Apparently, the Patriots have their replacement for Chris Harper.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the team plans to sign free agent wide receiver/kick returner Damaris Johnson. The 26-year-old worked out for the Patriots on Monday.

Harper was waived on Monday after committing a key turnover while muffing a punt in the fourth quarter Sunday night. Harper, an undrafted free agent out of Cal, could wind up back on the Patriots practice squad.

Johnson was originally signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in April 29, 2012. Johnson eventually started along with DeSean Jackson against the Cardinals, replacing injured Jeremy Maclin.

On Dec. 2, 2012, during Sunday night football, he returned a 98-yard punt for a touchdown against the Cowboys, which is tied for the third longest punt return in NFL history. He was released by the Eagles on Aug. 30, 2014 and picked up by the Texans.

On Sept. 21, 2014, Johnson caught a 44 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for his first career touchdown. Johnson played in all 16 games for the Texans in 2014. The Texans waived him at the end of preseason in September 2015.

He has been out of the NFL since the Texans released him.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Patriots know they can’t worry about calls.

But they can control how they react and learn from them. Of course, no one has been under the microscope closer than Rob Gronkowski. He’s been called for five offensive pass interference flags this year.

Rob Gronkowski has been flagged five times for offensive pass interference this season (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski has been flagged five times for offensive pass interference this season (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The Patriots know they can’t worry about calls.

But they can control how they react and learn from them. Of course, no one has been under the microscope closer than Rob Gronkowski. He’s been called for five offensive pass interference flags this year.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels acknowledged Tuesday that perhaps the tight end has been the target of being too big.

“We’re fortunate to have a guy who is a big athlete and is bigger than the guys who are covering him, and at times I think sometimes we feel like the contact is made and because the other guy takes the brunt of it, sometimes we end up getting called for it,” McDaniels said during a conference call. “But you know, I think Rob is trying to play within the rules 100 percent of the time. We’re never trying to do something that would create penalties, and we certainly are going to try to do everything we can to eliminate those penalties going forward because they certainly come at big times in the game and they affected a couple of drives the other night. We’ll do everything we can to try to clean that up and help Rob and anybody else for that matter because we’ve been called for a few other ones along the way, too, to try to avoid those things coming up again.”

McDaniels said the emphasis now is to try and make the receivers, particularly Gronkowski, aware of what is and is not likely to draw a penalty.

“They are what they are, and we have to play within the rules,” McDaniels said. “I think that the best thing we can do is try to coach Rob based on the way that we’ve been told we can play. Rob very rarely, if ever, extends his arms, and we try to make sure that we don’t do that. And I think that we try to make sure that we’re not the one that’s pushing or shoving or shoving or trying to move the defender in any way that’s illegal. So I think a lot of time, the contact is initiated, and the question is who’s initiating it.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Pete Morelli’s officiating crew did not have a good day last Sunday with the Cardinals-49ers game.

Because of this, the crew has been demoted from calling this week’s Sunday night game between the Colts and Steelers, according to Pro Football Talk. And according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Morelli’s crew will be reassigned to the Patriots and Eagles game Sunday at 4:25 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

Both teams had issues with the officiating, as the Cardinals were unhappy they had a down taken away from early in the game. Then, the 49ers didn’t like the number penalties called on them, especially four in one goal-line situation in the second half.

The move is viewed as a demotion as the crew no longer will officiate the nationally televised game that the whole country watches Sunday night.

The Patriots themselves had issues with the officials Sunday night in Denver with a few questionable penalties called against them and an issue with the clock in the final seconds, although Bill Belichick said Monday the clock was handled right, he just wished the communication was better.

For more Patriots news, visit

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Ordway, Merloni and Fauria on Tuesday to discuss Sunday’s loss to the Broncos and also the NFL officials.

NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Ordway, Merloni and Fauria on Tuesday to discuss Sunday’s loss to the Broncos and also the NFL officials. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

There were a few questionable calls in Sunday’s game that went against the Patriots, but Harrison said it is a league-wide issue, not the league being against New England. Harrison also added officials should be full-time to help prevent some of the mistakes from happening.

“I get a chance to sit back and watch all the game all at once and it’s not just the New England Patriots,” Harrison said. “I mean, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals — everyone is complaining about the officials. I think the officials, they are under so much pressure and scrutiny because everything they do or don’t do is being reviewed. These guys are just scared to make calls. Sometimes they are overly aggressive when they make their calls.

“I think the officials need to be full-time. I think they shouldn’t be allowed to have any outside jobs. They shouldn’t be allowed to be attorneys. Make it a full-time job year-round — get rid of some of these old guys. You need some young meat up in there. You look back there guys are 50, 60, 70 years old. Man, get rid of some of those guys and start bringing in some younger guys. Also, hold them accountable. Fine them. Suspend them. Maybe it brings some sense of urgency.”

A major topic of discussion has been the offensive pass interference calls that have gone against Rob Gronkowski, as he leads the NFL with five OPIs enforced against him this season. Harrison said Gronkowski is at a disadvantage because of his size.

“It’s a disadvantage,” he said. “All those coaches and all those safeties and linebackers walk up to the officials before the game and say, ‘Watch Gronk. Watch him push off.’ He’s 270 [pounds], he’s running full speed. The DB or linebacker can’t stop him so he gets in the way and they have a collision and all of a sudden you see some separation because Gronk is 270 [pounds] and the other guy might be 210 or 250 and he creates separation and automatically you assume it’s Gronk pushing off. Now, he’s been guilty of that even worse in the past, I believe. I don’t think what I saw the other night, I don’t think that warranted a penalty.

“I just think the Patriots do get penalized for being so good. I wouldn’t say it’s a conspiracy against them. I’ve seen a lot of different things. The Patriots are a really good team and yes, are people around the league and jealous of the Patriots and envy the Patriots? No doubt about it. … It’s definitely Patriot Nation against the world, but that is how it is when you have success.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit

On if outlook for Patriots has changed: “Of course it changed. No question about it. When you lose 70, 80 percent of your offense and you lose guys like Gronk, Dion Lewis, [Julian] Edelman and [Danny] Amendola, of course. You don’t have the production. You don’t have players. You have the all-time greatest quarterback. You have great coaching and those are things that are going to give you a chance in the fourth quarter against teams like Denver to win, but of course the dynamic of this team has completely changed and they are going to have to limit their mistakes. The defense has to play better. They have to stop the run. They have to tackle better and do things like that. It’s not typical for [Bill] Belichick [coached] teams to give up a lead in the fourth quarter and losing in the fourth quarter. It’s a team and organization that has always prided itself on being smart and being able to play well under pressure. Yes, this is definitely a different team.”

On pass interference called on Patrick Chung Sunday: “To be honest with you man, this is the freaking NFL, and I am not just saying this because I am a Patriot fan, but I thought it was kind of ticky-tack. At the same time, you can’t grab the guy. You can’t tough him. Patrick should know that. It’s one of those things, you can never leave it in the officials to make a call like that. You know the rule. You can’t grab him. You can’t hold him outside of five yards. Once the quarterback gets outside that pocket, you’re free to do whatever you have to do — push and shove him, but once he stays in that pocket you have to leave him alone. It’s just one of those judgement calls with the officials.”

On mistakes made by officials: “It’s just what it is. It’s human error. These officials are scared to death because they know everything that they do, whether it is how they communicate, the way the walk, the way they talk, everything is being scrutinized and now these guys are nervous. It’s got to a point where they can’t even call games because they are so nervous.”

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Normally, the Week 13 waiver wire is an exercise in reduction, but 2015 is no normal season and Week 13 is no exception. The Week 12 games featured another round of major injuries to major players. The hard hit position this time was tight end. Luckily for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski‘€™s knee injury doesn’t appear to be season-ending, but for those hoping to play him in fantasy he is week to week and almost certainly out for Week 13.

Jimmy Graham owners were not as lucky. His patella injury will end his season. So, while I would normally be focusing on the rest of the season, I understand that many of you are simply trying to win this week and with scrambled rosters no less. For this reason, it’€™s a typical waiver wire with plenty of options. Next week, once the field of fantasy teams is cut in half, I will pare down the wire to focus on the guys who can really move the needle. This week’s breakout player is Arizona’s David Johnson, who could return RB1 value in the coming weeks.

As always, I will be expanding the wire over at Rotobahn this afternoon. If you play in a really deep format, you should head over as I will be adding talent all day long, as I continue to work through the game film from Week 12.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets, 23 percent

It’€™s not pretty with the Jets’€™ little bearded quarterback, but the numbers are pretty because he has Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker dominating cornerbacks and getting open consistently. Now, Fitzpatrick has rookie Devin Smith emerging, which gives him another dynamic threat. This week’€™s matchup is sweet because the Giants do not rush the passer well and they do not cover well. It’€™s hard to envision Fitzpatrick getting shut out this week, so if you are a desperate Tony Romo owner, this is a move that can save your Week 13 bacon.

Tyrod Taylor, Bills, 34 percent

The calculus is simple. Taylor is a good fantasy option if Sammy Watkins is healthy. This week he is, so Taylor is a solid option at home against the Texans, who have been playing better defense of late, but are still a beatable unit overall.

Kirk Cousins, Washington, 23 percent

Washington hosts Dallas this week and they have something to play for after upsetting Eli Manning and the Giants in Week 12. The Cowboys, on the other hand, could to be primed for a letdown after losing Tony Romo yet again. Cousins has been a 300-yard passer in three out of his last five starts, so he’€™s got plenty of upside here with a healthy cast of skill players around him.

Jay Cutler, Bears, 43 percent

Cutler has been without a lot of his weapons lately and it showed against the Packers in Week 12. Still, Cutler won the game and he has a sweet matchup this week with the 49ers coming to Soldier Field. I would not hesitate to use Cutler in any league this week, and his closing schedule is largely favorable with the exception of the Vikings in Week 15.

Jameis Winston, Buccaneers, 43 percent

If you are a playoff team looking to bolster your bench or widen your options at quarterback, you might consider Winston, who has a tasty matchup with the Saints in Week 14. It doesn’€™t get much better than that. Heck, he’€™s worth adding just so nobody can stream him against you.


David Johnson, Cardinals, 25 percent

This is the player to target in any league where he is available. Johnson will be the man in the Arizona backfield with both Chris Johnson (fractured tibia) and Andre Ellington (toe) suffering injuries in Week 12. David Johnson could start the rest of the way and he will almost certainly be the primary back this Sunday at St. Louis. Johnson has enhanced value in leagues with PPR scoring because he’€™s an outstanding receiver out of the backfield as I said in his pre-draft scouting report.

Alfred Blue, Texans, 53 percent

He’€™s a good add in all leagues as the main back in the Texans backfield. Blue is also the primary goal line runner and he should maintain RB2 value for as long as he can stay healthy. He can help you in any league if running back help is what you need.

Ameer Abdullah, Lions, 55 percent

He is one of the few breakout candidates left and he is coming off of his best carry total of the season. The big thing for those considering Abdullah is his schedule. With the exception of Week 14, he has plus matchups every week and that includes a great Week 15 matchup at the Saints. At minimum, Abdullah is a player worth stashing just in case they continue to increase his workload.

Ryan Mathews, Eagles, 51 percent

He should return from a concussion this week and he has big upside if anything happens to DeMarco Murray. In large formats, Mathews has stand-alone flex appeal. He should be owned in all leagues as a stash, flex option or handcuff. Go get him if you can.

Shaun Draughn, 49ers, 28 percent

He was the team’€™s workhorse once again and that should continue this week when the 49ers play the Bears in Chicago. If you need a secure source of RB2 production, Draughn should give it to you.

Duke Johnson, Browns, 46 percent

Johnson is now playing starter snaps and that should lead to greater production in the season’s final stanza. I would be adding Johnson in all PPR leagues if running back help is something I needed. He’s got legit breakout potential and he also has a sweet Week 14 matchup with the 49ers.

Tevin Coleman, Falcons, 58 percent

He’€™s still out there for the Devonta Freeman owners who failed to add him last week. Coleman had a strong Week 12 with the exception of a fumble, and he is a strong option should something else go wrong for Freeman, who is expected to return from his concussion this week.

Jay Ajayi, Dolphins, 17 percent

He played well once again, but the thing that really jumps out is his snap total (41), which was bigger than starter Lamar Miller’€™s. While Miller has done little to earn a demotion, he has clearly fallen into some kind of timeshare with Ajayi, who has more ability as a receiver than Miller. If the Dolphins continue to stink and play from behind, Ajayi could have significant value and he should be owned in all leagues going forward. Go get him today if you own Lamar Miller.

Matt Jones, Washington, 49 percent

Jones is a very good stash play because they may decide to use him more down the stretch as they move towards a more diverse offense. Jones is the future and he’s obviously had some really big games. With the exception of Week 15 against the Bills, he has a very nice closing schedule.

Theo Riddick, Lions, 25 percent

At this point, he has some predictable value in PPR leagues. His upside is limited but the weekly floor is there and it’€™s solid. He’€™ll catch five balls for 50 yards most every week as he plays on almost all passing downs.

Brandon Bolden, Patriots, 6 percent

He was the Week 12 version of James White — doing a lot with limited touches. In fact, Bolden only played a small percentage of the team’€™s offensive snaps, so he is certainly risky moving forward. Having said that, the Patriots are so in need of players who can make plays, Bolden should have some value for those in deep PPR formats. He and White probably have similar value going forward.

Terrance West, Ravens, 1 percent

He emerged as the next man up in Baltimore, so he is a handcuff for those who own Javorious Allen. West has bounced around this year, but he’€™s a big back with good feet and he could be a factor as a goal line back if Allen goes down.


Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, 36 percent

The fact that he’€™s so widely available is hard to figure, but he’€™s a gift right now if you can add him and I like the other receivers in Seattle’€™s offense as well. Go get Baldwin in all leagues and feel free to use him down the stretch as there will be more targets available with the season-ending injury to Jimmy Graham.

Cecil Shorts, Texans, 11 percent

He’€™s not a great play this week against the Bills, but Shorts is the top option in the Texans’€™ passing game after DeAndre Hopkins and can be used any time he is healthy enough to play. He’€™s healthy now, so go add him if you need a receiver for this week or depth for the next few weeks.

Marquess Wilson, Bears, 9 percent

He did not have a big week in the Bears’€™ win over the Packers, but all signs point to him starting again this week and he has plenty of upside as a WR3 in bigger leagues.

Devin Funchess, Panthers, 51 percent

He wasn’€™t great last week, but he playing starter snaps and that should lead to production soon. The fact that he is a nice red zone target is obviously appealing, and Cam Newton needs options near the goal line. Stash Funchess and he may help you at some point.

Tyler Lockett, Seahawks, 19 percent

The loss of Jimmy Graham will probably mean more targets for the wide receivers and the loss of Marshawn Lynch should mean more throwing in general. I like adding all three of Seattle’€™s top receivers right now, so add Jermaine Kearse to the mix as well. They all ought to be owned in 12-team leagues going forward.

Dontrelle Inman, Chargers, 10 percent

He will be a big part of the offense down the stretch but he plays a tough schedule, so don’€™t get too excited. He’€™s a good add in 12-team leagues, but be careful of his matchup with the Broncos this week.

Rueben Randle, Giants, 37 percent

He’€™s far from exciting, but he scored in Week 12 and he usually gets you a handful of points each week. What you don’€™t get is much of a ceiling.

DeVante Parker, Dolphins, 4 percent

With Rishard Matthews now banged up with a rib injury that should keep him sidelined for weeks, Parker is in position to break out a bit. He’€™s should be picked up in most 12-team leagues as a strong stash option.

Markus Wheaton, Steelers, 13 percent

His huge Week 12 performance really came out of nowhere. Still, he’€™s a player to watch now because that kind of production gets the attention of the coaching staff. Wheaton could be a bigger part of the game plan going forward. He’€™s always been a talented player. He’€™s worth a speculative add in big leagues.


Scott Chandler, Patriots, 8 percent

He’€™s Tom Brady‘€™s starting tight end for the next week or so, and that obviously gives him significant value for the time being. Chandler is a great pickup for those who own Rob Gronkowski, but he can help anybody in need at tight end.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, 46 percent

He followed up a big Week 11 with 10 targets and 53 yards in Week 12. Rudolph’€™s involvement is most certainly on the upswing, and he can help you if you need a tight end right now.

Vance McDonald, 49ers, 1 percent

He has been a near full time player since Vernon Davis was traded and he’€™s formed a nice connection with Blaine Gabbert who will continue to be the quarterback. I would have no qualms adding McDonald, who was a very good receiving tight end at Rice, in bigger leagues. His production is not a fluke. Quite honestly, we expected him to break out last season.

Luke Wilson, Seahawks, 1 percent

Jimmy Graham is done for the year, so Miller’€™s talent will be back on display. Wilson, who played with McDonald at Rice, has big play potential as we have seen in the past, and he has the trust of Russell Wilson, which is obviously important. Wilson is worth adding in bigger leagues as he has weekly upside and should be a near every down player.

Jacob Tamme, Falcons, 22 percent

Once again, Tamme performed well with Leonard Hankerson sitting out, so keep an eye on Hankerson’€™s Week 13 status. Yes, it really seems that simple. It’€™s also worth noting that Tamme’€™s value is considerable higher in PPR formats.

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Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

Former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Monday to discuss Sunday night’s loss to the Broncos and to look ahead to the rest of the season.

Former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Monday to discuss Sunday night’s loss to the Broncos and to look ahead to the rest of the season. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Much of the discussion following the game was about the officials and some questionable calls that went against the Patriots, specifically an offensive pass interference call against Rob Gronkowski.

“I shake my head at the officiating,” Bruschi said. “I see the team, like Tom [Brady] especially, arguing the calls and how it was called and what Rob [Gronkowski] did, especially on the offensive pass interference because Rob has had those calls in the past so this is what I know: [The Patriots] are going to talk to the league. They are going to call the league and say, ‘We have a player. He’s been called for multiple offensive pass interference calls. We want to know exactly what he’s being called for, why he’s being called and how can we adjust it?’ They make that call. After that call they have a meeting with the player. They go into an offensive meeting, or whatever it may be. It may be on the practice field and say, ‘OK, you’re getting called because you’re doing this. However, if you do it this way, it should be OK.’

“It seems like that is the information they got. If he were to put his forearm out and use that to shield himself rather than get off and push with both hands maybe that is what they were told and maybe that is why players like Tom were so upset about it because that is the information they got.”

With the relatively good news following Gronkowski’s injury and him not being out for the season, Bruschi still considers the Patriots favorites in the AFC.

“Nothing has made me reconsider that,” he said. “You hear the same things I am hearing with the positive outlook with Gronkowski’s injury and it looks like he might not be done. … If healthy and he comes back, I think they can still survive and if he gets healthy as the year progresses and I don’t don’t that they are still the class of the AFC.”

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady and the Pats can take a hit, as they did in Denver. (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)It's over.