Countdown to Camp: Secondary


Countdown to Camp: Secondary

A position-by-position look on the Patriots heading into training camp. This position: Defensive secondary.

Comings: S Steve Gregory (FA, Chargers), CB Alfonzo Dennard (7th rounder), CB Marquice Cole (FA, Jets), S Tavon Wilson (2nd rounder), S Nate Ebner (6th rounder), CB Will Allen (FA, Dolphins)

Goings: CB Nate Jones, CB Antwaun Molden

Something To Prove: Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, Patrick Chung, Josh Barrett, Dennard, Gregory, Marquice Cole, Sergio Brown

Nothing To Lose: Sterling Moore, Kyle Arrington, James Ihedigbo, Ebner, Will Allen, Malcolm Williams, Ross Ventrone, Tavon Wilson.

Summary: There is talent at the back of the Patriots defense. Can it play with confidence and controlled aggression? That's been the problem. Start at corner, where Devin McCourty played scared and lost his confidence in 2011, undoing all the good he'd done in 2010 as a rookie. Then there's injury-plagued second-year man Ras-I Dowling, whose injury history is becoming a concern at the other corner. Safety Patrick Chung plays with aggression, but his smallish size and tendency to get dinged will have to be overcome for him to take the step toward becoming a Pro Bowler. Corner Kyle Arrington and safety Sterling Moore play with more stones than anyone at the back end and that's why they're fun to watch. Dennard, who plummeted to the the seventh round because of a pre-draft arrest, could hit the ground running as a corner with something to prove. Safety Steve Gregory is a free agent from the Chargers who is being paid starter's money. Barrett, Brown and Cole are on the bubble. Ihedigbo is a known quantity and a pro. Allen's on his last roundup. Ihedigbo will likely find a role. Ebner's a project. And Wilson will be groomed to play next to Chung.

Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots


Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots

FOXBORO -- Seems as though the Bills don't quite have their stories straight. 

On the one hand, you have Bills players, who say that they won't hesitate to retaliate if a Patriots player gets near one of their pregame warmup drills, as Jacoby Brissett did in Week 4. 

On the other hand, you have the Bills coach, who sounded less eager for there to be any kind of scrap before this weekend's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

"No, I mean with us, just go out and warm up," Ryan said in a conference call Wednesday. "That’s what you do, but any of the extracurricular things, you know, there’s absolutely zero focus on that, and shouldn’t be any focus on that. It’s just about playing games.

"I mean if people want to show how tough they are, put the boxing gloves on and get in the ring or something. That might be more impressive -- I don’t want Gronk by the way.

"But I definitely don’t want to see that happen, and our focus is 100 percent on the game and doing the very best we possibly can."

It's an interesting comment from a coach who has made it very clear that he wanted to build a "bully" in Buffalo. His team shut out the Patriots after trying to intimidate New England's rookie quarterback before the game. Did his team not benefit somehow from what occurred before kickoff that day?

He doesn't think so.

"It had nothing to do with our team . . . Absolutely nothing," he said. "You know, those things happen every now and then but it was no big deal. It did absolutely nothing for us."

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Tom Brady has fans everywhere, apparently. Even in Pittsburgh. Even on the Steelers roster. 

Showtime's Inside the NFL caught video of Brady meeting with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Sunday's game between New England and Pittsburgh. 

The pair hugged near the 50-yard line at Heinz Field. Brady called Roethlisberger "big guy." Roethlisberger, who was out with a knee injury, told Brady he wanted to play "so bad."


Then Roethlisberger became a fan. And like many of them, he had a request. 

"Um, hey, listen," he said. "I've never done this before, but I would love to get a jersey at some point. It'd mean...There's not many I want to put in my office. You're the best, dude."

Brady was happy to oblige. Just not right at that moment. 

"Sure, I'd love to," Brady said. "I'll get you after the game."