Jones excited for bigger, better sophomore season

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Jones excited for bigger, better sophomore season

FOXBORO -- Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones made sure to gently correct a reporter at Monday's year-end media availability.
"We're not rookies anymore," he said.

He was correct -- by a matter of hours.
New England had just gotten bounced from the playoffs by Baltimore in the previous night's AFC Championship game. After a quick turnaround, Jones was back in the locker room to box up his first season in the NFL.
He managed a positive attitude.
"It was exciting. I learned a lot," he said. "The offseason's the time to get bigger, faster, stronger, and spend some time with strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash and assistant Moses Cabrera, and get ready for next year."
Jones had 45 tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles, and two pass breakups for the Patriots. As far as sophomore year goals go, he's keeping it simple.
"Just to become a better player overall," he said. "Not anything specific. I'm excited for a full offseason to work out, to be honest with you."
He will also rehab the ankle that gave him trouble in 2012. Jones initially injured the joint against the Colts in Week 11. He missed New England's next two regular season games before returning in Week 14.
A second ankle injury befell Jones in January's Divisional Playoff win over the Texans. Though he was active for Sunday's game, he played just a few snaps of goal line defense.
"It really hurt not to be out there with my team," Jones said. "It was very unfortunate that I didn't get a chance to play, as much as I wanted to. But I'm back to congratulating the Ravens."
He is in a unique position in terms of dealing with last weekend's loss.
Chandler's older brother Arthur is a defensive end for the victorious Baltimore Ravens. This year's Super Bowl appearance will be the first of the elder Jones' three-year career.
In that way, the younger Jones is torn.
"I'm not really happy that we lost, but I'm very excited for my brother," Jones said. "Congrats to him. I still haven't decided yet if I want to go or not."
That Arthur's ticket to the title game was punched at New England's expense makes the trip a hard choice for Chandler. But it's about competitiveness more than bitterness.
He has learned, as a Patriot, to always leave Gillette with his head held high.
"It was a part of the game regardless of what the score was. We have guys like Vince Wilfork, and Rob Ninkovich, and Tom Brady -- they're always trying to keep us going forward. They're never with their heads down and that's what you need to be a leader by example."
The message from those veterans and head coach Bill Belichick?
"Basically, just be ready," he said. "Come back next year and do it all over again. Stay strong."

Patriots add DB Sunseri, OL Kerbyson in lead-up to training camp

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Patriots add DB Sunseri, OL Kerbyson in lead-up to training camp

The Patriots added a pair of free agents on Sunday, defensive back Vinnie Sunseri and offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson, bringing their active roster to a total of 89 players in the days leading up to the start of training camp. 

The Saints selected Sunseri in the fifth round out of Alabama in 2014. He played in nine games as a rookie before suffering a season-ending broken arm. Last year, he did not see any time during the regular season due to a knee injury suffered during a preseason game. 

Sunseri, 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, was released by the Saints in April. Given his ties to Bill Belichick confidante Nick Saban, his special teams experience, and what's thought to be a high football IQ, Sunseri appears to check several boxes that the Patriots like to see out of depth pieces on their roster. Should safety Nate Ebner not be fully prepared to begin the season after competing in the Olympics, Sunseri could benefit by snagging that potential open roster spot. 

Kerbyson measures in at 6-4, 317 pounds and arrives to New England as an undrafted free agent from Tennessee. He's a lineman with some versatility as he started all 13 games for the Vols at left tackle in 2015, but he started games at both tackle spots and left guard as a junior. 

The Patriots had a handful of offensive linemen who were not able to participate in spring practices as they recovered from injuries -- including tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder and guards Josh Kline and Tre' Jackson -- and Kerbyson could provide some measure of depth up front should any of those players need to miss training camp time. 

Four killed in crash involving Dallas Cowboys' bus

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Four killed in crash involving Dallas Cowboys' bus

PHOENIX (AP) -- A bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players and a van collided Sunday on an Arizona highway, killing four people in the van, authorities said.

The bus occupants emerged uninjured from the crash, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

Mickey Spagnola, a columnist for the team's website, has been writing for the past week about traveling on a Cowboys bus with a driver, the team mascot and videographer. On his Twitter page, Spagnola tweeted before 2 p.m. that the bus was 80 miles outside of Vegas.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman or 180 miles northeast of Phoenix, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.