Patriots place LB Tarpinian on IR, sign WR Underwood

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Patriots place LB Tarpinian on IR, sign WR Underwood

The Patriots made a few roster moves on Thursday, the biggest of which was placing linebacker Jeff Tarpinian on injured reserve due to a head injury, effectively ending his season.

The Patriots signed wide receiver Tiquan Underwood to the 53-man roster. Underwood has had a couple stints on the Patriots this season, but has not played in a regular season game.

Tarpinian was signed to the Patriots practice squad as an undrafted free agent on Sept. 14, 2011 and was eventually activated to the Patriots' 53-man roster a week after.

Serving primarily as a special teamer, Tarpinian made one start at linebacker for the Pats in a Week 8 game against the Jets, a 37-16 Patriots win. He made four tackles in that game.

Tarpinian finished the season with seven defensive tackles and four defensive tackles. He was considered one of the better special teamers, and a player that Bill Belichick saw significant improvement in over the weeks.

"Jeff did a good job for us," Belichick said. "We really felt like he was coming along. Unfortunately, last week he had this thing come up, so we'll just have to see how it all works out. In the meantime, hes not going to be able to participate for awhile. He was a young player doing well, playing on defense a little bit. I think he was starting to develop a role there and he certainly was improving in the kicking game.

"He was giving us a solid player in all four phases the big four: kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return. He was giving us solid play in all four phases of special teams that he was involved in, so Im disappointed for him and disappointed for us, but we have to move on."

Belichick would not elaborate on the "head injury" when asked if it was concussion related. He did, however, talk about a linebacker who should see more time now that Tarpinian is on the IR.

"Fortunately, we were able to bring Niko Koutouvides in and he really has helped us both on defense and in the kicking game, in practice and in the games," Belichick said. "Hes a solid, veteran guy that was here for us, fortunately, in preseason, so the recall and the assignments and all of that come back pretty quickly to him."

The Patriots also signed Ross Ventrone (yes, again) to the practice squad, releasing Josh Victorian (yes, again) to open up the spot.

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.