Patriots

Rob Ninkovich shares comical story about conversation with Chris Long

Rob Ninkovich shares comical story about conversation with Chris Long

Some players enter the NFL with massive expectations that are tough to live up to. Chris Long would qualify as one. The former New England Patriot and No. 2 overall pick in 2008, who announced his retirement from the NFL just over a week ago, was expected to be a terrific pass rusher. He was able to have a solid career, but the expectations were certainly lofty.

In a recent interview with ESPN's Mike Reiss, former Patriot Rob Ninkovich recalled about a conversation he had Long about being compared to players, and it had a comical result.

At one time, we were having a discussion, and I told him, 'It sucks that they gave me [No.] 50 because it can feel like a Mike Vrabel comparison all the time.' He looked at me and was like, 'Yeah, I'm Howie Long's son.' He wins that one.

Um, yeah. I'd say that Long had a little bit more heaped on him than Ninkovich for that comparison.

Still, Long did well for himself. Though he only played for the Patriots for one season, he had a huge impact on the team. He totaled four sacks in 2016 en route to the team's Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He would go on to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl the next year as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. He finished his career with 70 sacks, the two rings, and a Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Considering that Long's father had 84 sacks, the younger Long did a great job of trying to live up to the comparison.

Meanwhile, Ninkovich had four sacks in 2016, his lone season teamed up with Long which also turned out to be his final season. He finished his Patriots career with 46 sacks and two Super Bowl titles in eight seasons. Comparatively, Vrabel had 48 sacks and three Super Bowl titles in his eight seasons in New England.

Suffice to say, both players were able to do the comparisons they faced justice during their more-than-solid NFL careers.

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Friendship with O'Brien reportedly a big part of Caserio's attraction to Texans

Friendship with O'Brien reportedly a big part of Caserio's attraction to Texans

The apparent tug of war between the Patriots and Texans over Nick Caserio appears - for now - to have gone the Pats' way.

While the Texans keep the seat warm for the Patriots director of player personnel, and Bill Belichick's right-hand man, to finish out his contract that ends after the 2020 draft, there's been speculation a trade could be worked out that would allow Caserio to become GM in Houston.

Our Tom E. Curran notes that the Pats' asking price would have to be a first-rounder and that would seem to be a non-starter for the Texans.  

The driving force behind Caserio's desire to work for the Texans, who also sought permission to talk to him a year earlier but were denied by the Patriots, is his close relationship with Houston coach and former Pats offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, The Boston Globe's Chris Gasper reports.

According to Gasper, Caserio and O'Brien's "friendship extends well beyond football." That relationship and the opportunity to be the boss have Caserio, 43, intrigued by the Texans.

More from Gasper's column:

“It was a chance to work with his buddy, and finally have a chance to run the building,” said a source with knowledge of Caserio’s situation. “He told Belichick he’s super grateful for every opportunity he’s been given. But it would be absurd to request that [Houston-type] opportunity there, and he never would.

“Based on age, at some point, he’ll be given the opportunity. I think he would love that. I think he knows to not desire it or request it in New England because of the gentleman he reports to. If Coach wants to make it 10 more years, maybe he will."

This same source told Gasper that Caserio, Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft held a clear-the-air session after the Texans backed off their pursuit and the focus is on the season ahead: “It was a tough week and a half, but I’m certain it’s behind all parties, or at least it seems to be."

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Patriots WR Julian Edelman predicts new-look Jets will be 'a tough matchup'

Patriots WR Julian Edelman predicts new-look Jets will be 'a tough matchup'

The intense rivalry between the Patriots and Jets has been decidedly one-sided in New England's favor over the last decade, but there's a swirl of optimism in New York entering the 2019 season after a flurry of free-agent signings and a head coaching change.

The Jets finished with a 4-12 record at the bottom of AFC East last season and quickly went to work to improve the roster.

They drafted Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. They signed an elite running back in Le'Veon Bell to a free-agent contract. They also signed reliable wide receiver Jamison Crowder as a free agent. New York's coaching staff underwent significant changes, too, with Adam Gase taking over for Todd Bowles as the head coach.

There's no question the Jets are a better team entering the 2019 campaign, and Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman doesn't expect any easy games against them this coming season.

“They’ve got some new coaches and some really dynamic players and a young quarterback,” Edelman recently told George Willis of the New York Post.

“They also have a defense that for some reason does real well against us. People ask me when I’m in New York about the Giants and the Jets. Those teams have always played us well. Now the Jets have Gase and he’s got some blueprints from Miami, where he beat us. It’s going to be a tough matchup.”

The first meeting between these teams is a Week 3 matchup at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots will be aiming to extend their win streak over the Jets to seven games. The Jets have not beaten Tom Brady and Co. since the 2015 campaign, but six of the last 10 games in this rivalry were decided by one touchdown or less.

The Jets, despite all the changes to their roster and coaching staff, still aren't a good bet to make the playoffs next season. But they aren't likely to be a pushover, either, especially with quarterback Sam Darnold expected to take a step forward in his sophomore season. Edelman and the Patriots do a great job not underestimating opponents, and we should expect two really competitive games between these teams in 2019. 

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