Praise for Bailey continues with Patriots players

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Praise for Bailey continues with Patriots players

FOXBORO -- When you think about how long Champ Bailey has been playing football, and how he's still playing at a high level, it makes you wonder how he was ever traded in 2004.
Just ask Bill Belichick, who had towering praise for the 34-year old cornerback Friday.
"He's, to me, one of the few corners in the league that really can match up against anybody," the coach said. "He matches up against the Andre Johnson's of the world, the big, strong, physical, fast guys. And then he'll match up against quick, real good route-running quick receivers. It doesn't really make any difference."
Patriots players, getting ready to ready to face the Broncos and Bailey this weekend, echoed the accolades let loose by their coach.
"He's just a great ballplayer. I think he just gets out of bed and he's just great," said receiver Wes Welker. "He's very patient and does a good job of getting his hands on you, and plays really well. He's a smart guy, good instincts, all those things It's why he's stayed around for a while."
Bailey is playing in his 14th NFL season this year. He's an 11-time Pro Bowler (including three consecutive from 2009-2011), a six-time All Pro, and sits on the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team.
Patriots wideout Brandon Lloyd played with Bailey in Denver from 2009 to 2011. Lloyd said he got to see the cornerback's dedication, both in film study and on the field, up close.
As in, duking-it-out-in-practice close.
"They were good battles," Lloyd smiled. "I learned a lot from him from a technique standpoint -- catching and finishing the play because Champ's one of the only cornerbacks I've gone against where the play is never over. You can even catch the ball, and if you're not bringing it in, if you're not protecting it, then he'll find a way to get it out."
Welker understands the challenge. The key, he said, is precision and variation. Patriots receivers will need to stay physical for 60 minutes to try to get open, and stay open.
There may be something else to getting the better of Bailey, but Lloyd joked that insider information was never swapped.
"I don't know. We've never really talked about the secrets," he smirked.

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.