AFC East: Adalius Thomas

Revisiting David Tyree's catch and 18-1

January, 25, 2011
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Adalius Thomas admitted "I almost get sick to my stomach" when he sees images of the play three years later.

One of the most magnificent highlights in NFL history was David Tyree's miraculous ball-on-helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII. The play, which began with a sack-defying Eli Manning scramble, propelled the New York Giants to the title and left the New England Patriots one game shy of an undefeated season.

ESPN.com has put together "Inside a Moment in Time" to revisit Tyree's catch. Patriots fans might feel as nauseous as Thomas when they check out the feature, but the feature is an impressive look back at history.

Editors and reporters began the process in June. They spoke with 12 players and one official involved in the play. It's broken into two photos, Manning's scramble and Tyree's catch.

Patriots defenders Richard Seymour, Jarvis Green, Mike Vrabel and Thomas recall what was going through their minds at the time of the first snapshot, as do Manning and Giants linemen David Diehl, Kareem McKenzie, Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara.

Patriots defensive backs Rodney Harrison and James Sanders and back judge Scott Helverson share their on-the-spot memories of Tyree's catch.

The package also includes:

Get your AFC East chat wrap right here

December, 11, 2010
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So you went to bed in tears last night because you missed my weekly AFC East chat?

Cheer up, Sparky.

You don't have to catch it live to experience the thrill. There's always the chat wrap transcript to peruse.

Some questions we addressed:
  • Can the Jets win a postseason rubber match against the Patriots after losing 45-3?
  • Does Chad Henne have a future in Miami?
  • Should the Bills sign outside linebacker Adalius Thomas?
  • What should the Dolphins do about offensive coordinator Dan Henning?
  • Will former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels return to the AFC East?
  • Could the Jets lose all of their remaining games?
  • Can the Bills be contenders next year?

All that and more is just a click away. It's the most fun you can have without a prescription.

With Maroney gone, who'll Pats fans boo?

September, 14, 2010
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So who are New England Patriots fans going to adopt as their new favorite player to dislike?

[+] EnlargeLaurence Maroney
David Butler II/US PresswireRunning back Laurence Maroney, traded to Denver on Tuesday, fell out of favor with Patriots fans in recent seasons.
Randy Moss might insist he already holds that position, claiming after Sunday's game that in "the New England area, there's a lot of people who don't want to see me do good."

But for the past four years, Laurence Maroney probably was the guy who heard the most boos.

The Patriots on Tuesday traded Maroney to the Denver Broncos. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Patriots packaged a sixth-round pick with Maroney and received a fourth-round pick in return.

That's not great value for a player the Patriots selected 21st overall in 2006 to be their franchise running back.

We can officially label that pick a bust.

You could argue last year that Maroney was the biggest lightning rod on the team, a player who angered fans as much as he thrilled them.

Or was it tight end Benjamin Watson? Or was it outside linebacker Adalius Thomas?

All of them are gone now. Watson was a free agent whose contract wasn't renewed. Thomas was released.

On his ESPNBoston.com blog, Mike Reiss has posted an analysis of Maroney's time in New England and his place on the depth chart lately. Maroney was inactive for the season opener.

I've always thought Maroney was the most attractive backfield option for the Patriots. His pitter-pat running style before hitting the hole drove Patriots fans bonkers, but he was young, talented and capable of a big game every week.

The past three preseasons I inaccurately predicted Maroney would become a force. He was a force down the homestretch for the 2007 Patriots. In their last six games, postseason included, of their nearly undefeated campaign he rushed for at least one touchdown in each game and topped 100 yards four times.

But he never gained Patriots coach Bill Belichick's full trust and became a liability last year. He didn't fumble once in 2007 or 2008, but he fumbled four times last year. All of them came in a seven-game stretch, and he lost them all.

Jets start season more sloppy than super

September, 14, 2010
9/14/10
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Mark SanchezWilliam Perlman/US PresswireJets quarterback Mark Sanchez mustered just 74 passing yards against the Baltimore Ravens.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So many yellow flags. They were strewn all over. They doomed the New York Jets in a 10-9 loss on Monday night.

There have been red flags with the Jets, too.

Not of the challenge variety, mind you. But maybe that's what they need, to be challenged a little more when it comes to discipline.

In the preseason, head coach Rex Ryan made a fiery speech to his players for exhibiting a lack of leadership and what he called "jackass" behavior. The scene was one of the most memorable from the "Hard Knocks" series, with Ryan's final words "now let's go eat a goddamn snack!"

Ryan was incensed partly because his players were eating McDonald's cheeseburgers during warmups for a public practice at Hofstra University.

Ryan addressed his team again Monday night. The Baltimore Ravens had eaten their lunch and wiped their mouths with the many yellow handkerchiefs lying around. The Ravens won by only a point, but the reason they won was troubling.

"That's not who we are," Ryan said. "That's not how we play. We pride ourselves on being one of the least penalized defenses in the league. Today was a joke."

Focus was a problem beyond penalties. Running back Shonn Greene fumbled twice, losing one. On their final offensive play -- fourth-and-10 from their own 31-yard line and with 41 seconds left -- tight end Dustin Keller made a catch near the sideline, no defender near him. With a clear look at the marker, he went out of bounds obviously short of the first down.

"That was Ripley's," Ryan said.

The Jets committed 15 penalties, 14 of which the Ravens accepted for 125 yards. They had nine penalties in the second quarter alone.

The Jets helped the Ravens set a franchise record with six first downs via penalty. The record was tied by halftime.

"It cost us the game really," Jets outside linebacker Jason Taylor said. "We played pretty darn well in a lot of situations. Maybe you can attribute it to a lack of discipline, but penalties that give up first downs are bad. We need to clean it up for sure."

The sheer number of penalties was bad enough. The situations were even more wretched.

Penalties gave the Ravens first downs on four plays that were third-and-9 or longer. A defensive holding call on rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson turned an incomplete pass on third-and-28 into a Ravens first down.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was flagged four times for 43 yards, including a 28-yard pass interference on a third-and-9 incompletion.

"It's just inexcusable," said Taylor, who jumped offsides to turn a third-and-3 into a second-and-1. "We did more to give it away than we did to get beat. You can't blame anybody but yourselves. You have to look in the mirror and say: 'We did it to ourselves.' We lost the game 10-9 and had plenty of chances to win and shot ourselves in the foot."

Receiver Braylon Edwards wiped out a pair of plays that would have done the Jets a world of good. He was called for an illegal shift on a beautiful 33-yard strike from Mark Sanchez to Keller down the right sideline in the second quarter.

On a nifty up-the-middle maneuver to block a field goal, Edwards ran into Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff. The penalty gave the Ravens a first down on a drive that eventually ended with the game's only touchdown.

Another third-down penalty, of course, helped. On third-and-10, Wilson was charged with pass interference in the end zone to set up Willis McGahee's 1-yard touchdown run.

I asked linebacker Bart Scott what all the penalties said about the Jets.

"I don't know," Scott said. "You tell me."

Undisciplined? Unprepared?

"If that's what you want to say," he said. "Whatever you want to say."

That was the first impression the Jets made for 2010.

You have to wonder if the happy-funtime atmosphere Ryan condones is negatively impacting them. Ryan already has had to talk to his players at least twice about unprofessionalism and sloppiness.

[+] EnlargeKris Jenkins
John Munson/US PresswireNew York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a knee injury.
The Jets have made several offseason moves that reduced their leadership presence in the locker room, parting with running back Thomas Jones, guard Alan Faneca and kicker Jay Feely, all character veterans. They also jerked fullback Tony Richardson around, cutting him and then re-signing him a week before the season.

More questions were raised this week about how the Jets conduct themselves. They created a stir Saturday with the way they treated Ines Sainz at practice and in the locker room.

Sainz wasn't taken seriously partly because she doesn't take her job seriously. She's promoted on the TV Azteca website as a reporter and a model and is known for showing up to events such as the Super Bowl media day and convincing players to do things like let her measure their muscles or give her a ride on their shoulder pads.

Nevertheless, the club was embarrassed. Jets owner Woody Johnson apologized to Sainz for the team's misbehavior and vowed his team would act with more class henceforth. The Association for Women in Sports Media has gotten involved. The NFL is investigating.

From an outsider's perspective, my own included, it would appear the Jets are running a loose ship.

Taylor scoffed at that idea.

"Hell, no," Taylor said. "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I guess. But they're not on the ship."

In the same episode of Ryan's "goddamn snack" speech, Taylor showed up late for two practices. Each time, Taylor's coaches laughed off his tardiness.

Last year at Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick kicked four players off the premises for showing up a few minutes late to a team meeting on a wintry day when the roads were treacherous. Three of them were Pro Bowlers: Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess.

The Jets have a short week to get ready for the Patriots this Sunday.

We'll see who has the most fun.

Ryan, Tannenbaum at odds over Thomas?

August, 30, 2010
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Based on what Rex Ryan told reporters Sunday on a conference call and what Adalius Thomas told Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, it sure seems like Ryan and New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum disagree over what to do at outside linebacker.

Ryan sounded like a conflicted head coach Sunday when discussing the possibility Thomas could join the Jets. Thomas, an unrestricted free agent, played for Ryan with the Baltimore Ravens.

Twice during a conference call with Jets reporters, Ryan expressed desire for getting Thomas signed immediately. The Jets' top pass-rusher, Calvin Pace, was to have foot surgery Monday and reportedly will be out four to six weeks.

"If we're going to do it, you'd rather do it sooner than later," Ryan said.

He later added "The best thing to do would be to sign him tonight. You'd have him with you, see what he does in that Eagles game [the final preseason exhibition Thursday night] and see that he's the same guy that you remember."

But Ryan dropped a caveat.

"There's some things involved, other things involved," Ryan said. "Sometimes what really makes sense might not make sense to the organization."

Ryan obviously knew what Thomas knew: Tannenbaum wants to bring Thomas aboard after the first regular-season game.

"All I know is Mike Tannenbaum called my agent [Bus Cook] a couple of days ago and they're interested in maybe doing something with me, but not until after the first game of the season," Thomas told King.

Veterans on the roster for Week 1 have guaranteed contracts for the rest of the season. By signing Thomas afterward, the Jets would be able to release him during the season without being on the hook.

Ryan sounded glum and gave an uncharacteristically brief answer when a reporter asked if there were plans to bring Thomas to the Jets facility for a physical.

"No," Ryan replied. "Not yet."

This is a common disconnect between coaches and front offices.

Ryan wants the player on the field. He wants to add talent to fill a roster spot immediately. Plus, his frustrations over contract issues probably are at the hilt because of holdout cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Tannenbaum, meanwhile, must handle the business aspect of assembling a football team and needs to make many unpopular decisions out of necessity.

Rex Ryan eyeing Pats flop Adalius Thomas

August, 29, 2010
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Adalius Thomas wore out his welcome with the New England Patriots.

The New York Jets might be willing to give him a go.

Outside linebacker Calvin Pace reportedly will miss the next four to six weeks with a foot injury and will undergo surgery on Monday in North Carolina. Head coach Rex Ryan said he already has reached out to Thomas, who played for him with the Baltimore Ravens.

"I would say that would be a possibility," Ryan said of Thomas joining the Jets. "I wouldn't rule that out."

Ryan was cryptic on a conference call Sunday, hinting that Thomas might not be an organizational fit.

"There's some other things involved, other factors involved," Ryan said. "Sometimes what really makes sense might not make sense to the organization. We'll see."

Money always is an issue. The Jets also need to shore up their defensive line with backup end Ropati Pitoitua's season-ending Achilles injury. Rodrique Wright appeared to be a candidate to step up, but the Jets waived him Sunday.

Thomas was in Baltimore from 2000 through 2006, going to a pair of Pro Bowls. Ryan was Baltimore's defensive coordinator in Thomas' last two seasons and its defensive line coach before that.

Thomas was selected as a first-team All-Pro in his final season with the Ravens, registering 11 sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a safety.

He used that season to obtain a five-year, $35 million contract from the Patriots. That made him the biggest free-agent acquisition in club history. In his three seasons, he played 39 games and managed 14.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles.

He fell out of favor in New England. Last year, head coach Bill Belichick benched Thomas for two games and kicked him out of the team's facility along with Randy Moss and two other players for showing up late to a team meeting.

"With us, he'd be a guy that would give you depth," Ryan said. "He was a tremendous player in our sub package. A lot of the defenses that we came up with that are looked at as maybe unique in the league was because of his physical abilities and his mental abilities. He definitely knows this system. He'd fit right back in."

Ryan also said third-year pro Vernon Gholston would see more time at outside linebacker with Pace out. Gholston, who played outside linebacker his first two seasons, had been moved to defensive end.

Camp Confidential: New England Patriots

August, 13, 2010
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ESPN.com NFL Power Ranking (pre-camp): 9

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Is this the year another AFC East team surpasses the New England Patriots in wins?

For nine straight seasons, no team in the division has won more games each season than the Patriots.

But they're being pushed.

The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins have experienced greater successes the past couple years. The Jets went deeper into the playoffs last winter. The Dolphins won the division two seasons ago on a tiebreaker that kept the Patriots out.

The Patriots, aging on offense and patchwork on defense, seem vulnerable to being overtaken.

Still, they're the Patriots, and as long as Bill Belichick is the head coach and Tom Brady is the quarterback, they'll be a fearsome opponent. Randy Moss is back. Wes Welker looks like he's going to be a factor from the start of the season. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork will anchor the defense with linebacker Jerod Mayo behind him.

"Each year is a new year," Belichick said at the beginning of training camp, "and what a team looks like on paper and what they actually are in the fall and how they perform are two different things.

"Each year it seems like we have three or four new division winners. We have teams that go from one, two, three wins to double-digit wins and playoff teams and so forth. I don't know how you project all of that. I don't really spend a lot of time worrying about that. I think you do your preparation on your opponents -- the new ones and the ones you are familiar with like the Jets and Miami, teams like that, Indianapolis, and then you take them as they come."

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeLogan Mankins
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesLogan Mankins is unimpressed by the Patriots contract offer and has demanded a trade.
1. How will left guard Logan Mankins' absence impact the offense? Mankins is unsigned and publicly demanded a trade because the Patriots haven't presented him with a contract proposal worth signing. Those who know him don't think he's going to back off that stance easily.

The Patriots already are down to a third-stringer at his position. They switched last year's starting right tackle, Nick Kaczur, to left guard. He suffered a back injury that could threaten his season. That puts Dan Connolly, a sixth-year offensive lineman with four career starts, in the lineup.

That's a precipitous drop from Mankins. He went to his second Pro Bowl last year and is known as one of the division's great smash-mouth players, regardless of position. He has a mean streak that sets the tone for New England's offensive line, particularly in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

One of Belichick's objectives coming into 2010 was to improve New England's red zone efficiency. Belichick has shown he's willing to go with three tight ends if he must. But Mankins' presence certainly would help the offense in terms of attitude and production.

2. Will the Patriots be able to generate enough of a pass rush? They tied for 23rd in sacks last year, registering a lackluster 31, worst among all playoff teams.

So the Patriots had a problem when they entered the offseason and might have gotten less stable. They cut Adalius Thomas, whose three sacks ranked fourth on the club. Derrick Burgess, a two-time Pro Bowler, tied for second with five sacks. He hasn't reported to training camp and is said to be contemplating retirement. Update: Burgess was reinstated to the active roster Friday, and defensive end Ty Warren (hip) was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

Tully Banta-Cain, who led the team with 10 sacks, is back. But he doesn't strike fear in opposing tackles. Half of his sacks came against the overwhelmed Buffalo Bills. Second-round draft choice Jermaine Cunningham didn't play in Thursday night's preseason opener, which should raise some eyebrows.

You can't tell me Rob Ninkovich or Marques Murrell are going to provide that desperately needed jolt. Murrell did beat Pro Bowl tackle Jon Stinchcomb to sack Drew Brees on Thursday night (the Patriots' only sack), but the undrafted former Jet hasn't started an NFL game. Neither has Ninkovich.

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
AP Photo/Michael DwyerQuarterback Tom Brady has not made a big fuss about his contract this preseason.
3. Will Tom Brady's contract situation be a distraction? In stark contrast to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis' entrenched holdout, Brady's approach to his contract situation has been commendable.

Brady is entering the final year of his contract and reportedly has been aggravated by the fact he hasn't gotten an extension yet. Some pundits insist Brady will be a tough negotiator because he has made salary concessions in the past and will insist on receiving full market value for a three-time champion.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft wants Brady to remain the face of the franchise, but it's not that simple. Labor strife and the role each man plays -- Kraft an influential voice for the league, Brady an emerging union spokesman -- contributes to the delicate process.

Brady's contract has been a major storyline of camp so far, but because he showed up on time and said all the right things, it hasn't been a problem.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Welker didn't play in the exhibition opener, but he has demonstrated he's going to be ready to play in Week 1, barring a setback. The only visible evidence he's coming back from two torn left knee ligaments is a brace. He also had offseason shoulder surgery, but you'd never guess by looking at him. Welker went all-out in joint practices with the Saints, putting his body in harm's way to make tough catches. He sliced through defenders, fought through coverages and leaped for passes.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Burgess, the AWOL outside linebacker, has left the Patriots in a lurch with his indecision. He apparently wanted to play in June, when he signed a one-year contract worth as much as $1.65 million. The Patriots expressed surprise when Burgess declined to report for camp. With an inkling Burgess was having second thoughts, they would've had a better chance to address the situation before it was too late.

OBSERVATION DECK
    [+] EnlargeJulian Edelman
    AP Photo/Michael DwyerWide receiver Julian Edelman was impressive in the Patriots' first preseason game.

  • You have to wonder if Welker's speedy recovery is partially due to the presence of Julian Edelman. I'm not saying Edelman is Welker's equal, but knowing that Edelman's on the roster and ready to step in must have entered Welker's mind once or twice during rehab.
  • Edelman, the converted quarterback from Kent State, turned in a very Welkerish six-reception, 90-yard performance on Thursday night. He also had a 40-yard punt return.
  • Strong safety Brandon Meriweather continually has progressed toward star status in his previous three seasons and still has room to get better. With another year of experience, this should be a big year for him.
  • Interesting choice to start at running back in the preseason opener. Belichick went with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who ran 11 times for 34 yards but darted for a 6-yard touchdown run.
  • Both rookie tight ends look like they'll be impact players. Aaron Hernandez (113th overall) has trouble blocking but is a dangerous receiver. Rob Gronkowski (42nd overall) looks like a power forward at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds. He'll be easy for Brady to spot in the red zone.
  • Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty has been getting first-team reps with Leigh Bodden sidelined by a knee injury. McCourty looks like he belongs out there, a great sign for the Patriots' secondary.
  • Second-year cornerback Darius Butler, meanwhile, committed a costly penalty in Thursday night's preseason opener. Butler was called for illegal contact on a fourth-down play in which the Patriots seemed to stop the Saints. The penalty extended a 20-play touchdown drive.
  • The Patriots will need more consistency out of their kicking game. Stephen Gostkowski, an All-Pro two seasons ago, had trouble kicking field goals this week, although he did nail both of his tries (from 35 and 28 yards) Thursday night. Zoltan Mesko can boom it, but the fifth-round draft pick occasionally delivers an onside punt.
  • If you're in a larger fantasy league, jot down receiver Brandon Tate on the margin of your cheat sheet. Draft him late. You might steal one.

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Burgess retirement would weaken Pats

July, 29, 2010
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ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli, citing multiple unnamed sources, reports New England Patriots outside linebacker Derrick Burgess is mulling retirement.

Burgess did not report for the start of Patriots training camp Thursday at Gillette Stadium. The odd development comes after the 31-year-old Burgess chose to re-sign with the Patriots in June. His one-year contract has a $1.4 million base salary and included a $100,000 signing bonus.

If Burgess decides to quit, his absence would weaken an already uncertain outside linebacking corps. The Patriots ranked 22nd in sacks last year with 31. Burgess was tied for second on the team with five sacks.

Tully Banta-Cain led the way with 10. Defensive lineman Mike Wright also had five, and outside linebacker Adalius Thomas, since released, was fourth on the team with three sacks.

Burgess played all 17 games. He started four games at outside linebacker and two at defensive end.

Big Question: Top AFC East move?

July, 6, 2010
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NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What was the top offseason move in the AFC East?

We've hit a rare dead period in the NFL, when all the teams have sent their players home to enjoy the summer for a few weeks. Offseason programs are complete. Training camps will begin at the end of the month.

[+] EnlargeMarshall
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireBrandon Marshall's trade to Miami was one of the biggest offseason moves in the AFC East.
Perfect time to review all of the offseason moves. With activity slowed to a crawl, we can safely evaluate the ones that should have the most impact on the upcoming season.

I've taken five decisions from each AFC East club and ranked them based on how important they'll prove to be in 2010.

But this list merely is to provide a reminder of what has happened the past few months. I'd like to see your list in the comments section below. Nominate your favorite move, give me your top five or rank them all.

NOTE: I was remiss in leaving out one of the bigger moves, but thanks to some friendly reminders in the comments section, I have corrected the list by inserting the Dolphins' switch at defensive coordinator at No. 4.

1. Dolphins trade two second-round draft picks for receiver Brandon Marshall.

2. Jets trade a third-round pick for cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

3. Patriots use franchise tag to ensure nose tackle Vince Wilfork's return.

4. Dolphins fire defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni and hire Mike Nolan.

5. Dolphins sign inside linebacker Karlos Dansby.

6. Bills name Buddy Nix general manager and hire head coach Chan Gailey.

7. Jets trade a fifth-round pick for receiver Santonio Holmes.

8. Bills switch to 3-4 defense.

9. Jets pass on re-signing kicker Jay Feely and sign pass-rusher Jason Taylor.

10. Bills draft Clemson running back C.J. Spiller ninth overall.

11. Patriots clean house at tight end, sign Alge Crumpler, draft Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

12. Dolphins move Randy Starks from defensive end to nose tackle.

13. Patriots sign defensive end Gerard Warren.

14. Jets sign safety Brodney Pool, trade Kerry Rhodes.

15. Patriots release outside linebacker Adalius Thomas.

16. Dolphins release outside linebacker Joey Porter.

17. Bills sign defensive end Dwan Edwards.

18. Jets replace running back Thomas Jones with LaDainian Tomlinson.

19. Bills sign inside linebacker Andra Davis.

20. Patriots sign receiver Torry Holt.

AFC East wire: Lynch claims new mindset

May, 24, 2010
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Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

May, 13, 2010
5/13/10
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

Adalius Thomas, free-agent outside linebacker: Almost three weeks after the Patriots released him, Thomas remains unemployed.

It seemed certain Thomas would reunite with Rex Ryan and join the New York Jets. The last time Thomas was effective was with Baltimore in 2006, when Ryan was defensive coordinator. But the Patriots held onto Thomas long enough that the Jets signed former Dolphins star Jason Taylor. As a result, there also was speculation the Dolphins would pursue Thomas to fortify the edge in their 3-4 defense.

"With him we'll end up first in the league in defense, and without him we'll end up first in the league in defense," Ryan recently said. "If we get him, great. I'm not worried about him."

Nobody seems to be. Thomas will turn 33 in training camp. He had 20 sacks in his final two seasons with Baltimore. He had 14.5 in his three seasons in New England and just three last year. Bill Belichick benched him for a pair of games.

Rising

Brandon Tate, Patriots receiver: Tate's name hadn't been mentioned much this offseason. The third-round pick from North Carolina appeared in two games and had zero receptions as a rookie last year and plays on a team that features Randy Moss, added Torry Holt and is more concerned with how Julian Edelman will fill in while Wes Welker recovers from knee and shoulder surgery.

But Patriots quarterback Tom Brady thrust Tate's name into the conversation this week, making a point to rave about Tate's offseason in a pair of interviews.

"I like Brandon Tate a lot," Brady told Sports Illustrated. Brady later told Boston sports-radio station WEEI that Tate "has had a great offseason."

That's quite a blessing for a player otherwise known as a project. The Patriots were criticized for drafting Tate so early because he was rehabbing a knee injury that was expected to limit him for much of 2009. They activated him in Week 7, and he suffered another season-ending knee injury in Week 9.

AFC East wire: Shula, Scott finally embrace

May, 9, 2010
5/09/10
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Miami Dolphins

Buffalo Bills

New England Patriots

New York Jets

AFC East wire: Pats don't need Dez Bryant

May, 4, 2010
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New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

AFC East wire: Hernandez has drug history

April, 27, 2010
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New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Jets have a place for Adalius Thomas

April, 27, 2010
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The New York Jets apparently still have room on their roster for outside linebacker Adalius Thomas.

A week after signing veteran pass-rusher Jason Taylor, the Jets have the chance to add Thomas, too. ESPNNewYork.com and the Newark Star-Ledger report the Jets are interested in giving Thomas a locker stall since the New England Patriots released him Monday.

The Jets are turning into one of those havens for situational veterans. They're a Super Bowl contender and willing to spend for quality help.

ESPN Stats & Information tracks about every imaginable game scenario and found the Jets recorded only four sacks on third-and-long plays last year, one per 19.5 pass attempts. That was fourth-worst in the league. Against an empty backfield, the Jets had no sacks on 43 attempts, second-worst in the league.

As you can see, the Jets still could stand to upgrade even after bringing Taylor into the fold.

Thomas was a disappointment with New England, signing a five-year, $35 million contract before the 2007 season.

The last time he was productive was with the Baltimore Ravens, where Rex Ryan was his defensive coordinator. Thomas went to a pair of Pro Bowls for the Ravens. In 2006, he recorded 11 sacks, a tackle for a safety, an interception and returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown.

In addition to Taylor, the Jets have last year's starters, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, on the roster. But some wiggle room was created when the Jets confirmed they moved Vernon Gholston to defensive end. ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini also reported the Jets have reworked Gholston's contract.

And you better believe Adalius Thomas is interested in joining the Jets. On "Mike & Mike" in early March, Jets inside linebacker Bart Scott, a former Ravens teammate of his, revealed Thomas' desire to switch allegiances.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, during an interview with Boston sports-radio station WEEI, explained the decision to cut Adalius Thomas was made after the Patriots re-evaluated their roster after the draft. The Patriots picked Florida outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham 53rd overall.

"After the draft, we talked about the personnel and looked at our roster and so forth, and we made that decision to move on with the players that we have," Belichick said. "He was a good football player, he came in and had a heck of a year for us in '07. Again, at this point in time, we felt like this was the direction we had to go on."

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