A closer look at Ryan Mallett

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A closer look at Ryan Mallett

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - In the bizarre lockout world of the NFL, there's been a cloak-and-dagger feel to the proceedings.

Who can talk to whom for how long? What can players leave the building with? How long can team-incoming rookie relations last?

With that backdrop, media met with a couple of Patriots this afternoon in the dim, gray, concrete concourses of Gillette Stadium. The first was quarterback Ryan Mallett. His issues are well-documented. His talent as well.

The fact that several quarterbacks were taken ahead of him didn't slip his attention.

"When there are six other guys at your position taken ahead of you, theres going to be(an intention to prove people wrong)," said Mallett.

We got a little bit more on his background on Saturday.

On the offense at ArkansasThe Arkansas offense is pro style. Were under center, were in the shot gun, were making protection calls, were audibling. Were doing all that. Terminology is obviously going to be different from team to team, so thats going to be the biggest obstacle as well as learning the new plays, the new defenses of the NFL.

What was his redshirt season between Michigan and Arkansas like?It was productive and tough. Productive in the way that I could get really into the playbook and learn really everything in and out of it. It was hard knowing that I couldnt go play. I didnt have the chance to play because of the rule. No matter what I did, I couldnt get on the field. So, that was probably the hardest part of that year.

Without training and minicamp, how will he accelerate to the faster pace of the NFL?You practice harder. You train harder. You train faster, as fast as you can every rep whether its running, whether its throwing, whether its a drop back, a lift, you do it as hard as you can every time.

What does he like about being a quarterback?The thing I like about the position is you get to lead a group of guys during the practice, during the game, the final minute of the game, whatever it is. Youre responsible for the 10 other guys on the field and yourself to get things done right. And thats what I really enjoy about the position.

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

Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

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Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

What goes through Dont'a Hightower’s mind in the minutes before he takes the field and lowers himself into a cauldron of collisions, pain and exultation?

Not a thing.

“I rest. I literally rest,” said the Patriots Pro Bowl inside linebacker. “I don’t do anything else. I sit at my locker, I don’t listen to music. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. I don’t look at film, I don’t look at notes. I’m just relaxed. Calm before the storm. I’ve done enough preparing, I’ve done enough notes, I’ve done enough of that stuff during the week. If I don’t know it by now, I don’t know it. It’s not gonna help me last minute. It’s only gonna make me play slower.”

By the time an NFL team hits the field – in the Patriots case, runs out of a giant, inflatable helmet while Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” blares – they are primped, polished, taped and glistening.

But what is their day like leading up to that? I asked a few Patriots to take me through their game-day prep from wakeup to anthem to give me insight into what we don’t see.  

You can hear Hightower, Nate Solder, Alan Branch, Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich detail the steps they take to get game-ready. French toast is involved. So are naps. And sock preparation.

It all builds to that moment of theater that Ninkovich says is what players truly miss when they leave the game – that feeling of euphoria.

“When we finally get to run out, that’s the most exciting time in the world,” says Solder. “The crowd wasn’t there earlier when we went out there and all of a sudden, the crowd is there. Very exciting, very fun, especially with the guys you work so hard with.”

Says McCourty, “I always think when I run out of the tunnel to look up and say, ‘Thank you’ just to be able to play.”

Listen to them tell their stories here:

Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick was not in any mood to start revealing his behind-the-scenes pre-kickoff routine on game-days. The air of focus he's exhibited during his media-availability periods this week continued on Friday, particularly when he was asked about his Sunday rituals. 

When a reporter wondered if there was anything in particular Belichick does before a game, he initially said simply, "No."

A follow-up about superstitions was tossed Belichick's way next. He swatted that aside as well.

"Try to play and coach good," he explained. "Goes a long way."

There you have it. An easy-step-by-step guide on how to approach a game like a future Hall-of-Famer.

For more on Patriots pregame prep, click here.