Dennard: Sometimes the quarterback 'lulls us to sleep'


Dennard: Sometimes the quarterback 'lulls us to sleep'

FOXBORO -- New England doesn't have the worst passing defense in the league. Not statistically.

No, four of the league's 31 other teams -- Tennessee, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Washington -- give up more than the Patriots' average 288.8 yards per game.

Impressive, huh?

Rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard spoke for the secondary two days after New England's latest ugly effort, a 24-23 loss to Seattle. Therein, another rook, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, was allowed six passes of 20-plus yards. The Patriots have now surrendered 33 receptions of that length.

That stat is worst in the league.

Dennard was asked Tuesday why the deep ball has been such a nightmare.

"Honestly, I'm not sure. I'd say sometimes the quarterback kind of lulls us to sleep," Dennard said. "They do a lot of running, then all of a sudden they hit you with the play action . . . big plays like that. You've got to stay focused out there."

Lulled to sleep by Wilson? Before playing New England, almost 60-percent of the quarterback's passes were of 9 or fewer yards. But his game-winning touchdown pass was a 46-yard missile.

Dennard agreed with a reporter who posited on Bill Belichick's defense being a complicated one.

"It's very tough just because you've got to stay very focused on what you have to do out there on the field. I'm not going to say you've got to be real focused on one thing -- you've got to be focused on a lot of things because there's a lot of stuff you have to learn. You've got to have your technique on point, you have to mirror the receiver, you have to know what the receiver's going to do before you go out there."

Clearly, there's still work to be done.

"It's a lot of stuff that's got to do with technique," Dennard said of his performance Sunday. "I know I messed up a lot of stuff with my technique. After watching film, there's a lot of stuff I have to work on."

He's not the only one.

WR Brandon Marshall provides player's perspective to owners on Day 2 of meetings

WR Brandon Marshall provides player's perspective to owners on Day 2 of meetings

PHOENIX - When league owners, coaches and executives come together for the NFL's annual meetings, those meetings are often devoid of those who have the biggest say in making the product what it is. 

The guys who play.

Brandon Marshall, newly-acquired wide receiver of the Giants, had an opportunity to provide the meetings with a player's perspective on Monday morning. 

The focus, he told reporters after addressing owners, was to highlight the importance of continuing to foster stronger relationships between the league and its players. 

It seemed to go over well, judging by a tweet sent out from Niners owner Jed York. 

"I think it's important for us to continue to do things like we did last year giving the players more of a voice," Marshall said. "You saw the campaign during Week 13 last year, My Cause My Cleats. That was super successful. It gave the world and our fans and the NFL the opportunity to see that we are people,  we're not just gladiators. It humanized us. 

"It not only gave people outside of the game that opportunity to see who we really were but also people in the game like owners, executives and even players. . .We want to continue to do more of that. If we want our game to continue to be on this track that it's on, being super successful, as far as being a pillar in the community, then we need to make sure that our relationships between players and owners is healthy."

Day 2 of the owners meetings will be highlighted by a decision on the fate of the Raiders franchise. The team is expected to have enough support from owners around the league to uproot and head to Las Vegas. 

Around midday in Phoenix, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is expected to speak to reporters about league affairs as well as his team's offseason activity. 

Steelers GM on Hightower: 'It didn't work'

Steelers GM on Hightower: 'It didn't work'

Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert touched briefly on the team’s unsuccessful attempt to lure Dont’a Hightower away from New England in free agency. 

Hightower returned to the Patriots this month on a four-year, $43.5 million deal with $19 million guaranteed. He was also courted by the Jets and Steelers, among others, with his offer from the Jets reported to be the biggest before they reportedly pulled it due to physical concerns. 

The Steelers also reportedly offered more money than the Patriots, with Jason La Canfora reporting that Pittsburgh offered more than $9 million annually. Hightower’s deal with the Pats pays him $8.7 million per year. 

“We made an attempt [with Hightower], it didn’t work,” Colbert told reporters. “We’re fine. We move on. Vince Williams, we were very confident in Vince. That’s why we signed him to the extension last year. So that if we got to this point and Lawrence had left us, and we didn’t sign anybody from the outside, Vince was certainly capable of stepping up and being the next guy.”

Hightower is entering his sixth season with the Patriots, who selected him with the 25th overall pick in the 2012 draft.