Patriots Free Agent Primer: Inside linebackers


Patriots Free Agent Primer: Inside linebackers

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.comThis is the seventh in a series of looks at the Patriots' position-by-position needs after the draft, and who's available to fill them via free agency . . . whenever free agency might come. Today's position:Inside linebacker.

Who's here?
Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton, Dane Fletcher.Who's out there?
Stewart Bradley (Eagles), Akin Ayodele (Bills), Stephen Tulloch (Titans), A.J. Hawk (Packers), Stephen Cooper (Chargers), Eric Barton (Browns), Kevin Bentley (Texans), Mark Herzlich (Boston College)What's the need?
From 1-10? Let's call it a 5. That's a real good group of four players in the "Who's here?" department. You have an All-Pro run-stuffer who sets the tone for the defense in Mayo. A kid who should improve into a pretty good NFL starter in Spikes. A guy who can give much-needed speed in covering between the numbers on intermediary third-down routes in Guyton. And a speedy, try-hard guy in Fletcher. But what the Patriots could use is an old lion in the mix they can plug-and-play when Spikes is lagging. I'll be honest, I'm not sure Spikes has the same level of professionalism as the rest of the ILBs he's working with.
Who do they chase?
There's no reason to spend time on the high-end guys like Tulloch or Hawk. But Bradley and Ayodele are veteran guys with 3-4 knowledge. Cooper is also a 3-4 ILB but he has a tendency to get driven around like a shopping cart. Herzlich is a very likely candidate for the Patriots to pursue. Because of his post-illness speed limitations, he may need to make the move inside.
Who do we look at next?

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate


Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

When the topic of Deflategate was broached on HBO's Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which debuted this week, Ben Affleck became all kinds of fired up.

"What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone," Affleck said. "I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone . . . so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?"

Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and is a passionate Patriots fan. He made no attempts to hide his fandom, and his appreciation for Brady, as he and Simmons (also a Patriots fan) discussed the football-deflation controversy that has now lasted well over a year. 

Affleck, who said he would want to cast himself as Brady if ever a Deflategate movie was made, harped on the fact that the league wanted Brady to turn over his phone. 

"Maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman," Affleck said, "that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers."

Brady is waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision as to whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension issued by the league when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL, 2-1. 

Pro Football Talk wrote on Thursday that a decision from the Second Circuit could come at any time. If the rehearding request is denied, Brady could then take the case to the Supreme Court. Should the Second Circuit grant Brady a rehearing, his suspension would be delaed until the court reached a decision. In that case, Brady could potentially play the entire 2016 season before a decision came to pass. 

Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow


Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

Tom Brady wasn't always the most famous person in his family. Growing up, his sisters were the accomplished athletes in the household. 

For his latest Throwback Thursday style Facebook post, Brady published a pair of photos of an old high school essay that he wrote in the fall of his senior year in 1994. It was titled "The way my sisters influenced me."

I found an essay I wrote in 1994... I love my big sisters! #tbt. Thanks for the good grade Mr Stark!

Posted by Tom Brady on Thursday, June 23, 2016

In it, he discusses some of the difficulties of growing up with three older sisters and no brothers. Because Maureen, Julie and Nancy Brady had achieved so much in softball, basketball and soccer, Brady -- or "Tommy," as he signed his paper -- had trouble getting noticed. 

Of course, it wouldn't be long before Brady was headed from San Mateo, California to Ann Arbor, Michigan in order to play football for the Wolverines. He probably had no trouble garnering attention by then. Still, it's funny to read about how he felt overlooked in his youth. 

He closed the essay explaining that he knew his sisters would always provide him support throughout his life, adding, "hopefully, just maybe, one day people will walk up to them and say, 'Aren't you Tommy's sister?' or 'Hey where is your brother?' Maybe . . . "

If the Brady sisters didn't get those kinds of comments by the time the baby of the family was given an 'A' for his English assignment, it probably didn't take long before they did. About seven years later, he took over as the starting quarterback of the Patriots.