Patriots

Bademosi rises to the occasion in Patriots' defensive backfield

Bademosi rises to the occasion in Patriots' defensive backfield

FOXBORO -- “It’s not a coincidence,” said an AFC scout. “Bill found someone who will do what he’s asking, will play it the way he’s asking and -- as an aside -- let Malcolm [Butler] play like Malcolm.”

The scout reached out to me. He watched what we watched Sunday night (or tried to watch through that damn fog). The Patriots defense against the Falcons was unrecognizable from the first six weeks of the season . . . which is to say it was good. No receivers running free with the closest defender in a different area code. No defensive backs gesturing “what the hell?” to other members of the secondary after yet another chunk play. After surrendering 26 of those chunk plays (20 yards or more) through the first half-dozen games, the Pats coughed up just two against a Falcons offense that was historically good just a year ago and returned basically the same personnel.

And Johnson Bademosi has been a central figure it the Pats revitialization.

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“Hey man, he’s been doing amazing, man,” Duron Harmon said Sunday night. “For him to fill in the role he’s been filling in -- covering Julio [Jones], covering everybody -- like he’s been playing phenomenal. I’m really excited for him. This guy just got here and is playing really good football for us.”

We detailed last week where Bademosi came from and the daunting assignment he had in front of him this weekend. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Julio Jones is the perfect weapon. As Bademosi told me after the game, Jones has it all: Speed, strength, run after catch, smarts. So how could an undrafted player who done his best work as a special teamer match up with that?

Well, for starters, the Pats were wise not to isolate Bademosi on Jones without help. There was always a safety tilted in that direction. The staff also didn’t make it a 1-on-1 affair from start to finish. Bademosi and Butler played sides mostly, meaning sometimes the former Stanford product got Jones but other times, it was Mohammad Sanu or Taylor Gabriel. Not exactly a walk in the park, but a little less stressful.

“I mean he’s one of the biggest threats on offense, and in order to stop the offense, you have to limit him,” said Bademosi of Jones, before adding, “They’re a familiar opponent. We studied what they do, prepared like it was the most important game of our lives and so that’s how it happened.”

Point is though, it was never suppose to happen with Bademosi as a central figure. This was suppose be a Stephon Gilmore game. The Pats paid him boatload of guaranteed cash for nights like this, to match up against the physical freaks like Julio Jones, or Mike Evans a couple weeks prior. But with Gilmore out the last two weeks, Bademosi is playing corner full-time and excelling.

“He’s their unsung hero right now,” said the AFC scout. “No ifs, ands or buts about it. It’s going to be very interesting when Stephon comes back.”

At worst, Bill Belichick and the defensive staff have found an added layer of competent depth for their secondary, a physical corner unfazed by his new role. At best, they’ve found a player who will fight to keep the spot that belonged to Gilmore, forcing the former Buffalo Bill to raise his level to get on the field and stay there.

Bademosi knows better than to focus on that. All he’s doing now is what he can do.

“We’re all just taking advantage of our opportunities,” said Bademosi. Are you enjoying those opportunities? “A lot.”

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Amendola: Pats' turmoil overblown, but Butler benching remains a mystery

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Amendola: Pats' turmoil overblown, but Butler benching remains a mystery

First things first. All that talk about turmoil in Foxboro?

Overblown.

"There's not really much truth to [the rumors that there was a ton of turmoil inside the walls], to tell you the truth," said ex-Patriots and current Miami wide receiver Danny Amendola. "There is always going to be some friction between a coach and a player in a business."

Second things second. The talk that there's been no explanation as to why Malcolm Butler was benched in the Super Bowl, and that the players -- or at least this player -- remain baffled by it?

Not overblown.

"I don't know the answer to [why that happened] to this day . . . " said Amendola. "[For] whatever reason, [Bill Belichick] felt, you know, he's the coach. I can't make that decision. I can only do my job and focus on my job.

"But in hindsight, it's like, 'Really, what agenda are we on?' It's something that I will probably never really understand."

Amendola said all this, and much more, on Barstool Sports' Comeback SZN Podcast with Kayce Smith, formerly of NBC Sports Boston. Amendola -- who played five years in New England before signing as a free agent with the Dolphins this past offseason -- gave a fascinating glimpse behind the Patriots' iron curtain.

Like when he signed with the Pats on March 13, 2013:

The realization he was headed to New England "set in when Bill called . . . and said, 'Get your ass to Foxboro and ink this up . . . we're not having a press conference, we don't give a [crap] about that.' Then I realized [New England] was all work, no glitz. No glamour. It's just about playing good football, the Patriot Way."

And what it was like with the Pats:

"I got to understand what it was like to put the work in and really grind it out . . . and learn how to win. When I was in St. Louis" -- Amendola played for the Rams from 2009-12, when the team went 17-46-1 and was below .500 every year -- "I learned that wins are hard to come by in the NFL . . . but sometimes we'd win in New England and [Belichick] wasn't happy. Tom [Brady] wasn't happy. Or we knew we could play better here or play better there. I learned how to win and how to play and what it meant to play good football."

Did he enjoy it?

"I have mixed feelings about business is done," he admitted.

However . . . 

"I got to play for the greatest coach of time, [with] the greatest quarterback of all time and [for] one of the greatest owners of all time (in Robert Kraft). I got to understand what it was like to put the work in and really grind it out . . . and learn how to win."

Some of the other things he had to say . . 

On the difference between Belichick and his new coach, Adam Gase: "Adam Gase is one of the guys. He's our leader. He's our head coach, but he's also our boy. It's cool. It's refreshing to have that kind of relationship with a coach, which is something that I haven't had in a long time. You want to fight hard [for a coach like that]. Back in New England, it was almost like you've got a principal and a principal's office and [stuff] like that. You know, in a good way. And in a bad way, too."

On how playing with Tom Brady impacted his career: "Tom is not only a great football player, but he makes every one on his team better around him. He's created a lifestyle for himself and diet and the way he approaches the game on and off the field around the clock. . . . he's preparing his body. He's really instilled that in me. I've watched him do it for five years. That's inadvertently changed that way I approach the game."

More on the Patriots' reported turmoil: "Personally, I can't speak for Tom or Bill. But I know that regardless of business -- and I have mixed feelings of how business is done [in New England] -- I know for a fact that Coach Belichick is one of the best coaches of all time. He has all of his players' respect. I know Tom would say that same thing. I know [Rob Gronkowski] would say the same thing, regardless of how they feel about their contracts or certain situation or whatever may be going down." 

On his favorite off-the-field memoires as a Patriot: "[Going] to the [Kentucky] Derby every year after we won the Super Bowl with Tom was fun . . . we'd gas up the jet and we'd get down there and four or five Louisville cops would pick us up. We could literally do whatever we wanted with cops by our side . . . of course, Gronk and [Julian Edelman] being there (spices things) up a bit. And when you're with Brady, every head in the building turns. He changes the energy in any room. It's fun. It's adult fun.

"I went to the Derby twice and I don't think I saw a horse one time. [Wes] Welker, one year, brought in a boombox.. We created our own club vibe in there. Wes brought like $500,000 in fake 20s and 100s stacked it up on the table and everybody thought it was real money . . . Another year, we had a karaoke machine. And this is like in the most distinguished area of the Derby. People are suited and booted . . . and we have a karaoke machine. Travis Tritt was there . . . and he sang 'Sweet Home Alabama'. It was awesome. It was electric."

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Kraft reportedly close to investing in Spanish soccer team

Kraft reportedly close to investing in Spanish soccer team

Will Patriots owner Robert Kraft soon match Red Sox principal owner John Henry by investing in a European soccer team of his own?

According to Spanish media reports, Kraft is close to buying a stake in the Spanish soccer club Sevilla of LaLiga. Spanish radio network COPE reports that the sale of a 40 percent share of the team to a "U.S investment group" could come this week.

More from the website SoccerEx:

Kraft, who is chairman and chief executive of the Kraft Group, is apparently leading this consortium, possibly through an investment company called 'Sevillistas Unidos 2020’.

The Patriots were valued at $3.7 billion - the second-most valuable NFL franchise behind the Dallas Cowboys - in the latest Forbes ranking of world sports franchises. European soccer teams hold three of the top five spots.

In 2005, Kraft considered purchasing English Premier League team Liverpool FC, which was purchased by Henry's group in 2010.

The Kraft group also own the New England Revolution of MLS and the Boston esports franchise in the Overwatch League.

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