Patriots

Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard eager to get started after Tom Brady's arrival

Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard eager to get started after Tom Brady's arrival

O.J. Howard could benefit from Tom Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers more than any other player on the team.

Brady has targeted tight ends quite often throughout his 20-year career, and his connection with future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski was legendary. Howard obviously isn't as talented as Gronkowski, but the 2017 first-round pick does have some of the same physical traits. The Bucs tight end is listed at 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, and his speed is better than you might expect from a player with that much size and strength.

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians even admitted last week that Howard's eyes should "light up" given Brady's history of success with tight ends.

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Howard could finally have a breakout season in 2020 with Brady throwing him the football, so he's understandably eager to get to work with the six-time Super Bowl champion. 

“For me, like everyone else, I was hearing the rumors about it, but I had to make sure it was true,” Howard recently said in a team interview. “When he signed, and I knew it was official, it was awesome.  Tom is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. So, to be able to have a guy like that with the leadership ability and a known winner on your team, it’s very encouraging to hear.”

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Brady isn't the only impactful move the Bucs have made in free agency. They've also upgraded their offensive line and brought back three important players -- Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh -- to a defense that excelled over the second half of the 2019 season.

"We brought our guys back, we got back Shaq, Suh, JPP -- all those guys," Howard said. "Those guys had a heck of a (2019) season. That's encouraging, to see our defense come back. Everybody is on the same page. The future is bright for us. I'm just ready to get it in motion."

Oddsmakers are similarly excited about the Buccaneers' upcoming season. They've given Tampa Bay the fifth-best betting odds to win Super Bowl LV, which actually will be played at the Bucs' home arena, Raymond James Stadium.

Dolphins' Kyle Van Noy bristles at Patriots comparisons: 'We're our own team'

Dolphins' Kyle Van Noy bristles at Patriots comparisons: 'We're our own team'

You could call the Miami Dolphins "Foxboro South." Just don't call them that in front of Kyle Van Noy.

The veteran linebacker is one of four former New England Patriots who signed with the Dolphins this offseason, joining fellow linebackers Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill and center Ted Karras.

Miami is also led by an ex-Patriot in head coach Brian Flores, who has loaded his staff with New England alums in defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, tight ends coach George Godsey and quality control coach Mike Judge.

But Van Noy apparently is growing tired of those who believe the Dolphins are trying to replicate the Patriots' model of success.

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“I don’t now how many New England guys there are, but we’re going to get away from that,” Van Noy told the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley in a recent interview. “We’re our own team, this is not the New England Patriots. This is the Miami Dolphins. It’s totally different, and I’m excited for that. New beginnings.

The Dolphins began to forge their own identity late in the 2019 season, going 5-4 down the stretch after losing their first seven games. While Van Noy and his fellow Patriots cast-offs weren't there for that turnaround, the 29-year-old can already sense the team's new attitude.

"We’re the Miami Dolphins. We’re here to represent the people of Miami," Van Noy said. "They want it bad. I can sense that. Miami’s a football town."

The Dolphins fired ex-Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea as their offensive coordinator late in the 2019 season and used their No. 5 overall pick on Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, so perhaps they are intent on moving past those Patriots comparisons.

We'll find out immediately if that new approach pays off, as New England hosts Miami in its 2020 season opener.

Devin McCourty, wife share heartbreaking news of daughter's death

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USA TODAY Sports

Devin McCourty, wife share heartbreaking news of daughter's death

Devin McCourty and his wife, Michelle, endured every parent's worst nightmare last weekend.

The New England Patriots safety shared his wife's announcement Saturday that they lost their third child, Mia, last Sunday as the result of a stillbirth.

"I cry as I type this," Michelle wrote in an Instagram post. "My pregnancy had resulted in a stillbirth at almost 8 months of being pregnant — at exactly 31 weeks 2 days, when we found out that the baby girl growing inside me no longer had a heartbeat after being completely fine the week prior at my last doctor’s appointment.

"We are so heartbroken. We are devastated. We are speechless. We are angry. We are sad. We are confused. We are numb."

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The couple has two other young children: a 3-year-old girl named Londyn and a 2-year-old boy named Brayden.

The McCourtys received an outpouring of support from Devin's current and former teammates after he shared the news on Instagram.

Here's ex-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: "Love you my brother. So sad for you loss! You are in our thoughts and prayers always ❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼"

And here's Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo: "My prayers and love to your family bro."

Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry -- "My prayers are definitely going out to y’all. Love you bro💙" -- Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers -- "Prayers for you and your family! 💪🏾 be strong brother" -- and ex-Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib -- "Praying for ya family brotha!" -- were among many other NFL players offering their support to the McCourtys.

Michelle added in her message that she and Devin "appreciate the love and support we’ve already gotten, and just ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time, since we have no answers to give anyway."

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