Belichick: Preseason tilt with Giants will be 'different'

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Belichick: Preseason tilt with Giants will be 'different'

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- The Patriots play their final preseason game on Thursdaynight, at Gillette Stadium against the New York Giants.

Typically, a final preseason tune-up is no different yearafter year. But on Thursday night, Patriots coach Bill Belichick believes thisone wont be as normal as the rest, mainly because it wont be the last timethey see the Giants this year.

New York comes back to Gillette Stadium in Week 9 of theregular season, on Sunday, Nov. 6.

Well, the only thing about this game is, were going toplay them again, said Belichick on Tuesday. So, its a little different thana preseason game where you dont plan on seeing that team again.

I think we can get something out of our preparations forthe game, as a coaching staff, and as individually for the players and thematchups and so forth, and just get familiar with the team. I think any timeyou play them the second time, you just have a little bit of a head start onthat team."

Belichick added: Theres certainly a lot to take from that, and I think thatwill help us the next time we play them.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: The Top 2

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: The Top 2

We're down to the Top 2. 

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 2

THE YEAR: 2014

THE GAME: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24

THE PLAY: Malcolm Butler picks off Russell Wilson at goal line to save Super Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Is it the biggest defensive play in NFL history? You’d have a tough time making a case for any play to be ranked ahead of it. The play itself – Malcolm Butler sniffing out a quick slant to Ricardo Lockette on second-and-goal from the 1 with 26 seconds left – was a singularly great football play. The historical importance of it to the Patriots franchise in delivering a fourth Super Bowl title and preventing a third straight Super Bowl loss is even more far-reaching. It’s a play that symbolized a lot of things the Patriots under Bill Belichick have been about. It symbolized that it doesn’t matter how you got to the Patriots, it mattered what you did when you got there. Butler, an undrafted rookie who made the team in a tryout the previous spring, was on the field because another undrafted player, Kyle Arrington was getting lit up. A bold move but one that had to be made. It symbolized preparation and attention to detail. During the week of practice leading up to the game, Butler arrived late when the Patriots scout team offense ran the play and Jimmy Garoppolo beat Butler with a throw to Josh Boyce. The play needed to be sniffed out – it was by Butler and Brandon Browner – then executed with a great jam by Browner and an unhesitating break by Butler. It symbolized maintaining poise, which the Patriots had to do after the ridiculous juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse put Seattle on the brink of victory. It symbolized a measure of risk-taking and coaching by feel, as Bill Belichick eschewed a timeout and let the Seahawks run the play. That the coaches locking brains at the point – Belichick and his predecessor in New England, Pete Carroll – added another chapter to the backstory. You could write a book about this play.  

PLAY NUMBER: 1

THE YEAR: 2001

THE GAME: Jets, Patriots

THE PLAY: Mo Lewis changes course of NFL history with sideline hit on Drew Bledsoe

WHY IT’S HERE: While the Butler interception at No. 2 cemented legacies and places in history, the play at the top of this list was the one that started it all. If you paid attention to what Tom Brady was doing in training camp practices and preseason games (30-for-51 for 390 yards) and contrasted it with Bledsoe’s performances (so underwhelming he played the bulk of the fourth preseason game and went 14-for-22), you could see the gap between $100 million franchise quarterback and sixth-round afterthought was closing. But even with the Patriots losing at Cincy to open the season and Bledsoe playing  poorly against the Jets, it was still going to be very difficult for Bill Belichick to press the eject button on Bledsoe. The team was building a new stadium and Bledsoe was the hood ornament for the franchise. With ownership trying to sell luxury suites and sponsorships, benching the only marketable player for the worst team in the league might not be prudent. Then Mo Lewis intervened. With 5:19 remaining and the Patriots trailing 10-3, Bledsoe was flushed to the right on a third-and-10 from the Patriots 19. As he neared the sticks, Bledsoe saw Lewis coming and slowed to go out of bounds, then seemed to remember it was third down and he needed to push forward. Lewis had all the momentum and his devastating hit sheared an artery in Bledsoe’s chest and gave him a concussion. It was a terrible injury that caused internal bleeding and put Bledsoe in some touchy moments in the hospital. And that’s what sucked. Here was a solid person of good character with a young family who’d given a lot for the franchise (albeit for a handsome paycheck) and now he was seriously hurt. But what happened in Bledsoe’s absence only confirmed what many suspected. He was an impediment to winning. It was that simple. I don’t doubt for a moment Brady would have eventually taken Bledsoe’s job even if the injury hadn’t occurred. It might have been that week anyway Bledsoe was so ineffective against the Jets. But the course of the 2001 season wouldn’t have been the same and almost certainly wouldn’t have ended with Bledsoe hoisting a Lombardi in the Superdome on Feb. 3, 2002.

 

NFL: 'No credible evidence' Manning used PEDs

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NFL: 'No credible evidence' Manning used PEDs

The NFL released a statement on Monday saying that after a seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary produced by Al-Jazeera America, it found "no credible evidence" that Peyton Manning used HGH or any other performance-enhancing drugs. 

In its documentary, released in December, Al-Jazeera used former British sprinter Liam Collins to go undercover to try to expose PED use by athletes. Collins spoke at length with a supplement salesman named Charlie Sly, who claimed he worked with Manning at the Guyer Institute, an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis following Manning's 2011 neck surgery, and that the Guyer Institute sent HGH to Manning's wife, Ashley.

Manning, who retired about a month after his Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50,  vehemently denied the allegations. Meanwhile, Sly -- who was recorded by Collins without consent -- later recanted his claims.

The NFL did not release all the details of its investigation, but it explained in its statement that both Mannings were "fully cooperative" with the investigation. They agreed to interviews and provided access "to all records sought by investigators," the NFL said.

The league did say that its investigation was led by the NFL's security and legal teams with "support from expert consultants and other professionals." 

"The investigation involved witness interviews," the NFL said, "a review of relevant records and other materials, online research, and laboratory analysis and review."

Al-Jazeera's documentary implicated several other NFL players, including Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. The league said that its separate investigations into those claims are ongoing.

The NFL Players Association released the following statement regarding Manning:

As a former player, Peyton Manning is free to do whatever he believes is in his best interest. The Union knows that he understands the rights of players under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and would never do anything to hurt or undermine active players in support of those rights.

Patriots add DB Sunseri, OL Kerbyson in lead-up to training camp

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Patriots add DB Sunseri, OL Kerbyson in lead-up to training camp

The Patriots added a pair of free agents on Sunday, defensive back Vinnie Sunseri and offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson, bringing their active roster to a total of 89 players in the days leading up to the start of training camp. 

The Saints selected Sunseri in the fifth round out of Alabama in 2014. He played in nine games as a rookie before suffering a season-ending broken arm. Last year, he did not see any time during the regular season due to a knee injury suffered during a preseason game. 

Sunseri, 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, was released by the Saints in April. Given his ties to Bill Belichick confidante Nick Saban, his special teams experience, and what's thought to be a high football IQ, Sunseri appears to check several boxes that the Patriots like to see out of depth pieces on their roster. Should safety Nate Ebner not be fully prepared to begin the season after competing in the Olympics, Sunseri could benefit by snagging that potential open roster spot. 

Kerbyson measures in at 6-4, 317 pounds and arrives to New England as an undrafted free agent from Tennessee. He's a lineman with some versatility as he started all 13 games for the Vols at left tackle in 2015, but he started games at both tackle spots and left guard as a junior. 

The Patriots had a handful of offensive linemen who were not able to participate in spring practices as they recovered from injuries -- including tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder and guards Josh Kline and Tre' Jackson -- and Kerbyson could provide some measure of depth up front should any of those players need to miss training camp time.