NFL Nation: Marques Murrell

Jets scratch Brad Smith; Hernandez to play

January, 16, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New York Jets have scratched Brad Smith for Sunday's playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Smith was the Jets' top kickoff returner, bringing back two for touchdowns in the regular season. He also is a potent weapon in the run game as an option quarterback in their Wildcat-style offense.

Newsworthy for the Patriots is that tight end Aaron Hernandez is active after missing the last two regular-season games with a hip injury.

Here are the rest of Sunday's scratches:

New York Jets

New England Patriots

Sights from Rams-Patriots observatory

August, 27, 2010
Rob GronkowskiStew Milne/US PresswireRookie tight end Rob Gronkowski caught three passes for 66 yards and two scores Thursday night.
Some random thoughts from Thursday night, when the St. Louis Rams beat the New England Patriots 36-35 in Gillette Stadium ...

  • You can say Sam Bradford had a sensational night in his first NFL start, or you can be worried the rookie quarterback of a team that went 1-15 last year had his way against Bill Belichick's defense. The Patriots were undisciplined and seemed a little lost.
  • The Rams allowed 44 sacks last year, tied for seventh-most in the NFL. With four-fifths of the same offensive line and a rookie left tackle in front of Bradford, the Patriots' defense sacked him once and generally failed to create pressure.
  • New England was credited with three passes defensed. One of them belonged to nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
  • St. Louis' second-team offense, led by undrafted rookie quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, did this to New England's first-team defense to open the second half: 76 yards on 15 plays in 9:19. Lewis and Brandon Gibson connected for a 20-yard touchdown.
  • First-round draft pick Devin McCourty started at left cornerback and had a rough night. He struggled on run support and was beaten deep by Donnie Avery for 32 yards on the Rams' first drive. McCourty got scorched on what should have been a 27-yard Laurent Robinson touchdown at the end of the second quarter, but Bradford's throw carried Robinson out of bounds.
  • A bright spot for the defense was defensive lineman Ron Brace with seven tackles and a sack. He left the field with an undisclosed leg injury in the second half.
  • Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski is going to be a fan favorite if he can A) stay healthy, and B) keep making the kinds of plays he made against the Rams. He caught three passes for 66 yards and two scores. On his 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter, he dragged James Laurinaitis the final 5 yards and lunged at the goal line. Gronkowski capped a long drive at the start of the fourth quarter by leaping to snare a Tom Brady dart from 20 yards away.
  • Wes Welker's return from reconstructive knee surgery took another positive step. He had two catches, one going for 39 yards to seemingly wake up the sleepwalking offense. But the psychological part of his recovery shouldn't be overlooked. Welker showed concern when Avery suffered a serious knee injury in the second quarter. Reminders are everywhere.
  • Flat is one thing, undisciplined is another. The Patriots committed nine penalties (two were declined) for 72 yards. The defense was culpable for most. Three Patriots were flagged for roughing the passer: Tully Banta-Cain, Brandon Spikes and Marques Murrell.
  • How did the Patriots score 35 points while maintaining possession for only 16:14? Brandon Tate returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown followed by four straight possessions with a combined one first-down conversion. Then they scored touchdowns on each of their next three series, totaling 20 plays.
  • That's why Brady and the first-teamers played into the fourth quarter. He finished 18 of 22 for 273 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
  • Brady's 65-yard bomb to Randy Moss sure looked pretty and got the Gillette Stadium crowd into the game, but you have to wonder if the Patriots' offense would have been better served with a drive. I don't think Belichick went into Thursday night with "Get Moss behind second-string safety Kevin Payne" on the Patriots' to-do list.
  • So here's what happened on the next series: At the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, New England went no huddle and traveled 98 yards on 10 plays, gaining five first downs before Brady found Gronkowski for a 20-yard touchdown. And it took them just 2:45.
  • Not sure what to make of running back Laurence Maroney not playing a down for the second straight game. Hard to say for sure, but looks like Belichick has booked him at Chateau Bow Wow. Belichick said it was related to time of possession. Regardless of the reason, no action two straight games is a bad sign for the fifth-year pro.
  • Sam Aiken is one of the most underappreciated players in the division. He's an adequate receiver who can help out the offense in a pinch, but he's a consistently solid special-teams performer, the kind of player every good team needs. He eliminated a Rams player on Tate's touchdown return and went across the middle for a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brian Hoyer in the fourth quarter.
  • The Patriots' offense probably would've had the ball longer if Belichick opted to go for it on fourth-and-inches from the 50-yard line midway through the first quarter. The TV showed Brady playfully mocking Belichick for punting. Against the Indianapolis Colts on "Sunday Night Football" is one thing. I guess Thursday night wasn't the right moment to be a renegade.
  • Forbes estimates the Patriots are worth $1.367 billion. Time to give the Gillette Stadium field some new paint. An on-the-spot official thought Rams tight end Fendi Onobun stepped out of bounds on what should have been a touchdown because the faded white sideline was undefined.

Camp Confidential: New England Patriots

August, 13, 2010
AM ET 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."


[+] 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.


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.


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.

    [+] 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.


Kris Jenkins talks about whine and women

July, 20, 2010
New York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins beamed into the NFL Network studios and delivered some pointed remarks about Jets fans and some former teammates.

"NFL Total Access" host Rich Eisen asked Jenkins to advise nervous Jets fans how to approach a season full of expectations but also question marks because of such key departures as running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, guard Alan Faneca and safety Kerry Rhodes.

[+] EnlargeKris Jenkins
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesJets' nose tackle Kris Jenkins has a message for departed teammates: "We've had some real men come in and step in for the women that we lost."
"Suck it up. That's what y'all being doing so far," Jenkins said of the fans. "Look, you've got to understand that this is football, and if I could make a public-service announcement, I will say this: New York fans, we love you. This is Kris Jenkins. I am a little bit of a clown in my free time, so if I hurt your feelings I'm really not going to apologize because this is my time right now. ...

"If we win, then you get all your dreams coming true. If we lose, then you all get to do what you've been doing for a long time and talk about us until you basically run us out of the city. So you're going to get what you want either way. But we're going for a Super Bowl. So sit back, enjoy the ride. We're planning on doing it big."

Jenkins continued with a curious and disparaging comment about players who have left -- without naming names.

"We have great guys who have come in to step up, to fill in the void of some of these big losses that we have had this season," Jenkins said.

"Then in some other cases, we've had some real men come in and step in for the women that we lost. So we're going to be OK. Don't worry about it."

Jenkins probably was being that aforementioned clown, but Eisen didn't follow up with another question to clarify who Jenkins was referring to. Some players left on rougher terms than others. Many Jets weren't pleased to see guys like Jones, Faneca and kicker Jay Feely leave.

Rhodes would be a good guess as to one player Jenkins meant. But Jenkins did say "women" plural.

For the record, Jets who were on the final 2009 roster but not currently with the team (in addition to those listed above) are receiver Wallace Wright, defensive tackler Howard Green, defensive end Marques Douglas, linebackers Marques Murrell and Ryan Fowler, cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, special-teams ace Larry Izzo and long snapper James Dearth.

Douglas reportedly will re-sign with the Jets later this week.

Pats sign their own, but must look outside

March, 9, 2010
The New England Patriots continue to welcome back their players in free agency.

On Tuesday, they finalized a four-year contract for cornerback Leigh Bodden and formally announced they'd re-signed nose tackle Vince Wilfork and right guard Stephen Neal. They previously re-signed outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain.

New England did lose a player. The Denver Broncos signed defensive end Jarvis Green to a four-year contract. Green was a key reserve and pass-rush specialist who'll be remembered for his 2.5 sacks of Peyton Manning in the 2003 AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots' re-signings so far are indicative of a strong organization. They're bringing back their players, keeping them financially happy and not necessarily chasing around other unrestricted free agents.

But ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi believes they need to make a greater effort to look outside the organization to upgrade their roster and keep up with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.

"These moves had to be completed," Bruschi said in a video segment for "However, they need help."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Boston sports radio station WEEI on Tuesday they've reached terms with free-agent Jets defensive end Marques Murrell, but that's a depth signing. Murrell has zero NFL starts in three seasons. Various outlets have reported the Patriots are close to signing St. Louis Rams tight end Daniel Fells.

That's not the type of help Bruschi was referring to.

"Who is going to play outside linebacker for them, especially if Adalius Thomas is no longer a member of this team?" Bruschi asked. "If Wes Welker's rehabilitation takes longer than expected, they need another receiver.

"These are areas that have to be addressed via free agency. They've been very quiet up to this point. Re-signing their players is important, but they need help. They need to get off the fence and start signing some players to be competitive in this AFC East because the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are getting better with every signing that they make."


Patriots doings and one not doing

March, 8, 2010
Leigh Bodden's agent is telling everybody "Don't believe the type."

Bodden has not re-signed with the New England Patriots.

"Reports of Leigh Bodden re-signing with the Patriots are not true and premature at best," Bodden's agent, Alvin Keels, tweeted Monday night. "Leigh is still evaluating his options."

Well, fine.

But multiple outlets report Bodden and the Patriots have agreed in principle on a new contract that will keep him in Foxborough after an effective season as the club's right cornerback.

Bodden made like Ryan Clark, flirting with another team before returning home. Bodden visited the Houston Texans on Monday. Clark spent the day with the Miami Dolphins but re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In other Patriots news:

Jets tender eight of 11 RFAs

March, 4, 2010
The New York Jets have confirmed the tender offers they’ve extended to restricted free agents.

If another team signs the following players to an offer sheet and the Jets decline to match, then these are the draft considerations the Jets would receive as compensation:

An explanation on Clemens: He was drafted in the second round, but a rule states that once a team places a second-round tender on another player, it can't receive compensation for a player chosen in that round. So the reimbursement slides back to the third round for Clemens.

The Jets also announced they would not extend offers to:

Jets-Chargers inactives

January, 17, 2010
SAN DIEGO -- No surprises on the inactive list for Sunday's playoff game in Qualcomm Stadium.

New York Jets

San Diego Chargers

Salutations from Cincinnati

January, 9, 2010
CINCINNATI -- It's warmer here in Paul Brown Stadium than it was six days ago in the Meadowlands.

Still, my blood turned to slush on my walk from the parking garage to the press box.

A handful of players are milling about on the field to get ready for the 4:30 p.m. kickoff, but not as many as you'd usually see about 90 minutes before kickoff. The game forecast is for a wind chill of 14 degrees, but only a 10 percent chance of snow.

The field appears to be in decent shape. Snow encrusts the bottom rim of the stadium floor where it meets the stands. But the playing surface appears to be free of ice.

Referee Bill Leavy's crew has drawn the assignment.

A quick look at the 2009 officiating ledger shows Leavy's crew has called 188 penalties, fifth-fewest among the NFL's 17 crews. Nothing unusual jumps out about the types of calls from Leavy and his men. Offensive holding (36) and offsides (31) led the way, as you would expect. They called defensive pass interference 10 times.

Here are the inactives for the game:

New York Jets
Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals-Jets inactives

January, 3, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Cincinnati Bengals are going to rest at least one key starter Sunday night against the New York Jets.

The Bengals have scratched running back Cedric Benson and named rookie Bernard Scott the starter. The Bengals also have Larry Johnson. Benson rushed for 1,251 yards and six touchdowns this year and is a candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Cincinnati Bengals
New York Jets
Posted by's Tim Graham

The New York Jets' dynamic defense just became less vibrant.

The NFL has suspended outside linebacker Calvin Pace the first four games of 2009 for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy.

  Jets linebacker Calvin Pace has been suspended for the first four games of the season.
Pace can take part in training camp and preseason games, but he will be persona non grata at the Jets' facility beginning Sept. 5. He will miss games at the Houston Texans, against the New England Patriots, against the Tennessee Titans and at the New Orleans Saints.

He will be eligible to return to the active roster Oct. 5 and be able to play in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football."

Pace responded to the suspension through a statement released by the Jets:

"This is a situation that resulted from an over-the-counter dietary supplement that contained a substance that I did not know violated the league's policy. I am responsible for what I put into my body, and I should have paid closer attention to the league's guidelines.

"I regret that this has happened and apologize to my teammates, the entire Jets organization, as well as the fans. Hopefully, this does not distract from our ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl."

Pace's absence will be a blow to Rex Ryan's defense. The big-ticket free agent led the Jets last year with 12 tackles for losses, tied for fifth in the NFL with five forced fumbles and recovered a team-high four. He finished with seven sacks, second to Shaun Ellis' eight.

But Pace's suspension at least should give Vernon Gholston an early opportunity to prove himself. Gholston, the sixth overall draft pick last year, made zero impact at outside linebacker.

Another possibility to step up is Marques Murrell, who was listed as Pace's backup on last year's depth chart and is said to have had a fine offseason.

The Jets better hope somebody steps up because a fast start could prove necessary to winning the AFC East, a division that might send only one team to the playoffs. The Patriots won 11 games last year and didn't get in, losing a tiebreaker to the Miami Dolphins, while the AFC North and AFC South sent two teams apiece.

The AFC East faces a far more difficult schedule this year. Their cross-divisional games are against the AFC South and NFC South.

That gives AFC East clubs four of the seven toughest schedules in the leagues based on last year's records.

Posted by's Tim Graham

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Anytime a name receiver is rumored to be available, the New York Jets are said to be interested.

Plaxico Burress, Anquan Boldin and Braylon Edwards have been involved in Jets talk. Many draft analysts predicted the Jets would draft a receiver, maybe Percy Harvin or Darrius Heyward-Bey.

The Jets were in need of a prototypical No. 1 wideout even before Laveranues Coles wriggled out of his contract. They've declined to replace him thus far, creating even more skepticism that the Jets are set at receiver.

At least two players on the depth chart disagree.

  Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  David Clowney caught one pass for the Jets last season.

"I think we're good," Jets receiver Wallace Wright said. "People want to speculate, but with the talent we have in that room, I don't think we need anybody else."

David Clowney has a more specific solution to New York's receiving needs. The third-year speed demon with one career NFL catch considers himself the answer.

"I don't stress or harp" on the stream of reports the Jets are looking for outside help, Clowney said, "because at the end of the day it's all in my hands. That's been my whole mind-set. If they would've drafted a first-round receiver, he would have had to earn that job just like me, and I would just have to beat him out."

Clowney was emphatic about what he can offer the Jets. He took a break from the youth football camp he staged Saturday in his hometown -- the presence of teammates D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Gholston, Kareem Brown, Brian Schaefering, Marques Murrell, Nate Harris, Stanley Daniels and Wright gave it the feel of a Jets' organized team activity -- to talk about his expectations for 2009.

Clowney has been taking reps with the first- and second-team offense throughout OTAs.

"I'm grinding, trying to get that starting job," Clowney said. "I'm really hoping that they give it to me. I'm working for it.

"Shouldn't be a reason why I shouldn't get it, but with all this competition, we're going to make the best of it. We're all going to be out there, making plays."

(Read full post)

Posted by's Tim Graham

New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Jets: Cutdown analysis

August, 30, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

Biggest surprise: The Jets decided to keep all four of their QBs, fueling speculation in New York Kellen Clemens might be on the move. Jets coach Eric Mangini defused that talk by suggesting Clemens would be on the roster opening day as Brett Favre's primary backup. Because Brett Ratliff had performed so admirably, many observers were skeptical fifth-round draft pick Erik Ainge would stick. Ainge looked shaky throughout training camp, but he closed out the preseason with a fine performance Thursday night.

The most significant veterans dropped were eighth-year CB Hank Poteat and ninth-year LB and special-teamer Matt Chatham. Poteat was beaten out by fourth-round draft pick Dwight Lowery. Marques Murrell showed the Jets enough to bump Chatham.

No-brainers: Division I-AA record-setting WR David Ball got lost at a position that includes Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, Chansi Stuckey and David Clowney. The same fate befell WRs Larry Brackins and Paul Raymond, who never had much of a chance.

TEs Jason Pociask and A.J. Schable were on the outside looking in at veterans Chris Baker and Bubba Franks and first-round pick Dustin Keller.

What's next: The Jets, like many other teams, will be looking for offensive line depth. They kept seven receivers and nine defensive backs, so those look like areas to trim if they find some players they like on the waiver wire.



Thursday, 11/27
Sunday, 11/30
Monday, 12/1