Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jets sign third-round linebacker Demario Davis


The Jets signed third-round linebacker Demario Davis Thursday, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

The former Arkansas State defender was drafted 77th overall.

Jets coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine have been high on Davis since the get-go. Davis, who is a solid coverage linebacker, has reportedly been working in the Jets' first-team nickel package in OTAs.

"He’s the type of guy we needed to add, that type of linebacker who can cover a tight end but still can have linebacker-type responsibilities against the run," Pettine told

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brady: Pats' system is tough, but it can't take forever

Photo: Steve Glass, Flickr 

With the Patriots, you're either in or you're out.

New England runs one of the most cutthroat organizations in one of the most cutthroat businesses, and that's the reason why the team has had so much success in this era.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has won three Super Bowls and been to five since 2001, discussed Bill Belichick's approach to coaching and what it's like for a player to adapt to the Patriots' way of doing things when speaking on the "Dennis & Callahan" show on WEEI radio in May:

“There’s a lot of things that go into be a good player, especially on our team. Coach Belichick always tells us it’s not an easy program that he runs. Some guys come from other teams, and maybe they’re not really held as accountable on a daily basis, but coach Belichick – if I throw an incompletion, I’m going to hear about it. I think guys come, maybe they’ve been in the league for a while, and they’re like ‘Why is he always yelling? Why is he so tough on us?’ He just tries to keep the pressure on us, because he feels that’s the way that he gets the most out of us.

"I think that you can tell relatively early the way that a guy responds to that type of coaching, you can look in his eyes in the huddle and see how confident and comfortable he is in what you’re asking him to do. Sometimes you get in the huddle and I’m looking at the guy and he’s looking at me, and he’s got this expression on his face like, ‘Oh God, what’s the play? Am I going to know where to go? Am I going to know how to do it? Am I going to be able to do what the coaches are asking me to do?’ Some guys you know right away, some guys it takes a couple of months."

It's pretty clear Belichick's no-nonsense philosophy has rubbed off on Brady, as has the Patriots' "what have you done for me lately?" approach to keeping guys around or sending them off.

Fitz: Williams resembles souped-up Madden player

Photo: TheBrit_2, Flickr 


Ryan Fitzpatrick always seems to be at his best when talking about teammates. Even the ones on defense.

The Bills signal-caller had his first chance to see recently-acquired star defensive end Mario Williams (pictured above) work as a Bill during the team's on-field OTAs.

"He looks like a Madden (video game) character you create. You sit there and up, up the strength and the guy keeps growing," Fitzpatrick (pictured right) told reporters after an early-OTA practice. "...and then he’s the fastest guy on the field, too. He kind of looks like one of those guys."

That's the Williams Buffalo wanted when it made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history earlier this offseason. All reports from Williams' work in the offseason program have been positive, with the veteran lining up mostly at left end.

Fitzpatrick, however, is trying to focus his attention on his own side of the ball.

"I saw him pre-snap but usually after the snap if I’m looking at him then it’s usually not a good thing," he said.

Pats' WR status mildly clearer with Gonzalez release


The Patriots' receiving corps is currently in super-overload mode. New England dropped a little weight Tuesday.

Veteran receiver Anthony Gonzalez, formerly of the Colts, was released by the Patriots this week after being added to New England's loaded group of wideouts in March.

Gonzalez was slated to compete with a plethora of capable players at his position for a spot on the final roster. However, the oft-injured receiver didn't make it to training camp.

Gonzalez's release slightly narrows down the outlook of New England's pass catchers. The NFL's leader in receptions from a season ago in Wes Welker is a roster lock, as is new Patriot Brandon Lloyd, who has reportedly been impressive during his limited time with New England.

The rest of New England's wideout group includes the drastically-declining Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch, Jabar Gaffney, Julian Edelman, Donte Stallworth, Matthew Slater, Jeremy Ebert and Britt Davis.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jets to add two tackles, likely to push starter Hunter

Photo: Bernie Zimmermann, Flickr

Since the offseason began, the Jets hadn't done much to improve the position of their self-proclaimed "weakest link" from a season ago, but Gang Green is reportedly finally giving right tackle Wayne Hunter something to think about.

New York will sign veteran right tackles Ray Willis (pictured) and Stephon Heyer, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal.

Willis was a 16-game starter for the Seahawks in 2009 but missed 2010 to a knee injury before spending a little time on the Dolphins' and Saints' rosters. He has 26 career starts under his belt.

Heyer has started 35 games in his career. He started 16 games in 2009 with the Redskins, five in 2010 and two for the Raiders last season.

Dolphins, HBO to join forces for 'Hard Knocks' series

Photo: Photo-Gator, Flickr


HBO has struggled to find a team for its 2012 "Hard Knocks" series, and the Dolphins have struggled to stay relevant over the past few years, so the two are attempting to alleviating each other's issues.

The Dolphins announced Tuesday that they'll be featured on the five-episode documentary this summer, which will premier Tuesday, Aug. 7 and end Sept. 4.

"We thought it was in the best interest of the organization to do it at this time," Dolphins first-year coach Joe Philbin told reporters after the announcement, according to the team's Twitter feed.

Miami hasn't had a .500 or better season since 2008, and they're not among the league's more talked-about teams, but the Dolphins have enough going on this offseason to draw a decent amount of interest.

Bills slated for 7 true home games a year through '17

Photo: Giovanni Variottinelli, Flickr 

With the Bills' trips north to Toronto continuing until at least 2017, their home-field advantage and fan support of the schedule continues to go south.

The NFL’s International Committee approved the extension of the Bills Toronto Series in May, which means Buffalo will continue to lose one home game at Ralph Wilson for the next five years.

“The International Committee’s decision to approve the continuation of our games in Toronto is a crucial step in our ongoing efforts to regionalize our franchise,” Buffalo CEO Russ Brandon said in a statement. “As we have stated on many occasions, the regionalization process remains vital to keeping our franchise strong in Western New York.”

The change may not be so much a regionalization effort as it is a capitalization move. According to the Buffalo News, the team will clear a little more than $11 million from the deal, and ticket sales have been insanely high since the start, although efforts have been made to knock them down.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Phins have bigger question mark than QB: Receivers

Photo: Photo-Gator, Flickr 


Most questions about the Dolphins lately revolve around the quarterback position, and for good reason. But no matter who lines up under center this year for the Dolphins, another question must be asked.

Who will that guy throw the ball to?

After Miami shipped Brandon Marshall to Chicago earlier this offseason, the best receivers left on the roster are Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. They are solid players in their own right, but let's just say that Darrelle Revis probably isn't trembling at the thought of playing the Dolphins this year.

The rest of the Dolphins' receiving corps consists of rookies, career practice squad players and journeymen free agents. The team will have to figure out which players will be able to thrive with a heavier workload, or they'll have a long year on the offensive side of the ball.

Hartline, who is currently listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, has one more career touchdown reception than Marshall had in last year's Pro Bowl game.

In fact, three players on the Patriots' roster have more career receptions and yards than the all of the Dolphins' wideouts combined, and seven have more touchdowns.

So who is going to carry the load for the Dolphins' passing game?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hill could be Edwards-type WR Jets lacked last year


Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez had a good rapport with receiver Braylon Edwards during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, but Gang Green didn't bring back Edwards last year, instead opting to give Santonio Holmes more money and pick up over-the-hill veterans Derrick Mason and Plaxico Burress.

Burress took the place of Edwards across the field from Holmes, but he didn't serve the same role Edwards did. Burress was a downgrade in many ways, especially in two obvious spots -- the will to go after the tough catch and downfield run blocking.

Edwards played with something to prove, and that, combined with his size, was a great combination for in-traffic catches. He always appeared to put 100 percent into getting after the up-for-grabs footballs. And if he couldn't get to it, he did what he could to make sure the defensive back covering him couldn't, either.

But Burress was a little different. Instead of turning back to defend a pass that was interception-bound, Burress would sort of just stop in his tracks and watch the play happen. Edwards never did that, and it's probably an ego thing. Burress came across as if he was enough of a veteran to not have to do that type of dirty work.

Now, neither player is a Jet, but New York did its best to plug in a guy to fill that Edwards-type role.

Bills' QB coach looks to improve Fitz's footwork


Bills quarterbacks coach David Lee has Ryan Fitzpatrick's 2011 mistakes pinned down to one thing: footwork.

According to, Lee recently put together a video cut-up of a bunch of the Bills signal-caller's poor passes from a year ago. Lee went over the film with Fitzpatrick.

"I would show him why the ball went behind the receiver because of where his positioning was with his feet," Lee said. "He either had to believe me and be convinced or not. He chose to and because of that he’ll get better.”

Fitzpatrick started the season strongly but threw 16 interceptions to 10 touchdowns over the last nine weeks, including nine picks and just four touchdowns in his last four games.

Addai faces some hurdles to find role in Pats' offense

Photo: Brad J Ward, Flickr 

Joseph Addai has been an effective tailback in the NFL for the past half dozen years, but now he's fighting prove himself to a new team.

The former Colt signed with the Patriots on May 5 after drawing very little interest in free agency. The Patriots' backfield will feature a couple of unfamilar faces in 2012, but Addai's experience and skills may prove valuable to the team.

The Patriots chose not to re-sign their leading rusher from a year ago in BenJarvis Green-Ellis in favor of second-year backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. The pair showed promise in their limited action last season, particularly Ridley, who averaged 5.1 per carry in situational and reserve duties. They are expected to handle the workload in the running game.

Addai has virtually no shot to supplant either Ridley or Vereen on the depth chart, but is talented and has a good chance to find a niche as a role player in the offense. In the Colts' high powered passing attack, Addai was effective catching the ball, but more relevantly, was a good pass protector. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might find a player like Addai very handy either as a check down or for additional protection from the blitz.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dolphins sign 5th-round LB; Pats, Jets ink reserves


The Dolphins signed fifth-round pick linebacker Josh Kaddu to a four-year deal this week, according to the team's website.

Kaddu had 108 tackles and 10 sacks in 37 games at Oregon. He is a speedy, athletic linebacker who the Dolphins hope has a high NFL upside.

Though projected to be an outside linebacker, Kaddu's primary contributions this season will probably be on special teams.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jets don't have look of a QB controversy so far


Thursday must've been a disappointing day for ESPN and the rest of the national media. Probably a portion of the New York media, as well.

At Jets OTAs, starting quarterback Mark Sanchez looked like the starter, and media-favorite Tim Tebow, who was brought in to back up Sanchez and do something other things, looked like a backup who did some other things.

While the idea that Sanchez is more or less latching onto his starting role with Tebow waiting in the wings being driven into our brains by columns and ESPN programs, that reportedly wasn't the case Thursday.

Multiple media outlets and beat writers who were on the scene reported Tebow was shaky at quarterback, getting intercepted in 7-on-7 drills by linebacker Bart Scott only to be picked off again immediately after by safety Yeremiah Bell.

Meanwhile, Sanchez reportedly didn't put the ball in the defense's hands during his time calling signals, and he connected with rookie receiver Stephen Hill on a 75-yard touchdown.

Phins coach Philbin in no hurry to name starting QB


Joe Philbin, unlike his owner, isn't giving any clues as to who the Dolphins will choose as the team's starting quarterback. But he is hinting when they'll make the decision.

“You’d love to have (the decision) done by after the second preseason game," the first-year head coach said in an interview on ESPN's NFL32. "Your third preseason game is when your first unit is going to get the vast majority of the snaps in terms of their preseason allocation. If it’s clear earlier we’ll make a decision at that point in time, but I’d say by the third preseason game we’d like to have a unit established.”

He seems pretty happy about the guys he has to choose from, too.

“David Garrard is a proven player," Philbin said. "Matt Moore did an exceptional job last year in Miami. We think Ryan Tannehill has a lot of promise for the future. And we’ve got a young man named Pat Devlin who’s worked extremely hard as well.”

Garrard didn't mind sharing his opinion on the matter. He was able to simultaneously praise his rookie counterpart's understanding of the playbook and tell everyone exactly why he might have an edge in the

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Patriots sign first-round pick defensive end Jones


The Patriots signed first-round pick defensive end Chandler Jones, according to

Jones, taken 21st overall, was one of two defensive players New England traded up for in the draft. The other was linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

Jones was signed to the standard rookie deal length of four years.

Jones is a long, athletic defensive end who was a three-year starter at Syracuse. He tallied 10 sacks and 147 tackles in his collegiate career. Injury forced him to miss five games in his junior year, and he declared for the NFL draft after the season was over.

The Patriots are hoping that he can develop into an elite pass rusher and help the defense improve on a second-to-last ranking in yardage allowed in 2011.

Kraft: Pats would 'like to see Welker a Patriot for life'


Robert Kraft has a way of making sense.

The Patriots have been reluctant to give receiver Wes Welker the long-term deal he wants this offseason, as they slapped him with the franchise tag last month and have reportedly not been pleased with his going public on his displeasure with his contract negotiations.

The 31-year-old slot receiver has led the NFL in receptions for the three of the past five seasons and has obviously been quarterback Tom Brady's go-to guy during that span.

Kraft, the Patriots' owner, recognizes what Welker means to the franchise, but he's not willing to lose sight of the bottom line.

"Well we'd like to see him be a Patriot for life but it takes two sides," Kraft told Kim Jones of NFL Network Tuesday. "We're just happy he’s back in the system. He’s a wonderful young man, and a special guy. I think both sides would like to do a deal, but it requires intelligence and putting our team first.

Jets let go of two reserve defenders in Jones, Smith


In some no-big-deal news, the Jets waived a couple players who weren't going to see any time on the game field, anyway.

Still, we've made a habit of getting all of these little bits in, so here goes nothing.

Tuesday, the Jets announced they relieved reserves linebacker Eddie Jones and safety DeAngelo Smith.

Jones spent stints on the Jets' and Rams' practice squads last season, and he saw action in one Jets game (Oct. 9 vs. the Patriots). The Jets re-signed him in mid-January.

Smith, who signed with the Jets in April, was selected by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2009 draft and spent time with the Cowboys, Browns, Bears and Lions.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bills DE Mario Williams finally chooses a number


The Mario Williams jersey saga has come to end. Yay.

Williams, who was signed by the Bills in March but had yet to pick a jersey number because longtime Bill Chris Kelsay wasn't about to give up No. 90, chose to don No. 94.

The Bills announced the "breaking news" Tuesday.

Williams wore No. 90 (Photo: The Brit_2, Flickr) during his five years with the Texans.

However, Williams had to find new digs when Kelsay told him he'd prefer not to part with the number he's worn since 2003, when he was drafted by the Bills in the second round.

“It’s not something I’m going to have to get used to, it’s just a number,” Williams told “I look at it like it’s a new day, a new chapter in my career, so I’m changing things up a bit.”

Dolphins sign pair of draft picks in Martin, Matthews


Four draft picks down, five to go.

Tuesday, the Dolphins reached agreements with second-round offensive tackle Jonathon Martin and seventh-round receiver Rishard Matthews, the third and fourth members of their 2012 draft class to sign with the team.

Martin was a four-year starter at Stanford where he was tasked with protecting 2012 No. 1 overall Andrew Lucks's blindside. He is an experienced, intelligent lineman who is a frontrunner to win the starting right tackle job right away for the Dolphins.

There he would replace retired veteran and 2011 turnstile Marc Colombo to shore up a weak right side of the line. His athleticism makes him a perfect fit in the zone-blocking scheme that Joe Philbin plans to run.

Matthews is a possession receiver who has a knack for making the catch in traffic. He was extremely productive in two seasons at Nevada, catching 147 passes for 2,243 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Ross learning divide between business and football


By any measure, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a wildly successful man.

But he seems to be learning that the formula for success in business -- the guy is a self-made billionaire and real estate magnate -- is much different from the formula for success on the football field.

“I’m a developer,” Ross (Photo: Corey Seeman, Flickr) said in an interview with CBS4 television in Miami. “So I'm looking at property and I have to have a vision. In football, it’s a lot harder to do.”

In his brief time as the owner of the Dolphins, he has been reviled by his fans for on-field failures and a focus on celebrity partners and stadium amenities rather than team victories. He has renovated Sun Life Stadium into a destination for celebration, but given the fans who file in there nothing to celebrate about.

On his watch, a once-proud NFL franchise has deteriorated into an AFC welcome mat.

It's not for a lack of trying on Ross' part, but most of his franchise's problems are attributable to his misunderstanding of the league. He seemed to first approach it as any other industry, where smart financial investment can fix just about any problem. But he is learning, slowly, that building a successful football product isn't about the restaurants and nightclubs at the stadium. Instead, it's first and foremost about building a winning team.

Patriots sign draftee; McCourty still rehabbing injury

Photo: Beth Hart, Flickr 


Monday, the Patriots signed a defensive back who won't play defensive back. And they reportedly have a defensive back who, while rehabbing a lingering injury, will still play defensive back.

New England inked sixth-round draft pick Nate Ebner, who is a former rugby player trying to make his way in the NFL.

The Patriots look to turn Ebner, who is listed as a defensive back, into a special teams ace, though if that doesn't work out, Ebner reportedly plans on just returning to rugby. No big deal.

Meanwhile, cornerback Devin McCourty told the Boston Herald that he's still rehabbing a shoulder injury that kept him out of two games in the middle of the 2011 season.

Bills' O-line looks to build on efficient 2011 campaign


The Bills' offensive line started last season under the microscope. This year, it will start in the same spot, but for a much different reason.

As the 2011 season was set to get under way, the situation on the Bills' line was not what fans were hoping for: inexperience, perceived lack of leadership and zero depth.

What they got, however, was a group that worked extremely hard, bought into the system and produced, snap after snap, despite a constant shifting of players due to injury. Now, as the squad says goodbye to one face and hello to three more via the draft, the pressure is on to not only perform well, but progress.

The group going into last season — Demetress Bell, Andy Levitre, Eric Wood, Keith Urbik and Erik Pears — was touted as a ragtag bunch at best, with their backups a short list in Chris Hairston and Chad Rinehart. In sticking with a gameplan of quick reads and short, decisive passing plays, however, the squad allowed a league-best 23 sacks all season, the best full-season performance by a Buffalo line crew since sacks became an official statistic. They accomplished that feat despite Levitre, Pears and Rinehart being the only ones to appear in all 16 games and Levitre playing numerous positions throughout the season.

The Bills added some depth in April, drafting linemen Cordy Glenn, Zebrie Sanders and Mark Asper in rounds two, five and six, respectively. With all three showing great raw skills at their respective positions and making their marks during rookie minicamp (all three have been signed), the Bills' line will have a much-needed cushion going into next season.

Ellis has 45 days in jail but won't miss much football


Jets defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis will be going to jail for 45 days, but he won't miss much practice time.

Ellis, who was arrested and charged for malicious wounding two years ago while attending Hampton University, accepted a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault and battery in a plea agreement, according to ESPN New York.

Ellis was sentenced to 179 days in prison, though his attorney reportedly said he'd get out after 45 days with good behavior.

The Jets drafted Ellis in the third round of the 2011 draft and were obviously well aware of the legal troubles he was facing.

Dolphins owner thinks Matt Moore will start Week 1


Dolphins owner Stephen Ross may have hinted at which quarterback will begin this season as his team's starter.

While at the league's spring meeting, Ross spoke candidly with the NFL Network's Jeff Darlington about his team's quarterback competition.

"I don't think they're going to rush (Ryan Tannehill) into anything," Ross said. "He's going to have to win the starting job. I think Matt Moore will probably be the starter, and I wish him the best."

Matt Moore performed impressively in relief duties last season and earned a right to fight for the job. He will be going up against No. 8 overall pick Ryan Tannehill and seasoned veteran David Garrard in an open training camp competition.

Tannehill is clearly expected to be the quarterback of the future, but his development is more important than forcing their shiny new first round pick onto the field.

So, Moore might just get a chance to pick up where he left off last season.

So far, Tebow just a quarterback with Gang Green


Tim Tebow's focus has strictly been on backup quarterback duties during the beginning of the Jets' OTAs, according to sources of the Star-Ledger. While that will certainly change as the offseason continues, it's first things first for the Jets.

New York brought in Tebow to back up starter Mark Sanchez and more or less run offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's Wildcat/option packages.

However, Gang Green is obviously trying to get Tebow settled into the offense from a a signal-caller perspective before putting the extras on his plate.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Schedule favors snow games for Bills, Patriots fans

Photo: Mark Watmough, Flickr 

The Bills will be at Ralph Wilson Stadium for three games in December of 2012, and the Patriots will host games at Gillette Stadium three times that month, as well.

You'd imagine fans wouldn't have it any other way.

Buffalo averages roughly 18-to-25 inches of snowfall from the beginning to end of December, according to City-Data. The national average is two-to-four inches.

Foxborough (photo right, Aaron Frutman, Flickr) averages six-to-12 inches of snowfall in the final month of the year.

"So you're telling me there's chance?" said Lloyd Christmas while visiting snow-filled Aspen.

Foxborough and Orchard Park have combined to host 11 pro football games played in heavy snowfall since 2000, according to The amount of games played in light snowfall or icy conditions is too copious to count.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Slow-signing Dolphins ink second rookie, DT Randall


The Dolphins signed seventh-round pick defensive tackle Kheeston Randall to a four-year deal Sunday, according to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post.

Randall was a four-year player at Texas as a nose tackle. He will compete to be a backup defensive tackle behind Paul Soliai and Randy Starks.

Though a little undersized as an interior lineman, Randall is an athletic defender with a high motor who is also the owner of a 34-inch vertical, no easy feat when you're 6-foot-5 and are pushing 300 pounds.

He is also recognized as a high character person who can be a locker room leader for the Dolphins as he was at Texas, though he is no guarantee to make the team.

McGinest tells Welker 'how things go down' in NE


Last month, former Patriots defender Willie McGinest criticized Wes Welker for his "diva attitude" in Welker's handling of his contract situation with New England.

Welker continued to hint at a possible holdout during media appearances throughout the first half of May, but he signed his franchise tender last week and has more or less returned to his company man status.

“I’m cool with Wes. I never had a problem with him in the beginning. I was just trying to give him the blueprint of how things go down (in Foxboro),” McGinest said last week, according to the Boston Herald. “If you’re franchised, and you have a chance to make $9.5 million, grab it. It’s more than half of your last contract. If they want to franchise you again next year, that number goes up. That’s $20 million in two years. That’s quarterback money."

McGinest went on to explain that the business side holds more weight for the Patriots than relationships on a personal level. Which is how it should be, as that's how great teams are built.

Moore: Talk of not being a true starter 'gets annoying'

Photo: Kevin Tsui, Flickr 


Matt Moore is excited about the changes to the Dolphins' offense this year, and he'll be even more excited if he's the one running it.

Moore started the majority of the Dolphins' 2011 games at quarterback, tossing 16 touchdowns to nine interceptions and rushing for two scores. He boasted an efficient 60.5 completion percentage in leading the Dolphins to a 6-3 finish to the season.

Moore was named the team's 2011 MVP.

Miami, however, drafted a signal-caller -- Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M -- at No. 8 overall this year, and many are speculating Tannehill could find himself in a starting role sooner than later.

Moore, 27, has never entered a season as the designated starter, as he's constantly battled the label of being a solid backup but not a starter.

"When I hear it over and over 100 times it gets a little annoying," Moore told the Palm Beach Post in May. "I just try to win ballgames and do my best. They'll talk about me when they need to talk about me."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Report: Jets plan to start former Dolphins safety Bell


Yeremiah Bell was widely considered to be a depth option for whichever team he landed with this season.

But the 34-year-old safety landed with the Jets, and he's not just in New York for depth.

Brian Costello of the New York Post reported Bell, a longtime Dolphin, was signed to start alongside former Redskin LaRon Landry. Rich Cimini of ESPN New York confirmed Costello's report.

That would mean he'll play in place of last-year starter Eric Smith, which is probably an upgrade.

Patriots add rookie free agent O-lineman Opperud


AFC East teams have been deepening their offensive line corps this week, and the Patriots are no exception.

Friday, New England announced it signed rookie free agent offensive lineman Jon Opperud.

Opperud was signed by the Seahawks after the conclusion of the 2012 draft but was released two weeks later. He started at left tackle the past two seasons for Montana after starting at guard as a sophomore. He played in multiple spots as a freshman.

Jets ink guard, promote Bauer to replace Clinkscales


After signing a couple outsiders Friday, the Jets promoted an insider.

Gang Green, which reportedly inked longtime Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell Friday, added an undrafted free agent guard named Terrence Campbell to its roster. Campbell was a sixth-year senior who redshirted twice at South Carolina -- once as a true freshman and again as a junior for medial reasons.

Campbell is a project depth signing, but his presence won't hurt among a group that lacks many capable backups.

The Jets also promoted longtime college scout Jeff Bauer to the position of Director of College Scouting. He'll fill the void left by former vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales, who departed for a job with the Raiders.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Welker on issues with Pats: 'Don't believe the hype'

Photo: Karen Cardoza, Flickr 


The Boston Globe reported Friday morning that the Patriots haven't exactly been thrilled with receiver Wes Welker's going public with the state of his contract negotiations.

Welker, who was handed the franchise tag this offseason, appeared on a handful of ESPN programs two weeks ago, hinting at a possible holdout of the team's mandatory minicamp, as he still seeks a long-term contract with New England.

Earlier this week, Welker signed his franchise tender, tweeting that it was the "right thing to do" and hashtagging it with "#leapoffaith."

 Friday afternoon, after assumedly catching wind of the report that New England wasn't happy about his, um, outgoingness(?), tweeted, "Don't believe the hype. Everyone wants to make a story. Control what u can control and move on."

As tight-lipped as the Patriots' organization has been in the Belichick era, the Globe's sources were probably right on.

Weatherford: Comments on Sanchez out of context


Rich Cimini of ESPN New York posted a piece on ESPN's Jets Blog with quotes from former Jets punter Steve Weatherford on an podcast being critical of Mark Sanchez. The headline read, "Steve Weatherford rips Mark Sanchez."

Here are the quotes:

"I like Mark -- I think he's a very talented quarterback -- but from my standpoint, I haven't seen a lot of maturation," Weatherford said. "When you're a quarterback and you come in, and you're expected to be the face of the franchise, and you're expected to lead the team.

"That's a lot to take on as a rookie. But as the years go on, I think you're expected to mature, skill-wise, and also mature as a leader, and to be honest with you, as much as I like the guy, I just haven't seen that."

I'd hardly consider Weatherford "ripping" Sanchez with these comments, but that was the headline. And Weatherford, who won a Super Bowl last year with the Giants, apparently wasn't thrilled with the context.
"I think (Mark Sanchez) knows the truth. I would never "RIP" a former teammate.Marks a great competitor and close friend This is outta control," Weatherford tweeted Friday.

"I expected a little more out of (Cimini) but the article was totally one sided," he added. "I have alot of respect for Mark Sanchez"

Bills sign 2nd-round tackle Glenn, only Graham to go


The Bills needed to get a little deeper at offensive line, so they drafted Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn in the second round.

Friday, they signed him, leaving third-round receiver T.J. Graham as the lone unsigned 2012 Bills draftee. Buffalo inked first-round cornerback Stephon Gilmore Thursday.

"Now it's behind me and I can really just focus on working and getting better in football," Glenn told "I'm at the facility working out and getting to know some of my teammates. It's time to start focusing on the season."

Glenn worked at left tackle all throughout the Bills' rookie minicamp last week, as that's where coach Chan Gailey projects him to be at his best.

Report: Jets sign former Dolphins strong safety Bell


It took two months, but former Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell has found a new team.

Bell signed a one-year, $1.4 million contract with the Jets on Friday, according to

There he will have an opportunity to push 2011 starter Eric Smith for playing time. Smith struggled mightily last season. Bell will be a good addition in run support but isn't much of an upgrade in pass coverage.

The Dolphins released Bell in March to avoid paying the 34-year-old the $4.3 million salary he was due in 2012. He also probably didn't fit schematically, as the Dolphins' new coaching staff has hinted that they would be using interchangeable free safeties as opposed to a strong safety like Bell.

Patriots sign troubled rookie defensive back Dennard


Alfonzo Dennard has a lot to prove, and the Patriots need major help in their secondary. That combination could help Dennard see the field sooner than later, given he's not in jail by that time.

The Patriots and Dennard, a defensive back out of Nebraska who was drafted in the seventh round, agreed to terms on a contract Thursday, according to Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe.

Dennard was on pace to being a early-round selection before putting up sub par performances at the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl, only to get arrested a week before the draft on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

He faces up to five years in prison if convicted, according to the Boston Herald.

The 22-year-old former Cornhusker projects to be a safety in the NFL, as his stock as a cornerback plummeted after he reportedly got beat on a regular basis during Senior Bowl practices. Scouting reports have him as a player who struggles to recover from losing a step on a receiver due to lack of speed.

Jets agree to terms with first-rounder DE Coples


The Jets maintained after the draft that they got the guy they wanted in defensive end Quinton Coples.

Thursday, Gang Green signed him.

The Jets and Coples, a first-round pick out of North Carolina, agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth close to $9 million, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

"Obviously, we think this young man, he's going to start," Jets coach Rex Ryan told during the team's rookie minicamp last week. "Is he going to play every snap? No, I doubt it, but he's going to play a bunch. He could start on the sub team, start on this, start on that. Sometimes you come out and the personnel dictates who you'll play.

"But this guy has the athleticism. He's going to start in multiple schemes. I know one thing. He's going to play a ton."

Coples bolsters a defensive line in need of pass-rushing ability. Paired with second-year defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets hope the future of their defensive line is solidified, as it's been one of the older units on the team for nearly half a decade.

Dolphins finally sign a draft pick, ink Cunningham


The Dolphins signed sixth-round pick B.J. Cunningham to a four-year deal Thursday, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He is the first member of the Dolphins' 2012 draft class to sign with the team.

While most teams have inked some or all of their 2012 draft picks, the Dolphins have taken their time.

Miami selected the former Spartan with the 183rd overall pick in April's draft. Cunningham was a four year-starter at Michigan State and is the university's all-time leader in receptions and receiving touchdowns.

Cunningham will hopefully help bolster a weak Dolphins' receiving corps that lost Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall in a trade to Chicago. Miami also drafted Nevada receiver Rishard Matthews in the seventh round.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Agent: Bell will sign with 'mystery team' within day


Former Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell may be close to finding a home after all.

Bell's agent Drew Rosenhaus told WQAM radio in South Florida Thursday that his client will sign with a team "within 24 hours," according to a report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

"I'm on my way to a mystery team, and I don't want to give away the negotiations. It is good for Yeremiah," Rosenhaus said. The Chiefs, Jets, Eagles, and Titans are among the teams that have shown interest in Bell.

"They're all great situations because they need help at the safety position," Rosenhaus said. "He's certainly looking to continue as a starter, go to a good football team. Each of those scenarios is very promising for him."

Bell, 34, is a strong safety who generally plays close to the line of scrimmage. Although Bell is a solid run defender -- he's led the Dolphins in tackles for the past four seasons -- he doesn't offer much in pass coverage at this point in his career.

Bills agree to terms with first-rounder CB Gilmore


The Bills took another step in an offseason of progress Thursday, signing first-round draft pick Stephon Gilmore.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the former South Carolina cornerback will make "about $12.1 million" over four years.

“I love playing football and that’s the main reason I play, so I wasn’t going to let (the contract) be a distraction,” Gilmore told “I wasn’t really worried about it. I knew Buffalo was going to come through."

The Bills selected Gilmore at No. 10 overall before releasing veteran cornerback Drayton Florence, making Gilmore a likely starter when the 2012 season rolls around.

"Now I can just focus on football and do what I do," Gilmore said.

Jets still underwhelming at RT with Hunter, Ducasse


Wayne Hunter must somehow not be as bad as meets the eye.

The Jets' right tackle was incredibly underwhelming last season, allowing 11 sacks, 11 quarterback hits and 32 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

Even Hunter admitted to being the team's "weakest link" last year, yet the coaching staff has completely backed him this offseason. Maybe it's because they don't have a choice.

"Until they ship him out of here or shoot me dead in my office, the guy's the starting right tackle," Jets offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo told Dennis Waszak of the Associated Press Wednesday.

Hunter's only real threat to keep his job is third-year tackle Vlad Ducasse, who is entering an important year in his stint with the Jets. Ducasse hasn't done a whole lot since being taken in the second round of the 2010 draft. When he did see time on the field, Ducasse was abused by opposing defenders.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pats ink 7th-rounder Ebert to join loaded WR corps

Photo: West Point Public Affairs, Flickr 


Another receiver. Why not?

The Patriots and rookie receiver Jeremy Ebert, who was drafted in the seventh round, have agreed to terms on a four-year contract, according to Aaron Wilson of

Wilson reports the deal is worth $2.148 million and includes a $48,200 signing bonus.

Ebert is part of an extremely deep Patriots receiving corps, so the chances of him getting any legitimate playing time any time soon are slim to none.

The speedy 5-foot-11, 200-pound receiver out of Northwestern is projected to be a slot receiver in the NFL, but if he sees the field this year, it will likely be on special teams.

Phins possibly looking to add FB, will host Mughelli


The Dolphins may be in the market for a fullback, a position that has essentially been vacant on their roster since short-yardage specialist Lousaka Polite was released last offseason.

Veteran free agent Ovie Mughelli is planning to visit the Dolphins Thursday, according to's Jason La Canfora.

Mughelli is a traditional lead-blocking power fullback, a description no other back on Miami's roster fits. Second-year player Charles Clay is an H-Back -- a fullback/tight end hybrid -- who is more of a receiver, and CFL import Jerome Messam has a fullback-like physique at 245 pounds but has always been primarily a ball-carrier.

Going without a fullback is not an uncommon practice in today's NFL, but Miami's new coaching staff might be looking to get one on the roster.

Green Bay fullback John Kuhn was a frequently-used feature of the Packers' offense in both short-yardage situations and as a blocker when Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was the offensive coordinator. Philbin is expected to install many of the same offensive concepts in Miami and doesn't have a player like Kuhn currently available.

Pats' Dennard waives hearing, to be arraigned May 30; Jets' Ellis' trial set to begin May 22


The Patriots knew what type of talent, and what type of trouble, they were getting when they selected cornerback Alfonzo Dennard in the seventh round of the draft.

Dennard is facing felony assault charges stemming from a fight in a Lincoln, Nebraska bar where he allegedly punched a police officer. He has waived his right to the preliminary hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday, according to a report from the Boston Herald.

He will now be arraigned on May 30 and is out on a $5,000 bond. If convicted, Dennard could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Dennard has been a full participant in the Patriots' rookie minicamps.

In 2011 at Nebraska, Dennard was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and won the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year award. He originally projected to be a day two selection in April's Draft.

QB Young looks to 'help Bills out in any way he can'

Photo: Rex Hammock, Flickr 


Going on his seventh year and third team as an NFL quarterback, Vince Young may finally be the mature, humble and hard-working teammate the Bills are looking for.

During his introductory press conference after inking a one-year deal with Buffalo Tuesday, Young was all about team dynamics and capturing a Super Bowl title for his coaches, even if that means he spends his time in the video room and not on the field on Sundays.

“As the history goes, you notice guys get more mature in their sixth and seventh year. That’s the biggest thing,” Young told the media. “I have definitely learned how to handle different situations now. I just go to work. That’s all you can do. That’s what you’ve been paid for to be a franchise quarterback. That’s the biggest thing you have to do.”

In his brief playing time with Philadelphia last year, Young’s performance was less than impressive, taking eight sacks, throwing nine picks, and fumbling twice in a combined six appearances. Young said Tuesday he learned a lot from his extensive film training last season, and he is looking forward to working with coaches Chan Gailey and David Lee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jets sign sixth-round guard Griffin to 4-year deal


With consecutive picks in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Jets took Baylor running back Terrance Ganaway and Baylor guard Robert T. Griffin.

Gang Green stuck with that order.

Tuesday, a day after New York signed Ganaway to a four-year deal, the Jets inked Griffin to a four-year contract of his own.

"I think the Jets liked my quickness, my size, my attitude, the way I hustled around, the way I helped out my teammates," Griffin told after the draft. "What I want to bring to this team is help them get better. This team is already good. I want to add to it."

Ex-Phins safety Bell struggling mightily to find team


Yeremiah Bell's abrupt release in March was a surprising and somewhat unpopular move by Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. And though many Miami fans didn't want to see the veteran go, other teams aren't exactly champing at the bit to sign Bell to their rosters.

Coming off perhaps his best statistical season where he was the team's leading tackler, the 2011 captain seemed to be an asset to Miami from a leadership standpoint, being the longest-tenured Dolphin in a young secondary. Still, the team felt he wasn't worth the $4.3 million he was due in 2012.

Bell, 34, has reportedly either visited or drawn interest from the Eagles, Jets, Patriots, Titans and Chiefs since his March 19 release. None of the teams have engaged in any known negotiations with Bell's agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

The Dolphins also reportedly haven't ruled out re-signing Bell down the road at a cheaper price, but Rosehaus has publicly denied that as a possibility.