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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: North Carolina DE Kareem Martin

04.24.14 at 9:31 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

Kareem Martin (AP)

Kareem Martin had 11.5 sacks as a senior at North Carolina. (AP)

KAREEM MARTIN

Position: Defensive end

School: North Carolina

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 272 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-ACC, 2012 second team All-ACC (coaches, media)

What he brings: Martin has ideal size for his position, and, according to scouts, he also has good vision and recognition on the field. Scouts also say, though, that he could increase his speed and that his pad levels need to become more consistent.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: During his senior season, Martin had 82 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hurries with three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. … He had four tackles as part of the North team in the 2014 Reese’€™s Senior Bowl. … Martin had the best result of any defensive lineman during the NFL combine at the broad jump as he reached 10 feet, 9 inches.

Related articles:

ESPN.com: Checking in with UNC DE Kareem Martin

The Charlotte Observer: UNC defensive end Kareem Martin wants to see big picture in NFL draft

Video: Here is a video highlighting Martin’s career at North Carolina.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Kareem Martin,

When it comes to best games of 2014 NFL season, revenge will be a running theme

04.24.14 at 7:00 am ET
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Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for the 16th time as starters this season. (AP)

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for the 16th time as starters this season. (AP)

Revenge. Redemption. Or just plain payback. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but many of them are marked by a chance at retribution — however you choose to describe it, here are our choices for best NFL games of each week in 2014.

Week 1: Packers at Seahawks, Thursday at 8:30 p.m. (TNF) The Super Bowl champs get the season started in the Thursday night opener, a rematch of the Fail Mary from 2012.
Week 2: Steelers at Ravens, Thursday at 8:30 p.m. (TNF) The rivalry isn’t what it once was, but Pittsburgh-Baltimore games are nasty, brutish affairs that always make for compelling theater.
Week 3: Broncos at Seahawks, Sunday at 4:25 p.m. A Super Bowl rematch. Can Peyton Manning and the Broncos get some payback?
Week 4: Panthers at Ravens, Sunday at 1 p.m. New Baltimore receiver Steve Smith said that when he faces his old Carolina team, “put your goggles on because there’€™s going to be blood and guts everywhere.’€ Ahem.
Week 5: Chiefs at Niners, Sunday at 4:25 p.m. KC quarterback Alex Smith returns to the Bay Area where he’ll meet the team that dealt him prior to the start of last season.
Week 6: Cowboys at Seahawks, Sunday at 4:25 p.m. Tony Romo returns to Seattle — where he botched a hold on what might have been his best shot at a playoff win — to meet the Seahawks.
Week 7: Jets at Patriots, Thursday at 8:25 p.m. (TNF) Darrelle Revis faces his old mates for the first time as a member of the Patriots.
Week 8: Packers at Saints, Sunday at 8:30 p.m. (SNF) Helmed by Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, two of the league’s best offenses square off under the dome in New Orleans.
Week 9: Broncos at Patriots, Sunday at 4:25 p.m. Brady-Manning XVI.
Week 10: Niners at Saints, Sunday at 1 p.m. San Francisco goes back to the site of its Super Bowl loss.
Week 11: Patriots at Colts, Sunday at 8:30 p.m. (SNF) Andrew Luck gets his third crack in as many years at solving Bill Belichick‘s defense.
Week 12: Cardinals at Seahawks, Sunday at 4:05 p.m. The only team to beat Seattle at home last year ventures into CenturyLink Field again.
Week 13: Seahawks at Niners, Thanksgiving at 8:30 p.m. (TNF) The meanest rivalry of the last few years goes national on Thanksgiving night.
Week 14: Seahawks at Eagles, Sunday at 4:25 p.m. Seattle’s uber-physical defense gets a crack at Philly’s high-octane offense.
Week 15: Jets at Titans, 4:05 p.m. Chris Johnson has a shot to get some payback on Tennessee, which let him walk for nothing earlier this offseason.
Week 16: Eagles at Redskins, Saturday at 4:15 or 8:30 p.m. DeSean Jackson gets his second chance of the season against his old team.
Week 17: Bears at Vikings, Sunday at 1 p.m. New Chicago pass rusher Jared Allen would love the opportunity to sink his old mates in his return to Minnesota.

Five incredibly early thoughts on Patriots 2014 regular-season schedule

04.23.14 at 8:23 pm ET
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Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots will have their hands full in 2014. (AP)

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots will have their hands full in 2014. (AP)

Here’s the 2014 schedule for the Patriots:

Week 1: at Dolphins — Sept. 7, 1 p.m.
Week 2: at Vikings — Sept. 14, 1 p.m.
Week 3: vs. Raiders — Sept. 21, 1 p.m.
Week 4: at Chiefs — Sept. 29, 8:30 p.m.
Week 5: vs. Bengals — Oct. 5, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: at Bills — Oct. 12, 1 p.m.
Week 7: vs. Jets — Oct. 16, 8:25 p.m.
Week 8: vs. Bears — Oct. 26, 1 p.m.
Week 9: vs. Broncos — Nov. 2, 4:25 p.m.
Week 10: Bye week
Week 11: at Colts — Nov. 16, 8:30 p.m.
Week 12: vs. Lions — Nov. 23, 1 p.m.
Week 13: at Packers — Nov. 30, 4:25 p.m.
Week 14: at Chargers — Dec. 7, 8:30 p.m.
Week 15: vs. Dolphins — Dec. 14, 1 p.m.
Week 16: at Jets — Dec. 21, 1 p.m.
Week 17: vs. Bills — Dec. 28, 1 p.m.

1. Prime-time players: For the second straight season — barring a flexed out game — New England will play five prime-time games. The Patriots will play back-to-back night games in Week 4 and Week 5 (at Kansas City and home against the Bengals), Week 7 (a Thursday night game in Foxboro against the New York Jets) and road games against Indianapolis on Nov. 16 (Week 11) and at San Diego on Dec. 7 (Week 14). By way of comparison, the Patriots had four prime-time games in 2012 and 2010, and three in 2011 and 2009. This season also marks the fifth straight year the Patriots will face the Jets at least once in prime time, and the third straight year that game will take place as a part of Thursday Night Football

2. Short weeks: The biggest turnaround for the Patriots comes in mid-October when the Patriots have clash with the Bills on Sunday, Oct. 12 in Orchard Park. Then, New England has to turn around and host the Jets the following Thursday night in Foxboro.

3. Bye week: The Patriots have a relatively good spot for their bye week, coming in Week 10 after what promises to be a monumental clash with the Broncos on Nov. 2, a Week 9 game in Foxboro. For what it’s worth, on average over the last decade, New England’s bye week has come in Week 7. This year marks the third time in a decade the Patriots will have their bye fall in Week 10 – they had it in 2007 and 2013. (The earliest bye week of the last decade came in Week 3, back in 2004.) Another positive as it relates to the bye week comes with the fact that New England will have 14 days between Peyton Manning and the Broncos (Nov. 2 in Foxboro) and Andrew Luck at the Colts (Nov. 16 in Indy). However, the bye comes in the middle of what is arguably the toughest stretch of the season for New England, a seven-game string that starts on a short week with the Jets, followed by home games against the Bears and Broncos. Coming out of the bye, the Patriots then travel to face the Colts, host the Lions, and then make their first visit to Green Bay since 2006 for a date with the Packers. It wraps up with a road game against the Chargers, the first true West Coast game since New England traveled to face Seattle in Oct. 2012.

4. Patriots-Broncos, or Brady-Manning, Chapter 16: The centerpiece of the regular season will undoubtedly be the Nov. 2 game between New England and Denver, set for 4:25 p.m. A rematch of last year’s AFC title contest, it figures to be the 16th meeting between Tom Brady and Manning. (Manning and the Broncos will have a full 10 days to prepare for the Patriots prior to the Nov. 2 game between New England and Denver.)

5. Road warriors: Last year, the Patriots played one regular-season games (Houston) and one postseason game (Denver) outside of the Eastern Time Zone. In 2014, the Patriots have four regular-season games outside of the Eastern Time Zone, including a date with the Chargers in San Diego (Qualcomm Stadium), as well as contests on the road against the Vikings (TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota), Packers (Lambeau Field in Green Bay) and Chiefs (Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City). According to Google maps, a road trip to all eight regular-season road games — departing from Foxboro — would be 10,026 miles by car. That includes the Jets (207 miles to MetLife Stadium), as well as Chargers (2,981 miles from Gillette to Qualcomm by car). That’s in stark contrast to the 2013 schedule, which included 7,130 regular-season miles and just three regular-season road trips of 1,000 miles or more (Miami, Atlanta and Houston), with the December trip to face the Texans the longest at 1,839 miles.

(One more note, per our pal Nick Underhill of MassLive.com: Brandon Browner will miss the first four games of the 2014 season because of a violation of the league’s policy on PEDs. As a result, he won’t face Miami, Minnesota, Oakland and Kansas City.)

Patriots’ 2014 regular-season schedule unveiled

04.23.14 at 7:47 pm ET
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Here’s a look at the Patriots 2014 regular-season schedule:

Week 1: at Dolphins – Sept. 7, 1 p.m.
Week 2: at Vikings – Sept. 14, 1 p.m.
Week 3: vs. Raiders – Sept. 21, 1 p.m.
Week 4: at Chiefs – Sept. 29, 8:30 p.m.
Week 5: vs. Bengals – Oct. 5, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: at Bills – Oct. 12, 1 p.m.
Week 7: vs. Jets – Oct. 16, 8:25 p.m.
Week 8: vs. Bears – Oct. 26, 1 p.m.
Week 9: vs. Broncos Nov. 2, 4:25 p.m.
Week 10: Bye week
Week 11: at Colts – Nov. 16, 8:30 p.m.
Week 12: vs. Lions – Nov. 23, 1 p.m.
Week 13: at Packers – Nov. 30, 4:25 p.m.
Week 14: at Chargers – Dec. 7, 8:30 p.m.
Week 15: vs. Dolphins – Dec. 14, 1 p.m.
Week 16: at Jets – Dec. 21, 1 p.m.
Week 17: vs. Bills – Dec. 28, 1 p.m.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Report: Patriots exercise fifth-year option on left tackle Nate Solder

04.23.14 at 7:24 pm ET
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The Patriots exercised the fifth-year option on left tackle Nate Solder on Wednesday, according to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports.

The option is worth the average value of the third through the 25th-highest cap numbers for offensive linemen in 2014. According to our friend Miguel Benzan of Patscap.com, that would put Solder’€™€™s option at about $7.3 million for the 2015 season. Considering the market for free agent left tackles this offseason (five free agent tackles received guaranteed deals in excess of $10 million) and Solder’s level of play since he arrived in the league three years ago, it seems like a sound financial move for New England.

Teams have until May 3 to exercise the fifth-year option on the first-round picks of the 2011 draft class, and Solder is one of several members of the class to have their option already picked up — it’s a group that includes Houston’s J.J. Watt, Arizona’s Patrick Peterson, New York’s Muhammad Wilkerson and San Diego’s Corey Liuget.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Nate Solder,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Towson RB Terrance West

04.23.14 at 3:05 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Terrance West (AP)

Terrance West looks to make the jump from FCS school Towson to the NFL. (AP)

TERRANCE WEST

Position: Running back

School: Towson

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 225 pounds

Achievements: Set NCAA FCS single-season rushing yards record (2,509 yards), single-season rushing touchdown record (41 touchdowns) in 2013, 2011 CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2011 Jerry Rice Award

What he brings: At Towson, West was a dominating player who obliterated defenses with his tough, compact frame and solid speed. West showed decent hands in his time in the CAA as well. The 23-year-old isn’t afraid to take contact, but scouts are concerned he takes too much contact at times. His pass protection is sub-par and he has a tendency to hold the ball high. Scouts also are concerned that West is from a league with inferior talent and will struggle in the NFL. West is viewed as a workhorse type of back who will wear down defenses.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 3

Notes: In 2013, West ran for 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns to bring his career totals to 4,854 yards and 84 touchdowns, both Towson records. After seeing 194 and 195 carries in 2011 and 2012, respectively, West saw his carries go up to 413 in 2013. … At the NFL combine, West ran a 4.54 40-yard dash, benching 225 pounds 16 times and recording 33 1/2 inches on the vertical jump.

Related articles:

Pro Player Insiders: Towson Running Back Terrance West: NFL Draft Gem

USA Today: Terrance West a sleeper to watch at NFL Scouting Combine

Video: Here are West’€™s 2013 highlights with Towson.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Terrance West,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Missouri OLB Michael Sam

04.23.14 at 9:35 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Michael Sam (AP)

After putting together a standout 2013 season at Missouri, Michael Sam made headlines for revealing that he’s gay. (AP)

MICHAEL SAM

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Missouri

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 261 pounds

Achievements: 2013 consensus All-American, 2013 SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year, 2013 first-team All-SEC

What he brings: Sam, a defensive end in college, is seen more as an outside linebacker at the NFL level. His tenacious effort and underrated strength are a product of his hard work in the weight room. Sam is considered a high-character player by those who played with him and coached him. Many analysts predict the undersized 24-year-old will struggle in the role due to his lack of experience in coverage, average speed and a lack of pass-rushing moves.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 4-6

Notes: Sam recorded 10.5 sacks and two pass deflections in the regular season for Missouri. During the AT&T Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma State, Sam recorded three tackles and a sack in the victory. … In an interview with ESPN that aired on Feb. 9, 2014, Sam announced that he was gay and that he had come out to his teammates during the summer of 2013. Because of the announcement, Sam has received an extensive amount of media attention, which some experts believe could affect where he is drafted.

Related articles:

Kansas City Star: Senior Bowl losers: Transition to linebacker tough for Missouri’s Michael Sam

Fox Sports: Former scout: Michael Sam will get drafted after pro day showing

New York Times: Before coming out, a hard time growing up

Video: Here are Sam’€™s 2013 highlights against South Carolina.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Michael Sam,
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