Jones considered rookie with top 'impact' potential

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Jones considered rookie with top 'impact' potential

Will Brinson, senior NFL blogger for CBSSports.com, took pains on Monday to clarify what he means by tagging "impact" rookies in the NFL. His piece, which names 10 such players for the 2012 season, is prefaced with specific criteria: statistical production, game impact, and playoff impact.

That in mind, the Patriots should be happy Brinson put rookie Chandler Jones in the No. 2 spot.

"It hasn't been a great run for Bill Belichick on defensive players over the past few years in the draft, but he's mostly whiffed on defensive backs. With the Patriots losing a ton of sacks to free agency, they needed someone to step in and provide a multi-faceted attack on the quarterback. That someone is Jones, and he could be ready for a huge year defensively," the author explained.

"He'll allow the Pats to mix 3-4 and 4-3 and continually put pressure on the quarterback, and in a division with Matt Moore (or Ryan Tannehill! Or David Garrard!), Mark Sanchez (or Tim Tebow!) and Fitzpatrick, Jones could pile up the pressures. No, it doesn't hurt that he plays for someone who's coming off a Super Bowl loss. But that's how these rankings work; if you can put up big numbers while pushing your team over the edge, you're a bigger difference maker right now."

Jones is already being compared to Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul -- a player consistently lauded by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

How so soon? Rawness.

Jones left Syracuse a year early and so is considered green. But his skill, instinct, and athleticism create a huge upside for New England. Or, as Brinson believes, "impact" potential.

Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

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Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

When Dominique Easley was released by the Patriots this spring, it wasn't because he wasn't productive when he was on the field. In fact, on a per-snap basis, he was one of the most productive interior pass-rushers in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Instead, there were some off-the-field factors, as well as injury concerns, that led to the Patriots choosing to cut ties with their 2014 first-round pick. 

As our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran put it, there were "philosophical differences" between Easley and the team.

Other, more scathing reports of Easley's impact in New England were released, including one report from the Boston Globe that included a quote from a former teammate saying he was a "locker room cancer."

Since then, Easley has landed with the Rams and has a chance to contribute to one of the most talented defensive lines in football. In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Phil Savage and Amber Theoharis, Easley said he hopes that his new team will get to see that he's a better person than some have indicated.

"Just really," Easley said, "just hopefully that the Rams get to see what a great person and a great hardworker I am, and really, just a great person."

Easley went on to say that he's not sure who would speak of him negatively or why. He explained that it's not his "main goal" to prove there's nothing to worry about with his character, but clearly it's somewhere on the list. 

"There's been, obviously, stuff said about me," Easley said. "We don't know where it came from. I would say the person doesn't want to come out and say it, neither. As far as I know, it's all rumors until that person comes out and say that it was from them, and they can prove that they actually know who I am, or been around me long enough to know who I am and how I am as a person."

PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

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PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

Peyton Manning is retired, but that doesn't mean he's exempt from the interviews that the NFL plans to conduct as it looks into the allegations made by Al Jazeera's December PED documentary. 

It was reported last week by USA Today that the league's senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch informed the NFLPA that players named in Al Jazeera's report would be interviewed in July. 

Among those scheduled to be interviewed are Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Former Packers linebacker Mike Neal will also be interviewed.

(Harrison has taken issue with the league's request, and said on social media that he would only meet with the league if commissioner Roger Goodell showed up to his home.)

Manning was not mentioned in the letter obtained by USA Today detailing the league's interview plans, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk followed up on Monday to see if the NFL intended to speak with Manning. It does.

The former Broncos and Colts quarterback has been very vocal about just how strongly he denies Al Jazeera's claim that his wife, Ashley, received HGH for his use. Despite the fact that he's no longer playing, it will come as no surprise if, given his stance, Manning cooperates fully with the league as it seeks more information regarding the report. 

As Florio points out, if Manning hopes to return to the NFL at some point as an executive -- as many believe he will -- this is something he'll want to put to bed beforehand. That process will start with an interview.