man roster after clearing waivers the following day. But there were no expectations when the Patriots filled the active roster with him on Sept. 27.

Even so, he has done his part to exceed the status of an enigma since then. (more…)


Jerod Mayo’s Communication Helped Patriots as Much as His Play

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
Jerod Mayo's season ended on Sunday. But New England's defense will have to play, think, and communicate as if he is still on the field with them. (NFL Game Rewind)

Jerod Mayo’s season ended on Sunday. But New England’s defense will have to play, think, and communicate as if he is still on the field with them. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Anthony Dixon gained three yards before he met Jerod Mayo at the 7:37 mark in the second quarter of Sunday’s game in Orchard Park. Yet for the New England Patriots linebacker, a two-time Pro Bowler and five-time captain, his 53rd tackle of the season would not be like the rest.

It would be his last.

Mayo’s right foot planted and his leg buckled as he halted the Buffalo Bills running back in the left A-gap. His teammate, edge-rusher Chandler Jones, arrived to finish the stop to force 2nd-and-7, only the damage had been done by then. Mayo knew it. The Patriots knew it.

On Monday, the fears were confirmed. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the lower right leg injury Mayo suffered was indeed season-ending. Yet even on Sunday, it was evident on the field that New England’s defense had lost its communicator, its green dot, its “Mike” linebacker, only six weeks in for the second consecutive season. (more…)


Breaking Down Patriots Wideout Brian Tyms’ 43-Yard TD vs. Bills

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
Brian Tyms’ first career regular-season touchdown catch arrived on Sunday. (NFL Game Rewind)

Brian Tyms’ first career regular-season touchdown catch arrived on Sunday. It was a memorable one. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ offense hurried to the line with a 13-7 lead over the Buffalo Bills. But what happened thenceforth in the Week 6 tilt was not by the numbers. In many ways, it was not what should have happened.

For Brian Tyms, it didn’t matter. (more…)







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