October 1, 2016

Tonight on Patriots All Access (6/18)

Patriots All Access returns tonight with a special minicamp edition.

Airs Friday, June 18 at 7 p.m. on WBZ-TV in Boston and is available immediately afterward on Patriots.com

With the conclusion on minicamp on Thursday, tonight’s offseason edition of Patriots All Access will provide a minicamp roundup and training camp preview, including:

  • Brian Lowe recapping a very busy week in Foxborough
  • Scott Zolak sitting down with head coach Bill Belichick, who is looking forward to a competitive training camp later this summer
  • Lyndsay Petruny going one-on-one with new Patriots receiver Torry Holt
  • Patriots Football Weekly’s Paul Perillo and ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss debating the Patriots’ top position battles
  • A behind-the-scenes look at one of the most unique days in Gillette Stadium history
  • A sneak peek of the 2011 Patriots Cheerleader calendar

Episode Preview:

Logan Mankins Makes War, not Peace with Patriots

By Scott A Benson, Patriots Daily Staff

Mankins: "If I only knew then..."

Like most Patriots fans, I like Logan Mankins. He may not be the most accomplished guard of the Belichick era (that would be Steve Neal, wouldn’t it?) but he’s probably the most skilled. I’d hoped that his contract situation would be peacefully resolved like Vince Wilfork’s, and it makes no difference to me whether he makes seven or eight million a year, or whether he gets 15 or 20 million guaranteed.

The Patriots do, and Mankins does, of course. So they must grind away and make sausage until it is resolved. I just prefer they keep it to themselves and leave me the hell out of it.

I think the Pats have kept up their end of the bargain – if a team functionary has whispered a thing about Mankins and his value over the past several months, it raised barely a blip with anybody. And what are the chances of that happening when you routinely have 40 people covering the team?

Mankins has grumbled now and again but the way I figure it, there’s a lot at stake, and there’s nothing wrong with saying you intend to get all that you can. There’s also nothing wrong with voicing some impatience with the process. Wilfork did, and no real harm was done.

But when you start congratulating yourself for being a team player by playing out an “undervalued deal” (why isn’t your word your bond where that is concerned?) and most especially when you start in with the shopworn ‘Pats as immoral lying skinflints’ rhetoric, that’s where I check out on Logan Mankins.

After listening to Mankins go Asante Samuel in the afternoon, the Pats broke their silence and floated the word that Mankins has for some time turned down a deal that would average $7M a season.

Now Team Mankins will immediately cry foul and claim that unless the team releases specific details about the bonus and distribution of the money associated with that offer, they’re lying again. Which PROVES Logan’s point! And on it goes.

Meanwhile he and his agent can whisper about how only players who bitch get paid in New England, and nobody will ask THEM to be more specific. They’ll just congratulate him for his principled stand, and for perspective, break down the Deion Branch situation one more time.

We’ve heard this bullshit before, and we know where it ends up. Wake me when get there.

Fans Vote Sam “Bam” Cunningham Into Patriots Hall of Fame

From the Patriots PR Department:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced that the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, affectionately known as Sam “Bam” Cunningham, will be the 2010 inductee into the team’s hall of fame. A public ceremony will be held outside The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon on Thursday, Aug. 12, prior to the team’s 2010 preseason debut against the New Orleans Saints. The event is free and Patriots fans are encouraged to attend.

Sam Cunningham

“As a fan, I loved Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “He was an old school fullback who would punish would-be tacklers, yet his signature carry was the one where he would leap over the line of scrimmage at the goal line to score a touchdown. Last year, when we honored him for his selection to the 50th Anniversary Team, was the first time he had returned to New England in 27 years. I look forward to welcoming him back again this year to honor him as one of the greatest players in franchise history.”

Thirteen players earned Patriots Hall of Fame induction before Jim Nance became the team’s first running back to be selected to the hall of fame last year. Now, the run on running backs continues with the second consecutive selection at the position. Cunningham is the 15th player to be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

A consensus All-America running back who helped Southern Cal win a national championship in 1972, Cunningham was drafted 11th overall by the Patriots in 1973, the second of three first round picks joining John Hannah (4th overall) and Darryl Stingley (19th). The 6-foot-2, 233-pound fullback led the team and set a rookie rushing record for the Patriots that year with 516 yards and four touchdowns. The following year, he was averaging 4.9 yards per carry and over 80 yards per game before a broken leg abruptly ended his season after just 10 games. Despite missing the final four games of the season, Cunningham was still selected as the team’s MVP. He finished the year with 811 yards on 166 carries with 9 touchdowns, just 14 yards shy of the team lead. It marked the only season in his first seven seasons with the Patriots that he didn’t lead the team in rushing. In 1976, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry to lead the Patriots to one of the greatest turnarounds in NFL history, as the Patriots rebounded from a 3-11 finish in 1975 to qualify for the playoffs with an 11-3 record the following year.  Cunningham had his best statistical season in 1977 when he became just the second player in franchise history to rush for over 1,000 yards (1,015). He also led the team in receiving that season with 42 receptions for a career-high 370 yards. While 1977 was his best statistical season individually, the following year’s contributions are the ones that remain in the NFL record book 31 years later. That was when Cunningham led a quartet of rushers who powered the Patriots to a combined team rushing record of 3,165 yards, an NFL record that still stands today.

Cunningham surpassed last year’s hall of fame inductee, Jim Nance, as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher in 1981 and completed his 9-year career the next year. Twenty-eight years later, he remains the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 5,543 yards on 1,385 carries and ranks second with 43 career rushing touchdowns. He rushed for over 100 yards 11 times during his career.

Beginning in 2007, the Patriots started a new hall of fame tradition, inducting one player or head coach into The Hall at Patriot Place each year. The process for induction now involves a panel of media, alumni and staff who collectively nominate the candidates they feel are the most deserving of induction. After the nominations are made and discussed, the committee votes and the top three tallies become that year’s finalists. The Patriots then give their fans the opportunity to vote online to select each year’s winner.

Earlier this year, a 22-person nomination committee met at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon to discuss this year’s candidates for induction. Those votes were tallied and the three finalists were Houston Antwine, Sam Cunningham and Jon Morris. Fans had the opportunity to vote from mid April through May 31.

About The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon

The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon is the crown jewel of Patriot Place and the only sports and education experience of its kind. Through a dazzling array of interactive multimedia exhibits and artifacts never before viewable by the public, The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon showcases the tradition of the New England Patriots, explores the history of football in New England, and promotes math and science education for thousands of schoolchildren each year. In 2009, The Hall received a Gold MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums and The Hall’s signature film, “Patriots Way,” won a CINE Golden Eagle Award. The Hall was named to Boston Globe Magazine’s Best of the New, and was a Yankee magazine Editor’s Choice recommendation. For more information, please visit www.thehallatpatriotplace.com.

About the Patriots Hall of Fame

The Patriots Hall of Fame was officially formed in 1991 after John Hannah became the first Patriots player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Prior to 1991, the only honor bestowed a former player was to retire the player’s number. With the hall of fame, the Patriots created a new way of honoring their greatest players. But it wasn’t until 2008, with the opening of The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon, that Patriots players, past and present, truly had a place to call home that they could share with their fans. Now, enshrinement into The Hall is an honor befitting of the franchise’s greatest players, with 30-foot video pylons displaying each enshrinee.

Beginning in 2007, fans became part of the hall of fame tradition and active participants in the selection process. In the first year of the new hall of fame voting process, a nomination committee presented Ron Burton, Ben Coates and Stanley Morgan as finalists. That year, the fans selected Morgan for induction. In 2008, the committee nominated Ben Coates, Jon Morris and Jim Nance and Coates became the 13th player to be inducted in the Patriots Hall of Fame. Last year, Jim Nance was selected over Jon Morris and Houston Antwine.

Cunningham joins 14 other Patriots greats and one contributor as a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame (listed in alphabetical order below with year of induction):

PATRIOTS HALL OF FAME

Players are listed in order of their induction

Player                                     Pos.            Years                        Enshrined

John Hannah*                       G                 1973-1985                       1991

Nick Buoniconti*                  LB                1962-1968                       1992

Gino Cappelletti                   WR/K          1960-1970                       1992

Bob Dee                                 DE               1960-1967                       1993

Jim Lee Hunt                         DT               1960-1971                       1993

Steve Nelson                         LB                1974-1987                       1993

Vito “Babe” Parilli                 QB               1961-1967                       1993

Mike Haynes*                       CB               1976-1982                       1994

Steve Grogan                        QB               1975-1990                       1995

Andre Tippett*                     LB                1982-1993                       1999

Bruce Armstrong                 T                  1987-2000                       2001

Stanley Morgan                    WR              1977-1989                       2007

Ben Coates                            TE                1991-1999                       2008

Jim Nance                              FB                1965-1971                       2009

Sam Cunningham                 FB                1973-79, 81-82               2010

Contributors

William H. “Billy” Sullivan, Jr.                                                            2009

* indicates Pro Football Hall of Famers

–PATRIOTS–

Roster Watch – Sam Aiken

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

WR Sam Aiken

After five seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Sam Aiken was signed by the New England Patriots prior to the 2008 season. Viewed as an outstanding special teams player, and someone who can be put into the mix at wide receiver, the 6-2, 215 Aiken, who will turn 30 years old in December was voted the special teams captain prior to the 2009 season. Because of the ineffectiveness of Joey Galloway and injury to Julian Edelman, Aiken found himself featured in the receiving game more than at any point in his career during the 2009 season. He finished with 20 receptions for 326 yards and two touchdowns.

Most early roster predictions have Aiken as a lock to make the final 53-man roster in 2010. Should he be? Many of the projections have Aiken as part of the wide receiver group, pushing out someone from the group of David Patten, Tory Holt or Brandon Tate – most have Patten as the one not making the squad.

I talked about this a little bit in my previous post about Pierre Woods and Eric Alexander, but the question comes down to carrying special teams guys. Aiken does seem to bring a bit more to the team than just his special teams skills, as a captain, he has shown leadership – another focus of this offseason – and his production in the passing game, while not awesome, was acceptable. I never had faith though, that when the ball was thrown his way, especially on a deep route – which seemed to be case quite a bit of the time – that he would actually come down with the ball.

In thinking about this, I began to wonder if the drafting of Devin McCourty could have an impact on Aiken’s roster spot.  McCourty is known for his special teams skills, some of which might cross over with Aiken’s. With the uncertainty in the receiving corps, with Welker’s injury, Brandon Tate’s development, and Torry Holt’s acclimation to the system, there is a need to a receiver who can be counted on to be where he is supposed to be, and to catch the ball. If the Patriots feel McCourty can take Aiken’s spot on special teams, does this allow them to keep Patten as insurance? After all, in an offense that is based on the arm of Tom Brady, you’ve got to have reliable receivers, and if Welker is out to start the season, and Holt struggles to pick up the system, or is just done, like Galloway, and you’ve cut Patten, then Aiken could be thrust back into the receiving mix with the inexperienced trio of Edelman, Tate and Taylor Price.

That’s not something I want to see at this point. I think Aiken brings a lot to this football team, and whenever I’ve heard Bill Belichick talk about Aiken, he’s got high praise for him. They seem to like him down there, and I could very well see him on this team in 2010. In fact, I think he will be on this team. I just don’t know that it should be a lock that he is, and that there are factors that need to be considered when putting the final 53 man roster together.

End Of The Line For Woods, Alexander?

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

Pierre Woods and Eric Alexander are often grouped together in discussions about the Patriots roster. They have a lot in common – each made the team as an undrafted free agent (Alexander in 2004, Woods in 2006), both play linebacker,  Alexander  inside and Woods outside. Both keep their roster spots on the basis of their special teams play. Both have had turns with the regular defense in huge playoff games -with mixed results. Alexander was a surprise starter at inside linebacker for the AFC championship game following the 2006 season. Alexander actually led the team with tackles that day, with 10, and recorded a sack of Peyton Manning, but also had a hard time keeping up with Colts tight end Dallas Clark. Woods played in the Super Bowl against the Giants the following season, and was on the field with the defense in the first half when the ball popped loose from the Giants offense. Woods was the first to pounce on the ball, and appeared to have it secured, only for it to be ripped out of his hands in the pile and recovered by the Giants.

Woods (58) and Alexander (52) have often found themselves on the outside looking in at the defense.

Those two games may actually be the legacy for Alexander and Woods, fair or not. Because of their prowess on special teams, they’ve each managed to hang on with the team for a number of seasons, and carve out a nice existence for themselves in the process. But has the time come to move on from each?

The Patriots have drafted (or signed) a number of young linebackers over the past three seasons in Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Shawn Crable, Tyrone McKenzie, Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes. Previously it seemed that in addition to their special teams abilities, Alexander and Woods might have hung on to their spots simply because they played at a position of need on the roster.

With veterans like Tully Banta-Cain, Derrick Burgess and Rob Ninkovich also in the mix, could we see the end of the Woods/Alexander era in New England?

To be perfectly honest, and with nothing against Mr Woods and Mr Alexander, I sure hope so.

This Patriots team isn’t deep or talented enough to be able to keep a high number of players on the roster solely on the basis of their special teams play. While there are exceptions to this, in an ideal situation, those on special teams would also be able to step into the regular defense or offense if needed in a pinch and make a decent showing. Woods and Alexander have had their shot, and haven’t been able to break into the regular defensive rotation. Woods especially has had chances to get into that pass-rushing outside linebacker spot, but has not made an impact. The bottom end of the Patriots roster used to be littered with guys who you just knew were going to make a play at some point during the season when you needed it.

I thought it interesting, that when discussing first-round pick Devin McCourty, Coach Bill Belichick emphasized that the cornerback was a four-down player, meaning that he can be on the field and contribute, no matter what down, regular defense or special teams. It made me think that perhaps that versatility and talent might be something that the coaching staff was looking for in players they’re bringing in.

There are always going to be guys who secure their roster spot on the basis of superb special teams play, but could the trend be changing towards more players with four-down potential?

If you go strictly by linebacker play, Woods and Alexander face an uphill climb to make the roster. The Patriots have at times kept as many as 11 linebackers on the team. If you take the nine above as givens to make the team (though with Crable, that might be a stretch), keeping Woods and Alexander would mean 11 linebackers. I can’t see that many being kept, Andy Hart with Patriots Football Weekly, projects only nine linebackers making the team, though he has Woods making the team over Crable. I think if Crable shows anything in the preseason, he’s on the team.

In some ways, Woods and Alexander have taken the places of Don Davis and Matt Chatham. The difference has been that the latter two were big on special teams, but could occasionally step into the defense and make some players. The former two have not been able to do so. It’s a small thing, but I think it illustrates that erosion of depth in Foxborough over the last five years or so.

I hope that trend is reversing, and it could start with the end of the Woods/Alexander era.