Patriots want second trip to London to be like the first

A rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI, it was Tom Brady who led the underdog Patriots to a victory against the St. Louis Rams. It may have been the last time they were actually underdogs.

Technically, the Rams are the home team but they are playing the sixth annual game at Wembley Stadium in London.

The Rams (3-4) arrived at Heathrow airport early Tuesday morning, and a few hours later they were on a wet field in Regent’s Park in central London doing drills with local school children to show off the American version of football. SportsBetting.ag have the Rams as 7 point dogs.

A Member of Parliament named Richard Fuller from Bedford said there’s a lot of support for the American version of football in the Westminster and London area and he has put together a group of people who would like to develop the sport in Britain at both the professional and amateur levels. He said his people will be working hand in hand with the NFL, the British American Football Association, and other groups to try and help promote the sport in Britain.

He added that they want to get kids involved in football at the grassroots level and find ways for local athletes to develop their skills in the game. But, he admitted, the thing they want the most is an NFL team to be based in the UK. He also admitted that there’s an endless amount of work to do to make it happen and one of the major obstacles will be developing a fan base that’s big enough to support a team in London.

Of course, the NFL would also have to agree to it. But so far it seems there are several owners interested in placing a team in Britain, especially with the number of Americans who are starting to invest in English Premier League soccer clubs.

This is the second time in four years the Patriots travel to Wembley as they blasted the Bucs 35-7 in  2009. I’m sure it is an ordeal to travel that far and get ready to play a game in a completely different time zone. The advantage is already given to the Patriots because they have been there, done that.

With starting safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory injured, New England (4-3) has allowed an average of 338.0 passing yards and 14 touchdowns in the last five games.

The problem is Sam Bradford and the lack of offensive weapons for the Rams will be unable to take advantage of it. Pick Patriots – 7

2012 NFL Week 2 power rankings: Patriots on top

Tom Brady Wes Welker

Source: AP

1. New England Patriots (1-0) ↔

Stevan Ridley looked good, Gronk and Aaron Hernandez each caught a TD, the defense literally hit the Tennessee Titans in the mouth, and Tom Brady got knocked down and got right back up. This team looks tougher, faster, smarter, and simply better!

2. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)↑2

Speaking of hitting people in the mouth, the 49ers just beat up the Packers in week one. If it wasn’t for a questionable call to overturn a block in the back late in the game on a Randall Cobb punt return for a TD this one could have been really ugly.

3. Green Bay Packers (0-1)↓1

I know it’s tough to believe a team that was beaten up and overwhelmed in week one only falls one spot, but c’mon, it’s the Packers! Aaron Rodgers still threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns against what is arguably the best defense (by far) in the NFL.

4. Houston Texans (1-0)↑1

If the 49ers’ defense is indeed the best in the game the Texans are the second best. The best defense in the AFC recorded three sacks and forced four turnovers against the Dolphins.

5. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)↑6

One of the biggest climbers of the week, the Ravens deserve this spot as I admittedly underestimated what appears to be a top contender in the AFC. That said, they are old on defense and an Ed Reed injury could be severely detrimental to the success of this team.

Fantasy Football: The most impressive TE’s of the preseason

Aaron Hernandez has had a strong preseason

Tight ends have seen their role increase over the past few years and are now just as valuable as wide receivers. Last season, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski had the two best seasons ever for tight ends and neither was highly drafted. While it would be foolish to expect to strike gold like that again this season, here are a few tight that have impressed this preseason and who’s fantasy football arrow is pointing up.

Aaron Hernandez

Playing second-fiddle to Rob Gronkowski has lowered Hernandez’s profile, but it hasn’t stopped him from putting up big numbers. Hernandez has continued that play this preseason looking sharp against the Buccaneers in the Patriots dress-rehearsal catching 5 balls for 52 yards. According to Patriots beat writer Greg A. Bedard, “Hernandez has ascended to Brady’s No. 1 option, with Wes Welker next, and then Rob Gronkowski depending on matchups.” While I’m not sure I necessarily agree with that, it’s great news for his fantasy football stock and he’s still going relatively late in drafts. Read more…

AFC preseason power rankings

Doug Benc / Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger

As the end of the NFL preseason is quickly approaching, so is the beginning of the 2012 NFL regular season. As there is one week left of preseason football, we are less than 10 days away from the start of the 2012 NFL season. I like to name this period “Week Zero”, as these power rankings are a basic opinion of how I believe the 2012 NFL season will pan out.

In the AFC, many familiar faces and teams will be in the postseason talks once again. The AFC, which is noticeably weaker than the rival NFC, have many teams loaded with potential, but just are not quite there yet. Here are the Week Zero AFC Power Rankings.

16. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

A new head coach (Mike Mularkey), a quarterback still going through growing pains (Blaine Gabbert), a defense on the decline, and one of the best playmakers in the NFL (Maurice Jones-Drew) is holding out for a new contract…yea, 2012 will not be very kind to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Projection: 4-12

15. CLEVELAND BROWNS

The Browns have some bright spots in wide receiver Greg Little, All-Pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas, a defensive line loaded with under-the-radar talent, and two of the most efficient defensive players in the game in linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and cornerback Joe Haden, the problem though? Too young, not ready to compete for a playoff spot yet.

Projection: 4-12

14. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

New Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck doesn’t play like an ordinary NFL rookie, but fellow rookies Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and T.Y. Hilton certainly look the part, as the Colts are starting over with new head coach Chuck Pagano and look to be heading in the right direction.

Projection: 5-11

13. MIAMI DOLPHINS

The Dolphins made significant moves in the offseason, trading away star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, cutting former starting quarterback Chad Henne, signing Chad Johnson, cutting Chad Johnson, and trading away cornerback Vontae Davis…the Dolphins will have difficulty finding any kind of identity in 2012.

Projection: 6-10  Read More…

Patriots give Hernandez $16 million in guarantees

Aaron+Hernandez

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The New England Patriots have now rewarded both halves of their tight-end holy-s-h-dash-t combination, signing Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to ultra-long-term deals.

Each got their new contracts after only two NFL seasons, as members of the last draft class (at least through the early years of the next decade) to renegotiate a rookie contract with less than three years in the league.

Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe reported this morning that Hernandez will receive $16 million guaranteed, which includes a $12.5 million signing bonus.

He’ll average $7.5 million per year under the extension, which pays out $37.5 million in new money. Hernandez was due to earn a paltry (in comparison) $540,000 and $570,000 in salary over the next two seasons.  Read More…

2012 NFL Power Rankings | Preseason Edition

 

tom-brady-Eli Manning

Ezra Shaw/Getty and Wesley Hitt/Getty

With the 2012 NFL Season set to start in a few weeks we put together our preseason power rankings based upon the free agent signings, NFL Draft, and the preseason thus far. Week 2 of the preseason continues tonight with six games scheduled and concludes Sunday night after the Eagles at Patriots game. While we don’t truly get to see how teams’ starting rosters will look until the third preseason game, we have plenty of information to start formulating our thoughts.

1. New England Patriots (13-3)

The Patriots added depth on their defense and should have some more speed on offense while giving the bulk of the carries to Stevan Ridley this season. The addition of Brandon Lloyd gives Brady and Belichick yet another toy to play with.

2. Green Bay Packers (12-4)

The team with the best record in the 2011 regular season was abruptly knocked out of the playoffs by the Super Bowl champs. This team’s weakness is clearly their rushing attack and NFL-worst total defense. Aaron Rodgers clearly covers up many of their blemishes but he needs more help if they expect to be at the top.

3. New York Giants (11-5)

I find it quite shocking that after their second Super Bowl in the last five years this team is still being overlooked. Their defense is better, Eli Manning is in his prime, and they replaced Brandon Jacobs with a humble David Wilson who is far more athletic.  Read More…

Fights breaking out at Patriots practice

Chandler Jones, Jake Bequette

Bill Belichick generally keeps things orderly and business like at Patriots training camp, but when the Patriots practiced under the lights at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night, several players lost their cool.

It started when offensive tackle Nate Solder took what several people on the scene have described as a cheap shot at linebacker Brandon Spikes during 11-on-11 drills. That started a fight that got multiple players from the offense and the defense going at it. Solder was required to run a penalty lap, and Spikes went into the locker room and came back wearing a knee brace and jawing at Solder, although Spikes was apparently not seriously hurt.

Center Dan Koppen was also engaged in plenty of pushing and shoving, with post-play skirmishes with two players on the Patriots’ defense, Dane Fletcher and James Ihedigbo.

Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones was asked if he would be joining in the training camp fights, seeing as his brother is UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones. But Chandler said he’d pass.

“You know what? I’m not Jon ‘Bones’ Jones,” Jones said. “My name is Chandler.” Read more here..

 

Andre Carter wants to be a Patriot, but for the right price

Andre Carter, Vince Wilfork

As inevitable as an Andre Carter reunion with the Patriots may seem, the sticking point should come as no surprise.

As always, even when they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that the defensive end’s looking for a long-term deal at a salary commensurate with his Pro Bowl resume, since he expects to be ready to play the regular season opener.

The Patriots, on the other hand, see a 33-year-old who tore his quadriceps tendon in Week 15, who might need to go on the physically unable to perform list as soon as he’s signed. Howe indicates that’s a negotiating tactic, designed to lower financial expectations for a guy who would miss a third of the season.

Carter was a bargain last year, turning in 10.0 sacks emerging as a three-down player who provided leadership, all for a one-year, $2.75 million contract. Read more here…

Welker and his posse restrained by security in Aspen

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was celebrating his upcoming wedding in Aspen, Colorado this weekend when his group tried to crash a party associated with the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, according to a New York Post report.

Sources told the Post that Welker and his friends tried to enter a party at the restaurant Above the Salt without permission.

Security guards then tackled members of the group, according to the report.

Sources told the Post that Welker and his friends refused to cooperate even after security intervened, demanding to be let in. Police reportedly threatened to arrest Welker and other members of his party but came short of doing so, and the group left the property.

Read more here…

Gronkowski says ankle is great, ready for season

Baltimore Ravens strong safety Bernard Pollard tackles New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski

Four months after his ankle was the No. 1 story during the week of hype prior to the Super Bowl, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski says his ankle isn’t a story at all.

Asked at a charity golf tournament today to describe the status of his ankle, Gronkowski needed just one word: “Great.”

The Patriots, who just signed Gronkowski to a contract extension, obviously don’t think his ankle is going to cause him any long-term problems. And Gronkowski’s one-word description of his ankle today more or less matches what he said a couple of weeks ago, when he declared that the ankle feels better every week.

Read more here…

Despite rumors, Ochocinco not cut, yet

Despite numerous rumors floating around the internet today, Chad Ochocinco has not been cut by the New England Patriots.

The only thing keeping Chad Ochocinco from joining Terrell Owens on the NFL’s more accurate Mr. Irrelevant list is the fact that Ochocinco still has a job with an NFL team.  Despite rampant rumors to the contrary, that has not changed.

Yet.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Ochocinco remains a member of the Patriots as of this posting, despite multiple accounts that he was cut.
The team’s official website reports he wasn’t present for Thursday’s practice.  And the Twitter feed for Patriots.com openly asks whether Chad will still be a member of the team at the end of the day.
We don’t know the answer to that question.  But we do know that, as of right now, he hasn’t been cut. Read more here…

Patriots offering Welker less long-term than last year

Wes Welker

New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker has signed his franchise tender and is in the fold for the 2012 season, but that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied with the way negotiations on a long-term contract have gone.In fact, Welker says the Patriots are now offering him less money than the two-year, $16 million, fully guaranteed deal they offered during the 2011 season. “There have been talks, but nothing that’s brightened anything at all,” Welker said, via the Boston Herald. “It’s actually gotten worse.” Read More…

Revis not backing down on Belichick and Brady comments

reviswelkerGetty Images

In an interview in March, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis called Patriots head coach Bill Belichick a jerk. With some time to reflect on that comment, Revis isn’t backing down. “I gave my honest opinion,” Revis said today, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “It’s just how I felt. That’s how I feel. I feel that people let him slide when he says his smart remarks [about] certain things. He says comments about us.” Read more here…

The Jones boys are a lethal combination

Three young men coming from Endicott, New York by the name of “Jones” are somewhat of an anomaly in the fact that they are brothers and are all professional athletes. Arthur Jones of the Baltimore Ravens, Jon “Bones” Jones UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and the youngest Chandler Jones who was just drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. What a happening for one small town, and what a great thing for one family. The sons of Arthur Jones Jr. and Camille Jones these young men are doing great things for themselves and their family.

Let me start off with the oldest Jones, Arthur Willis Jones III was a high school wrestler and football player at Union-Endicott High School. In his senior year he helped lead Union to a Section IV Championship. The two sport standout decided to attend Syracuse University over Pittsburgh and Rutgers. He was picked to the Second Team All Big East in 2007 and First Team All Big East in 2008 and 2009. Arthur earned a degree in Communications and Rhetorical Studies. He was considered one of the better defensive tackles going into the 2010 NFL Draft. Arthur has good size for the NFL at 6ft. 3in. and 313lbs. He was chosen in the fifth round by the Baltimore Ravens in that draft. He is currently on the active roster. He has become a defensive end with the Ravens. As of the end of the 2011 NFL season Jones has recorded 20 tackles. Only time will tell how far his career in the NFL will go, but with his two brothers being pro athletes also there is a lot of competition to push themselves to greater heights.

The brother in the middle of the pack in probably the most well known brother of the three is Jon “Bones” Jones the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jon was a great high school wrestler and state champion and he was also a junior college champion. Jon decided to leave college and follow a career in Mixed Martial Arts where he has become somewhat of a prodigy in the sport. He has only lost one fight in his MMA career and that was a disqualification in a fight against Matt Hamill that he was clearly winning. When Jon won the title from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua when he was only 23 years 242 days old, he was the youngest champion in UFC history. Since then he has defended his title against Lyoto Machida, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and “Suga” Rashad Evans all former champions. Jon is considered one of the best “pound for pound” fighters in the world today. He is 6ft. 4in. and 205lbs. With all the tools at his disposal Jon can go down as the best fighter in UFC history.

The youngest of the three brothers is Chandler Jones who also played his college football at the University of Syracuse. He was selected to the 2011 All Big East team. He only played in seven games in his junior season at Syracuse. He decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. The New England Patriots chose him with the 21st pick overall in the first round. His NFL career is just getting started, but he has a bright future ahead of him. He has two very big influences on him as a person and as an athlete. We all know who they are.

The Jones boys are making their family, friends, and fans proud of them. These young men exemplify what is good in the younger generation of athletes coming up in the ranks today. All three are great role models and young men that their parents can be proud of.

Mike Samuels is a writer for TSB and can be contacted at MSamuels@TheSportsBlitz.com