Ihedigbo living 'childhood dream' as Patriot


Ihedigbo living 'childhood dream' as Patriot

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti

FOXBORO -- James Ihedigbo hopes Patriots fans welcome him, a former Jet, with open arms.

Here, he's home and he couldn't be happier.

"It's exciting," Ihedigbo said after Saturday's practice, his first with New England.

"It's a childhood dream to come back and play for the same team you grew up watching. I'm just excited for the opportunity. ...I was born and raised a Pats fan. I watched the games when I was in high school, at the old Foxboro Stadium, and said 'one day I'm going to be playing here.' Lo and behold, here I am."

Of course, his days in New England at Amherset Regional High School and UMass give him no advantage at Gillette; he's on foreign ground as much as, say, new Patriot Shaun Ellis. The fact the two played together with the Jets -- that there's a familiar face already under Belichick's reign -- is comforting to Ihedigbo.

"He's a great guy, great teammate," Ihedigbo said of Ellis. "Kind of mentor for me at the old place I was playing at, and he's been the same way here. He's a good friend."

Ihedigbo joined New York as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He had three sacks as a backup in the secondary and 27 special teams tackles last season. The Patriots will be happy for the help. Despite this weekend's return of safety James Sanders, there's little depth at the position. Behind Patrick Chung, Brandon Meriweather's consistency is suspect and Sergio Brown's is unproven.

What will New England get from Ihedigbo? Belichick gave no definitive answer.

"He's played defense, hes played safety, hes played there for the Jets he played some of the nickel and dime type responsibilities on defense, and he's been good in the kicking game. Well see what he can do."

Unsurprisingly, Ihedigbo says he's prepared to do whatever he needs to. There are certain fundamentals he has confidence about that transcend positioning.

"Wherever they need me to play, I'm just going to go out and bring my intensity, my energy," he said. "The way this game is designed to be played is to be fast and physical... being able to get off blocks, get to the ball. I want to bring whatever I can to help this team."

To give fans a better reference point for style: "I definitely model my game after Rodney Harrison," Ihedigbo said. "Physical player, knew what he was supposed to do at all times, was a leader, and played the game very physically."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots


Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots

FOXBORO -- Seems as though the Bills don't quite have their stories straight. 

On the one hand, you have Bills players, who say that they won't hesitate to retaliate if a Patriots player gets near one of their pregame warmup drills, as Jacoby Brissett did in Week 4. 

On the other hand, you have the Bills coach, who sounded less eager for there to be any kind of scrap before this weekend's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

"No, I mean with us, just go out and warm up," Ryan said in a conference call Wednesday. "That’s what you do, but any of the extracurricular things, you know, there’s absolutely zero focus on that, and shouldn’t be any focus on that. It’s just about playing games.

"I mean if people want to show how tough they are, put the boxing gloves on and get in the ring or something. That might be more impressive -- I don’t want Gronk by the way.

"But I definitely don’t want to see that happen, and our focus is 100 percent on the game and doing the very best we possibly can."

It's an interesting comment from a coach who has made it very clear that he wanted to build a "bully" in Buffalo. His team shut out the Patriots after trying to intimidate New England's rookie quarterback before the game. Did his team not benefit somehow from what occurred before kickoff that day?

He doesn't think so.

"It had nothing to do with our team . . . Absolutely nothing," he said. "You know, those things happen every now and then but it was no big deal. It did absolutely nothing for us."

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Tom Brady has fans everywhere, apparently. Even in Pittsburgh. Even on the Steelers roster. 

Showtime's Inside the NFL caught video of Brady meeting with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Sunday's game between New England and Pittsburgh. 

The pair hugged near the 50-yard line at Heinz Field. Brady called Roethlisberger "big guy." Roethlisberger, who was out with a knee injury, told Brady he wanted to play "so bad."


Then Roethlisberger became a fan. And like many of them, he had a request. 

"Um, hey, listen," he said. "I've never done this before, but I would love to get a jersey at some point. It'd mean...There's not many I want to put in my office. You're the best, dude."

Brady was happy to oblige. Just not right at that moment. 

"Sure, I'd love to," Brady said. "I'll get you after the game."