FOXBORO - Antwaun Molden was a project when he came out of Eastern Kentucky in 2008. The Texans took him in the third round. The sentiment then was that he was probably taken too high. That changed to "definitely taken too high" when he was released at the end of training camp. Now he's the Patriots corner most likely to get additional reps with the surprising release of Leigh Bodden on Friday. Molden's eyes widened with surprise on Friday when I told him Bodden had been released. Having been cut less than two months ago himself, though, Molden meant it when he used the common "it's-a-business" refrain to move away from talking about a decision that's well above his pay grade. It is a business, indeed. And now Molden is going from a guy only devotees had heard of to one of the guys replacing a big-ticket free agent signing from 2010 that went belly-up in a big hurry. How Molden does his business will reflect on how the Patriots are doing theirs. Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty are likely to be the Sunday starters for the Patriots. Ras-I Dowling would come next, but he's hurt (still . . . again). So Molden will be in the mix against the Steelers. He's 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, long and athletic with excellent speed (sub-4.5)While in college, he transferred from the University of Toledo to Eastern Kentucky because he wasn't happy with his playing time. He really only had one year of low-level college football before being drafted.He played 35 defensive snaps in three years with the Texans. And the Texans couldn't coveranybody while Molden was there, so that seems damning. But the Patriots have turned other teams' trash into their own treasure often enough to used that evidence as conclusive that Molden can't play. Asked how he's progressed since being signed August 31, Molden said, "It's come along pretty good. I just have to stay consistent and do the things the coaches ask me to do and get better at it."And overall defensively?"I think we jelled as a team and we've been consistent with things that we've been doing," he explained. "We just have to keep getting better at the little things."Boilerplate stuff from a player about to be put in the frying pan aganst the Steelers.
President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office.
Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president.
"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.
"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."
Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition.
"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."
FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.
Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign.
Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown.
The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player.
Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.
Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.