Patriots

50 best? Here are the 12 worst of the Belichick Era

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50 best? Here are the 12 worst of the Belichick Era

You all can play along with Tom E. Curran on csnne.com and rank the greatest Patriots under Bill Belichick until the cows come home. But me being me, I had a lot more fun compiling the all-time worst list for Sports Tonight on Thursday.

As usual, TV didn't provide enough time to flush out the topic. So I'll do it here. Behold Belichick's bottom 12. A dirty dozen:

(Note: To be considered, players actually had to make the team and play in enough games to definitively prove how much they sucked. Of course, the worst of the worst never made the team or saw the field. We'll ignore those guys and keep it to the ones who actually contributed to losses. In other words, Tim Tebow doesn't qualify.)

12. Brandon Meriweather, SS -- Maybe he doesn't belong, but I just hated this guy (professionally, not personally; I never met him). He didn't know how to field the position and only tried to hurt people. He made two Pro Bowls with the Pats, which shows you how useless that game is. One of the poster boys for my least favorite stretch of the Belichick era (2007-2010).

11. Adalius Thomas, DE -- Horrible contract. Part of the group that left the reservation in 2009. A real waste. His only saving grace was an excellent performance against the Giants in the Super Bowl.

10. Drew Bledsoe, QB -- Joking! (KInd of.) Just because we feel like putting a quarterback on the list, we'll go with Rohan Davey. Boy, did he stink.

9. Shawn Springs, CB -- The Pats gave this guy real money in 2009 ($4.5 million in bonus and salary), and in the end he played 12 games, intercepted one ball and contributed to the worst locker room of the Belichick era.

8. Steve Martin, DL -- Remember him? As his name would suggest, he was a real joker. Loved talking to the media. Was signed in 2002 to stuff the run and couldn't do it. After a road loss to the Titans late in the year in which the Pats allowed 238 rushing yards, Belichick whacked him. Big mouth. No ability. Bad combo.

7. Jordan Devey, G -- Maybe a hell of a tuba player (he played for the band in high school, not the football team), but not much of an offensive lineman. He almost got Tom Brady killed early last season. Incredibly, he's still on the team.

6. Deltha O'Neal, CB -- Part of the lost season of 2008, the former Bengal was the first in a long line of Patriots failures at corner between Asante Samuel and Aqib Talib.

5. Chad Ochocinco, WR -- Another joke. Belichick always liked this guy for some reason, so he threw him a lifeline (not to mention a couple million bucks) in 2011. Ocho repaid Belichick's support with 15 catches in 15 games. A no show performance.

4. Donald Hayes, WR -- Supposed to be a big outside threat for Brady in 2002, the free agent Hayes never could figure out the offense. There was a reason: he had a severe learning disability. That's not his fault, of course. Bad work by the Pats for not doing their homework. Hayes had 12 catches in 12 games and was released. Never played in the league again.

3. Monty Beisel, LB -- He and Chad Brown were the replacements for Ted Johnson (retirement) and Tedy Bruschi (stroke) in 2005. Both were benched by Week 7. Beisel made more noise yelling at Curran in the locker room ("I'm a P.R. man myself!'') than he ever did on the field.

2. Duane Starks, CB -- The Pats traded a third-round pick for this stiff, a former Super Bowl winner for the Ravens in 2000. By the time he got to the Pats in 2005, he couldn't play. Slunk off the field during a game against the Colts and was out of the picture after seven games.

1. Albert Haynesworth, DL -- What a bum. Didn't cost the Patriots much (a fifth-round pick and around $1 million), but he also didn't do a thing. Was cut before the season was out. The Pats should be embarrassed for bringing him into the organization. A bad guy and a bad player.

Who'd I miss? Let me know at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on Comcast SportsNet.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Finally, the New England Patriots are back on the field at Gillette Stadium.

The new-look Pats had their first practice of 2020 on Wednesday, which means training camp position battles are officially underway. The obvious position battle in camp will be at the quarterback position between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, but there are many more intriguing battles to keep an eye on.

In a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry break down the positions where these battles will take place.

Patriots Talk Podcast - Training Camp Preview: Burning Questions. Bold Predictions | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

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Perry named the Patriots' three most notable position battles, starting with the QB position. While it's technically a battle between Newton and Stidham, some believe it's a foregone conclusion Newton will be the Week 1 starter.

"You have the quarterback spot with Cam vs. Stidham. Let's move past that, we've talked enough about that, we both think Cam is going to win the job. Not a real battle, per se," Perry said.

"Let's go back to the outside linebackers. This is a four-way cage match between Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings, Shilique Calhoun, and Brandon Copeland. My guy is going to be Anfernee Jennings, but I do think that's a battle. Whatever that opposite John Simon edge spot is called, somebody's got to fill it.

"Number three, let's talk special teams ... who is your returner? Is it Kyle Dugger, your first draft pick in this year's draft? Is it J.J. Taylor? Fun as hell to watch, would be fun as hell to watch in the kicking game. Or is it last year's guy, Gunner [Olszewski]? They don't want to give it to Julian Edelman, we know that, so one of those three guys I think will win it."

For Curran, it's a newly-added safety who will have his attention in camp.

"I'm going to head over to the secondary for the position battle that I'm interested to watch," Curran said. "I have a good feeling of who's going to shine there and it's my defensive dark horse for this camp and this season -- it's going to be Adrian Phillips at the safety spot holding off a young Kyle Dugger.

"I think Adrian Phillips is going to be an absolute eye-opener at the safety position ... Adrian Phillips is a talented player, he's closer to [Patrick] Chung than he is Devin McCourty. He's going to be a really good player for the Patriots this year. But I'm going to be real interested to see how Dugger competes ... he's an athletic unicorn."

Curran and Perry also discuss the burning questions surrounding the Patriots, why the Pats should explore using the triple option, bold predictions for the 2020 season, and much more.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

One of the New England Patriots' 2020 draft picks has decided to retire before his rookie season began.

The team announced Thursday it has placed offensive lineman Dustin Woodard on the reserve/retired list.

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Woodard, who played college football at the University of Memphis, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (230th overall) of April's draft. The 22-year-old center/guard was one of three offensive linemen taken by the Patriots in the 2020 draft, along with guard Michael Onwenu (sixth round) and tackle Justin Herron (sixth round).

Why is Woodard retiring? ESPN's Mike Reiss reported additional details:

The Patriots signed center Tyler Gauthier on Wednesday in a move that adds some depth to the position following Woodard's retirement. Woodard had a chance to make the roster as the backup center behind starter David Andrews.