Patriots

Bledsoe, Parcells prime candidates for Pats HOF

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Bledsoe, Parcells prime candidates for Pats HOF

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com
Who was more important to the New England Patriots, quarterback Drew Bledsoe or the man who drafted him, Bill Parcells? Is it the guy who wrote the script or the guy who read the lines? There's a good chance that this is the choice that will face Patriots fans when the 2011 Patriots Hall of Fame nominees are announced by the team on April 15. And it's up to you to make the ultimate votes. On Friday, a committee of media, staff and alumni met to discuss Patriots players who are eligible and deserving of Hall of Fame induction. This reporter ... no, no this one...no, right HERE. Ok, I was in the room. Our job was to hear the discussion then nominate three players in descending order. When the ballots are counted, the top three vote-getters will be announced to the public and the public will vote on the 2011 inductee. There's always a lot of discussion about players from different eras. Getting insight into guys I'd only watched play (as opposed to covering or not seeing at all) was a big part of the session. Asking guys like Andre Tippett or Steve Grogan or Ernie Adams to explain the merits of Raymond Clayborn vs. Leon Gray vs. Houston Antwine was an education. But now we're getting into the "modern" eraof the Patriots. The conversation now becomes even more fascinating because the "saving" of the franchise and the current "flourishment" somewhat trump the great players from the star-crossed seasons past. I've been a stalwart supporter of Leon Gray, the late Patriots' left tackle who was with the Patriots from 1973-'78. John Hannah played next to Gray and the two were one of the most potent guard-tackle combos in league history. Gray went to two Pro Bowls (1976 and '78) and was an All Pro ('78) while with the Patriots. But he was foolishly dealt to Houston in 1979 where he kept on being awesome. He's been on my nomination list before. So has Clayborn, Antwine and another old-timer Houston Antwine. But with Bledsoe and Parcells both coming up, all the other guys were fighting for that third nomination spot on my ballot. And to me, the first spot was kind of easy. Bledsoe. Even though the word "underachiever" appears on his Patriots' epitaph, From 1993 to 1998, he was the best young quarterback in the NFL. I remember writing in 1998 that there wasn't a quarterback in the league you'rd rather start a franchise with. The talent was there. The production was there. The wins, the playoff appearances and the toughness were there. But the combination of Parcells being a pain in his ass, Pete Carroll being too soft, Bledsoe not being a maniacal worker and an ever-changing parade of offensive coordinators and systems caused Bledsoe's development to flat-line. And then he got worse. Still, he was the franchise hood ornament, the most important player the franchise ever had until the third week of September, 2001 rolled around. Parcells? His impact on the franchise was nearly equal to Bledsoe's. On the day he was hired - four months before he drafted Bledsoe - nearly 1,000 season tickets were sold. In four seasons, Parcells made the Patriots compelling. He made them relevant. He ended their years of being a punch line. But he was here for half as long as Bledsoe. His divorce from the team was messy (a Twitter poll I threw out there on Friday had Bledsoe as the pick by a 4 to 1 count) and he was as reviled as he was beloved by the time he fled to the Jets. Bledsoe? At least outwardly, he never did anything to sully his "class act" image, though he oozed disdain for Belichick and a tolerant condescension toward Brady at times during that period from September through January. Last up? I went with Leon Gray, narrowly, over Raymond Clayborn. So I did my part. And so did the rest of the panel. Come April 15, you'll get the chance to finish the job. I'll keep you posted.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Brady enjoys 'unique experience' of road trip

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Brady enjoys 'unique experience' of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on its own feel, its own flavor and - eventually - its own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: