Patriots

A Troy Brown Tribute

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A Troy Brown Tribute

Congratulations to Troy Brown for making the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Not that anyone's surprised by the announcement. Brown's the epitome of everything the Patriots HOF stands for. But now that it's official, the least I can do is take one post to say thank you.

So, in honor of Brown's impending induction, I asked myself: What's your favorite play of Troy Brown's career? And obviously a ton of great options came flowing through my mind.

There was the catch on the last drive of Super Bowl XXXVI that helped set up Varitek's game-winner. There was the blocked field goal a week earlier in the AFC championship against the Steelers. There was the forced fumbled in San Diego to extend the 2006 season (this footage is bad, but the reactions are priceless). There was the overtime bomb on the road against the Dolphins in 2003. For some reason, I also thought about his 68-yard punt return against the 1-15 Panthers in the last game of the 2001 season.

But for all the greatness and memories that Troy Brown delivered over his 15 years in New England, nothing (for me) will ever match a play from very early in his career.

It was December 21, 1996. Week 17. The Patriots stood at 10-5 and had already clinched a playoff berth, but needed a victory over the 6-9 Giants to earn a first round bye and second round home game. Adding to the drama, this was also Bill Parcells first time coaching against the Giants since leaving in 1991 can you imagine the NFL taking so long to schedule that rematch these days?

Anyway, things got off to an awful start, when Drew Bledsoe was called for intentional grounding in the end zone on the Pats first possession (sound diarrheaingly familiar?) and New England went into halftime trailing 22-0.

In the third quarter, an Adam Vinatieri field goal made it 22-3. In the fourth, a Terry Glenn touchdown catch made it 22-10 and Dave Meggett's punt return cut the Giants lead to 22-17.

That was the score with less than four minutes left, when the Pats were faced with a 3rd and 13 at the Giants 43. Then, this happened:

I was sitting at the kitchen table of my parents old house, and remember thinking this was one of the greatest catches I'd ever seen. And at that point, Brown, who was relatively unknown, immediately became one of my favorite Patriots. I bought his jersey the next season and wore it to every game I went to for more than a decade including all three Super Bowl wins. (The jersey was retired after the loss in Arizona).

As for that Giants game, after Brown extended the action, Bledsoe continued to drive the Pats downfield, and with 1:32 left, they faced a fourth and 7 on the 14 yard-line.

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Ahhh, Bledsoe to Coates. The Pats held on for the win, earned a first round bye, (thanks to the Broncos) TWO home playoff games, and moved on to their second Super Bowl berth in franchise history.

They lost, but without Brown's catch you have to wonder if that Super Bowl would have ever happened. Without Troy Brown you have to wonder if any of this would have happened.

He was a lifetime Patriot. A legendary Patriot. And it's hard to imagine anyone more deserving of a spot in the Patriots Hall of Fame.

So, congrats again, Troy. And thanks for everything.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore (concussion/ankle) still out with Falcons, Jones on deck

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore (concussion/ankle) still out with Falcons, Jones on deck

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are looking thin in the secondary as they head into their third and final day of practice before Sunday's matchup with the Falcons. 

Both Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle) and Eric Rowe (groin) sat out the session, as did linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle). Undrafted rookie defensive end Harvey Langi was also a non-participant as he recovers from injuries sustained in a car crash last week. 

Asked if Friday's practice was a possibility, Gilmore said, "We'll see." He did not give any indications that his symptoms had improved or that he had been cleared for practice as he works through the league's concussion protocol. 

Rowe was spotted in the locker room on Thursday, but he has not practiced since aggravating his groin injury in Week 4. He was injured initially during a Week 2 win over the Saints. 

Roberts suffered an ankle injury when teammate Alan Branch landed on his lower leg during a loss to the Panthers in Week 4. However, he was healthy enough to play in Weeks 5 and 6. It's unclear as to whether or not his current ailment is related to what knocked him from that Week 4 loss to Carolina. 

Here is Thursday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's game between the Patriots and Falcons:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle)
LB Harvey Langi (back)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
WR Chris Hogan (ribs)
G Shaq Mason (shoulder)

ATLANTA FALCONS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Jordan Tripp

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
OLB Vic Beasley Jr. (hamstring)
K Matt Bryant (back)
LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring)
LB Deion Jones (quadricep)
DE Takk McKinley (shoulder)
LB Duke Riley (knee)
WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring)
DL Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee)