Warren ready to work for DL roster spot

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Warren ready to work for DL roster spot

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

FOXBORO Gerard Warren was coming off his first season with the New England Patriots.

It was good, but could have been better.

He wanted more.

And if possible, the 33-year-old veteran would be back; at least, that's what he recalls Patriots head coach Bill Belichick telling him.

"A lot of times when you get that message - 'Don't call us, we'll call you,'" Warren said with a grin, "but he (Belichick) told me, if it was possible for me to be back that he would give me a call. He honored his word and gave me a call."

And now Warren is back in the fold as one of the many talented defensive linemen vying for playing time this season.

Warren, a man of few - but powerful - words, was succinct in describing the competition along the defensive line this season.

"Only the strong will survive," he said.

Which is among the many things he likes about being back with the Patriots.

The competition is thick at his position, obviously.

But as you scan the roster, it's clear that there are a number of players who are battling for prominent roles that, at this point, remain very much up for grabs.

"Everybody is out here working to get better, day-in and day-out," Warren said. "The one thing I like about it; it's always open competition. Not too many positions solidified. You just have to come to work, and the best man win."

And while the signing of Warren was announced on Monday, Belichick made it clear that bringing Warren back was something the Patriots were planning to do for some time.

"It's something that we planned on for a while," Belichick said on Monday. "We delayed it here for a few days. We felt it was the right timing. He did a lot of good things for us last year. I thought he handled himself well on the team."

Warren came to New England after spending the previous three seasons in Oakland where he started every game during the 2008 and 2009 season.

Last season, he appeared in all 16 games (10 starts) and tallied 28 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

He also developed a strong relationship with defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.

"That was one of the main reasons I wanted to come back as well," Warren said of his friendship with Wilfork. "Was because of the relationship we bonded and built together last year."

That friendship, on and off the field, was forged with a single-minded desire to win a Superbowl - a goal the Pats fell short of achieving after a 28-21 playoff loss to the New York Jets.

New England's early playoff exit only fueled Warren's desire to return as a Patriot.

"If you fail, do you stop working or do you try and succeed and become better?" Warren said. "Point blank, we didn't succeed on our mission last year, our goal. We get an opportunity to try and do it again this year."

Warren has an "unfinished business" mentality this season, and he'll get a chance to take care of it with the Patriots - the only team Warren apparently gave serious consideration playing for this season.

When asked about his other options for this season, Warren replied, "I told my agent, call me after you talk to New England."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015

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Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015

Roger Goodell's salary has reportedly fallen in recent years, but he's still paid handsomely for his work as NFL commissioner.

According to the Associated Press, Goodell earned just over $31 million for 2015. That's a seven percent decrease from the $34 million he received for 2014. 

The NFL's last tax return served as an indicator of Goodell's 2015 salary. The league's tax returns no longer have to be made public since it has changed its status from exempt to taxable, per the AP.

The next-highest paid executive at the NFL offices on Park Avenue? General counsel Jeff Pash, one of the most prominent players in the Deflategate sage, who earned $6.5 million in 2015, down from $7.5 million in 2014. 

Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy

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Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy

The NFL announced this week that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been suspended without pay for Week 1 of the 2016 regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. 

Richardson will miss his team's season-opener against the Bengals and will be eligible to return to the Jets active roster on Sep. 12. The Jets and the Patriots meet for the first of their two division games on Nov. 27. 

Richardson responded to the news of suspension on Thursday. 

In July of 2015, Richardson led police on a high-speed chase -- hitting speeds as high as 143 miles per hour -- in suburban St. Louis. Police reported a strong odor of marijuana in the car and inside found a loaded, semiautomatic handgun that was possessed legally. Richardson had a 12-year-old relative riding with him in his Bentley at the time of the incident.

In January, Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Though he avoided jail time, he was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. 

Richardson has been one of the league's best defensive linemen since entering the league as a first-rounder in 2013. He served a four-game suspension to start last season after violating the league's substance abuse policy.

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

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PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

He may have been left off of the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but Jamie Collins isn't flying under the radar at Pro Football Focus.

On PFF's list of the top 10 defensive players in the AFC, the Patriots linebacker came in at No. 8 and was given the description as the top linebacker in the conference.

Collins' versatility within the confines of the Patriots defense is what makes him so valuable, PFF's John Kosko explains: 

"He doesn’t dominate in any one role like Luke Kuechly does in pass coverage and run defense, but he is very good at all facets of the game. Collins has the athleticism to cover TEs and HBs effectively, the explosiveness to rush the passer, and the size and strength to defend the run. 

"The former Southern Mississippi linebacker is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and allows Bill Belichick to employ a defense that confuses opposing quarterbacks. With the only knock against Collins being his 34 missed tackles the past two seasons, the Patriot is the best linebacker in the AFC."

Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in football last year, per PFF's numbers. He ranked behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Indianapolis' Jerrell Freeman and Seattle's KJ Wright. 

Fellow Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower earned the 10th-highest grade for linebackers last season, according to PFF -- a grade that likely would have been higher had his snap-count (602 in 2015) approached that of Collins (792).

While Collins is a rare physical talent, the argument could be made that it's Hightower who is the more important player to the Patriots defense given his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He also has myriad responsibilities as the extension of the team's coaching staff in the defensive huddle. 

In order to slow down opposing passing games, many Patriots defensive packages employ either five or six defensive backs and just two linebackers. Lucky for them, they have two of the best in the conference.

Both Collins and Hightower are entering contract years this year, and finding a way to keep them in-house figures to be near the top of the list of priorities for the Patriots front office.