Fells could provide leadership for young tight ends


Fells could provide leadership for young tight ends

FOXBORO -- The full Gronkowski Experience has not yet hit new tight end Daniel Fells. How to be sure? Fells had to ask.

"Him and Aaron Hernandez . . . I've heard stories about both those guys," Fells laughed. "But they're good guys. They're competitors. They're out here and they're working hard so that's always a good thing."

So it seems Gronkowski got the watermelon spiking, scooter rides, and Zubaz pants out of his system before OTAs.
Indeed, Fells has nothing but respect for New England's tremendous tight end tandem. Their on-field production in 2011 -- 169 catches for 2,237 yards and 24 touchdowns -- impressed Fells as a testament to New England's brilliant manipulation of the offense.

"They're both real good tight ends," Fells said. "They went out there and they produce. They're two of the top guys in the league. But, traditionally, just looking at this offense, Tom Brady's going to find the open man and that's something that appeals to everybody."

One has to think Fells can provide a positive influence for the younger tight ends the way Alge Crumpler did in the duo's rookie year. Fells learned from Crumpler himself, during his first NFL season. They shared one year-and-a-half in Atlanta, and the way Fells tells it, the relationship was priceless.

Just coming in as a rookie, you don't know what to expect. I went into Atlanta not knowing if guys are going to try to sabotage you, because you're competing. That's what it's all about, because you're competing for a job, for a position, so you don't really know if you can trust anybody. But Alge welcomed everybody with open arms.

"He's the type of guy who had me over to his house for Thanksgiving," Fells said. "He had his family in town and I didn't have any family in Atlanta and I wasn't going home. He invited me over to his house and fed me. He made the Pro Bowl that year and took all his tight ends out to Hawaii with him. Paid for the flight and everything. That's just the type of person that he was. Very giving and very humble about all his blessings. I just learned a lot from him."

That kind of presence Crumpler was for Fells -- supportive, gracious -- is what Fells can be for Gronkowski and Hernandez. And it sounds like that's where he's comfortable. Fells is first concerned with proving himself a productive player in New England -- something the other tight ends have already done.

"I can just go out here and be me That's what's gotten me around the league. That's what's gotten me to the point of being able to play for seven years is just going out and being myself, being professional. Just doing my job.

"As far as guiding those two? Like I said, they are two great athletes, two great competitors. I don't really need to guide them in that sense. I'm just going to go out here and try and fill in where I can."

It will be an interesting dynamic, at least.

Fells is a guy nicknamed "Rev" at UC Davis because his demeanor matched that of Jerry Harris from the movie "Remember the Titans." You know, the the football player who aspired to be . . . a reverend.

Sound like Gronknandez to you? Not really.

"I'm a little bit older. I've been around the block," Fells said, laughing at the reputation of his new teammates. "I was young once myself, but now I'm married and have a son. Things change. Times change. They'll grow up. They're enjoying their youth right now."

Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'


Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'

Malcolm Butler didn't mean any disrespect. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 


When the Patriots corner picked off a Landry Jones pass in the first quarter -- one that was intended for receiver Antonio Brown -- Butler stood up in the end zone, faced the Heinz Field crowd, stuck one arm in the air a and gyrated like someone had attached jumper cables to his facemask. 

He was doing his best to mimick one of Brown's well-known touchdown dances.

"Me and Brown had conversation before," Butler said, "and it was a joke to him once I showed him how I do it. Much love for that guy. Nothing personal."

For Butler, it was the highlight of what was a productive afternoon. The third-year corner was asked to shadow Brown for much of the day, and he allowed Brown to catch five of nine targets for 94 yards. He also broke up a pair of passes intended for Brown's teammates.

“Stopping Antonio Brown, that’s impossible," Butler said. "You can’t stop him. You can only slow him down. I just went out there and tried to compete today . . . Great players are going to make plays but you have to match their intensity.”
Even on the longest throw from backup quarterback Landry Jones to Brown, a 51-yarder, it appeared as though Butler played the coverage called correctly. 

Butler lined up across from Brown and trailed him underneath as Brown worked his jway from the left side of the field to the right. Butler was looking for some help over the top in that scenario, seemingly, but because Brown ran across the formation, it was hard for the back end of the defense to figure out who would be helping Butler. 

Belichick admitted as much after the game. 

"He was on [Brown] a lot the way we set it up," Belichick said. "Look, they've got great players. They're tough to cover. They hit us on a couple over routes, in cut where they kind of ran away from the coverage that we had. 

"The plays were well designed. Good scheme, good thorws and obviously good routes by Brown. They got us on a couple, but I thought we competed hard. We battled all the way. We battled on third down. We battled in the red area. They made some. We made some, but they're good. They have a lot of good players."

And Brown, in particular, is about as close as it gets to unstoppable in the NFL. Butler found that out in Week 1 of last year when he matched up with Brown in his first game as a starter, giving up nine catches for 133 yards to the All-Pro wideout. 

Though Sunday might not have been perfect for Butler, it was better than that day about 14 months ago. And at times, it was worth dancing about. 

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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