Burress: 'Thank you' for single coverage in SB XLII

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Burress: 'Thank you' for single coverage in SB XLII

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

FOXBORO Even with all the off-the-field drama that has consumed the last couple years of Plaxico Burress' life, he'll always be remembered around here for the catch.

Yeah, that catch, the one that catapulted the New York Giants to an improbable 17-14 Super Bowl XLII win over a New England Patriots that, prior to that loss, was arguably the greatest team in NFL history.

The Pats went into the Super Bowl undefeated, in search of joining the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to ever have a perfect season.

But Burress and the Giants had other plans.

It's been three-plus years since that game, but Burress, now with the New York Jets, remembers it vividly.

"It was a play that, we had run the same play twice," he recalled on Wednesday. "Eli Manning told me before I broke the huddle that if they gave me single coverage, he was going to throw it."

Uh, OK.

Fat chance of that happening, thought Burress.

"There's no way they're going to single-cover me at this time in the game," Burress thought to himself.

But they did. And the 6-foot-5 wideout made the Patriots dearly.

Burress attributes his success on the game-winning Super Bowl catch to watching video and breaking down the tendencies of Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs.

He noticed that inside the 10-yard line, Hobbs liked to stop his feet around the goal line.

"I just went up, made a move, never broke stride, just kept running," Burress said. "I had watched so much film on him that if I had a chance to run that route, I knew exactly how and when to run it.

Burress added, "He did exactly what it showed on tape. I knew when we lined up that I had a great shot to make the game-winning catch."

At that point, Burress' life could not have been any better. He had money - lots of it. He had the fame that comes with awakening the city that never sleeps, to what Super Bowl supremacy feels like.

But all that success and the adulation that came with it, ended on one eventful night in November of 2008. While hanging out at a Manhattan nightclub, Burress had a gun tucked into his sweatpants. The gun slipped from his waistband, and a shot was fired which hit him in the thigh.

Even though Burress was the only one hurt, he was still looking at potential jail time due to New York State's stringent gun laws.

He was eventually indicted on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment, charges that had a minimum 3 12 years of jail time if convicted.

Burress eventually reached a plea deal on lesser gun charges, but was still sentenced to two years in jail. He was released early for good behavior, in June.

Burress acknowledged that while in jail, he did reminisce at times about his game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLII.

"Coming into this business, it's something that you dream of; just being able to play in a Super Bowl but to win it in the fashion that I did," Burress said. "It's a part of who I am, playing in that Super Bowl, making that catch in the fashion that we did, driving down the field in two minutes. Making that play on that stage . . . It's a part of me, it's a part of history.

"To me, it was the greatest Super Bowl ever played. It was a moment that every kid dreams of having. To be able to go out and execute it and do it in the fashion that we did against the team that we were playing against, it says a lot."

And even now, Burress remains mystified at why the Patriots left him one-on-one with Hobbs, who being eight inches shorter than Burress, had no shot when Manning lobbed the pass into the corner of the end zone with less than a minute to play.

"They had single covered me maybe a handful of times that whole game," Burress said. "For them to give me that coverage with that on the line, I didn't think they would, but thank you."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

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Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

The Patriots have reportedly added nine undrafted free agents after selecting nine players in the 2016 NFL Draft.

DJ Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State
Shaquille Powell, RB, Duke
De’Runnya Wilson, TE/WR, Miss State
Steven Scheu, TE, Vanderbilt
Woodrow Hamilton, DT, Mississippi State
CJ Johnson, LB, Mississippi State
V’Angelo Bentley, CB, Illinois
Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn
Cre’Von LeBlanc, CB, Florida Atlantic

Foster is arguably the highest profile player the Patriots signed and was filmed celebrating the moment.

Foster has the versatility the Patriots looks for. He played running back over his first three collegiate seasons before shifting to wide receiver. He finished his career at Arizona State with 666 total touches for 4,813 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Stay tuned for more…

'Football makeup' central to Pats draft picks

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'Football makeup' central to Pats draft picks

FOXBORO – The Patriots added nine players through the draft this weekend.

And when you looked at their resumes and backstories, almost all of them had one of those “Patriot markers” on them. Some had a character trait. Some were from a program that the Patriots particularly trust. Some showed the ability to overcome adversity or be adaptable. And there weren’t any guys that seem to present off-field risks.

None of these markers, of course, are guarantees of anything. They’re all in their early 20s, still in their formative years. There’s no way to project how money, geography, opportunity and competing at this level will change them.

The football, said Nick Caserio, obviously comes first. But who a young player is has to be a big part of the equation.

“It’s everything,” said the Patriots Director of Player Personnel. “I mean, it really is. We try to look each position on the board, each position they have their own particular factors and position skill set that we evaluate and we go through and we assign a grade …There’s certain things that a corner’s going to have to be able to do. There are certain things that a tight end’s going to have to be able to do. Everyone has their own particular skills that they’re going to have to do. Will he check every box? Well maybe not but does he check enough?

“The most important thing is to take the strengths of a player and try to put him into position to where he can utilize those strengths. Not ‘well he doesn’t do this’. Then we won’t put him in that position hopefully. So [we] try to identify what the skill is, how well they do it, and then put them in a position where they can actually see it. So there’s the physical component.”

Then, Caserio said, there’s the projection of how the person will perform.

“Call it ‘football makeup’ component is a central part of it as well,” he said. “Look, we’re not perfect. Some players work the way we think (others don’t). It comes with the territory. But you’re trying to create a profile of the player within our building and then how he’s going to handle everything that comes along with being a New England Patriot. Being in the program, the demands that we place on those players, so you factor everything in. Some players, they may check every single place both from a physical standpoint and from a football-makeup standpoint and you have others that maybe they check enough of them and then you feel comfortable about that level.”

Rolling through the players they took, it’s interesting to try and see what may have been a “football makeup” draw with each. Second-round corner Cyrus Jones played for Nick Saban at Alabama. He’s played in the biggest games and shown well in them. He’s a film junkie. He tackles well. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s not the biggest corner. But he’s got an edge and he excels on special teams.

Third-rounder Joe Thuney is “very productive, very durable, very bright; probably as intelligent as anybody at that position,” said Caserio. He also can play anywhere on the line. Smarts and versatility are highly valued by the Patriots.

Third-round quarterback Jacoby Brissett is a gifted, charismatic leader who’s had a relationship with Bill Parcells since Brissett was in high school. “I can't even describe what type of person he is and what he's meant to my life,” said Brissett. “Just him grooming me as a man and preparing me for tough times, hard times, good times. He's been so helpful to me throughout this process and just keeping my steady and keeping a good head on my shoulders and you know I just can't thank him enough.”

Third-rounder Vincent Valentine from Nebraska? Versatile big man who can play all over the defensive line.

Malcolm Mitchell, the Georgia wide receiver? You couldn’t find a more likable and genuine kid, it seems. And the scouting report offered by longtime draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki? “A tough, passionate, crafty slot receiver who can be trusted to move the sticks in critical situations … Brings similar energy, toughness and attitude as Steelers 1998 third-round pick Hines Ward. Smart and versatile enough to contribute in multiple roles perhaps even at cornerback where he began his Georgia career and could be most attractive to a veteran coaching staff such as the Patriots or Steelers.”

Kamu Grugier-Hill? A safety who can play at the linebacker level and has huge special teams upside that comes with a recommendation from Eastern Illinois college teammate Jimmy Garoppolo. Another sixth-rounder, Elandon Roberts? Big-time character guy who doesn’t have great measurables but had great production. Seventh-rounder Ted Karras? A four-year starter at guard in the Big Ten with Illinois. Seventh-round wideout Devin Lucien? Dedicated student who was able to switch from UCLA to Arizona State as a graduate transfer and still go out and be very productive with the Sun Devils in his final collegiate season.

There aren’t any real injury dice rolls.

There any character dice rolls.

The “football makeup” seems to be there.

Now?

“They have no idea what they’re getting into,” said Bill Belichick on Saturday night. “It’s not their fault. We all had to go through it at some point or another. They’re going to get a big dose of what they probably haven’t had a whole lot of, certainly any time recently. It’s a big load. The competition level is going to step up. The volume is going to step up. It’s not a scholarship. In college they can’t take them away from you. In the NFL you’re fighting for a job so it’s a whole new ball game.”

In the end, football ability will be the main determinant as to whether they stay or go. But the Patriots made sure that – at least on the surface – they all appear to have the ability to withstand what’s going to be coming at them.