Denver only the next opponent for McDaniels

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Denver only the next opponent for McDaniels

Josh McDaniels sounds neither sentimental nor conflicted about the Patriots' upcoming matchup with Denver.
The offensive coordinator left New England to become head coach of the Broncos in 2009. Though this isn't the first time his current and former teams have clashed -- his first year as Denver bench boss started with six straight wins that included a Week 5 overtime victory against the Patriots -- it will be his first time facing the Broncos since coaching them.
On a Tuesday conference call, McDaniels kept focus on the Patriots.
"It's the next game. It's an important game for our team," he said in a verbal shrug. "I think there's a lot of times over the course of the season where either coaches or players on either team have had experience, or been a part of another organization or team, and I think that happens rather often, I would say.
"It's a big game for us because it's the next one, and we're trying to build on some of the things that we did well in the last game, and really emphasize trying to play well at home."
McDaniels keeping current didn't sound like bitterness, despite his Denver tenure coming to an ugly end. The early six-game win streak ended in brutal fashion; the Broncos went 5-17 from November 2009 into December of the following season and McDaniels was fired before 2010 was over.
He remained gracious when asked about the experience.
"I think anytime you take on another role or another position, there's always a lot of things that you learn. It's hard to really pinpoint one thing over another. But they gave me a great opportunity. I think it's a great organization, it's a great owner. You go out there and try to do the best you can with what you know, and the things that you're capable of doing," McDaniels said.
"You learn a lot of different things on all different levels because you're involved in so many different aspects of the organization as a head coach. Hopefully, all of those different experiences will pay off and make me a better person, coach, going forward in the future."
You'd imagine some of those lessons could be applied to New England's effort on Sunday. During a week's preparation McDaniels usually focuses on the opposing defense, but considering the inside track he has on Broncos he once oversaw all over the roster-- Brandon Stokley, Champ Bailey, Ryan Clandy -- it stands to reason he'd be an excellent resource.
Or not.
McDaniels countered the idea with New England's two wins over Denver in 2011. He said head coach Bill Belichick and staff are perhaps more recently familiar with the Broncos than he is now.
"I'm sure they did a lot of homework there and really studied and analyzed those players strengths and weaknesses. If there's anything that I can help with, I'm sure I will. But I'm pretty sure and confident that everyone here will do a great job of analyzing the things we need to do in terms of evaluating personnel."

Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

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Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue won't hit newsstands until July 8, but Vince Wilfork gave people a not-so-little preview of what to expect this week.

The former Patriots defensive lineman, who is listed at 325 pounds but said he's weighed as much as 350 pounds, sat down for an interview about his size that landed on ESPN.com on Thursday.

"I just think it's a good idea for people that are bigger-boned," Wilfork said when asked why he posed nude for the Body Issue. "If people can look at me, a guy that's 325-plus, doing an issue like this, I'm pretty sure that they might have a little confidence.

"There will be critics, just like with everything else. I think a lot of people will get a laugh out of it, I'll tell you that. I'm looking forward to what the locker room's going to say. But at the end of the day, I'm perfectly fine with who I am as a person and what I have accomplished. It shows a lot of my personality."

You can read the full interview here, as well as watch a video that shows Wilfork in all his modeling glory.

Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

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Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

Ask a football fan in New England, and he or she might tell you that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the top two players in the NFL. A random NFL player might not be as generous, but on balance, Brady and Gronkowski's peers consider the Patriots stars to be among the top 10 talents in the league. 

The NFL Network announced the final 10 players to be included in their annual Top 100 list, a list voted on by players, and both Brady and Gronkowski made the cut.

The order of the top 10 has been determined, but has not yet been announced. Brady and Gronkowski are in the running for No. 1 alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt. 

The weekly series, which has counted down Nos. 100-11, will end on Wednesday, July 6 with two, one-hour episodes on NFL Network at 8 and 9 p.m. Highlights of each player will be featured, as will interviews with some of their teammates and competitors. 

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder he’s always had," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Brady, "that really separates him."

Of Rob Gronkowski, Texans corner Charles James II said, "He's a glitch on Madden."

The only other Patriots players included in the Top 100 were Julian Edelman (who came in at No. 87) and Chandler Jones (No. 48). Jones, now a member of the Cardinals, was the only Patriots defender involved. 

Corner Malcolm Butler, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty all had an argument to be included but were left off. 

NFL.com contributors Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor put together their own individual Top 100 lists to supplement the one voted on by current players. Rosenthal included Collins (No. 64), McCourty (No. 73) and Butler (No. 99) in addition to Edelman (No. 84). Wesseling included Collins (No. 43), McCourty (No. 88) and Hightower (No. 91), but not Edelman. Jones-Drew included both Edelman (No. 62) and Butler (No. 95). Taylor included only Edelman (No. 89).