Chung gives no further illumination on fake punt

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Chung gives no further illumination on fake punt

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

TAUNTON -- It's been dissected in Zapruder film fashion. The fake punt fail just before halftime of the Patriots-Jets divisional playoff game. Patrick Chung's been the fall guy. He was the personal protector for punter Zoltan Mesko, the one responsible for calling out blocking assignments and the snap. He's taken the blame for the play. He's the one Bill Belichick has said "feels badly" about the play. But what exactly does Chung need to feel badly about? Did he make the wrong read of the defense? Did he use the wrong verbiage before the snap, causing long-snapper Matt Katula and others on the punt team to believe a fake was on when, as far as Chung knew, he was simply calling out an "alert?" Does he feel badly about simply dropping a snap he didn't appear ready for? The fact Chung nobly stood and faced the music and questions the day after the game doesn't get down to the nitty-gritty. What was the major malfunction?"We talked about that already," Chung said Wednesday at Mulcahey Elementary School in Taunton. "It was my mistake making the call. That's all it was. That's me." Chung was at Mulcahey to read aloud as part of the school's "ReadThrough the Stars" program. He read two books and was funny and engaging to the nearly 500 kids assembled. Beingat the school in a Patriots capacity, though,puts onus onus tocover the Patriots side of things. And since we still don't have full illumination on why the fake punt was called or went awry, it remains a topic. But not to Chung. "It's behind me," he explained. "It was behind me the dayI cleared it up. I'm on to the next one. That play's over."Chung said he watched the "whole thing" when asked about Super Bowl XLV. Asked if is was hard to swallow, watching two teams his Patriots beat go at it for the title, Chung answered, "There are no 'what ifs.' It is what it is. They're at the Super Bowl and we're not in it. That's all I can say about that." With the CBA expiring shortly, there's a high likelihood teams will "lock out" the players and they'll be on their own to work out and get ready for the season when it comes. "We don't know what's gonna happen but you have to prepare like there's gonna be a season," said Chung. "It's up to yourself. You work how hard you want to work, you're gonna see who the real players are."

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Valentine will be plunked down in heart of D-line

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Valentine will be plunked down in heart of D-line

FOXBORO – The Patriots used the 96th overall pick – a compensatory pick that came to the Patriots after losing Darrelle Revis – on a very large man. Vincent Valentine, a 6-3, 329-pound defensive tackle from Nebraska who is more space-eater than penetrator.

Though Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said Valentine has played all over the defensive line including 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle), he’ll likely be an early-down, middle of the defensive line player for the Patriots at the outset. How does the team go about getting him on the field?

Currently, they are pretty well-stocked with big bodies. Last year’s first rounder, Malcom Brown, is going to play a lot for a long time. Terrance Knighton, added as a free agent, figures to be a major component of the defensive line. And aging Alan Branch showed in 2015 that he’s still got plenty of plays left in him.

The other 300-plus pound linemen in the mix are Marcus Kuhn, a free agent brought over from the Giants, and Joe Vellano, who’s been with the team for four seasons as an end of the roster player.

Valentine had an injury-plagued final season with the Cornhuskers and will need to tune up his body and conditioning for the NFL. He’s not a project but neither is he a plug-and-play type who can be expected to walk in and make immediate contributions. With the 31-year-old Branch nearing the end, it’s reasonable to expect Valentine to be the successor to him in the Patriots interior rotation when they go heavy on early downs and in short-yardage and goal-line.

Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

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Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

The Patriots have eight picks remaining on the final day of the draft. While they may not use all of those selections -- they currently have 80 players on the roster, leaving them with only two slots for undrafted free agents if they use all of their picks -- they still have plenty of opportunities to take chances on talented athletes Saturday. 

Here's a quick look at some of the best players available after they spent their first four selections on a corner (Cyrus Jones, Alabama, pick No. 60), an offensive lineman (Joe Thuney, North Carolina State, No. 78), a quarterback (Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State, No. 91) and a defensive tackle (Vincent Valentine, Nebraska, No. 96). 

The Patriots have one fourth-round pick, five sixth-round picks and two seventh-rounders remaining.

RUNNING BACK: KENNETH DIXON, LOUISIANA TECH

Listed as one of our top players available after Day 1, Dixon is still hanging around after nearly 100 picks have gone off the board. Perhaps his level of competition at Louisiana Tech has worked against him. Perhaps his fumbling issues have come back to bite him. Perhaps this is simply an indication of how the rest of the league considers this position. Only four backs have been drafted through the first three rounds. 

Other top running backs available: Jordan Howard, Indiana; Devontae Booker, Utah; Paul Perkins, UCLA; Jonathan Williams, Arkansas; Alex Collins, Arkansas. 

RECEIVER: DANIEL BRAVERMAN, WESTERN MICHIGAN

If ever there was a player who stood out as a potential Patriots pick, it would be Braverman. At 5-foot-10, 177 pounds, he is a prototypical slot receiver whose skill set resembles that of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola or Troy Brown. He's very shifty in and out of his breaks, he does a great deal of his work while risking big hits over the middle of the field, he catches just about everything thrown his way, and he churns out yards after the catch with speed and good vision. 

Other top receivers available: Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Devon Cajuste, Stanford; Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa; Keenan Reynolds, Navy.

LINEBACKER: JOSH PERRY, OHIO STATE

This Buckeye seems to fit the size profile the Patriots typically like in their receivers at 6-foot-4, 254 pounds. He runs well enough to be able to track ball-carriers from sideline-to-sideline, and he has a ton of experience coming downhill to make big hits in the running game. Perry will need some work before he's a reliable defender in coverage, but on first and second downs he could be a force. 

Other top linebackers available: Scooby Wright III, Arizona; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt; Blake Martinez, Stanford; De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota. 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: HASSAN RIDGEWAY, TEXAS

A college teammate of Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown, Ridgeway is considered by many to be more physically talented than Brown was when he declared for the draft. Injuries hurt Ridgeway's productivity last season, and there are some who question his conditioning, but he understands how to be a disruptive force on the interior, both in the running game and in the passing game. If he's in shape and can maintain the level of fitness that will be expected of him as a pro, he could turn into an immediate contributor.

Other top defensive tackles available: Andrew Billings, Baylor; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; DJ Reader, Clemson; Dean Lowry, Northwestern; Justin Zimmer, Ferris State.

Faulk sports Brady jersey during Patriots pick as Vincent looks on

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Faulk sports Brady jersey during Patriots pick as Vincent looks on

FOXBORO -- For a moment, retired Patriots running back Kevin Faulk stole the show as he announced one of New England's third-round picks. 

Given an opportunity at the spotlight, even just for an instant, Faulk opted to make a statement in support of his former quarterback, proudly wearing Tom Brady's No. 12 jersey under his suit jacket. 

"The New England Patriots and Tom Brady," Faulk said, "select Joe Thuney!"

While the news that the Patriots had drafted an athletic and versatile offensive lineman from North Carolina State was certainly noteworthy for fans, the enthusiasm with which Faulk delivered his message resonated with folks all the way back at One Patriot Place. 

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio smiled at his press conference Friday when he was asked what he thought of Faulk's gesture.

"That's why Kevin Faulk is a potential member of the Patriots Hall of Fame," Caserio said. "We all love Kevin Faulk. One of the best Patriots on a multitude of levels and I'd say he certainly showed that tonight."

Before the pick was made, Faulk was introduced to the crowd attending Day 2 of the NFL Draft by NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent. For Patriots fans, Vincent's name is a familiar one because he played a primary role in doling out Brady's punishment as a result of Deflategate. 

Faulk was named one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame earlier this month along with corner Raymond Clayborn and linebacker Mike Vrabel. Fans can vote for the winner online here