Larry Fitzgerald is a fan of Patriots, Belichick

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Larry Fitzgerald is a fan of Patriots, Belichick

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

DALLAS - Earlier on Wednesday, I wrote about the enviable position Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is going to find himself in. Just 28 years old, headed to free agency with a no-trade, no-franchise tag clause in his contract at the end of next season. Some team is going to make Fitzgerald even richer than he already is.
Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston tracked Fitzgerald down here in Dallas and got the wideouts thoughts on New England. They were flattering.I think it all starts with the head coach Bill Belichick," Fitzgerald told Reiss. "He does a fantastic job, week in and week out, keeping his guys mentally prepared to go out there and play. Hes the only coach in history to have four seasons with 14 wins, and that alone, speaks volumes of what hes able to accomplish, especially in that AFC East division. I think youre looking at the NFLs strongest division, from top to bottom. If Buffalo played in the NFC West, theyd probably win the NFC West. Thats a strong, strong division and hes found a way to win it eight times. Its astonishing."

Fitzgerald has made mention of his desire to be on a winner. The Cardinals are not headed in that direction. Believe this, the bidding war for his services will be high stakes. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots take a seat at that table.

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

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.

So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate. 

Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons. 

Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.

The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.

Whalen is a move they made.

The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”

His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”

I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”

Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”

The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.

 

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

CBS interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick and 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino from Navy as part of its Army-Navy Game coverage Saturday.

Belichick's father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy when Bellino played there, and little Bill, then 7, took it all in. So much so, that 57 years later, Belichick can still diagram the 27 F Trap play that his dad used to drew up in the 1959 season for Bellino.

More from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk here.