Patriots

Allen admired New England before arrival

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Allen admired New England before arrival

FOXBORO -- One thing you always hear from new Patriots -- rookies and veterans alike -- is awe for the team machine. Will Allen, a 33-year-old cornerback who signed with New England as a free agent, is no exception.

"It's been great," Allen said of the team's OTAs. "The kind of workouts these guys are doing, it's just impressive. It just reminds me of college and what it's about, as far as trying to get in shape to play at the level you need to play at this game. I think strength coach Harold Nash does an excellent job. He's been kicking my butt for the last week-and-a-half, so I'm excited about that."

The veteran of 11 NFL seasons spent the last five years in Miami's secondary as a mostly-corner, sometimes-nickel back. He signed a one-year, 1 million deal in New England in March.

Though the Patriots do need more men at the position and love veterans, especially former first-round picks, Allen's job isn't guaranteed. New England has worked out at least five college cornerbacks set to be rookies with this weekend's NFL draft.

That's fine with Allen.

"I think to be around for a long time, you have to embrace competition," he said. "I've been in competition since I came into this league and you have to embrace it. In my position, if you don't like competition you're not going to survive out there."

This is where the years of NFL experience help. Allen believes, if anything, the need for full-time nickel backs is growing.

"If you look at where most of the balls are thrown, a lot of the balls are thrown in there, especially where the game is turning now, where a lot of slot guys are getting lot of balls," he said. "If you take a guy like Wes Welker, Wes gets the ball a ton. And tight ends, it's easier throws for the quarterback and the fact that guys are spreading guys out and you're creating most mismatches out there."

The respect for Welker is genuine, and it extends to the rest of the Patriots offense. Allen's time in Miami taught him all too well what kind of damage New England can inflict on defenses; he laughed in obvious joy when asked about working with, instead of against it.

"I've faced Tom Brady quite a few times," Allen said. "To be a teammate of his, I'm grateful for that. I'm happy I'm here. I think, if I had to pick a team to go to, this would be the team."

Allen might have gotten his hopes up in the past. When the Dolphins released the defensive back at 2011's final cuts on September 3, he visited the Patriots in the next three days. But Miami, freed of guaranteeing Allen's contract and able to bring him back at a lower rate, re-signed him on the 14th.

Allen doesn't hide the fact he feels the visit was an opportunity lost. How could he? The Dolphins went 6-10 last season; they missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 years. When asked why he wanted to play for the Patriots, Allen practically scoffed.

"Why do you think? This team wins," he said. "We play this football game to win. We play this game because we love it, first and foremost, but most importantly we want to win. This place has a great reputation for winning ball games."

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

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Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.

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“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”

Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September. 

Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:

Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."