Deflategate is back in the news this week as Roger Goodell said the NFL conducted “spot checks,” not a research study this season when testing PSIs at random games this season.

Deflategate is back in the news this week as Roger Goodell said the NFL conducted “spot checks,” not a research study this season when testing PSIs at random games this season. Goodell said there were no violations and didn’t make any comments on whether or not the league would release any data from the checks.

Wednesday night, appearing on Sirius XM radio, vice president of NFL officiating Dean Blandino was asked about the testing and he said the league is still “evaluating” the information collected.

“We did spot checks throughout the year and we measured PSI levels and recorded that information,” Blandino said. “Right now we’re evaluating the information. We didn’t have any violations this year, but again, we’re still in that evaluation phase to look at the information and then we’ll see what that tells us.”

This topic is likely to continue over the next few days, as Goodell gives his state of the league address and takes questions on Friday afternoon.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rob Gronkowski is considered the most dangerous tight end in football. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski is considered the most dangerous tight end in football. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO — Rob Gronkowski is widely considered the most dangerous tight end in football. He’s also the biggest nightmare for a defensive back assigned to cover him, especially when he’s split wide from the line of scrimmage.

Hall of Fame corner Mike Haynes covered his share of great receivers in his day but rarely, if ever, a tight end in a game.

But in practice, that was a different story.

“I can’t ever remember ever playing being locked on a tight end,” Haynes told WEEI.com Wednesday at Super Bowl media headquarters. “But I did lock on Russ Francis in practice. They were trying to simulate some of the challenges he was going to face. I know how difficult that can be. I wouldn’t be welcoming that kind of challenge because of the weight difference, the height difference, the strength difference. And generally when you’re covering a guy like that size, if he turns around and looks at the quarterback, I can no longer see the quarterback because of his height and his width. It’s a challenge.”

But for as much as Patriots fans remember the hey-dey of Russ Francis and catching passes from Steve Grogan as a traditional tight end, there’s another former tight end Haynes thinks of as a comp to the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Rob Gronkowski: Don Hasselbeck, who stood an inch taller than Gronk but weighed 20 pounds less.

“It wasn’t something I had to do on a regular basis and I wouldn’t have been looking forward to do that on a regular basis. I actually think that Gronk is more built like Hasselbeck was than Russ Francis,” Haynes said. “He’s tall and a long-strider. A lot of times I wonder if they had used Don Hasselbeck the same way they use Gronkowski, what would he have been like? They didn’t. It was a different game in those days.”

Hasselbeck finished with 107 catches, 1,542 yards and 18 touchdowns in his nine-year NFL career that began in 1977 when he was selected in the second round by the Patriots. For some perspective, Gronkowski nearly had as many receiving touchdowns (17) in 2011 as Hasselbeck did for his career. Hasselbeck finished with 15 TD receptions in his six-plus seasons in New England.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Bill Belichick can look to the Broncos and Panthers for some points of emphasis this offseason.</p>
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SAN FRANCISCO — According to one Hall of Fame cornerback, the sky is the limit for Malcolm Butler.

Mike Haynes was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times and eventually found his way to Canton as one of the best cornerbacks of the 1970s and 80s.

Malcolm Butler was selected for his first career Pro Bowl. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Malcolm Butler was selected for his first career Pro Bowl. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO — According to one Hall of Fame cornerback, the sky is the limit for Malcolm Butler.

Mike Haynes was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times and eventually found his way to Canton as one of the best cornerbacks of the 1970s and 80s.

And what he saw in second-year defensive back Malcolm Butler this year makes him think that great things are ahead for the No. 1 corner on the Patriots. What impressed Haynes the most is how, after his Super Bowl-saving interception in Glendale, Butler only improved his game this season, earning the first of what could be many Pro Bowl selections.

“The secondary seemed to play very good. Malcolm Butler, after that Super Bowl, that put his name on the map and he knew the world was watching,” Haynes told WEEI.com. “He had a fantastic year. As far as I’m concerned, he had a really great year. He should be really proud about what he accomplished. It’s just too bad what happened in Denver. I was surprised by that.”

The defense was the strength of the team down the stretch, something that was very apparent to Haynes. But Haynes felt the bitter disappointment all Patriots fans did when the Broncos held on for a 20-18 win in the AFC championship.

“I thought that they had a fantastic year,” Haynes said. “I actually figured that they were going to go to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. I was really optimistic about that happening. In a hostile environment and all that. I don’t know if the altitude played a factor but it can.

“It sometimes played a factor, especially with the style of play, with a lot of passing, a lot of getting back to huddle and hurry-up offense. Yeah, I think it does play a role. I was a little miffed about the way the offensive line wasn’t able to protect Brady. To me, that was the difference in the game.”

Not surprisingly, Haynes credits Bill Belichick for the development of Butler. But what did raise an eyebrow was Haynes’ admission that, even as great as he was, he, like Darrelle Revis, might have trouble assimilating into the Belichick system as a veteran.

“I would not want to play for him if say I was a ten-year vet, as a corner because I would like to come in with his type of knowledge and his kind of influence on my thinking rather than already have my thinking and try to change it after ten years,” Haynes said. “And that’s what Malcolm Butler has, that’s what all the DBs there have right now. They’re a young secondary. They’re learning the right way. They’re just going to get better.

“One of the things I have always appreciated was how smart the defensive players were, and really both sides of the ball. If they were to sign a player in the middle of the week and he came in on a Thursday, I believe everybody in that huddle could tell that guy what his job is, what he’s supposed to do. I think that’s rare in the NFL. But that’s one of the things that makes those guys special and they can move around and do different things and know it. They can help each other out. It would’ve been fun to play to him.

“I think it’s just harder to make a transition if you’re not used to that. But if you learn a certain way, then that’s the way you’re going to learn and that’s the way it’s natural for you. I just think he’s a brilliant guy. The information they share with the players gets them ready for a game. There’s not a lot times I would expect they would be surprised with what the other team is doing. They always seem prepared.”

Haynes, now 62, is a prostate cancer survivor and is using Super Bowl 50 week to promote his effort to raise awareness of the disease among men, get checked for it and to get informed through the site knowyourstats.org.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Patriots had seven players make the Pro Bowl and all seven didn’t attend the game.

Rob Gronkowski isn't a fan of the Pro Bowl. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski isn’t a fan of the Pro Bowl. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Patriots had seven players make the Pro Bowl and all seven didn’t attend the game.

The game was a week after the Patriots fell to the Broncos in the AFC championship, which Gronkowski said was a major reason why he didn’t go. The tight end said it wasn’t a joint decision for the entire team not to go, it just worked out that way.

Gronkowski also said he believes the Pro Bowl should be changed.

“Just the way it worked out. Didn’t talk to anyone about it,” he said, appearing on the NFL Network from San Fransisco Wednesday night. “That game might need to be changed. You can’t go from a whole season, AFC championship game, giving it all you got and thinking you’re going to hop on a flight to fly 12 hours to Hawaii that next Tuesday when I still can’t even walk because I took like 20 hits that game.

“I was good. I was not hopping on that plane. Just be more tight, more sore and just be miserable the whole ride. If it was changed, I mean — I totally understand, if you don’t go to the playoffs you have a few weeks off, Pro Bowl is awesome. But it is hard to go to that game –giving it all you got then going right to the Pro Bowl. You have to have your body rest.”

The tight end said once the season is over it is all about getting his body healthy and ready for the next season.

“After the season I am getting my body right,” Gronkowski said. “I didn’t move out of my house for the first five days until I left for the Senior Bowl to watch my brother. But for the first five days I was just taking care of all my injuries, all the bumps and bruises. Making sure your body is right.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

With the Patriots falling to the Broncos in the AFC championship game, some have wondered whether or not the season was a success, given the Patriots’ stretch of six Super Bowl appearances in the

With the Patriots falling to the Broncos in the AFC championship game, some have wondered whether or not the season was a success, given the Patriots’ stretch of six Super Bowl appearances in the Bill Belichick era.

According to Rob Gronkowski, the season was a success.

“Man, it was definitely a successful year,” Gronkowski said Wednesday night in an appearance on the NFL Network from San Francisco. “We went to the AFC championship, but we had so many guys throughout the season go down with injury. Other players just stepping up, filling in the void right there. You just have to be proud of the team. Definitely a successful year. Any time you make it to the playoffs, go that far, just a few plays away from going to the Super Bowl, again, definitely a successful season and something to be proud of.”

While he called it a success, Gronkowski and the Patriots weren’t satisfied with not making it to the Super Bowl.

“It takes awhile, for sure. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end,” Gronkowski said. “It’s not disappointing, but it’s just not satisfying with not going to the big game. Overall, can’t hang your head low. I mean, we had a great season. To be part of a team every single year, it was a great season overall for the whole team. For myself, just got to move on to the next year now and do what we have to do. We’re focused on next year now and make big plays next year.”

As for the Super Bowl itself, Gronkowski said he’s hoping for a close game.

“I’m a fan of football so I’m hoping for a good game,” he said.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable