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Cris Collinsworth defends comments about the Patriot way

cris-collinsworthCris Collinsworth took some time during NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast last weekend to praise the New England Patriots for getting previously troubled players to fall into line. He was talking specifically about cornerback Aqib Talib, which makes sense given the way Talib has stayed out of trouble since New England traded for him last season. However, Collinsworth seemed to completely ignore some guy who is currently in jail after being charged with murder.

[Video: Cris Collinsworth praises the Patriot way]

During an appearance on “Amani and Eytan” on NBC Sports Radio Tuesday, Collinsworth tried to clarify what he meant.

“I took a little heat in the game for saying (Bill Belichick) has a way of making issues go away,” he said. “A guy like (Patriots cornerback) Alfonzo Dennard still had an issue. (Bellichick) is not a cure-all. He’s not a magician out there. But they do seem to not have problems to the same extent playing for him.

“Some of it’s fear. Some of those guys, one more mistake and their career is going to be over. Nobody works that better than Belichick does. When you first come to that team, even if you’re a seven-year veteran, you don’t talk to the media. Some of those guys are more afraid of doing a press interview than they are of black cats and ghosts. They know if they screw up they’re gonna catch hell from Belichick.”

As I said before, I understand the point Collinsworth is trying to make. He just happens to be making it a season too late. Plenty of players who were known to have off-field issues have joined the Patriots and done nothing but produce. However, the team knew of Hernandez’s troubled past but drafted and signed him anyway. They also took a chance on cornerback Alfonzo Dennard after his issues at Nebraska, and he has another court date upcoming for suspicion of DUI.

Belichick loves trying to find value in talented players who have had issues off the field. Guys like Talib, Randy Moss and Corey Dillon are examples of that approach working out. Hernandez is the other end of the spectrum.

Terrell Owens wants to play for the New England Patriots

Terrell-Owens-Says-Bengals-Are-TerribleTerrell Owens has likely played his last snap in the NFL. The more time that passes, the less likely the six-time Pro Bowler can expect to be taken seriously. After all, TO has not appeared in a regular season since he was with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010.

However, Owens is not giving up hope. He has taken note of the fact that the NFL has become an increasingly pass-happy team and that several teams are struggling to find reliable receiving targets. One of those teams is the New England Patriots.

“Obviously the situation with the Patriots, they are starting out with a lot of new guys,” Owens told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “You never know how management is thinking, what their process is as far as bringing in veterans.

“I understand they may look at my age as an issue but I’m not your average 39-year-old. I think if you watch me work out, I’m not really concerned about injuries or anything like that. Plus, I’ll be getting paid the vet minimum, so it’s not like I am asking for any extra incentive in my contract.”

Over the summer, TO said he is hoping for another chance but will retire if it does not come in 2013. He told Washburn he is a “different person than I was 10 years ago” and once again reiterated that he would not be a distraction and would strictly be looking to contribute to a winning cause. While Owens said he would love to play for any team, he made a specific pitch to the Patriots.

“Tom Brady has a lot of young guys and I’m sure he could use some veteran help and I would love to play for a guy like Bill Belichick and play with a quarterback like Tom,” he said. “They are going to try to win by [receiving] committee. Coach Belichick is a smart guy that has won with not necessarily a main receiver. Aside from when Randy [Moss] played there, they’ve really had a lot of guys to produce as a committee. That’s where I could possibly fit in.”

Patriots fans would likely be all for it. Through the first two weeks of the season, we have seen rookies like Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins consistently drop passes and run the wrong routes. Of course, fans don’t make roster decisions. TO caught passes from Tom Brady at USC over the summer, so you know the two are at least associates. If the Patriots haven’t had him in for a workout yet, there probably isn’t any interest.

NFLPA files grievance with Patriots over Aaron Hernandez workout bonus

Aaron Hernandez PatriotsThe NFLPA reportedly has filed a grievance with the New England Patriots over money Aaron Hernandez was owed by the team.

Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million extension with the Pats last August. The deal called for a $12.5 million signing bonus. Hernandez already collected $9.25 million from the new deal that the Pats will not be able to recoup, but the team did not pay the $82k workout bonus due Aug. 1 and will not pay the remaining $3.2 million Hernandez would be owed in March.

The Patriots cut Hernandez in July when he was implicated in the murder of Odin Lloyd. He was indicted on first-degree murder charges last week.

Teams can recover bonus money and avoid salary cap hits if a player violates the league’s personal conduct policy.

I’m guessing the NFLPA will be unsuccessful in their efforts for this one. It’s kind of hard to win cases involving alleged murderers.

At least one Patriots writer fully expects Tim Tebow to make final roster

Tim Tebow PatriotsThe New England Patriots can release Tim Tebow before the regular season begins with no penalty. He is currently playing under a two-year, minimum salary deal that includes no guaranteed money. Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tebow is competing for a backup quarterback position. Does that mean his chances of making the team are slim?

Quite the opposite, says Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Although Bill Belichick has abandoned the concept of carrying three quarterbacks (Ryan Mallet is expected to stay) in recent years, Volin argued on Thursday that “all logic points to Tebow staying a Patriot” for at least the upcoming season.

For starters, Volin pointed out that there is little benefit to having Tebow on board strictly as a training camp player. As previous reports have indicated, he has struggled making throws in practice and has not looked all that sharp. The thing is, that is how Tebow has been since he came into the NFL. His shakiness makes it difficult to evaluate the players around him, so the Patriots would hardly benefit from rostering him strictly for training camp purposes.

In addition, Tebow is much more than just a quarterback. While New England may not be looking to convert him to a tight end as some reports previously stated, he can still line up at different positions and confuse opposing defenses. Those who watched linebacker Mike Vrabel catch touchdown passes know that Belichick loves the element of surprise, which is something he must considering with Tebow.

And of course, there is the locker room factor. In an offseason where the Patriots have lost a star tight end to a murder investigation and have a starting cornerback due back in court later this month, leadership and positive attitudes should be valued more than ever. Patriots owner Robert Kraft previously stated that you “can’t get enough people” like Tebow on your team.

It should be noted that there are plenty of people who disagree with Volin. Earlier this month, one ESPN writer gave Tebow a 25% chance of making the Patriots’ 53-man roster. At first, I thought Tebow was a longshot to make the team. But given all of the off-field issues New England has had this offseason, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tebow’s character holds more weight now that it did when he was signed.

Houston Texans call game against New England Patriots ‘Homecoming’

Texans-letterman-jacketThe Houston Texans announced on Tuesday that they have come up with a theme for each of their eight home games during the 2013 season. On the surface, the promotion sounds pretty standard with charitable themes like “Pink Ribbon Day” and “Salute to Service” day. However, Houston’s theme for its game against the New England Patriots is all people are talking about.

As NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport pointed out, the Texans have decided to make Dec. 1 against New England their “Homecoming” game. Why is that a big deal? Last year, the Texans debuted these letterman jackets and went with a high school theme before getting demolished by the Patriots on Monday Night Football. They lost 42-14 and were defeated by the Pats again in the playoffs a few weeks later.

Is this the team’s way of plotting revenge? Clearly the Texans are not superstitious.

Granted, the Patriots have lost several key players this offseason (thanks in part to the Aaron Hernandez murder trial) and are looking shaky heading into 2013. Still, it sounds like someone in the team’s PR department should have thought it through a little more thoroughly. If New England destroys Houston once again, fans are sure to blame the theme.

Tim Tebow reportedly unlikely to make New England Patriots roster

Tim Tebow PatriotsRemember when the New England Patriots signed Tim Tebow and it was all everyone wanted to talk about? Thanks to Aaron Hernandez and an ongoing murder investigation, the buzz surrounding that move has essentially gone silent. Throw Alfonzo Dennard’s DUI arrest into the mix and — forgive me for saying it — Tebow is somewhat of a forgotten soul.

By the time the regular season comes around, the Patriots coaches may also forget to include him on the 53-man roster. Mike Rodak of ESPNBoston.com recently gave Tebow a 25% chance of making the Patriots final roster out of training camp. The Patriots have already unexpectedly lost one starter in Hernandez. They may soon lose another in Dennard, which makes each roster spot even more valuable.

Since New England signed Tebow, there have been various reports indicating the team brought him in to compete for a backup quarterback position and nothing else. Unless the Pats decide to cut Ryan Mallett, which seems unlikely given what they have invested in him, Tebow could be hoping the team plans to carry three quarterbacks. That has not been Bill Belichick’s style over the past few seasons.

Initially, there was speculation that the Patriots could use Tebow at tight end in addition to quarterback. One would think that theory has more legs than ever now that Hernandez is gone, but it doesn’t sound like that is the case.

The Patriots could obviously use all the high-character guys they can get in the wake of their recent legal issues, but they can’t keep Tebow on their roster strictly for locker room purposes. If the only contributions he will be able to make are as a No. 3 quarterback, it’s unlikely Tebow will make the cut.

Carlos Ortiz told police ‘other football players’ used Aaron Hernandez’s apartment

Aaron HernandezCarlos Ortiz has been the driving force behind much of the evidence that has been compiled against Aaron Hernandez in the murder of Odin Lloyd, but could the information result in other players being questioned as well? According to the Associated Press, Ortiz told investigators that “other football players” used one of Hernandez’s apartments.

When outlining the timeline of events for investigators, Ortiz reportedly said that he, Hernandez and Ernest Wallace returned a Nissan Altima — the one Hernandez allegedly rented — the afternoon Lloyd was killed. He said he and Wallace then “went to an apartment in the area that Hernandez and other football players used.” After that, Ortiz said he and Wallace drove to Bristol and Wallace told him that Hernandez admitted to shooting Lloyd.

Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com noted that Ortiz was likely talking about Hernandez’s so-called “flop house” in Franklin, Mass., where authorities seized several key pieces of evidence last week. Curran also pointed out that other New England Patriots players could be questioned because of the information Ortiz gave.

Ortiz was not necessarily referring to Patriots players when he said “other football players.” In fact, there is a growing belief that Hernandez hardly ever associated with any of his teammates unless they were at the team facility or practicing. That being said, investigators have to be thorough. The Patriots may have released Hernandez and allowed fans to exchange his jersey at no cost, but that doesn’t mean they are done having to deal with the problems their former tight end has created.