September 26, 2016

2010 Patriots Preseason Schedule

The Patriots open their 2010 preseason schedule with a home game against the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.

They conclude the schedule with their traditional matchup against the New York Giants, and will get to see the new NY football stadium in the process.

The first three games are on Thursday nights, while the final game has yet to be scheduled officially.

2010 PATRIOTS PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Week                         Date                           Opponent     Time                           Affiliate     Network

Preseason Week 1     Aug. 12                       New Orleans   Time TBA                    WBZ-TV       Patriots Preseason TV Network

Preseason Week 2     Aug. 19               at     Atlanta            8:00 p.m. ET               WFXT-TV     FOX (Nationally Televised)

Preseason Week 3     Aug. 26                       St. Louis         Time TBA                    WBZ-TV       Patriots Preseason TV Network

Preseason Week 4     Sept. 2-5             at     N.Y. Giants     Time TBA                    WBZ-TV       Patriots Preseason TV Network

Q&A With Louisville WR Scott Long

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Louisville WR Scott Long

If you’re thinking of drafting a receiver, imagine a 6-foot-2, 216-pounder who led his team in receptions last year. Now envision him placing in the top ten for his position in all NFL combine events.

Believe it or not, you’re picturing Scott Long (and you can see his combine video here).

Why don’t we hear more about Louisville’s 2009 leader in catches? The Cardinals’ 4-8 record probably didn’t help. Add to that the fact that he missed most of his junior year with a knee injury, and the potential doubt in some scouts’ minds makes a little more sense.

Long spoke to PD about his combine performance (including his whiplash-worthy 6.45-second three-cone drill), his abilities as a receiver, and his favorite all-time sport.

I wanted to talk to you about your combine and about your success at Louisville, and start off with a tough question, which is: why do you think we don’t hear a little more about you?

Oh, I think there were some – I had some health issues, some injuries while I was at Louisville. That kind of hindered my success a little bit, as far as stats go. I basically missed my junior year – I played three games my junior season. And early in my career, I was a role player. I wasn’t a veteran, older guy that got a whole bunch of reps. I pretty much missed my junior year, and then coming into my senior year, our team struggled. We didn’t win very many games, so we didn’t have a ton of people lining up stories on a national level, following our games and stuff like that. So I feel like I kind of got lost in the shuffle a little bit with that stuff.

It seemed like, looking at the offensive statistics for Louisville this past season, that there was production, but it wasn’t like there was any one, dominant player. Do you think that’s true?

Yes, sir. I definitely agree with that. That definitely goes hand-in-hand with that, stat-wise.

And what kind of a receiver do you think you are? It seems like in this draft there are some speedsters and there are some possession guys. Do you see yourself as one or the other?

I think that, you know, I know I can stretch the field. I have the speed to do that. That was sort of something that really comes natural to me. And there’s also been times when I’ve been asked to be that guy that moves the chains on third down, and a guy that can consistently catch the ball on third down. So, however you want to label that – you know, possession receiver, deep threat – I view myself as a guy that can get the job done, whatever’s asked of me, to be honest.

How would you describe Louisville’s offense, and do you think you were able to showcase all your talents this past year?

I think that our offense could be best described as a pro-style offense. We were in two-back sets a lot of times, quarterback under the center. There were some things that – you know, obviously, in a spread-type offense there’s going to be a lot more stats, a lot more catches, a lot more touchdowns, things like that. But I think I played well in the system that we had, and I think that system translates well to the next level, so I’m glad that I was able to get that experience.

Did you get to work on your blocking at all?

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. That was huge for our team. Our receivers coach was a stickler for blocking. I love to block; I love to get in there and get my nose dirty, digging safeties out or blocking in the backside for a long run. It really helps you set yourself up for the pass game as well. Whenever you’re really aggressive in the run game, you know, guys are a little timid to come up and try to get their hands on you.

Speaking of your strength, you did really well at the combine in a lot of categories. Did you perform the way that you wanted to, or did you surprise yourself at all? Were there any disappointments?

Oh, for the most part, the goals that I set for myself, I reached a lot of them. I would have liked to run the 40 a little faster (than 4.46 seconds), I think. For the most part, though, I think I reached my goals or were right around the numbers that I set for myself and I knew that I could do it. I knew I could achieve some of those things that I did. It was a gratifying feeling, and I really feel blessed that I had the opportunity to do it on such a big stage.

What would have been a satisfying time for you in the 40?

It’s hard to say with the laser (timing device), you know, how it was at the combine, because I know a lot of the teams had different times on their own watches. And from what I’ve heard, a lot of the teams had me in the 4.3s, and that’s probably, you know, right where I am, in the 4.3 range, in my opinion. It just looks better than seeing that 4.4 on the laser time, mentally, how some of those guys get with that stuff.

Is that something that you’ve talked to teams about?

My agent has, Tom Kleine… He spoke to some teams and said that several teams had me in the 4.3s.

Well, one time that was spectacular was your 6.45 in the three-cone. Is that true?

(Laughs.) Yes, sir. Yes, sir. God was really good to me, and gave me the opportunity to do that. That was something I knew that I was going to get a good time on by the way I had been training – some of the numbers I had been getting in the trial runs and stuff like that, training. You know, I was definitely pleased when I heard that number and really excited about that.

If that had happened at your pro day and not the combine, I would think maybe somebody slipped on the watch a little early.

(Laughs.) I actually had – there was a scout at my pro day, he was talking about the three-cone drill. He was like, “So just tell me what happened. Did you cheat it, or did somebody, you know, mess up the time a little bit? Did you pay the guy timing?” He was joking about that, but it was definitely a great time. I was really elated to hear that time.

Is there a secret to that drill? Do you find yourself running it more efficiently the more you work at it, or is it just something where quickness always wins out?

The secret for me is just efficiency: not taking false steps, just being very efficient with my feet and my movements, and staying low to the ground. That’s basically it. A lot of people think that, you know, the quicker and the more steps that you take, the better, but I actually find that the least amount of steps possible is actually the way to go.

Do you think that drill is a better indicator of football speed than the 40, or do you think any drills are better than any others at showing what a player can do on the field?

I think that the three-cone – that, along with the 20-yard shuttle – is a very good determinant of football speed and quickness, especially at the wide receiver position, getting in and out of cuts. You know, the 40 is great as far as letting people know a range on a guy’s speed vertically, but a lot of times with that 40, it’s a lot about technique: if you can get a great start and hold your drive phase. But you don’t really run that like in football. As far as the turns and the things that you make in the shuttles and on those cones, I think that’s really reflective of what you have to do at the receiver position.

I’m sorry, did you say “hold your (drive)”? I didn’t get that phrase.

Oh, the drive phase, when you’re running the 40.

And what is that?

It’s like, whenever you start, you come up out of your stance and you try to run in kind of a parallel position to the ground, rather than just popping straight up and running straight up-and-down. You know, keeping that good, body-forward lean, almost like you’re driving a car.

Yeah, I read that you ran some track, and now I understand that you definitely did. Tell me about running track in high school and whether it was something that you thought about pursuing in college.

Track was something that I actually was talked into doing my senior year of high school. I was a baseball player since I was six years old, and baseball was my first love, something I always did. Track and baseball are in the same season, so I always did baseball. Coming into my senior year, I had already signed a football scholarship to play at Louisville, and the track coach came up to me and talked me into coming out for track. It was actually an interesting deal that we worked out: I practiced and played games with the baseball team, and just did the track meets. So, I would go to baseball practice all week, and then just come to the track meet and run. You know, I didn’t have any practice or training or anything like that – I didn’t even really know how to use the (starting) blocks. That’s just kind of what I did for my senior year, and I ended up making it to state and finished in the top five in the state. So, that was actually a pretty cool experience.

What other schools were you looking at, and what made you decide on Louisville?

I had several ACC schools that recruited me, but I only had offers from Wake Forest, NC State and Louisville. And the reason I chose Louisville was because when I was coming out of high school, the offense at Louisville was tops in the country. In 2003 and 2004, they had a top-three (nationally ranked) offense, year in and year out. You know, I wanted to be a part of that. They sold me on being able to be a part of that, and (to) be showcased, and with that kind of high-octane offense, I really wanted to take the opportunity.

Now that you’ve finished your college career, and looking at the next phase, what would you like NFL teams to know about you that they might not see on film, or might not have gotten from seeing you before?

Maybe just the fact that I love the game. Getting me as a receiver, you would be getting a lot more than just a pass-catcher. I feel like, in today’s game, you have a lot of guys that play the receiver position that are only interested in their stats and getting the ball, and are kind of all about themselves. Distractions in the locker room. I feel like I am a guy who is a football player. I’ll do what you ask of me. I block – I love blocking. I can make the catch on third down, I can stretch the field and make big plays down the field for my team. Just a football player, a guy that is passionate about the game and gives his all in every aspect.

Have you been meeting with NFL teams at all?

Yes, sir. I’ve met with a couple. I got to meet with a lot of teams down at the combine and at my All-Star game (Texas vs. The Nation). And then since the combine I’ve had a bunch of teams call, and I’ve had a couple of personal workouts.

Can you comment on who those teams were, or are you kind of keeping that close to the vest?

I’m pretty sure that we’re supposed to kind of keep it under wraps a little bit. They kind of get a little antsy about giving information out.

Have there been any surprises at those meetings, or do you think you’re pretty well prepared for them?

Oh, I think I was pretty well prepared for them. I guess maybe a surprise would be how closely back-to-back they were. I know they don’t call each other and say, “When are you going to go in and work this guy out?” So it’s just kind of based on their schedule, but I had several workouts back-to-back-to-back and I kind of got a little tired on the way, a little bit.

How do you think those meetings went?

I think they went well. I got really positive feedback from all of them, my agent’s gotten positive feedback from all of them, and I’m just thanking God for the opportunity that He blessed me with, and hopefully I was able to impress someone.

All right. I hope so, too. I wish you a lot of luck.

Oh, I really appreciate that.

All right. Thanks a lot, Scott, and good luck on draft day.

All right, thanks. God bless you.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Catching Up With The Offseason, March Edition

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

The new league year kicked off this month, and with the impending labor situation on the horizon, it’s hard to tell what next March will look like.

Let’s catch up with what went on this month…

Staying Home

The Patriots made their own players their top priority as free agency began on March 5th. They signed Tully Banta-Cain to a three year contract, Vince Wilfork to a five-year contract, Leigh Bodden to a four-year contract, Stephen Neal to a two-year contract and Kevin Faulk to a one-year deal. Getting those veterans back into the fold ensures that their leadership, production and presence will not need to be replaced.

After signing his deal, Wilfork talked a lot about asserting his own leadership more forcefully now with the security of a long term contract. Leadership has perhaps been the number-one topic discussed when talking about the Patriots this offseason.

Welcome Aboard

Did You Forget The Marcus Pollard Era? So Did We.

After signing their own players, the team has been quiet in their pursuit of outside free agents. To this point only two players former Jets linebacker/special teams player Marques Murrell and former Atlanta/Tennessee Tight End Alge Crumpler have been signed by the team. Crumpler is not much more than a blocker right now, but if the Patriots have aims of becoming a more physical running team, he might contribute there. With leadership being such a hot topic, it has also been noted that Crumpler is a very good locker room presence, and mentor to younger players. That has to be considered a positive.

On the downside, I just really don’t know how much he has left. I have visions of Marcus Pollard‘s preseason stint with the Patriots a couple years back, and hope this isn’t a repeat of that.

Attracting Crowds

These days, whenever there is a possibility of Patriots news, there are sure to be hoards of reporters. This was evident in last month’s NFL  Combine in Indianapolis, where there were more than a dozen reporters there to cover the Patriots side of things. Most teams had maybe one or two.

The voluntary offseason workouts began on March 15th, and for the first time in my memory, there were structured media sessions set up to talk to key Patriots players. Again, there were double-digit reporters on hand to talk to the likes of David Patten, Leigh Bodden, Sebastian Vollmer and Jerod Mayo.

A big deal was made out of the fact that Randy Moss and Tom Brady were not on hand for the very first day of such workouts. Such talk quieted down a bit when both players made an appearance in week two.

Similar crowds were seen at the NFL Owners meetings in the Orlando, where the Patriots again had upwards of ten reporters on hand to cover anything involving them, including three from the Boston Globe. (Why?)Included at the owners meetings was a media breakfast with coach Bill Belichick.

During those meetings owner Robert Kraft said that the team will get a new deal down with QB Tom Brady. His son Jonathan repeated that promise in a phone call to WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan the following week. During that appearance, JK made a few unfortunate remarks, including his proud quip that the owners had to get all the “football people” out of the room so that they could vote on the new overtime rules.

Overall, there were a number of Patriots-related items that could be taken away from the owners meetings.

Feeling The Draft

It has been stated that this year’s draft is the most critical in years for this franchise. The thinking goes that the team need to reload with the youth that four top picks in the first two rounds will net them if they hope to  continue to enjoy anything resembling the success of the last decade in this new one.

Because of that, interest in the draft, and any prospects the team might be talking to has reached an all-time high. There are various lists out there of players that the team has worked out. They’ve probably talked to just about everyone. When looking for who the Patriots have talked to, I think this is a safe rule of thumb – eliminate the players at the very top of the draft – Ndamukong Suh, Jimmy Clausen, Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, and Russell Okung – since there is virtually no chance they will end up Patriots, and figure that they’ve talked to everyone else.

Not Here To Talk About The Past

This article in the Denver Post (free registration may be required) on March 28th on the first year of Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels raised a lot of interest locally because it contains a ton of Patriots-related information. Most notable was perhaps the tidbit that when McDaniels first ascended to the position of (de facto) offensive coordinator with the Patriots in 2005, during the course of that first year, he and Tom Brady once went three weeks without speaking to each other. We know that the two eventually grew to become very close.

Can there be any similarities to that situation and the one faced by Bill O’Brien this season? There were rumors that Brady and O’Brien didn’t get along at times this year. Perhaps the relationship, like the one between Brady and McDaniels can be salvaged and the two can enjoy success going forward similar to that which the offense has had in the past.

A few last quick-hit links and items:

All in all, there was a lot going on in March with the Patriots. April figures to be even busier, and we’ll do our best to keep you updated as things unfold.

Q&A With Penn State TE Mickey Shuler

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Penn State Tight End Mickey Shuler

Joe Paterno – head coach of Penn State for roughly 2,000 years – loves to run the ball. That means that at least one of his tight ends takes on blocking duties while the other grabs the lion’s share of passes (pun intended).

Mickey Shuler found himself in such a situation this year. While Nittany Lion teammate Andrew Quarless had the type of season that got him invited to the NFL combine (41 catches, 536 yards, three touchdowns), Shuler (11 for 89, two TDs) went unnoticed. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder improved his draft status with a strong pro day, including a 4.62-second 40, 28 bench press reps and a 6.7-second 3-cone drill, the last of which bested all times for tight ends in Indianapolis.

Shuler took a quick break to discuss his pro day, his Nittany Lion career and how he ended up following his well-known father (former PSU and NFL tight end Mickey Shuler, Sr.).

Well, let’s start out by finding out where you are and what you’re up to.

Right now, I’m in Key West. I came down with one of my buddies, one of my teammates. My parents and my grandparents are down here. Came down to take a few days off and get some fishing in. After the pro day, you kind of – we were building up to that, so we need a few days off here. Came down to relax.

That sounds great. Is this just a short break, and then you’re getting back into working out? What are you plans for the next few weeks?

Yeah, oh, we already started working out again down here. We stopped lifting maybe that Wednesday… until that Monday. So, I’m already back working out, but we’re down here for a few more days. It’s kind of just a waiting game right now… We actually bought a one-way ticket, so that if a team calls and we have to fly back, we can fly back whenever. But I’m heading back to Pennsylvania in a few days. Again, it’s just working out and waiting around until maybe you get a call for a personal workout. Or, if not, then I guess draft day.

Have you been able to meet with any teams after your pro day?

Oh, yeah. I talked to most of the scouts there – not most of them, but a handful of those guys. They all said that they’re going to go back and watch film more, and they have to meet with the other coaches and things. So, they still needed to get some workouts or some digits, but I’m still waiting to hear back with all those things.

And how are you feeling about your pro day?

Good. I was pretty happy with the numbers that I put up. I had a goal set in mind, you know, for each event, and I was pretty close in all of them to what I expected to do. What I wanted (the pro day) for was just to open up some eyes since I didn’t get to go to the combine or the Senior Bowl or anything like that. It was kind of my first, you know, go-round in front of scouts to show them what I can do. And actually, I thought I had a pretty good – when we did the receiving, with the position-specific stuff – I felt pretty good in all those drills, and hopefully somebody liked me. You just need one person to fall in love with you, and that’s what I hope to gather, just to come out and do exactly what I did: open some eyes.

Did you watch the combine at all? Were you thinking about what kind of numbers you could put up in comparison?

Yeah. I definitely watched it, and I think I should have been there. Well, I know I should have been there. But, you know, it was kind of hard for me to watch and see some of the guys that I knew that I was better than and that I could have put better numbers up than they did. But it’s all right that I didn’t get to go. I got to see everybody. They already set a bar, so it was for me just to try to get to the top of that, and in any event that I could, I wanted to try to be the best at it.

Could you figure out why you weren’t invited? Was it a matter of, maybe they didn’t want to take two tight ends from Penn State, or just a matter of how you played the position this past year? What do you think it was?

When I looked at it – I mean, when you go down and look at the list – it’s either receivers or blockers (at tight end). The receivers are the guys that caught at least 30 balls, and the other guys were the guys that were 6-6, 270 pounds, bigger guys. There weren’t that many guys that were a blocker and a receiver, pretty good at both of them. You know, they told me I had a vote or something like that, but I just didn’t make the cut… Coming out of the year, I thought I had a pretty good shot at it, to get invited. I knew it was going to be on the bubble, but it’s a numbers game, and I just didn’t have the stats. They don’t look at how good you are at blocking; they don’t count those. It’s all “30 receptions for 500 yards” or something like that, that’s kind of what (makes) their eyes pop out.

During the season, did you feel like you weren’t getting enough chances at receiving, or was that in your mind at all?

Yeah, it definitely was. I mean, I was open a bunch, but it just was a matter of the quarterback finding you. A lot of times it just seemed to not work out for me when I would be in there, and then the other guy would go in, and for some reason he would get the ball thrown to him. But I am a receiver, and I can run, and can get open and I can catch the ball, but I just wasn’t used that way. At Penn State, for some reason, they told me to be the blocker and the other tight end to be more the receiver.

Did that turn out to be something where you started focusing more on blocking, or you were trying to keep your skills open to both?

Yeah, you’ve got to keep them up on both, but I feel that receiving comes more naturally to me. Blocking’s something that I think you have to work harder on: getting the right footwork, getting the hands inside, staying low, using your leverage. Especially for a guy my size, 250 pounds, and you’re blocking a guy that’s 280-285 pounds, a little bigger than you. So, you really have to be sound in your technique to be able to move somebody that’s bigger than you.

Let’s talk about your decision to go to Penn State. Judging by who your father was, was it your decision?

(Laughs.) Yeah, it was definitely my decision. I mean, I grew up going to Penn State football games when I was a little kid, and sure enough I wanted to play for the team. We were watching and idolizing these guys. I did have to look at other schools because Penn State didn’t offer a scholarship until late, I guess it was February my senior year, basketball season. So, I did have to go around and look, and maybe look at a walk-on on a bigger school, or even at Penn State. But when they came and offered a scholarship, I mean, I took it right away. So it wasn’t a big decision for me.

What other schools were you looking at?

Oh, we visited a bunch. I didn’t really have – you know, Penn State was the only big-time school I had an offer from. Any of the 1-A schools I could have went to, but we looked at Virginia, North Carolina, Duke. We just went on a trip down South, there, and just looked at all those different schools. I kind of had to keep my options open. But the thing that kind of hurt me, I think, was that a lot of the guys didn’t think I was really serious in coming there, because of my father and my ties with Penn State. Sometimes we’d go in there, on a visit, and that’s one of the first things they’d ask: “Are you really serious about coming here if we offer you a scholarship?” Yeah, I was, but kind of in the back of my mind I had Penn State locked in, if they would have offered me.

You said you played basketball in high school. How serious were you with that?

I was definitely pretty serious. I was a three-sport athlete, actually. I did track, also; I ran the hurdles. But, my senior year we made it to the state playoffs in basketball, so we weren’t too bad. I think if I was a little bigger, maybe I would have gone to college and played basketball. Football was just a better fit for me, and trying to go pro in either sport, definitely my size just fit better in the NFL. Because otherwise I’d have to be a guard, and I wasn’t a guard, I was a power forward/center.

In terms of basketball, how does that help you in football?

It teaches you to use your body. You know, when you’re posting up down low and you have a defender on your back and you’re trying to get the ball, you’ve just got to use your body to shield him… and the same thing when you’re playing football. You run a pattern, say a five-yard stop, like a turn out. You have that linebacker on your inside hip, or if he’s on the outside, you go inside. Either way, you’re holding him on one hip, and the quarterback’s going to lead you away. So, it’s really similar to basketball. And in pass-blocking. When you’re playing defense in basketball, it’s similar to pass-blocking in football. You’ve just got to stay in front of the guy, mirror him. In football, you have contact, obviously… but it’s really the same stuff, and you learn footwork and get better with your feet when you play basketball.

How would you describe the offense at Penn State?

They try to say that they went to a Spread HD offense. I guess they like a big name on it, but I don’t think the offense up there has changed in, I mean, I don’t know how many years. It’s still the same base stuff. We’re a run-heavy team, but we have gotten to (do) a lot more throwing. That’s one thing that has changed. But, you know, Joe has still got his roots in the run game, and that’s what you need – that’s what we wanted to be, a strong run team and then use the pass (to mix it up). Sometimes we couldn’t do that, just because of certain situations, but I felt Penn State had a good team on offense and defense. We had good linebackers. They’re known for Linebacker U, but me and my dad always joke around and say it should be Tight End U. We’ve got a bunch of tight ends: Troy Drayton, Kyle Brady, John Gilmore, my father, ones that got to be in the NFL and have good careers.

Speaking of that, what do you think you might need to work on to prepare for next year?

You know, definitely, I’ve got to get bigger and stronger. And really, for me, I’m going to have to get into the film and learn to look at it in a lot more detail than I think we did at the college level. Because, obviously, it’s your job. It’s your life when you get to the NFL, and you’ve got to put everything, all your energy, into it. You’ve really got to study your opponents. You’ve got to be sound in your technique in blocking, with your footwork and your hand inside and leverage, like I said before. And then there’s hitting. And, you know, you can’t be a step late because that ball’s already there, otherwise it’s intercepted if you’re not there. So, you’ve got to be crisp in every aspect of your game, and in the NFL, you can’t afford – or you won’t get away with – some of the things you did in college, and just get away with the athleticism in college. In the pro level, you’re not going to be able to do that.

Well, Mickey, I really appreciate your time today, and I wish you a lot of luck in the next few weeks.

Thank you, I appreciate it. It was nice talking to you.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Q&A With ECU DL Linval Joseph

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

A 3-4 defensive formation has certain requirements of its linemen. Size and strength head the pack of those necessities. Speed doesn’t hurt, either. Linval Joseph has all of the above. The East Carolina junior – all 6-foot-4, 328 pounds of him – ran a 5.1-second 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 39 times at the NFL combine (see video here).

Joseph talked about his flexibility along the defensive line as well as his determination to improve his combine numbers at ECU’s pro day March 25.

I wanted to talk to you about your decision to declare early for the draft and how you’re feeling about it so far.

Oh, I feel good about it. I feel I accomplished my goals at ECU, and I’m ready to make a step to the next level. And right now, everything’s going pretty good, I think.

Were you satisfied with your combine?

No. I mean, I think I did okay, but I could have done better. Hopefully on the 25th, I can make up for some of the stuff I did bad in at the combine.

So, your pro day is coming up. What are some of the areas that you want to try to improve?

I want to run the 40 over again. I want to get under a five (-second time). I want to do my broad jump, stuff like that, and just make sure each event counts. Do a lot of field stuff, show them I can move side-to-side, and that I’m explosive and fast.

Now, a lot of teams are switching to a 3-4. You guys played a 4-3 in college, right?

Yes, sir. We played a little bit of both. Mostly 4-3, but we played 3-4 on occasion. With certain teams that seemed like they passed a lot, we’d go down to a 3-4.

I’m going to ask you the same question that I asked (former ECU teammate) Khalif Mitchell last year. What do you see as the biggest differences in playing a 3-4 or a 4-3?

Oh, 3-4 basically, for me, I might be playing inside, basically being triple-teamed. In a 4-3, you get double-teamed instead of triple-teamed. Definitely, you have to be heavier to be in the middle playing a 3-4. In a 4-3, you have a little more – a little more freedom, I guess.

Have you been speaking to NFL teams at all?

I’ve spoken to a couple of them.

Do you want to say who?

Um, no, not really. (Laughs.)

All right. Fair enough. (Laughs.) Has there been any talk about you playing on the outside – maybe playing a defensive end in a 3-4?

Yeah. We’re talking about a 3-4, I’d be playing a five technique. So I guess I’d be defensive end, that kind of thing. So, yeah.

And how would you (feel playing) a five technique as opposed to other techniques?

I’d be okay with it. I really would. You know, I’m not totally all the way on the edge, but I think I’m athletic enough to do that, to play both positions, inside and out. I’ve lost some weight, and I could do it.

Do you think you’d have to slim down for that? Do you think if you played in the middle, you’d have to bulk up?

My playing weight is just over 315… I’m only about five pounds away from that right now, so I could play that (defensive end) position.

So you’re at 320 now?

Yeah, about 320, 322.

And what is a five technique, for someone who doesn’t know?

It’s almost – it’s like a defensive end, but instead of you’re outside shade of the tight end, you’re inside shade of the tight end. And basically, you want to hit the tackle and close the pocket, and keep the edge.

I see. What have you been doing to lose weight? What type of workouts have you been doing?

I can’t say eating less, but eating healthier, and doing a little more extra cardio.

Was there really a restriction on your diet in college?

No, not really. In college, when I first got there, no. And then… after my freshman year, I just told myself, and made myself – I knew what I had to do, you know what I mean? So I just ate better, and I brought my body back.

How much did you weigh when you were a freshman?

I came in at 335, and I got out (that year) at 301.

At one point, didn’t you hurt your back playing?

No, I didn’t hurt my back playing. It was offseason, and my leg went numb. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I went to the doctor here. That’s when I had X-rays, MRIs, and I had a bulging disk.

Oh.

They said my disk was on my nerves, and that’s what was making my leg go numb.

Wow. So, were you out of commission for a while?

Oh, no. I was out three months over the summertime. I came back in August, and I played in a scrimmage, then the first game. Never missed a game.

Wow. You’re from Gainesville, Florida, so what schools were you looking at besides East Carolina?

Along with East Carolina, I was looking to go to the University of Florida, Georgia, Auburn, LSU. (Those were the) top schools I was looking at.

What made ECU your first choice?

My first choice was Florida, but they told me they had what they wanted, and they told me to look for another school. And East Carolina gave me a chance, so I went for a visit. I liked it, my mom liked it, and that’s the best decision I ever made.

What were some things – in terms of the campus, what were some of your favorite things about it?

East Carolina? Not too big, not too small. It’s a very hands-on school, so I really liked that a lot. And I had an opportunity to play as a freshman and accomplish a lot of goals at ECU, so that’s why I signed on at ECU.

Now, where were you born?

I was born in the Virgin Islands – U.S. Virgin Islands.

And when did you come to the United States?

Oh, it’s part of the United States. (Laughs.) But I came to Florida when I was two years old.

I’m sorry. That was a dumb question by me. So when did you come to the Continental United States, I should have asked?

I came when I was two years old.

Okay. So it’s not like there’s been a big transition or anything. You’ve always played football.

Yeah, that’s kind of true. But… I grew up an athlete. I played everything: basketball, football, baseball, soccer. I just liked sports. I liked winning. I got introduced to football, and I just liked it ever since.

When did you first play?

I first started playing – oh, I can’t remember how old I was. I think I was 14, 13? I went to a Florida club one year. I wanted to try it out. They put me in a group with the 15-year-old boys, and I held my own. Ever since then, I liked it.

Did you finally decide on football just because of your size? What made football better for you than other sports?

Really, track (and field) was my first sport. Like, that was my first love. I was good at football and track, but I liked football more because it was just more fun to me. I mean, I did a lot more in football than I did in track. In track, I’d just throw shotput and disc, but football, I played running back, tight end. I played offensive tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end. I played a whole bunch of positions in football, so I liked that a little bit more.

Was there ever any consideration of maybe participating in track and field in college?

Yeah, I did my freshman year. But there was a lot of stress on me. I got really tired, so I just stuck with football.

How are things looking for your pro day? Are you feeling pretty confident?

Yes, sir. I feel real good. I’ve lost some weight. I feel like I can run under a five (-second 40) and I’m just ready – I’m just ready to make a big impression.

What do you think scouts should know about you that they might not know from watching you on film or seeing – from being at the combine?

That I’m going to work hard and I’m going to never give up. And I’m going to show that on Thursday… On Thursday, I’m going to go hard. I’m going to give it all I have, just like I never went to the combine. I’m just going to give it all I have.

Excellent. Well, good luck, Linval. I really appreciate your time today.

Thank you.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Q&A With Kent State TE Jameson Konz

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Jameson Konz from Kent State

In his college career, Jameson Konz did almost everything. He played special teams. He played linebacker before switching to H-back and tight end. The one thing he didn’t do was get the attention of NFL scouts – at least until after his pro day.

The Kent State utility knife lived up to the Golden Flash nickname last week, running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and leaping 46 inches. That performance, coupled with the success of former teammate Julian Edelman, has gotten him a lot of attention. Konz answered questions about his past quarterback and how he hopes to become the latest in Kent State’s growing line of NFL athletes.

Well, starting out, this is for Patriots Daily, so I’m curious if you could give us any dirt on Julian Edelman.

Oh, geez, I don’t know if I’m going to give you any dirt on him. (Laughs.)

What was it like to play with him? Did you catch passes from him, or did you switch to receiver after he left?

I had just switched to tight end when we were both about to be seniors that year (2008). The thing that I can remember most about Julian – I remember when he first arrived on campus – the vibe right away that I got from him is, this kid is a competitor. That was the main thing that rubbed off on me, and I think that’s what really attracted me to him the most. And I had a lot of respect for him.

Now that you’ve gotten some attention from NFL scouts, are you hearing his name a lot?

Absolutely. Kent State has a reputation of turning out, you know, a couple of good athletes every single year that make it in the NFL. Definitely, people are mentioning Julian’s name, and it’s great to be mentioned along those guys’ footsteps. They definitely have put in a lot of hard work. You know, it’s their time to receive payoff.

Yeah, I think the difference is, after Julian (got) drafted, he surprised a lot of people with his production in the NFL. I think a year later, you know, people might have a different attitude about you after your pro day. Do you think that’s true?

I agree. Yeah, I agree with you there.

So, in terms of your pro day – which was spectacular, by the way – were there any surprises there for you, or did you expect those kinds of results?

I expected those results. I’ve been training up in Cleveland with Tim Robertson’s Speedstrength and, you know, he’s been pushing me extremely hard, and I’m thankful for that. But I definitely had high results in my mind that I wanted to set. I know what I’m capable of, and just to go out there and be able to put up those numbers and do what you know you’re capable of, it feels great at the end of the day.

In terms of putting up numbers, statistically speaking, you had two touchdowns this past year. I’m curious if – at 6-3 with a 46-inch leap – if there weren’t a few more jump balls that could have come your way.

I definitely would have been interested in that. We had a true freshman quarterback kind of thrown into the mix. He did a great job, but as you know, a lot of that comes down to timing between the quarterback and wide receiver. I would have loved to have been able to work with him a little bit longer and gotten our timing down, but, you know, we did the best that we could, and you just have to kind of run with it.

So, after a year – or was it two years at tight end at Kent State?

Yes, two years.

And two years before that as a linebacker – three years, really – where do you see yourself? What do you see as your number one position?

I don’t know that I have one position. I think what it’s going to come down to is where I can fit on the team. Wherever there’s a need on the team, I can fit the position to help them the best. And I’m completely open to that. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on the offensive or defensive side, wherever the team would like me to fit and wherever I can contribute to the team right away and help them win is where I’m more than willing to go.

And you played some special teams too, is that right?

I did.

What areas?

Throughout my career at Kent State, I played just about every single special team almost every year.

On offense, you’re listed as a receiver on the (Kent State) player page. Now, for NFL scout pages, you’re listed as a fullback. Where do you see yourself there?

Oh, I’m not exactly sure how that came about. But, like I said before, as far as the positions on offense, I feel as though I could play a tight end position, I feel as though I could play an H-back position, or even a fullback. It all depends on the needs of the team.

How would you describe Kent State’s offense?

Well, it’s a spread offense. I mean, we like to air out the ball, try to get it down the field. We like to try and take advantage of our playmakers.

In terms of percentages, where were you as far as playing H-back, in-line tight end, and maybe split out?

As far as catching the ball?

Oh, just as far as playing those specific positions at certain times.

Well, at Kent State, they lined me up, I would say, in-line tight end maybe 30 percent of the time. But a lot of the time I spent flexed out in more of an H-back position while I was at Kent State my senior year.

So, did you get to work on blocking a lot?

I did. I actually – I really enjoy blocking in the open field. I think it’s something that I do extremely well. As far as in-line blocking goes, I know that that’s something that I need to improve upon, so I look forward to getting with a team that’s going to show me exactly how to do it, and getting with a coach that will help me, you know, better myself in that position.

Did you do the bench press at your pro day?

I didn’t.

Is there any reason for that?

I just had a minor pull that happened a day or two before… I (was) being overly cautious. I didn’t want to take any risks.

Okay. In terms of high school, you went to Lake High School (in Ohio). What schools were looking at you for football?

Well, coming out, I actually only had one offer, and that was Kent State.

Were you always as athletic as you are now?

I weighed a little bit less in high school. I think the most I got up to was 205 pounds. And it’s funny that you ask that: I’ve actually gotten faster the more that I’ve gained weight. So, I’m at about 235 right now, and I’m the fastest I’ve ever been. I think that I just needed to grow into my body a little bit more.

How has your daily routine changed since last week, if at all?

Oh, it really hasn’t. I’m still going up to Cleveland and getting in a lift every single day. My agent has been in contact with some teams, and we’re setting up some workouts, but, you know, until it comes right down to it, I’m just going to continue to go up to Cleveland and work out.

I heard that the Browns were the only team at your pro day, is that right?

That’s correct.

Did you get a chance to talk to them at all?

I did. I spoke with the guy from the Browns, briefly.

Was it long enough to get any impression of what he was thinking?

Nothing was set in stone. I ran some conditioning stuff for him and just spoke to him briefly, like I said.

Well, for all of the NFL scouts who haven’t gotten a chance to talk to you yet, what do you think they should know about you?

Well, as far as the film, it should speak for itself. I play extremely hard. I’m going to go all-out every single play. But as far as (beyond) film, I would like for them just to get to know me as a person and understand the type of person I am: somebody of high character and integrity… I understand that I’m the type of person who’s going to go into a football organization and not only be 150 percent for you on the field, but in the community as well. I understand that, you know, professional athletes are role models for kids growing up – I used to be one – and I take that responsibility to heart. I really just want to be the type of person who can (become) a positive role model for people.

Who were your athlete role models growing up?

I absolutely loved to watch Jerry Rice. He was one of my favorite people to watch, just how fluid he looked out there. He made everything look absolutely simple, and he caught absolutely every ball. He was just a great person to watch growing up.

And how would you feel about a transition to playing receiver, being split out all the time?

If that is where there’s a need on the team and I can help contribute, I’m all for that. I’m definitely ready to make the move if that’s where the coach sees me.

Do you think there’s anything you may have missed out on playing at Kent State and not, maybe, at a larger school?

You know, I don’t believe so. I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed my collegiate career at Kent State. Great coaches, great kids to play with. I made a lot of friendships, guys that are going to be at my wedding, I’m sure. No, I’m completely satisfied with Kent State and how my entire college career has gone.

That’s great. Any plans leading up to the draft, or are you staying where you are?

Probably going to just stay where I am and continue to work. Stay level-headed, and just keep working.

Well, Jameson, I really appreciate your time today, and good luck. I hope to talk to you soon.

Absolutely. Thank you.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Q&A With Wisconsin S Chris Maragos

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Wisconsin Safety Chris Maragos (21)

Once overlooked by most Division I programs, Chris Maragos ended up changing schools and positions to give himself the best chance to make it to the NFL. What may have helped him the most, though, was his pro day performance.

Wisconsin’s 2009 interception leader posted a blistering 6.4-second 3-cone drill and a 3.96 20-yard shuttle, times that would have bested all participants at this year’s NFL combine. In his interview with PD, Maragos touched on his consistent efforts to get noticed, as well as a very important weekend in April happening before the draft.

Well, I have to say that I saw your pro day times, and I was stunned. I was wondering if you could talk about how you felt about them, and then maybe we can talk about what the people at the combine were thinking.

Yeah, you know, for me, I’ve always been pretty confident in my ability, and I just wanted to get an opportunity to get out there and compete. You know, I didn’t get invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis, so one of the things that I really wanted to do was get out there and showcase what I can do at our school’s pro day. I knew I was going to run fast, going into – starting my training, but my trainer, Brad Arnett at NX Level in Milwaukee, did a great job. He really did a great job with me, and got me ready to do what I needed to do.

It’s one thing that you were, I think, tied for second in the 40 for safeties, but your shuttle times would have been the fastest of anybody at the combine. Was that a surprise to you, or have you always been that quick?

No, not really. No, I’ve always been that quick. My 40’s always been fast, I felt, you know? And going into it, I think a lot of scouts, a lot of teams, they kind of had me at a 4.65 (second 40), 4.67, and then I ran a 4.47. So, you know, I was always confident in my ability, and I just think I needed to prove that to other people. That’s kind of been the story of my life. I’ve been a walk-on at Western Michigan, and I played receiver. I was a walk-on at Wisconsin, and I switched to defensive back. I’ve only been a defensive back for two years. So, for me, I’ve always had to go out there and show everybody what I could do. People have heard different things, but until you go out there and do it people (don’t) actually realize. I think that was the case again: I was underestimated again, and I went out there and proved what I could do.

Why do you think that is? Do you think it’s something that people see on film, or is it something that they might be missing?

I think, you know, I’m the type of guy that – with my situation and kind of with my (early) years – it’s hard to put all your stock in a guy like me. You know, I’m 5-10, 200 pounds, and I’ve only been playing the position, safety, for two years in college. So, I think a lot of people, they look at a guy like Eric Berry or they look at a guy like Darrell Stuckey, any of those guys, they look at those guys before they would me, and then they kind of, in a sense, put me on the back burner, because they haven’t seen much about me. They haven’t really heard all that much. But I think as they go back, and as they look at the films again and look at my times, I think they’re going to see something special.

Let’s talk about your journey to Wisconsin. What do you think has been the most memorable aspect of that?

You know, it’s actually pretty neat. It’s actually a funny story, how I even got into college. Western Michigan was the only Division I school to actually give me a walk-on spot. I was playing receiver at the time, and at that time I trained with current Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings. And then after a falling out because I was a walk-on and I wasn’t going to get compensated financially after I started as a redshirt freshman, I transferred to Wisconsin. Actually, how I got to Wisconsin was by my current roommate right now, Luke Swan. He was a former Badger captain, and a great receiver here… I actually facebooked him and asked him if he would take my film up to the coach’s office, because he was a walk-on receiver from Wisconsin. So we had something in common, and our faith was very similar, and a lot of different things. That’s actually how I got to Wisconsin.

You know, it’s been a wild ride. I’d say the most memorable thing for me, probably, that I’m going to take from everything, would be just the fact that I got to wear the W on my helmet and the W on my jersey. I’ve been growing up – been coming to their games since 1993. My family had season tickets to Badger games, and I grew up watching these guys and I wanted to be just like them. And now that I’m in that position, it’s just humbling, and it’s a blessing just to be here.

When you were recruited as a receiver to Western Michigan, were you planning on being a starter, or did you think, because no other larger schools had recruited you, that you’d have to kind of bide your time?

No, I went in for one or two summer workouts right before fall camp, and I watched guys run routes and I watched seven-on-sevens, and I knew right there, going into that, I was probably the third best receiver there, just watching it. And ever since then, I was pretty confident. I took that year – I traveled as a true freshman in the games, but because Greg Jennings was doing so well and he was kind of the feature (receiver), I decided to redshirt. And then that redshirt freshman year, after he left, that’s when I stepped in and started… So, I was always confident in my abilities. Another reason why I was kind of under the radar – it’s kind of been the story of my life, but – out of high school, I was actually at Racine Park for the first three years of high school, and I transferred my senior year. So I think I kind of got lost (off) the radar between colleges because I switched schools. And I was doing really well (in high school). John Clay was at my school – I’m sure you’re familiar with him, the running back that we have who will be up for the Heisman next year. He was running the ball, and I was obviously playing receiver, so I needed to get in an offense to showcase myself to take my game to the next level. So senior year, I transferred to our crosstown rival, Horlick. They threw the ball, they ran the spread and all that good stuff. The first three, three-and-a-half games, I was leading the state in receptions, doing really well, starting to hear from a lot of schools, and then my quarterback broke his collarbone. I think I caught, like, six or seven passes the rest of the year. So it was one of those things where I was kind of under the radar once again, and Western Michigan was the only team to give me that shot.

And why the transfer to safety at Wisconsin?

I came in and I had to sit that year out of eligibility, because when you transfer Division I (to) Division I, you lose your eligibility, and I’d already used a redshirt. That was kind of a big question mark for a lot of people. They were saying, “Why would you transfer to Wisconsin? If you can’t get a scholarship at Western Michigan, why would you go to Wisconsin? That’s even harder, and then have to sit out a year, waste a year of eligibility.” But again, I was always confident, and I was trusting in the Lord’s plan, and I was just walking by faith. You know, I was playing that first year at receiver against the defense every day on scout team, and the defensive coach (Dave Doeren), I think, saw a lot in me. I think (Head) Coach (Bret Bielema) saw quite a bit of talent in me, and they asked me if I would be willing to make a switch in spring ball to go out there and try and see what I could do. I was willing to do it, and felt like I could do it, and it worked out to be the best.

What was that switch like? What do you think were the hardest adjustments to make?

(Laughs.) Oh, man, it wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. I played receiver my whole life: You get the play, you break the huddle, you know where you’re going to go, what route you’re going to run, how you’re going to do it, before the snap. And you’re doing everything forwards, which is a natural body position. You flip to defense, and everything’s reaction. You don’t know what play is coming, you’re backpedaling, everything is backwards. It’s just extremely opposite body movements and way of thinking, that’s for sure. So, it took a little while to get adjusted to, but, you know, I got in the swing of things pretty quick.

I’ve been talking to a lot of linebackers, and they all seem to think that their position is the quarterback of the defense. Why don’t you put in a good word for safeties?

(Laughs.) Oh, man, the safeties are the quarterbacks of the defense for sure. I control our strong safety, our corners, I control what our linebackers are doing in our defense. I think safeties definitely can get the whole picture and kind of bark out all the signals they need to bark out to put the guys in the right position. So, I definitely say safety’s the quarterback. But I’m sure it probably differs based on what defense you’re into.

What was the toughest offense you played against this season?

Toughest offense we played against. You know, Northwestern was pretty tough. They had a good quarterback, (Mike) Kafka. He was a good player. And they had a lot of solid receivers, guys who were really disciplined in their route concepts. They had very good schemes, and they kept you guessing. So Northwestern was pretty tough, and Fresno State, I thought, was a pretty good team this year. They had a lot of different weapons, and were pretty dynamic on offense. I’d probably say those were the best. Michigan State was pretty good, too.

After your pro day, have you gotten some notice from the NFL?

Yeah, you know, I definitely think there’s a buzz. Where that’s going to go, we’ll find out. I think that after a day like that, there’s always a buzz going on. We’re just trying to stay cool, stay working hard at what we’re doing. I really want to focus on my position work now and to get better as an athlete, now that I’m done with the testing, and I’m sure we’ll continue to hear good things.

For most guys in your position, the draft is the big weekend in April, but you have another big weekend coming up. Why don’t you talk about that?

(Laughs.) Oh, yeah, yeah. Probably even a bigger weekend for me, that’s for sure. Yeah, I’m getting married April 9… My fiancée, Serah, she’s absolutely phenomenal. She is by far the most supportive person to me, and it’s just really – I don’t know. If I didn’t have her, this whole process probably wouldn’t be going on right now. She’s always very encouraging, supportive of me, very loving, and, you know, she’s just absolutely great to have, and I really feel blessed to have her.

Well, Chris, I want to wish you congratulations, and good luck after that.

Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

New England Patriots 2000s All-Decade Team Announced

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 2000s ALL-DECADE TEAM ANNOUNCED

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots Hall of Fame Nomination Committee, a 22-person panel made up of reporters, alumni and staff, gathered at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon yesterday to nominate three finalists for this year’s Patriots Hall of Fame. The finalists will be announced next month and fans will have an opportunity to vote on the Patriots website, www.patriots.com, for the player they feel is most deserving of hall of fame induction.

In addition, the committee also had an opportunity to nominate, debate and select the franchise’s all-decade team for the past decade. The team consists of 11 offensive, 11 defensive, four special teams players and one head coach. Four of the 27 members were also members of the 1990s All-Decade Team. Willie McGinest was named to the 1990s All-Decade Team as a defensive end and to the 2000s All-Decade Team as an outside linebacker. He joins cornerback Ty Law, safety Lawyer Milloy and kicker Adam Vinatieri as the four players with the distinction of being on both teams.

The 2000s All-Decade Team is listed below. Players at the same position are listed alphabetically. The list of each of the all-decade teams is attached.

OFFENSE

Pos Name

OT Nick Kaczur

OT Matt Light

G Joe Andruzzi

G Logan Mankins

C Dan Koppen

TE Daniel Graham

WR Troy Brown

WR Randy Moss

WR Wes Welker

QB Tom Brady

RB Corey Dillon

DEFENSE

Pos Name

DE Richard Seymour

DE Ty Warren

NT Vince Wilfork

OLB Willie McGinest

OLB Mike Vrabel

ILB Tedy Bruschi

ILB Roman Phifer

CB Ty Law

CB Asante Samuel

S Rodney Harrison

S Lawyer Milloy

SPECIAL TEAMS

Pos Name

K Adam Vinatieri

P Josh Miller

Ret Kevin Faulk

SpT Larry Izzo

Head Coach Bill Belichick

About the Patriots Hall of Fame Nomination Committee

In 2007, the New England Patriots created a hall of fame nomination committee consisting of a panel of tenured media, alumni and staff to annually discuss candidates for consideration in the Patriots Hall of Fame. Each year, the committee gathers to discuss and debate each nominated former player and head coach.  A vote determines the three finalists. Once the finalists are announced, fans have an opportunity to vote for the person they feel most deserving to be inducted into the team’s hall of fame. The Patriots are the only team that includes their fans in the process of selecting their hall of famers.

Q&A With Indiana LB Matt Mayberry

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Indiana Linebacker Matt Mayberry

When we think Indiana, most of us think basketball. Last week, Hoosier Matt Mayberry underwent his own version of March madness, starring at Indiana’s pro day with a 4.57-second 40-yard dash and 24 bench press reps.

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker led Indiana in tackles this past season with 108. He spoke to PD about the importance of working hard on and off the field, as well as his not-so-secret weapon: speed.

I wanted to start out by talking a little bit about what it’s like to be a Hoosier and play football. Do you feel like you have to explain that a little bit to people, or do you think the program has gotten to the point where it really speaks for itself?

Well, you know, when people think of Indiana Hoosiers, they automatically think of basketball… (It’s been shown) that Indiana’s a basketball school and a basketball state. But the things the football program’s doing over there right now, especially with the new renovation, the football stadium, and just really coming along with the coaching staff, things are really starting to get in a groove. So I definitely think, down the road, football will definitely make a splash of its own.

What drew you to Indiana?

It was early playing time, but really just Coach (Terry) Hoeppner and Coach (Bill) Lynch. I was really close to both of them, Coach Hoeppner and Coach Lynch, both great coaches, and really (they) and a beautiful campus just drew me in to Indiana.

You were a fullback in high school, is that correct?

Yes it is.

And were you considering that in college, or were you thinking linebacker all the way?

Oh, there were some schools recruiting me as a running back-slash-fullback type, but most of the schools that were looking at me saw that I could translate my speed and everything over to my defensive side of the ball, and I did play some defense in high school. But for your question, most people were recruiting me as a linebacker.

And did you think that was a difficult transition, playing linebacker at that level, or do you think you were prepared for that?

It definitely was something new for me. You know, like I said, I played a little bit in high school. I didn’t really know a lot of terminology and stuff like that, as far as coming into college and playing linebacker right away, but you know, it’s an upside for me right now, going to the NFL. I think I’ve gotten a lot better my last four years at Indiana, especially my past year – my senior year – so I think it’s only room to grow for me. I haven’t even reached close to my potential yet.

Speaking of potential, were you always fast as a linebacker, or do you think you’ve gotten faster in the last couple years?

Oh, I’ve always been fast. In high school, I went to combines and stuff like that, I was running 4.3s. Of course, I was a lot lighter then: I was about 210 pounds. But I’ve always been fast. That’s something that I train – that goes into my training program. You know, speed kills in the NFL, college, really at any level, so it’s something I always took to heart. I’m always trying to get faster.

Speaking of that, tell us a little bit about your pro day training and whether or not you’re satisfied with the results.

I spent most of my time down at Ignition, in Mason, (Ohio) by Cincinnati. You know, they’re really known – they had a couple guys last year, Connor Barwin and Mike Mitchell. They really produce out there, and they’re just getting their program started, too, on the rise. It was a great experience out there with Ted Borgerding, who’s the head trainer over there, and Clif Marshall, who opened a new one down in Florida this year. But, you know, it was great. As far as my pro day results, I think they kind of speak for themselves as (far as) being one of the fastest linebackers in the country. You know, I always feel I can do better, just being a competitor myself, but overall, it went pretty good.

What do you think are some areas you might want to work on for next year?

I always think, as a linebacker, you can always study and always try to work on every part of your game. I really think this past year, working with my linebacker coach at Indiana, Mike Yeager, I really eliminated false steps. I think my junior and sophomore years I was having some false steps, and no matter how fast you are, you never want to take a false step because football’s a game of inches. So I really think, you know, just keep on working on footwork and studying film, and really just all areas of my game could get better.

If there’s any one particular way to do it, what do you think is the best way to avoid false steps?

You know, really, that just goes back to game study. You’ve got to be comfortable. I know in the beginning, a lot of it – some of it (has to) do with your stance and having a wide base to a narrow base – but a lot of it is having a good idea of where the ball’s going before the play even starts.

Speaking of that, you had three interceptions this past year. What are some of the secrets to that?

Oh, you know, I didn’t have any interceptions my junior year, and I know that – just talking to scouts and hearing different people – that they were kind of questioning my coverage ability, whether I was a two-down linebacker or three-down linebacker in the NFL. So I really made it a goal of mine coming into this year, my senior year, to really be more effective in the pass game. And I feel I did a decent job of that. I ended up with three interceptions.

Is there anything specific about that? Are you reading the quarterback’s eyes, or dropping back in specific zones?

I worked with (Coach) Yeager, who taught me (that) in college, you’re going to get some quarterbacks that are really good with looking you off and stuff like that. But as far as that, you know, just reading the quarterback’s eyes and shoulders, just having a feel for it. And like I said before, it goes back to film study, watching what their favorite routes are on third and long and third and short… Just really having an understanding of the offense and the quarterback, and what he’s going to do at each down and distance.

And what type of defense did you play at Indiana?

We played a 4-3 my last two years, my junior and senior year. Freshman and sophomore year, we tried to dabble with the 3-4, but mainly a 4-3 base.

What do you think are some of the biggest differences between those two?

Oh, 4-3 is more zone based, a gap assignment defense, everyone is assigned to a gap. And the coverages are a little bit different. The 3-4, you know, you’re going to get those two outside linebackers who are kind of rush-end types, who are bigger-body type guys. But I feel comfortable in both of them, and I think that I fit well into both of them.

At your pro day, did you get a chance to talk to any NFL scouts?

Oh, yeah. I mean, I talked to a bunch of them leading up to it and at the pro day. I’ve been in contact with a good amount of different teams. Right now, I’m just trying to wait and set up visits and private workouts and stuff of that nature.

Have you talked to the Patriots at all?

Uh, no. They weren’t at our pro day.

Who do you think were the toughest teams you faced this past year?

I would probably have to say – as far as (from) an athletic standpoint – I’d probably have to say Ohio State. They’ve got, obviously, Terrelle Pryor at quarterback, who everyone knows about, who’s a real threat running the ball, and then people saw in the Rose Bowl what he did throwing the ball (Note: Pryor compiled 266 yards passing vs. Oregon). So I’d probably say Ohio State.

All right, here’s sort of a trick question: if you as a fullback were trying to block Matt Mayberry the linebacker, what do you think you would try to do? What do you think might be a weakness in your game?

Hmm. (Laughs.) I’d probably go in there – I’d probably go a little bit low, knowing that, you know, Mayberry’s going to come up pretty fast and he’s pretty quick to the ball. So I’d probably try and go in there a little bit low.

And what – in terms of the NFL teams you have yet to meet with – what do you think they should know about you that maybe they haven’t picked up yet from watching you on film?

Obviously, the football stuff, all you’ve got to do is watch film. And my attributes at the pro day, a lot of teams, I think 24 teams were there, so they saw how athletic I am. But as far as just being good off the field, you know, I don’t bring any problems, never been in trouble, never been arrested. I think, really, just the outside stuff, and good character, (someone who’s) going to be a positive influence in the locker room.

Excellent. Now, what are you going to be doing from now until the draft?

You know, just continue working out. Some private workouts and visits. Nothing has been set in stone as to what teams yet. But just working out, and getting ready for the draft, and getting ready to go into camp.

All right. Well, Matt, I wish you a lot of luck, and thanks a lot for talking to us today.

Yeah, I appreciate it.

All right. Take care.

All right. You, too.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Q&A With Colorado State WR RaShaun Greer

by Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff

Colorado St Receiver RaShaun Greer

RaShaun Greer is a former first team Mountain West Conference receiver who put up an impressive show for scouts at his pro day last week. When new coach Steve Fairchild came in before Greer’s junior year, he responded with an 1,100 yard season. This year he slipped to 49 catches and over 700 yards, but that was mostly due to young quarterbacks taking over at CSU as they had a down year. Greer has experience in a pro style offense as Fairchild was a NFL offensive coordinator with St. Louis and Buffalo before taking over at CSU. He has good size at 6’1″ 202 and tested well at his pro day, opening some eyes and raising his prospects for the NFL.

Hi RaShaun. Can you tell us where you are from? How did you get into football? What age did you start playing?

I am from North Las Vegas, born and raised. I really got into football my freshman year of high school. I was a basketball player growing up and never played football. When I started high school, I needed a sport to play until basketball season started so I tried football and stuck with it.

Did you play any other sports growing up?

My first love was basketball and that’s all I played year-round until high school. Then in high school I played basketball, football and ran track, hurdles, long jump, and some relays.

Who was your favorite team as a kid?

The Bulls during Michael Jordan era. (Laughs) Have Bulls posters everywhere and all the Jordan shoes.

How did you end up at Colorado State?

I wanted to go somewhere out of state but I also wanted to stay in the Mountain West Conference and close to home so my family could see me play. CSU was a good fit and I liked the staff and the environment as the snow and everything was something new since I was coming from the desert.

You went through a coaching change before your junior year with Coach Fairchild coming in? How did you adjust to that?

It wasn’t that hard to adjust. I took it as a challenge getting familiar with a new staff and learning a new playbook and so on.

What did you do to prepare for your pro day?

I worked out with my high school football and track coach. He knows me really well and he’s been coaching for a long time so I trusted him to get me right on a program and it went well. Basically, I did a lot of plyos, agility drills, lifting and of course some running.

I read you did well at your pro day, what was your 40 time?

My average was a 4.46.

Have you ever done any kick returning or covering kicks on special teams?

I wish I would’ve in college because I missed it from high school but not my decision.

Are you best playing inside in a slot position or more on the outside as a receiver? How do you feel your blocking is?

Our coaches didn’t like to move us around a lot so I mainly played outside but I knew our inside receiver position and based on the routes and plays. (Laughs) I would be best playing outside as our outside receiver got the ball more than the inside receivers.

What are your impressions of the New England Patriots? Did you follow their success at all throughout the 2000s?

Actually I did, since Vegas doesn’t have a professional sports team, I usually just like players and my favorite player, Randy Moss, happens to play on the Patriots, so I did follow them. I actually follow the Celtics too since they have two of my favorite players, Rasheed Wallace and Ray Allen, so thought that was interesting as well.

Did you talk to any teams at your pro day or since? Any teams showing particular interest?

I talk to a few teams and some showed interest but I’m really just being patient and letting things happen as they will as from this point on it’s out of my control. I did what I could do on the field in college, I did what I could do at the pro day so now its just sit back wait and pray and hope for the best!

Thanks for talking to us RaShaun and best of luck.

Thank you.

Patriots All Access Special Tonight at 7:00pm & NFLN Programming This Week

A special free-agent edition of Patriots All Access airs tonight, Friday, March 12 at 7 p.m. on WBZ-TV in Boston.

For those of you outside the Boston TV viewing area, the show will also be available immediately afterward on Patriots.com.

Some highlights to look forward to:

  • Dan Roche re-caps a wild first week of the NFL new year.
  • Newly signed Vince Wilfork sits down with Steve Burton for his first extensive interview since re-signing with New England.
  • Burton also sits down with Patriots Personnel Director Nick Caserio to discuss the first week of free-agency.
  • ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss and Patriot Weekly’s Paul Perillo offer their thoughts on the Patriots off-season moves to date, as well as their opinions on additional off-season needs.

Video Preview:

Also, on the NFL Network this week, check out the follow Patriots-related programming.

Saturday March 13th

8:00 PM – Super Bowl Classics: Super Bowl XXXIX – Patriots vs. Eagles w/ Paul McCartney Halftime Show (HD)

Sunday, March 14th

5:30 PM – NFL Replay: 2009—Week 1, Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots (HD)

Monday, March 15th

10:30 AM – NFL Replay: 2009—Week 1, Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots, 24-25 (HD)

5:00 PM – NFL Replay: 2009—Week 1, Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots, 24-25 (HD)

8:00 PM – NFL Classic Games: 2003 – Week 13, New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts, (HD)

12:30 AM – NFL Classic Games: 2003 – Week 13, New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (HD)

Tuesday March 16th

11:00 AM – NFL Classic Games: 2003 – Week 13, New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (HD)

9:00 PM – NFL Game of the Week: 2001 AFC Championship Game – New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (HD)

Q&A With Auburn RB Ben Tate

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Auburn Running Back Ben Tate

Bigger running backs get reputations as between-the-tackles guys who get a few yards up the middle and not much else. At 220 pounds, Ben Tate knew this perception of him going into the NFL combine, and he figured he’d do something about it.

The Auburn product cast aside that image by finishing at or near the top of six categories for running backs. He spoke with PD about the combine, playing in the SEC, and the diverse abilities he’s always had.

Well, I wanted to start out by saying congratulations on a great combine performance. I was wondering if you could talk about your workouts leading up to that, and how you feel about the results.

Leading up to the combine, I was just working really hard on the 40 and all those types of things that we were going to do there, as well as position drills. You know, I just worked my butt off. I had my goals set high, and I reached, pretty much, some of my goals, but not all of them. By the end of the day, I was pretty happy with what I did.

What were you most pleased with, and where were you maybe a little disappointed?

I’d say I was most pleased with my (40.5-inch) vertical. And I was a little disappointed with my (4.43-second) 40 time.

Had you been timed in the weeks leading up to that and done a little better?

Oh, yes. Yes, I had. Prior to the combine, I ran a little bit better than what I ran at the combine. So I was a little upset about that at first.

In terms of the months leading up to the combine, what did you feel your perception was – or the perception of you was – as a running back?

I think everyone had this perception of me as just being a big bruiser: I don’t have any moves, I’m not fast, maybe I can’t catch the ball. I think that was more (the) perception (of me), that I was just a big bruiser, when that’s really not so at all. You know, I have real speed to take to the defense, and I definitely can make people miss. I think I’ve shown that plenty of times this year past, my senior year… I also think I’ve shown that, when I’ve had the opportunity, that I can catch the ball well.

Talking about opportunities, I read just recently in a draft magazine that you’re the type of back who can’t make it to the outside – make it around the end. Obviously, based on your 40 time, that’s not true. Do you think your offense is maybe geared a certain way that makes you look like a certain kind of back?

I would say that that perception really comes from my junior year, being in that spread offense. A lot of our running was side-to-side, and if you’re in the backfield, you’re in a shotgun, you’re lined up on the opposite side. You know, coming all the way across the formation with the ball, trying to run outside, I mean, it’s the SEC. There’s not too many guys that’s really going to make that corner. I think that perception, you know, came from, definitely my junior year, when a lot of times I wasn’t really getting the corner because guys (were) already halfway there before I was. I think that’s really where that perception came from, a little bit. But this year, as you can see – and if you go back and look at my sophomore and freshman year – that I got the corner a number of times.

Also, do you think going up against SEC defenses every week has helped you, or hurt you?

I think it’s definitely helped me. I think it helps a big deal, that the defenses in the SEC are big and fast, and it’s a lot of the same guys that tend to be successful at the next level. You know, going against those guys week in and week out, I think it just better prepares you for the next level. I went to the Senior Bowl, and I was actually getting to practice against those guys. It’s just amazing to see how fast those guys move at practice and things like that. But then, once we got into the game, I mean, it was just like another SEC game because you’re going against the cream of the crop, but it seems like… after going against the SEC, the guys on the other side still maybe wasn’t as fast as some of those (SEC) guys. You know, I think it definitely can help me get ready for the next level.

Were you always looking at playing in the SEC coming out of high school?

For the most part, yes. For the most part I kind of wanted to play in the SEC, but at the same time, I still liked Maryland and Penn State, those schools that was close to home (in Maryland). But I still felt like I would have an advantage playing in a tough conference.

And what made you decide on Auburn?

Again, it being the SEC, going against the quality defenses week in and week out. And, you know, with the tradition of running backs that they have here at Auburn, I felt if I came out and I performed well in a tough conference, all I could do is just help my opportunity, better my chances of being at the next level.

In high school, you gained almost 6,000 yards in your career, and you averaged almost 11 yards a carry. Was there ever a point where you thought it was kind of easy?

Ah… it was, sometimes. Sometimes, it really was easy. (Laughs.) You know, I’d get to the point where sometimes I would make bets with my father: “I’ll bet you I score two touchdowns in the first quarter, or have 100 yards rushing in the first quarter.” Just little things like that, that still just kept me working hard and kept pushing me. But it wasn’t always like that. There was definitely a lot of tough games I had throughout my high school career. At the same time, there was times when I thought it was a little easy, but I still had to find a way to keep myself going hard, and not really bring my level of play down.

A lot of people might go through kind of a senior slump in high school, but you graduated early to attend spring practice at Auburn, is that right?

Yes, that’s correct.

And what was that like?

Oh, it was a great experience. Coming in, I was a young guy, and, you know, I had to work my way up to the top again. So, it definitely humbles you. And it gave me a little step on the other guys coming in at the same time as me.

What do you think NFL scouts should know about you that they might not see on film?

Just how much of a competitor I am, how much I love the game. Just, you know, my good overall character. I’ve never had any off-the-field problems. I’ve always made a pretty good impression. I think that’s important, too.

What running backs do you watch in the NFL? Do you try to emulate anybody’s game, or is there anyone who you like to watch in particular?

Oh, I don’t try to emulate anyone’s game at all. I think my game is a little bit different than most of the guys that you see in the NFL now. I have some similarities to some of the guys, but overall I think my game is a little different. But, you know, my favorite running back – definitely, I like to watch Adrian Peterson and LT. I like watching Chris Johnson, too, but I just know there’s no way I can do what he does: he’s just way faster than me. (Laughs.) He’s got a lot of speed.

Do you see yourself as more of kind of a grind-it-out, old-school back, or are you just leaving that wide open in terms of all of the things you’re able to do?

I like to leave it wide open, you know, because I think I can do it all. I think I can be a great pass-catcher out of the backfield. I’ve shown that plenty of times. I feel like I can be that guy that gets to the outside and runs inside, and at the same time, pick up – if the linebacker comes up – blitzes, like I’m a complete back. I think you have to be, especially in the NFL. You’ve got to have a complete running back. And I definitely think I’m a complete running back.

Do you think there’s any one thing you need to work on more than others?

Not really. I think you always can improve your game, so I’m always working to improve every aspect of my game, from the technique of pass protect all the way to quick feet, or just holding onto the ball. The little things. Always trying to improve the little things.

Did you get to talk to NFL teams at the combine or at your pro day?

Yes, I got to talk to a couple of teams at the combine.

Which ones in particular?

Oh, you know what? It’s really hard for me to remember right now. (Laughs.)

(Laughs.) I’m sure it must have been – was the combine experience just crazy?

Yeah, it was a little crazy, but at the same time, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you kind of stay with the moment and go with the flow, and have fun at the same time.

And what are you going to be up to from now until the draft?

You know, just working out now, with a couple of team workouts, and things like that. Just working out with different teams, and going on visits maybe, and trying to stay in the best shape I can.

Do you have any team workouts scheduled as of now?

Yes.

Do you want to say who they are?

No, I’d rather not.

All right, fair enough. Ben, thanks a lot for talking to us today. I appreciate it.

All right.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]