Brady says Tebow's having 'great year'

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Brady says Tebow's having 'great year'

FOXBORO - This week is shaping into a circus. The Patriots don't want to step under the big top until they have to. That explains why nearly all Tebow-related questions are quickly spun into Bronco-centric answers.

Inevitably, though, the impact Tebow is having in Denver during his 7-1 stint as a starter gives rise to so many questions that they can't all be spun into generic pap.

Tom Brady came closest on Wednesday to holding forth on Tebow and his impact as the Patriots get ready to play Denver.

Even though he's never met Tebow, Brady's take is germane because he plays the same position and overcame similar obstacles in his second year in the league when he led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win.

How does a young player overcome non-believers?

"I think you just really have confidence in yourself that you can achieve whatever you think you can achieve, and then you try to work hard at it, and then when you get your opportunity you try to take advantage of it," Brady explained. "I think thats what a lot of young players not everyone is a high pick or not everyone gets a lot of chances right out of the box, but when you do get your opportunity, you really try to take advantage of your opportunity and do your best and give everything you have. If football means a lot to you and its important, usually good things happen."

Football is clearly important to Tebow. And aside from the spiritual element he espouses, his ability, energy, optimism and authenticity has seemed to make believers out of his teammates. Same way the Patriots bought in with Brady.

"Id say, as a team, everyone is trying to raise everybodys collective level energy and enthusiasm, and thats part of being a team," Brady said when asked if one player can raise the play of his teammates. "You can really only do your job. Thats what Coach Belichick has stressed to us day after day here. I can only play quarterback, Andre Carter can only play defensive end, Kevin Faulk can only play running back, and you have to do your job as well as you possibly can, because no one else can do it for you. The better you do it and the better everyone individually does it, the better collectively youll be as a team."

It seems more than coincidence, though, that Tebow's work- and that of his teammates - when the Broncos are in desperate straits is high. Tebow's fourth-quarter statistics, when he rises from a 46 percent completion guy to a 61 percent thrower, show the way his performance elevates.

What can a quarterback do as a leader in crunch time?

"Its an important part of the position," Brady said when asked about leadership. "You're the one calling the plays. Youre obviously the coach in the huddle. Its a responsibility that I think every quarterback takes very seriously leading your team and representing what your coaches are trying to put across on the field. Obviously he does a very good job of that."
Standard as his responses were, Brady did acknowledge that there is something compelling about Tebow's game.

"I appreciate good quarterback play," Brady said. "Im always watching around the league, whether its Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees having phenomenal years. Obviously, Tim is having a great year. You watch guys and the way that they perform under pressure and it says a lot about who they are and the way their teammates feel about them. Its a big challenge. Its going to be a very electric environment out there. Weve had some really great games against the Broncos over the years. I'm sure this will be no different."
Not sure everyone will agree with that.

Kraft on Brady: Patriots 'will continue to have Tom's back'

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Kraft on Brady: Patriots 'will continue to have Tom's back'

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the organization "will continue to have Tom's back" in reference to Tom Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension being reinstated.

Here's an excerpt of what Kraft, speaking Friday night at the Patriots draft party in a video on the team website, Patriots.com, told fans: 

“Number one, there is no finer ambassador for the game of football, and the New England Patriots, than Tom Brady. We always have had and will continue to have Tom’s back, especially when he’s being treated unfairly and he knows that.”

"All the decisions that this organization and I personally have made throughout this ordeal have been focused on putting Tom in the best possible position for success.

“Number two, I have been in constant communication with Tom over the past 16 months and we’ve had numerous conversations this past week. We are both on the same page and he knows exactly where my allegiances, and the total team’s [allegiances] are, relative to the extremely unfair discipline that he has been subjected to.

“I share in our fans’ anger and frustration with the penalties the league has levied, and the entire process and how it was conducted. But please trust that I am always trying to do what I believe is best for this franchise, and pledge that I will always continue to do that.”

After the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision reinstated Brady's four-game suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, it appears Brady is preparing to continue his legal fight against the penalty. 

Former Patriots players appear to have Brady's back, as well. 

 

Valentine will be plunked down in heart of Pats' defensive line

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Valentine will be plunked down in heart of Pats' defensive line

FOXBORO – The Patriots used the 96th overall pick – a compensatory pick that came to the Patriots after losing Darrelle Revis – on a very large man. Vincent Valentine, a 6-3, 329-pound defensive tackle from Nebraska who is more space-eater than penetrator.

Though Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said Valentine has played all over the defensive line including 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle), he’ll likely be an early-down, middle of the defensive line player for the Patriots at the outset. How does the team go about getting him on the field?

Currently, they are pretty well-stocked with big bodies. Last year’s first rounder, Malcom Brown, is going to play a lot for a long time. Terrance Knighton, added as a free agent, figures to be a major component of the defensive line. And aging Alan Branch showed in 2015 that he’s still got plenty of plays left in him.

The other 300-plus pound linemen in the mix are Marcus Kuhn, a free agent brought over from the Giants, and Joe Vellano, who’s been with the team for four seasons as an end of the roster player.

Valentine had an injury-plagued final season with the Cornhuskers and will need to tune up his body and conditioning for the NFL. He’s not a project but neither is he a plug-and-play type who can be expected to walk in and make immediate contributions. With the 31-year-old Branch nearing the end, it’s reasonable to expect Valentine to be the successor to him in the Patriots interior rotation when they go heavy on early downs and in short-yardage and goal-line.

Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

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Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

The Patriots have eight picks remaining on the final day of the draft. While they may not use all of those selections -- they currently have 80 players on the roster, leaving them with only two slots for undrafted free agents if they use all of their picks -- they still have plenty of opportunities to take chances on talented athletes Saturday. 

Here's a quick look at some of the best players available after they spent their first four selections on a corner (Cyrus Jones, Alabama, pick No. 60), an offensive lineman (Joe Thuney, North Carolina State, No. 78), a quarterback (Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State, No. 91) and a defensive tackle (Vincent Valentine, Nebraska, No. 96). 

The Patriots have one fourth-round pick, five sixth-round picks and two seventh-rounders remaining.

RUNNING BACK: KENNETH DIXON, LOUISIANA TECH

Listed as one of our top players available after Day 1, Dixon is still hanging around after nearly 100 picks have gone off the board. Perhaps his level of competition at Louisiana Tech has worked against him. Perhaps his fumbling issues have come back to bite him. Perhaps this is simply an indication of how the rest of the league considers this position. Only four backs have been drafted through the first three rounds. 

Other top running backs available: Jordan Howard, Indiana; Devontae Booker, Utah; Paul Perkins, UCLA; Jonathan Williams, Arkansas; Alex Collins, Arkansas. 

RECEIVER: DANIEL BRAVERMAN, WESTERN MICHIGAN

If ever there was a player who stood out as a potential Patriots pick, it would be Braverman. At 5-foot-10, 177 pounds, he is a prototypical slot receiver whose skill set resembles that of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola or Troy Brown. He's very shifty in and out of his breaks, he does a great deal of his work while risking big hits over the middle of the field, he catches just about everything thrown his way, and he churns out yards after the catch with speed and good vision. 

Other top receivers available: Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Devon Cajuste, Stanford; Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa; Keenan Reynolds, Navy.

LINEBACKER: JOSH PERRY, OHIO STATE

This Buckeye seems to fit the size profile the Patriots typically like in their receivers at 6-foot-4, 254 pounds. He runs well enough to be able to track ball-carriers from sideline-to-sideline, and he has a ton of experience coming downhill to make big hits in the running game. Perry will need some work before he's a reliable defender in coverage, but on first and second downs he could be a force. 

Other top linebackers available: Scooby Wright III, Arizona; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt; Blake Martinez, Stanford; De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota. 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: HASSAN RIDGEWAY, TEXAS

A college teammate of Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown, Ridgeway is considered by many to be more physically talented than Brown was when he declared for the draft. Injuries hurt Ridgeway's productivity last season, and there are some who question his conditioning, but he understands how to be a disruptive force on the interior, both in the running game and in the passing game. If he's in shape and can maintain the level of fitness that will be expected of him as a pro, he could turn into an immediate contributor.

Other top defensive tackles available: Andrew Billings, Baylor; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; DJ Reader, Clemson; Dean Lowry, Northwestern; Justin Zimmer, Ferris State.