Fanene finds his bliss

Fanene finds his bliss

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO - After his first training camp practice with the Patriots, I asked Jonathan Fanene how it went.

He got this faraway look in his eyes and said slowly, "I love the people around here, the staff, the teammates, the surroundings. It feels so good. It feels important. It feels so special to be somewhere that you know something special is going to happen."

No lie. You might think I'm lying, but I'm not.

The guy looked like he was in mid-swoon.

Maybe spending a few seasons with the Bengals will do that to you. Fanene's NFL camp experience prior to here was with the Bengals out on the Ohio-Kentucky line. After eight seasons there, he signed with the Patriots early in free agency hoping to get with a consistent winner that would create a niche for his interior pass rush skills.

Bill Belichick wasn't quite ready to say Fanene was his pass-rushing salvation on Friday.

"It's been one day," said the head coach. "I don't think we want to get into how did he do on this play, how did he do on that play. We have a little while here, we have a lot of plays, a lot of days strung together. A couple hundred plays or so. There was a handful on the first day. It's a little early to get too high or too low."

Alright then. Relative to what was expected, how does Fanene look?

"He's got good playing strength. He's quick. He's definitely going to be a guy who's very competitive in that group," said Belichick. The head coach then added, "It looks like a real good group. A lot of competition in there."

No question. But the advantage Fanene has is he is a unique build (6-4, 285) and skill set among the defensive endtackle group. He's smaller than the Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, Bradon Deaderick, Kyle Love contingent. But he's also quicker.

Who will be most effective?

Hey. It's been one day. Keep your shirt on.

Despite Crowder's ties to Falcons, Celtics pulling for Patriots in Super Bowl

Despite Crowder's ties to Falcons, Celtics pulling for Patriots in Super Bowl

WALTHAM --  Go up and down the Boston Celtics roster and you won’t have any trouble finding players who will be cheering on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
 
But there are some Celtics who understandably have mixed feelings about the game.
 
Among them is Jae Crowder, who grew up in Villa Rica, Ga. which is about 32 miles outside of Atlanta.
 
“I’ve been cheering for the Falcons all my life,” Crowder said. “I’m here in Boston; I’ve been a Patriots fan.”
 
And within that fandom, Crowder has developed a friendship with New England players, among them being Patriots running back LaGarrette Blount.
 
Not soon after the Patriots punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, Crowder got a text message from Blount.
 
“He knows,” Crowder said of Blount. “Yeah, he knows I’m in between.”
 
Isaiah Thomas, whose hometown Seattle Seahawks were beaten by the Falcons, said Crowder didn’t become a Falcons fan until they made the playoffs.
 
“Bandwagon? But I just took his money though,” quipped Crowder, referring to the Falcons beating the Seahawks in an earlier round of the playoffs. “We did them Seahawks real dirty; bandwagon.”
 
He’s not the only Celtics player with ties to Atlanta.
 
Boston rookie Jaylen Brown grew up just a few minutes outside of Atlanta in Marietta, Ga.
 
Thomas said Brown is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
 
“I don’t know how that is,” Thomas said. “Don’t let him tell you he’s an Atlanta Falcons fan. Jae just started reppin’ them when they made the playoffs. They can do what they want; they might as well root for the Patriots.”
 
For Thomas, cheering for the Patriots is more than just supporting his fellow professional athletes. As he tries to continue growing as a player and a leader for the Celtics, the Patriots and the way they do things in many ways has been a blueprint of sorts for Thomas.
 
“They’re the team you want to be,” Thomas said. “Every year they give themselves a chance. From top to bottom, they’re 100 percent professional. They think championship every year. That’s how you should be. We want to model that. Hopefully the can go out and win it, and we can try to piggy-pack on what they did.”
 
Another Celtic with Atlanta ties is Al Horford, who made it clear which team had his support.
 
“Going to school in Florida, being in the south for so many years, college football is kind of my thing,” said Horford, who revealed that he never attended a Falcons during his nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. “I would watch them on TV and stuff like that. I know it’s exciting for them. It’s a big deal to be in the Super Bowl. But I’m here in New England now so I’ll be cheering for the Patriots.”

Andy Dalton named Tom Brady's Pro Bowl replacement

Andy Dalton named Tom Brady's Pro Bowl replacement

With Tom Brady spending this week and next preparing for the Super Bowl, Andy Dalton has been named his replacement in the Pro Bowl. 

This will mark Dalton’s third Pro Bowl appearance. He finished fourth in the AFC in passing yards (4,206) and tied for 10th with 18 passing touchdowns. Brady threw 10 more touchdowns in four fewer games. 

Though he’s often skipped the actual games, this was the 12th season in which Brady was named to the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster. He’s been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last eight seasons.