Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

How Patriots ‘X’ Receiver Brandon LaFell Has Marked His Spot

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Brandon LaFell’s rise has provided the Patriots with the element of unknown. (NFL Game Rewind)

Brandon LaFell’s rise has provided the Patriots’ passing game with the element of unknown. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Brandon LaFell was targeted six times in his first two regular-season games as a member of the New England Patriots. And, heading into his third game of September, the former Carolina Panthers third-round pick had zero catches to his name.

He’s had 36 over the seven games since.

It’s been both a gradual and sudden rise for the 6’3”, 210-pound wide receiver; one that arrived along with the surveillance of his three-year, $9 million contact last March. Organized team activities proved to be about familiarization for him, and that continued through the summer as he looked to find a home on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium.

Route miscommunications and concentration drops were the unintended consequences of a journey that sent him from the NFC South to the AFC East. The 28-year-old had to acclimate to the ball placement of quarterback Tom Brady instead of Cam Newton, and he had to acclimate to his own placement in the offense of coordinator Josh McDaniels instead of Mike Shula.

It required repetition. (more…)


Saturday Slate: College Prospects to Watch in Week 10

Friday, October 31st, 2014

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NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa

All hail Amari Cooper. Granted the Tennessee pass defense isn’t exactly the 2001 Patriots, but nonetheless the star junior receiver caught 9 passes for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. He ran crisp routes, snatched the ball out of the air, and boy can he run after the catch. A night to remember for Cooper.

SEC Spotlight: I’ve been a fan of Mississippi State RB Josh Robinson for some time now, and I think he’s finally getting some of the recognition he deserves. Against a good Kentucky front 7 Robinson ran for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns, including two of the most impressive runs I’ve seen all year. He shows great balance, vision, and eye discipline consistently. He averaged over 8.5 yards per carry; that should say it all.

(more…)


Without Chandler Jones, Three Patriots Tasked with Role of One

Friday, October 31st, 2014
New England called upon Dominique Easley, Akeem Ayers and Zach Moore to encompass Chandler Jones’ responsibilities in Week 8 against the Bears. (Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports Images)

New England called upon Dominique Easley, Akeem Ayers and Zach Moore to encompass Chandler Jones’ role against the Bears. (Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The New England Patriots have been without Chandler Jones for only one game thus far into the 2014 campaign.

That one game saw the front seven send three different players out to succeed the role of one.

Dominique Easley, Akeem Ayers and Zach Moore – each of whom brought their own traits to the defensive rotation. Each of whom brought forth their own third to replace the snaps of a player who had logged 417 through seven contests, per Pro Football Focus.

Only it hinged on more than volume for them in Week 8 against the Chicago Bears; it hinged on how they encountered their alignments, and how they left their impact within them. (more…)


Five Away: Charting Tom Brady’s 30-of-35 Performance vs. Bears

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Tom Brady played a complete game against the Bears on Sunday, even though he didn’t finish it. (Winslow Townson - USA Today Sports Images)

Tom Brady played a complete game against the Bears on Sunday, even though he didn’t finish it. (Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Efficient and prolific are seldom seen in the same sentence.

Tom Brady was both against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The 37-year-old quarterback operated a short-tempered New England Patriots offense with brevity on the way to completing 30 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns.

In doing so, the 14-year pro crossed all three passing thresholds for the third time in his career and first time since 2007, according to Pro Football Reference.

Brady could have crossed more had he stayed in for the final 5:15, only New England’s collective performance at Gillette Stadium did not require him to. The offensive line preserved ground, the rushing committee gained ground, and the defense broke ground, affording second-round quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a call from the bullpen with a 25-point lead in hand.

And with that, after 68 snaps of command, No. 12 headed to the dugout just shy of pitching all nine innings. He headed off without that final strikeout to seal it all into memory. But he didn’t need it; Brady’s 100th regular-season start in Foxborough was a near-perfect game to those who saw it.

Five incompletions over his 35 attempts were all that stood in the way. (more…)


Patriots Gameday Notes to Monitor Sunday Afternoon vs. Bears

Saturday, 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. (more…)


Saturday Slate: College Prospects to Watch in Week 9

Friday, 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.

(more…)


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…)







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