Patriots

Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: The cornerbacks

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Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: The cornerbacks

Leading up to the first day of training camp, we’re going to look at the most important Patriots, counting down from 10 to 1. We’ve advanced to number four today and yes, because it’s my list, it’s a little offbeat. But when you read, I think you’ll understand why.

4. MALCOLM BUTLER. OR LOGAN RYAN. OR BRADLEY FLETCHER. OR TARELL BROWN. OR SOMEONE CURRENTLY NOT ON THE ROSTER.

Why? The Patriots won a Super Bowl last year. They won it, in part, because they finally had an elite secondary. Having Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington slotted at 1, 2 and 3 gave Matt Patricia more flexibility to call whatever he wanted and trust it would be executed on the back end. Now those guys are gone, and to say the corner position is a massive question mark would be a colossal understatement. I have no idea who will start in Week One. I have no idea who will be starting when the playoffs roll around. It could be an entirely different crew from early September to January. You know. I know it. The American public knows it.

Previous Performance: Throw it all out. The top four corners are no longer on the roster. Now I could give a damn about Alfonzo Dennard, but the other three?? I cry my big fat head to sleep on my pillow every night. Watching Revis play was football porn. You never had to sweat the technique (shoutout to Eric B & Rakim) and it was clear -- despite the idiots yammering on sports radio -- that he played at an elite level from start to finish. Browner’s insertion into the lineup brought swagger and physicality and smarts that he still doesn’t get enough credit for. Butler’s Super Bowl interception doesn’t happen without Browner alerting him to the play and then making that wicked jam. So what’s left? Butler is the “it” corner but he played a limited role overall. Ryan regressed. Brown just signed and is coming off the broken foot and Fletcher had one of the worst years a corner has ever. But don’t worry. It’ll be fine . . . 

Questions surrounding the player: How quickly can these youngsters and retreads come together? Can any emerge as a legit number one option (and I’m not talking in the Leigh Bodden mold, either)? Can Fletcher rediscover the form that in 2013 had him close to getting a lucrative contract extension from the Eagles? Will Butler and Ryan avoid the all-too-common step back or flatline trajectory that most of the Pats young corners have fallen into? I need a drink . . . 

Overall Outlook: Until they show me they can do it, I won’t believe they can. There is potentially good football in this group, but there’s also the potential that one or two of these guys will be forgotten by the end of camp, let alone the end of the season.

Harrison: Belichick's a better coach than Tomlin

Harrison: Belichick's a better coach than Tomlin

The who's-the-better-coach-Bill Belichick-or-Mike Tomlin? debate has been over for a while now -- last December may have been the final nail in that particular coffin -- but James Harrison played for both, he was Skip Bayliss and Shannon Sharpe's guest on FS1's Undisputed, so the question was a natural one:

Mike Tomlin [or] Bill Belichick?

"Belichick" was Harrison's quick, unequivocal answer.

By far?

"To me, yes."

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Okay, then, Why?

"Mike Tomlin's good as a head coach," said Harrison, the Steelers' long-time linebacker who finished his career with the Patriots last season. "He's a players' coach. I think he needs to be a little bit more disciplined . . . 

"The big thing with Belichick is, he's very regimented. He's disciplined. Everyone is going to be on the same page. It's not going to be anything as far as someone doing their own thing. Over there, their whole coaching staff is like that. You're going to know what you're doing. There's meeting after meeting; I ain't never been to so many meetings in my life . . . Man, I seen Tom Brady running to a meeting, scared to be late . . . I don't even know what happens if you're late to a meeting over there. 

'Cause everybody gets there on time?

"Yes. Yes."

The bottom line, in Harrison's mind, is this:

"Belichick is old school. Like, 'You're going to do it like this or it ain't gonna get done.' Like I said, playing for him is easy if you're used to [regimentation], if you're used to disicipline; (if you're used to it) it's not something that's hard to do. If you're not, then you're going to have some issues until you get in line."

And personally?

"Belichick's actually funny. He's nothing like the guy that you see on TV."

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NFL, NFLPA issue joint statement regarding 'anthem issue'

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NFL, NFLPA issue joint statement regarding 'anthem issue'

Hours after it was announced the Dolphins would discipline players for protesting the National Anthem, the NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement regarding the anthem policy.

In the statement, the two sides say they are "working on a resolution to the anthem issue" but "no new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing."

The players' association filed a grievance against the league last week for the anthem policy.

Read the entire statement below:

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