Patriots

Patriots tight ends pile up accolades

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Patriots tight ends pile up accolades

FOXBORO -- The Patriots never brag about individual achievements. But as their regular season concluded with a 49-21 win over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, those individual achievements continued to pile up.

And this time, they actually admitted that was the purpose -- for one of those personal achievements, at least.

Rob Gronkowski set an NFL record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end on Sunday. He finished the season with 1,327 receiving yards, surpassing San Diego's Kellen Winslow's 1980 record of 1,290. New Orleans' Jimmy Graham also broke Winslow's record with 97 receiving yards on Sunday, but when the Patriots got the ball back with 1:30 left in the game -- thanks to an Antwaun Molden interception -- backup quarterback Brian Hoyer found Gronkowski down the left sideline for a 22-yard pass on the first play of the drive.

The goal was to have him surpass Graham, Belichick admitted. Gronkowski appreciated the nod.

It means a lot, man, that theyre willing to do that when we could've taken a knee and just make sure no one gets hurt," said Gronkowski. "Its just an honor to play here. Thats why I love playing here, great teammates, great coaches, and everyones just a team here and nothing would get accomplished here without everyone here -- all the veterans and everything.

"Everyones just great teammates. All the praises to my teammates and everything and the coaches definitely and playing with Aaron Hernandez beside me, too. He balled out today and its great having him. He didnt play the last time against Buffalo and that just shows how big of a difference he is coming back and playing against them.

Gronkowski finished the game with eight receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns. But he wasn't even the tight end with the most reception yards on his team. That distinction went to Hernandez, who finished the game with seven receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown.

With the big game for each, both Gronkowski and Hernandez have now combined for the most single-season receptions by a tight end duo in NFL history.

"Our offense, we really never get worried," said Hernandez. "We don't care if we're down 30 points. We feel like we can come back. And like you've seen in the past, for four or five weeks, we've been down in the beginning, and then came back.

"We know that we're going to put up about 30 points, as soon as our offense starts clicking. Whether we start in the third quarter, fourth quarter, we know how to put points on the board.

"How could you panic? You got Tom Brady, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, Gronkowski the best tight end in the game, me, Wes Welker," added Hernandez. "You've got a whole bunch of people that can make plays. How can you get nervous? Tom Brady's going to put you in the right play and make a great pass. And we've got a lot of people that can get open."

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."