No Huddle: Brady comfortable in no-huddle

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No Huddle: Brady comfortable in no-huddle

BALTIMORE, MD -- From Tom Brady to Torrey Smith, there were plenty of players talking on both sides after Sunday night's 31-30 Baltimore win.
Here are some of the highlights.

Quarterback Tom Brady on if he was comfortable in New England's no huddle offense Sunday night:
"Yeah, I thought it put a lot of pressure on those guys. I don't think they fooled us very much with their different looks. They just played well when they needed to, especially in the red area."
The Patriots went 3-for-5 in the red zone (60 percent). On the first failed opportunity, New England got to the Baltimore 20 in a hurry after Brady connected with Wes Welker on a 59-yard bomb. But after that: Handoff to Stevan Ridley for no gain, handoff to Ridley for 1 yard, and on third-and-9 Brady went back into shotgun and tried to find Julian Edelman. No dice.
The next chance stretched from the end of the third quarter into the fourth. Score 27-21 Patriots, it was first-and-10 on the Baltimore 18. Ridley gained 14 on the carry. With just 4 yards to go, Brady went no huddle and Ridley got the ball again, but Bernard Pollard was ready. He stuffed Ridley for a huge 4-yard loss. Fourth quarter. Patriots again go no huddle. Woodhead gets the ball -- no gain. On third-and-8 Brady found Welker for 6 yards. The 20-yard field goal was good. Baltimore's defense was better.
Ravens cornerback Cary Williams on Brady having an active night:
"He's Tom Brady, man. He's not 'Joe Schmo.' He's a future Hall of Famer. He came out and did what he was supposed to do.
Ah, Williams should know.
Brady went 28-for-41 for 335 yards, one touchdown, and a 101.2 quarterback rating. His seventh drive was a 12 play, 80-yard monster that featured six first downs and some nifty passing: An 11-yard gain on first-and-10 for Brandon Lloyd (Williams on the tackle), 11-yard gain for Welker on third-and-5 (Williams), 10-yard gain for Lloyd on third-and-6 (yup, Williams), and 9 more yards to Lloyd on second-and-7 (Williams!).
Ravens running back Ray Rice on Justin Tucker's game-winning kick:
"I was already sending my farewells. I've seen him make those kicks in practice all the time."
True, the field goal was only 27-yards, but that's a lot of pressure on an undrafted rookie like Tucker. There was some controversy among Patriots regarding whether or not the kick was actually good. Vince Wilfork said, "A game like this, you have to" review such a close call. But it can't be done -- a ball that flies above the uprights cannot be reviewed because there's no reference point to measure against.
Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones on whether he watched brother, Patriots DL Chandler Jones, from the sideline:
"I checked him out a little bit and Baltimore tackle Michael Oher did a great job on him. Today wasn't one of his better days, but he's young and strong, and he's going to be one of the great ones."
More controversy -- and not just in the Jones family home this Thanksgiving. Where the Baltimore opinion may be that Oher "did a great job" on the dynamic rookie, there is another opinion out there that Oher "did a great job" of holding Jones all night. Unchecked holding was a problem with the replacement officials through the first two weeks of football and looked to be on Sunday as well.
Deion Branchon the number of controversial calls:
"It's not the first time we've played in a game with a lot of controversial calls. It was happening on both sides of the ball. I'm sure they were upset about some of those calls, too. But honestly, when we're doing what we do best, we take the game out of the referees' hands."
Leave it to Branch to be diplomatic. And he has a point -- of Baltimore's 28 first downs, just five came via penalty.
Former Patriot, current Raven, James Ihedigbo on playing against his former team:
"When you think about it, any time you get a chance to go against your former team, it's kind of personal. I went into this game with that kind of mentality, and when you put the history of these two teams on top of it, it just became a very personal and emotional thing. It was great the way it turned out. It couldn't be any sweeter."
Ihedigbo was picked up by Baltimore two days after being released from the Patriots on August 31. He served as a captain for Sunday night's coin toss. Jedi mind trick? Either way, he seems very happy with the Ravens.
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, on his emotions of the day after losing his younger brother:
"I didn't know how I would hold up, but thanks to my teammates and coaches and all the support from really everyone around the league, just everyone, everwhere. You know, I was getting texts and people were telling me on my Twitter. I just thank everyone on behalf of my family."
Smith's brother, Tevin Jones, was just 19 when he died in a motorcycle accident Saturday. The Ravens held a moment of silence before the game to honor Jones' memory. Smith paid tribute on his own by pointing skyward after his first touchdown reception Sunday night.

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.