Sterling Moore settling into NFL career

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Sterling Moore settling into NFL career

FOXBORO -- Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore, like most players, is settling into the NFL in his second season.
"I wouldn't say I'm established yet," he told reporters Friday. "I'm going to go out there every week and try to show I deserve to be out there on the field. But I'm more comfortable being here with the team and in the defense."
As it goes, the best players for the job are the ones on the field. It just so happens Moore's playing time is on the rise.
The 22-year old played just one snap in New England's season opener against Tennessee. Ras-I Dowling got the nod ahead of him, earning 37 snaps (57 percent of the defense's total). In Week 2, not only did Moore play 29 snaps (46 percent of the total), seeing a lot of time in New England's nickel defense, but Dowling was a healthy scratch.
He feels he's ready for the jump, especially after having a full offseason with the team. Last year he didn't sign with the practice squad, let alone join the 53-man roster, until October.
"I'm a lot more comfortable," he said. "It's night and day for me, cause I came in, didn't know the techniques they wanted me to play, didn't really know the defensive schemes, I was just kind of thrown out there. This year I know who I'm out there with, I know where they're going to be, and I know the scheme. It helps slow the game down for me."
Moore is all too happy to put distance between this year and the last. Was he thrilled to play in a Super Bowl his first year in the league? Absolutely. Does it make him sick to recall how the Giants' win almost came down to Lee Evans making the game-winning touchdown catch in his face? Ab-so-lutely.
"I've seen it quite a bit," Moore said of the play, "but most times I try to change the channel every time it comes on."
Yes, even though Evans didn't make the catch. Moore's ball strip that saved that play -- saved the game for at least another moment -- was just a hairsbreadth away from a totally different outcome.
"It kind of reminds me how close I was to kind of losing the game."
So he's moved on. From everything -- last year's harried learning curve, Super Bowl XLVI, even the early insecurity of 2012. Moore isn't willing to dwell.
"I just shrug it off."
And settle in.

Kraft on Brady: Patriots 'will continue to have Tom's back'

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Kraft on Brady: Patriots 'will continue to have Tom's back'

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the organization "will continue to have Tom's back" in reference to Tom Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension being reinstated.

Here's an excerpt of what Kraft, speaking Friday night at the Patriots draft party in a video on the team website, Patriots.com, told fans: 

“Number one, there is no finer ambassador for the game of football, and the New England Patriots, than Tom Brady. We always have had and will continue to have Tom’s back, especially when he’s being treated unfairly and he knows that.”

"All the decisions that this organization and I personally have made throughout this ordeal have been focused on putting Tom in the best possible position for success.

“Number two, I have been in constant communication with Tom over the past 16 months and we’ve had numerous conversations this past week. We are both on the same page and he knows exactly where my allegiances, and the total team’s [allegiances] are, relative to the extremely unfair discipline that he has been subjected to.

“I share in our fans’ anger and frustration with the penalties the league has levied, and the entire process and how it was conducted. But please trust that I am always trying to do what I believe is best for this franchise, and pledge that I will always continue to do that.”

After the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision reinstated Brady's four-game suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, it appears Brady is preparing to continue his legal fight against the penalty. 

Former Patriots players appear to have Brady's back, as well. 

 

Valentine will be plunked down in heart of Pats' defensive line

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Valentine will be plunked down in heart of Pats' defensive line

FOXBORO – The Patriots used the 96th overall pick – a compensatory pick that came to the Patriots after losing Darrelle Revis – on a very large man. Vincent Valentine, a 6-3, 329-pound defensive tackle from Nebraska who is more space-eater than penetrator.

Though Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said Valentine has played all over the defensive line including 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle), he’ll likely be an early-down, middle of the defensive line player for the Patriots at the outset. How does the team go about getting him on the field?

Currently, they are pretty well-stocked with big bodies. Last year’s first rounder, Malcom Brown, is going to play a lot for a long time. Terrance Knighton, added as a free agent, figures to be a major component of the defensive line. And aging Alan Branch showed in 2015 that he’s still got plenty of plays left in him.

The other 300-plus pound linemen in the mix are Marcus Kuhn, a free agent brought over from the Giants, and Joe Vellano, who’s been with the team for four seasons as an end of the roster player.

Valentine had an injury-plagued final season with the Cornhuskers and will need to tune up his body and conditioning for the NFL. He’s not a project but neither is he a plug-and-play type who can be expected to walk in and make immediate contributions. With the 31-year-old Branch nearing the end, it’s reasonable to expect Valentine to be the successor to him in the Patriots interior rotation when they go heavy on early downs and in short-yardage and goal-line.

Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

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Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

The Patriots have eight picks remaining on the final day of the draft. While they may not use all of those selections -- they currently have 80 players on the roster, leaving them with only two slots for undrafted free agents if they use all of their picks -- they still have plenty of opportunities to take chances on talented athletes Saturday. 

Here's a quick look at some of the best players available after they spent their first four selections on a corner (Cyrus Jones, Alabama, pick No. 60), an offensive lineman (Joe Thuney, North Carolina State, No. 78), a quarterback (Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State, No. 91) and a defensive tackle (Vincent Valentine, Nebraska, No. 96). 

The Patriots have one fourth-round pick, five sixth-round picks and two seventh-rounders remaining.

RUNNING BACK: KENNETH DIXON, LOUISIANA TECH

Listed as one of our top players available after Day 1, Dixon is still hanging around after nearly 100 picks have gone off the board. Perhaps his level of competition at Louisiana Tech has worked against him. Perhaps his fumbling issues have come back to bite him. Perhaps this is simply an indication of how the rest of the league considers this position. Only four backs have been drafted through the first three rounds. 

Other top running backs available: Jordan Howard, Indiana; Devontae Booker, Utah; Paul Perkins, UCLA; Jonathan Williams, Arkansas; Alex Collins, Arkansas. 

RECEIVER: DANIEL BRAVERMAN, WESTERN MICHIGAN

If ever there was a player who stood out as a potential Patriots pick, it would be Braverman. At 5-foot-10, 177 pounds, he is a prototypical slot receiver whose skill set resembles that of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola or Troy Brown. He's very shifty in and out of his breaks, he does a great deal of his work while risking big hits over the middle of the field, he catches just about everything thrown his way, and he churns out yards after the catch with speed and good vision. 

Other top receivers available: Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Devon Cajuste, Stanford; Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa; Keenan Reynolds, Navy.

LINEBACKER: JOSH PERRY, OHIO STATE

This Buckeye seems to fit the size profile the Patriots typically like in their receivers at 6-foot-4, 254 pounds. He runs well enough to be able to track ball-carriers from sideline-to-sideline, and he has a ton of experience coming downhill to make big hits in the running game. Perry will need some work before he's a reliable defender in coverage, but on first and second downs he could be a force. 

Other top linebackers available: Scooby Wright III, Arizona; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt; Blake Martinez, Stanford; De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota. 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: HASSAN RIDGEWAY, TEXAS

A college teammate of Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown, Ridgeway is considered by many to be more physically talented than Brown was when he declared for the draft. Injuries hurt Ridgeway's productivity last season, and there are some who question his conditioning, but he understands how to be a disruptive force on the interior, both in the running game and in the passing game. If he's in shape and can maintain the level of fitness that will be expected of him as a pro, he could turn into an immediate contributor.

Other top defensive tackles available: Andrew Billings, Baylor; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; DJ Reader, Clemson; Dean Lowry, Northwestern; Justin Zimmer, Ferris State.