Brady anxious to keep up with active teams


Brady anxious to keep up with active teams

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO - The bye the Patriots are on was hard-earned.Still, quarterback Tom Brady actually sounds like he has some activity envy. "There's teams that are practicing today and that do have games this weekend," Brady pointed out Wednesday."The team that we play is gonna win a playoff game this weekend and they're gonna have made improvements and I hope that we make improvements too."After a season in which Brady threw 36 touchdowns and 4 picks and the offenseturned the ball overan NFL-record-low 10 times, how much is there to work on during this self-scouting week?
"There certainly is a lot to fix," he insisted. "I don't want to sit here and tell you all the things we're working on but there's plenty of things we need to figure out ways to do things better. Certain guys haven't been out there for a few weeks . . . Aaron Hernandez, Deion Branch . . . "The Patriots are working Wednesday and Thursday but figure to be off Friday through Sunday. Brady spent a moment genuflecting at the Altar of Woodhead on Wednesday. Asked a question about the loss of third-down back Kevin Faulk in Week 2, Brady said, "Any time you lose a dependable performer like Kevin who's played so well under pressure over the years, it hurts. There was nobody on the roster to fill that void. To get Woody the next week, who's really stepped in and done a great job, running, catching blitz pickup . . . He's a smart player who's really stepped in and filled that role well. We're very fortunate to have a guy like Woody step in. It's certainly a great credit to him comng from the Jets and a different offense and system and what we've asked him to do here. He's done a great job."Woodhead suffered a head injury Sunday against the Dolphins but is expected to be fine. Asked if he had a preference on who the Patriots play next week in the Divisional Round, Brady said, "I don't think we have a pool or anything of who we want to play. Whoever it is is going to be a damn good team and whoever it is we're going to have to play our best game of the year to beat them."

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Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015


Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015

Roger Goodell's salary has reportedly fallen in recent years, but he's still paid handsomely for his work as NFL commissioner.

According to the Associated Press, Goodell earned just over $31 million for 2015. That's a seven percent decrease from the $34 million he received for 2014. 

The NFL's last tax return served as an indicator of Goodell's 2015 salary. The league's tax returns no longer have to be made public since it has changed its status from exempt to taxable, per the AP.

The next-highest paid executive at the NFL offices on Park Avenue? General counsel Jeff Pash, one of the most prominent players in the Deflategate sage, who earned $6.5 million in 2015, down from $7.5 million in 2014. 

Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy


Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy

The NFL announced this week that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been suspended without pay for Week 1 of the 2016 regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. 

Richardson will miss his team's season-opener against the Bengals and will be eligible to return to the Jets active roster on Sep. 12. The Jets and the Patriots meet for the first of their two division games on Nov. 27. 

Richardson responded to the news of suspension on Thursday. 

In July of 2015, Richardson led police on a high-speed chase -- hitting speeds as high as 143 miles per hour -- in suburban St. Louis. Police reported a strong odor of marijuana in the car and inside found a loaded, semiautomatic handgun that was possessed legally. Richardson had a 12-year-old relative riding with him in his Bentley at the time of the incident.

In January, Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Though he avoided jail time, he was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. 

Richardson has been one of the league's best defensive linemen since entering the league as a first-rounder in 2013. He served a four-game suspension to start last season after violating the league's substance abuse policy.

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'


PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

He may have been left off of the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but Jamie Collins isn't flying under the radar at Pro Football Focus.

On PFF's list of the top 10 defensive players in the AFC, the Patriots linebacker came in at No. 8 and was given the description as the top linebacker in the conference.

Collins' versatility within the confines of the Patriots defense is what makes him so valuable, PFF's John Kosko explains: 

"He doesn’t dominate in any one role like Luke Kuechly does in pass coverage and run defense, but he is very good at all facets of the game. Collins has the athleticism to cover TEs and HBs effectively, the explosiveness to rush the passer, and the size and strength to defend the run. 

"The former Southern Mississippi linebacker is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and allows Bill Belichick to employ a defense that confuses opposing quarterbacks. With the only knock against Collins being his 34 missed tackles the past two seasons, the Patriot is the best linebacker in the AFC."

Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in football last year, per PFF's numbers. He ranked behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Indianapolis' Jerrell Freeman and Seattle's KJ Wright. 

Fellow Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower earned the 10th-highest grade for linebackers last season, according to PFF -- a grade that likely would have been higher had his snap-count (602 in 2015) approached that of Collins (792).

While Collins is a rare physical talent, the argument could be made that it's Hightower who is the more important player to the Patriots defense given his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He also has myriad responsibilities as the extension of the team's coaching staff in the defensive huddle. 

In order to slow down opposing passing games, many Patriots defensive packages employ either five or six defensive backs and just two linebackers. Lucky for them, they have two of the best in the conference.

Both Collins and Hightower are entering contract years this year, and finding a way to keep them in-house figures to be near the top of the list of priorities for the Patriots front office.