Scott Chandler is ready to begin a new career in New England. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Scott Chandler is ready to begin a new career in New England. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Scott Chandler knows the situation he’s in coming to Foxboro. He leaves Buffalo where he was clearly the best pass-catching tight end in the Bills’ offense and comes to New England where he will be the second-most recognizable tight end behind Rob Gronkowski.

During a conference call Friday, Chandler called Bill Belichick a straight shooter.

Did Belichick lay out to him what it will mean to be the second tight end in a potent offense behind Rob Gronkowski?

“We didn’€™t get into that too terribly much,” Chandler said. “I think what I want to do is be part of a team that’€™s a winning team. Whatever that role that the coaches define for me there, I want to do whatever I can to help the team win.

“I’€™ve talked to Rob on the field after games and that’€™s about it. I’€™m sure we’€™ll get to know each other and get along well. He seems like a fun guy to be around. Obviously he’€™s a great player. I’€™m looking forward to being able to learn from him and watch him do his thing. He’€™s pretty fun to watch.”

Chandler, like Gronk, is a tall tight end, at 6-foot-7, and – like Gronk – could provide more blocking along the offensive line as he has developed that part of his game.

“I think it’€™s one of those things that it can be tough, but I’€™ve been dealing with it for a while now,” Chandler added. “You learn to sink or swim pretty quick in this league. You want to do whatever you can to get low and stay low. It’€™s hard, but you learn how to deal with it because if you can’€™t get the job done, they’€™re going to find someone else.”

Chandler, who signed a two-year, $5.3 million contract on March 13, will be more than happy to make some personal sacrifices to attain more team glory. In five non-playoff seasons in Buffalo, Chandler caught 17 touchdowns, including 28 catches on 42 targets and four touchdowns in nine games against the Patriots.

“I think you go into a game just wanting to do what it takes for your team to win and sometimes that means catching the ball and sometimes that means blocking well,” Chandler said. “I’€™ve probably had games that I didn’€™t have very good stats, but they were some of my better games throughout my career. It just so happened that in those games I needed to catch the ball a little bit and I was able to do that.”

Belichick can trust that Chandler has been taught well. Before playing for the Bills, he played his college ball under Belichick’s good friend and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

“Coach Ferentz had a big impact; just getting a different type of coach than I had in high school,” Chandler said. “In high school we were running the spread offense and throwing the ball every play and you get to Coach Ferentz and he runs a very pro-type program there. You’€™re laid out what’€™s expected of you and you’€™re expected to carry that out. If you’€™re not, you’€™re not going to play. I really appreciate that approach. He tells you what you need to do to get on the field. I was able to go there and have a successful career. Obviously he’€™s built a great program there. I know he and Coach [Bill] Belichick have a lot in common in the way they approach coaching. I’€™m excited to get in and deal with Coach Belichick.”

Chandler explained how the relationship between Ferentz and Belichick might help him in New England.

“I think Coach Belichick is a real straightforward guy,” Chandler said. “I haven’€™t had too much interaction with him, but from what I’€™ve heard, he’€™s just a guy who is going to tell it like it is. That’€™s an approach that after bouncing around and sometimes you have guys who beat around the bush and don’€™t tell you really what’€™s going on, but Coach Belichick seems to do that. That’€™s an approach that you can appreciate as a vet.”

By all reports, the battle for free agent Chandler came down to the Ravens and Patriots. Chandler said Friday he was pretty much in a no-lose situation.

“I think I was a in a pretty good spot,” he said. “They’€™re two really good organizations. That’€™s really what it came down to. I’€™ve been playing for a while and I wanted to be a part of an organization that has a pretty good chance to win. Mr. Kraft has done an amazing job of not only creating that ‘€“ and Coach Belichick has a pretty big hand in that ‘€“ not only creating it, but sustaining it for a long period of time. I’€™m looking forward to going into this year and doing whatever I can to be a part of that.

“I think that comes down to the organization that Mr. [Robert] Kraft has set up here. It’€™s been a top-flight organization since I’€™ve been playing for sure, and longer than that. I think that was a big factor, was just going to a good organization.

“I think if you get into those kind of things, you end up making this game more about you and really it’€™s about the team. I just want to come in and do what I can to be a part of the Patriot culture and just do my part. I don’€™t really want to get into those feelings of vengeance or anything because they’€™re not really there for me. I had a great five years in Buffalo and it’€™s time for me to be a Patriot now.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Pass rusher Jabaal Sheard joins the Patriots via Cleveland. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Pass rusher Jabaal Sheard joins the Patriots via Cleveland. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

He signed as a free agent with the Patriots last week, but Jabaal Sheard has been on New England’s radar for a long time.

The Patriots’ interest in the edge rusher dates back to 2011 when he was coming out of college. That’s when he took a visit with New England, and in that time, he was struck by how the Patriots handled their business.

“It was real business-like, real focused; you could tell that it was going to be all business once you get there,” he said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “I mean, it was a bit nerve-wrecking, I can’t lie. I was a bit nervous.”

That previous visit — combined with Sheard’s background with former Browns GM Mike Lombardi, who is now with the Patriots — set the stage nicely for him signing with New England earlier this month as a free agent.

Sheard, who also drew interest from Seattle and Tampa Bay, said his stint with Lombardi “definitely” play a role in his new deal with the Patriots.

“I think that was huge. I think that’s what got New England interested in me right away,” Sheard said. “Obviously, he believed in me coming out as a rookie into the league and seeing what I could do. I think that’s going to translate to this year.”

One thing the Patriots hope translates is an ability to consistently get after the quarterback. Sheard’s pass rush numbers have dipped every year he’s been in the league, going from 8.5 sacks as a rookie in 2011 to two last year. Sheard pulled no punches when asked to assess his game the last few years: It wasn’t a switch in Cleveland’s scheme or injury, but his own level of execution.

“It was just me not executing, me not sticking to the game plan,” he said. “But I’m more focused; I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been. Like I said, I look forward to getting with these coaches and learning new things. Pass rushing is about learning new things, getting comfortable and coaches helping you out along the way. I just can’t wait to get started.”

The 25-year-old Sheard has played both outside linebacker and defensive end, and said Friday he feels like he “can play anywhere up front.”

He added: “I think my main strength is knocking guys back and creating penetration in the line of scrimmage, ultimately stopping the run and being a big factor there and getting after the quarterback or dropping, whatever else may come with it. Ultimately my strength, personally I think, is knocking guys back and creating penetration.”

Sheard is also looking forward to enjoying a level of consistency in New England that wasn’t necessarily there in Cleveland.

“I envision that they have some great plan for me, just knowing the system that they run,” he said of the Patriots coaching staff. “I’ve been around three different systems in my last three years so I’m ready for whatever. I’m always ready to embrace something new and something different and I’m up for the challenge, whatever it is.”

“I definitely look forward to working with Chandler [Jones] and Rob [Ninkovich]. Those guys are definitely excited, just talking to them a little bit. I think we’ll make a nice three-[man] tandem. We’ll get after guys and create a lot of [havoc] in the backfield and on quarterbacks.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The latest edition of the “It Is What It Is” podcast has Chris Price and Mike Petraglia talking about the Patriots offseason, the draft and where the team goes from here. Give a listen HERE.

Blog Author: 
WEEI will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Jaelen Strong (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Jaelen Strong caught 82 passes for 1,165 yards last season as a junior. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)


Position: Wide receiver

School: Arizona State

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 215 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Pac-12 first team, 2014 ESPN All-American, 2014 Biletnikoff Award semifinalist for best receiver, 2013 All-Pac-12 first team

What he brings: Scouts are impressed with Strong’s ability to fight off defenders and pull down contested balls. He has shown a very good all-around game, but there are some concerns about his acceleration and ability to create separation. Via, an NFC West scout said, “[Strong]’s not going to run fast, but it won’t matter because any team that drafts him is going to have a plan for him.”

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Strong had 82 receptions totaling 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior for the Sun Devils in 2014. ESPN has him ranked as the sixth receiver and 30th overall player in the draft. His father, John Rankin, was a star basketball player at Drexel who died from leukemia when Strong was 9. Overall, scouts and experts agree that he has the potential to be a star in the NFL but has to work on some aspects of his game in order to reach that point.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Strong is ready for NFL

Sports Illustrated: Strong honors, remembers father on way to NFL

The State Press: Strong should be first round pick

Video: Here’s Strong catching eight passes for 136 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame in 2013.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Bud Dupree (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Bud Dupree (right) impressed at the scouting combine, posting the third-best broad jump of any player since 2003. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)


Position: Defensive end

School: Kentucky

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 269 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-SEC first team, 2013 All-SEC second team

What he brings: Dupree is a leader off the field and, per, scouts give him a plus grade for character. He is very athletic, locates the ball quickly and is passionate in his pursuit, according to CBS Sports. He is capable of changing his rush moves and tricks opponents with one speed before bursting out to create big plays.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Dupree was a team captain in 2014 and started in all his four years at Kentucky. His results in the combine earned him top-performer status as he posted a 4.56 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical jump and 11-foot, 6-inch broad jump, which is the third best of any outside linebacker at the combine since 2003. The Irwinton, Georgia, native departs from Kentucky with 23.5 total sacks, good for second best in school history. He had 7.5 sacks as a senior.

Related articles:

Pro Day: Dupree glad he stayed at UK to train

UK football: Alvin Dupree has played his way into a possible first-round draft pick 

Video: Here is a highlight video of Dupree’s time at UK.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

In the Aaron Hernandez trial on Thursday, a woman who had been dancing with Hernandez in Rumor nightclub two nights prior to the killing of Odin Lloyd offered her testimony. Lloyd was with the former NFLer that night and prosecutors have said that Hernandez let the club angry.

The woman, Kasey Arma, said that she had seen Hernandez about a half-dozen times prior to that evening and that he attempted to get her attention by tapping on her hip. After first ignoring him, she then turned to talk to him. He introduced himself as Rock and asked to dance with her. They did for 5-10 minutes before Hernandez left in the middle of the song, telling her he would be right back.

According to Arma, when Hernandez came back roughly 10 minutes later, he was acting much differently than he had before. She said he was being more aggressive, that he brought her next to the main door and told her to dance.

“His whole demeanor was just very different: very on edge, aggressive and kind of arrogant,” she said.

Hernandez’s lawyers played a video of the two dancing by the doorway, in which they talked every so often and then parted ways. Arma said that he was being too aggressive so she didn’t want to dance with him anymore, and after being questioned by defense lawyer Michael Fee, she said that she did not like him after that night and had been talking to him to pump up her ego. She cited his arrogance specifically as something she took issue with.

In addition, another of Hernandez’s lawyers, James Sultan, went after the footprint evidence in the case that had been presented days before, asking how it was collected and matched with Hernandez’s shoes from that night. Massachusetts State Police Lt. Steven Bennett had said that the footprint found at the scene matched the print of the shoe Hernandez was wearing. He also said that he knew a colleague wanted him to link the print with the ex-Patriot before he made the match.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

Join Chris Price of to break down all things Patriots and the NFL, Friday at noon. Price will answer all your questions about the offseason, as well as the landscape of the league as the dust settles following the initial wave of free agency.

Live Blog Chris Price Live Patriots Chat

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Based on their relationship and history between the two franchises, Chip Kelly could emerge as a go-to trade partner for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. (Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)

Based on their relationship and history between the two franchises, Chip Kelly could emerge as a go-to trade partner for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. (Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)

If you’re of the mind that the Patriots need to make some deals in hopes of shoring up the secondary of defensive line in the wake of the personnel losses of Darrelle Revis or Vince Wilfork, you should be checking out the rosters in Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.

History tells us that when it comes to dealing, Bill Belichick has a relatively small circle of teams — and more specifically, individuals — he prefers to deal with more than others. Since he took control of the Patriots in 2000, by our count, Belichick has made 102 trades. In all, he’s made the most deals with Oakland (9), followed by Denver, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Green Bay (all 6). That’s followed by Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Philly (5).

The Raiders have been Belichick’s most frequent trade partner, and deals with Oakland have arguably produced the most blockbusters, including the trades of Richard Seymour and Randy Moss. However, it’s worth noting that since the death of Al Davis in October 2011, the Patriots have not made a single deal with Oakland. (The last trade between New England and Oakland came when the two teams swapped picks on draft weekend in April of that year.) That’s not to rule out any sort of future trades between the two teams — only to suggest that the Raiders might not necessarily be the first team Belichick targets when he picks up the phone to talk about a deal this time around.

As for the best of the rest, it’s also unlikely that the Patriots and Broncos look to make a deal anytime soon, given the nature of their rivalry, as well as the fact that old friends Mike Shanahan or Josh McDaniels are no longer with Denver. Tampa Bay and Green Bay remain intriguing trade partners, as the Packers and GM Ted Thompson have shown a willingness to work with Belichick in the past on more than a few occasions over the last decade, with the last trade between the two teams coming last summer when New England acquired defensive tackle Jerel Worthy for a draft pick. And while the Patriots and Bears made a couple of notable deals a little over a decade ago (New England acquired Ted Washington in 2003 and a swap of draft picks that same year netted the Patriots Ty Warren), the two teams haven’t made a deal since 2007.

(Two teams we do know who are likely off Belichick’s trade radar: the Colts and Jets. While New York received compensation for losing Belichick to the Patriots in 2000, since he arrived in New England, Belichick has not made a personnel swap with either Indy or the Jets.)

That brings us to the Texans, Ravens, Eagles and Bucs. All four of these franchises have shown a willingness to work with the Patriots in the past, and given the deep relationship Belichick has with most of the decision-makers in each one of the four teams, it makes it a possibility that they could put together another deal in the not-too-distant future.

Houston: The Texans have Patriots alumni all over the franchise, from the field (Vince Wilfork, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett) to the coaching staff (head coach Bill O’Brien, coordinator Romeo Crennel, assistant coaches Mike Vrabel, George Godsey and Anthony Pleasant). Three of the five trades have taken place on draft weekend, and given the working relationship between O’Brien and Belichick it certainly wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see them try and do something again this May.

Baltimore: Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome worked with Belichick when the two were in Cleveland, and continues to espouse many of Belichick’s team-building philosophies. While the postseason drama between the two sides over their bitter playoff clash may continue into 2015, from this viewpoint, it certainly wouldn’t preclude Belichick and Newsome from working together on another potential deal going forward.

Philadelphia: Considering that Belichick and Chip Kelly have fostered a working relationship deep enough to have multiple joint practices together over the last few years, it would be a bit of a surprise if there wasn’t some sort of deal between the two teams in the coming months. (That doesn’t even include the fact that Kelly now seems open to dealing with anyone and everyone over this offseason.) While Andy Reid was in Philly, the Patriots and Eagles would collaborate on draft weekend deals on a semi-regular basis. Given all of this, frankly, it would be a surprise if there wasn’t some sort of deal between the two sides between now and the start of the 2015 season.

Tampa Bay: The Patriots and Bucs have engaged in some high-level swaps over the last few years, including New England’s acquisitions of Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount, as well as the deal that sent Logan Mankins from New England to Tampa Bay prior to the start of last season. Considering the fact that Bucs GM Jason Licht worked three years in the Patriots front office before joining Tampa, the Bucs certainly appear to be as good a trade partner as any for New England.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Shaq Thompson (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Shaq Thompson is a linebacker, but he also spent some time as a running back for Washington and he had a brief stint as a baseball player in the Red Sox‘ minor league system. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)


Position: Outside linebacker

School: Washington

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 228 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team, All-Pac-12 first team, Paul Hornung Award for most versatile player, 2013 All-Pac-12 honorable mention, 2012 All-Pac-12 honorable mention, Freshman All-America team

What he brings: Thompson is a versatile player who has successfully played both linebacker and running back, but he has told NFL teams that he is a linebacker. Scouts consider him an athletic linebacker who excels in run defense and consistently finishes his tackles. He has played safety and is great in pass coverage as well. There are concerns about his size, as he doesn’t have the bulk to match up with many NFL linemen.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: ranks Thompson as the ninth linebacker and 62nd overall in the draft. As a running back in 2014, he had 61 rushes for 456 yards and two touchdowns. He was selected by the Red Sox in the 2012 MLB draft and went 0-for-39 with 37 strikeouts in rookie ball that summer before giving up baseball and making the full-time commitment to football.

Related articles:

USA Today: Thompson’s draft diary Thompson on brief baseball career

Video: Here are highlights from Thompson’s 2014 season.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

CHESTNUT HILL — With all the image problems the NFL has had over the last year, Boston College coach Steve Addazio has a solution. Look at Boston College.

Addazio made his case to NFL scouts and personnel for all 18 of his players on the field under the bubble of Alumni Stadium on Wednesday during Boston College Pro Day. Then he made his case to the media.

“As I said to [scouts], we’re really proud of our guys. We have a bunch of high-character guys here, guys who do things the right way, they’re fun to be around, they’re fun to coach, they’re accountable. There have been past players here have gone on to do very well in the NFL. They’ve done well because they’re bright guys and have a lot of character. So, they have a tendency of having great staying power and lasting.

“And I talked about each one of the guys, the positive contributions they’ve made here, what I think of their top-end potential and all those things. It’s been good. It’s been a good day. Our guys look good and they represent BC really well so it’s fun to watch them compete.”

Two of the leading prospects from Boston College are center Andy Gallik and linebacker Steele Divitto. Neither took part in the 40-yard dash but both participated in other agility drills during the two-hour session at BC. Gallik projects as a first or second-round selection as one of the best centers in the draft. Grad student quarterback Tyler Murphy garnered a lot of attention as one of the best pure athletes on the field.

“A lot of these guys have had multiple workouts now,” Addazio said. “I didn’t know about some of these different combines that are out there besides the one [NFL] combine. I think these guys know that. And they want to do well today but it’s not all or nothing. These things are… it’s still your tape. These are just things that validate your tape. It’s your tape [that indicate] how good a football player are you. And then if you’re kind of marginal guy and they want to make a case, ‘This guy has a great vertical leap or has great broad jump or ‘Did you see how fast he was?!’ Or ‘he gained 27 pounds since the season!'”

Receiver Josh Bordner was one of the prospects who has worked hard since the heartbreaking loss to Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl to make an impression on scouts. He’s certainly made one on his coach. Bordner broke out as a receiver in his senior season, catching 27 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. But it’s the weight he’s put on his 6-foot-4 frame that caught the eye of Addazio Wednesday.

“I think Josh Bordner is a work-in-progress. He’s up to 244 pounds,” Addazio said. “He looks really good right now. He played 20 pounds lighter this season. He’s just starting that conversion. There’s a lot of that stuff going on. I think the guys look good. I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘Boy, your players look good.’ They do look good. That’s the sign of a good sign of a good strength and conditioning program. The development that they’ve had here, they look like they’re in shape and they’re doing well. I’m happy for them.”

Here are some other takeaways from Addazio on Wednesday:

On talking to scouts: “I get a chance to really highlight each guy, talk about their intangibles, which are important I believe. I’m on this whole deal that it’s really important to me. How important it is to the NFL I can’t comment on. We have great kids and I’ll tell them, ‘This is a great kid here. There’s no baggage. This is a just a great guy who knows what it takes to excel. I just want to make sure I make those points because we keep hearing all the time in the NFL, they want … these are great role models for our sport, ambassador for football, and I believe in that. I really pay attention to that stuff. There’s plenty of talented guys out there that can go do well and it’s OK to take a bunch of guys that really want to excel and don’t have a lot of troubles along the way. I think these guys represent what’s good in football.”

On defensive back Ty-Meer Brown, who came back from a neck injury at UConn to play his final year at Boston College: “We talked about him. What he went through at the last school he was at and medically and he had to go to get cleared and see a specialist in Pittsburgh and our doctors and it was a real process all year to get him back. He was playing his best football at the end of the year and he looks great and ran great. This is a guy who was projected to have a good career post-college, and he’s starting to realize that now, which is really a lot of satisfaction.”

On developing NFL prospects: Matt Patchan came here last year and he’s with Tampa Bay and he had his best year ever. Ian Silberman had his best year ever. Tameer Brown had his best year. Shakim Phillips looks unbelievable out there. He’s a big, fast receiver and he’s a better person and he’s out there really excelling and having great success. Started here, left here, came back here and finished great here. It’s a lot of fun to watch all that happen here right now. So, it’s all about development. You see the culmination of that. Here at BC, for us to be successful we have to develop our players. It has to happen. We don’t get the five-star, not that that means anything, but the ready-mades. It’s all come in here, develop, physically, mentally, toughness, technique, skill and come out the other end a developed player. And that’s been the history here, and I think we’re seeing that again here right now, and that’s critical for our success.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia