Safety in numbers [5:09 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Antwan Harris and Chris Akins have spent their entire careers as special team performers and part-time defensive players. Of the two, only Harris has started an NFL game, and that happened just once. Another player who may work into the rotation next to starting safety Rodney Harrison is Aric Morris, who actually started 10 games at safety for Tennessee in 2001 after Pro Bowler Blaine Bishop got injured.'
Lawyer's expertise not a problem [5:08 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Seldom, however, does a coach face an opponent with a player who was with him last week. Would Belichick change the Pats' signals and code words if Milloy was able to get ready enough to play? ``You'd take that into consideration,'' Belichick allowed, ``considering how the circumstances are.'''
Head's up in Buffalo [5:07 AM]
Boston Herald reports: '``I was conscious of the emotional aspect and I really felt like I did a pretty good job of coming into the games in the right frame of mind,'' Bledsoe said yesterday. ``The thing that happened to us in both games is that we were down by like 17 or 20 points and it put us in some difficult situations. I think that's what caused us problems and what caused me problems.'''
Rival to pay Milloy's Bills [5:06 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Here we go again. Either Buffalo general manager Tom Donahoe is a better judge of talent than Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli, or he just overpaid (again) for a player who didn't fit into the Patriots' plans.'
Bills buck up to get Milloy [5:05 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"We'll have to find that out as it comes," said Johnson. "Could it be (a distraction)? It could be. But it's up to us to not let it. Honestly, I think we have some very mentally strong football players on this team. Gritty guys. Lawyer was one, but he wasn't the only one. I think we have power within us to block it out. When it's time to go to work, we go to work. We may deliberate in the locker room or on our own about these things, but when it's time to go to work, it doesn't have a huge impact."' (registration required)
It's Bledsoe? Pats have been there, done that [5:04 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"This is definitely a big game for me and it is a big game for our team," Bledsoe readily admitted yesterday. "I would never tell you that is not the case. It is a division game. It is the first game of the year. You just look at those two things and it is a big game. We weren't able to beat the Patriots last year. This is definitely a game that we are pointing at, that we need to try to do everything we can to win. That being said, if we go win this game, it doesn't put us in the playoffs. It doesn't put us anywhere, but it would be a good start to the season."' (registration required)
It'll be hard to erase the memories [5:03 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"They are a well-coached team and I am sure that whatever they think our weaknesses are, they won't hesitate to go after them," Belichick said. "That is certainly what we would expect. Wherever they think they are, I am sure they will try to hit us. Talking defensively in general though, as we said at the end of the season, if you are trying to get younger on defense, then you are obviously going to be less experienced there. There is no way to meld those two together. To be younger is to be younger. To be more experience is to be older. You kind of have to make a choice there."' (registration required)
Milloy Joins Bledsoe [5:02 AM]
Hartford Courant reports: '"The way the Patriots tried to back me into a corner. It didn't show a lot on their part," Milloy said in an interview with Houston's KRIV-TV. "New England tried to squeeze me with a last-minute deal, so we took a risk and went on the market."' (registration required)
Bledsoe could go pass happy against Pats in opener [5:01 AM]
Woonsocket Call reports: '"We’re going to mix it up," Bledsoe said. "We’d like to be balanced. I’m not going to hand off on every play, but in general, we’d love to be more consistent with our power running." Yeah, right.'
Friends meet in opener [5:01 AM]
Springfield Republican reports: 'Centers, who admits he has been looking forward to playing Buffalo since signing with New England, is concentrating on keeping his emotions in check. His role diminished last season as Bledsoe's Bills begin throwing the ball more down the field. "I have to play within the scheme and not allow my emotions to become a factor, a negative factor," he said. "If anything, if I can utilize it in a positive way to help that would be good, but I have to just go out and be a professional."'
Redskins lose bid for Milloy [5:00 AM]
Washington Times reports: 'The Redskins' best offer was a little more than $20 million over five years, sources said, but the early part of the contract wasn't as lucrative. Washington was set to pay a $3.5 million signing bonus and about $5 million total over the first two seasons.'
Bills Are The High Bidders For Milloy [4:59 AM]
Washington Post reports: 'Terms weren't disclosed, but the Redskins' offer apparently was worth about half that of the Bills.'
N.O. gave pair of free agents its best shot [4:58 AM]
New Orleans Times Picayune reports: '"We were in the mix. It was our understanding that Lawyer's agent would give us a chance to counter, but we never got a callback from him."'
Not signing Milloy a mistake [4:58 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'It didn't matter that Milloy is just what the Vikings' defense needs. All that mattered was money and Vikings owner Red McCombs' reluctance to part with any more of it.'
10 who revolutionized special teams [4:57 AM]
Newark Star Ledger reports: 'According to his peers, Levy was the first coach to draft players solely for punt and kick coverage teams.'
Will Milloy line up against Patriots on Sunday? [4:56 AM]
ESPN reports: 'The four-year contract is worth $15 million, nearly two-thirds of that in the first two seasons of the deal. Milloy will receive a $5 million signing bonus and base salaries of $2 million for 2003 and $2.75 million for 2004. The Washington Redskins, who finished as the runner-up team in the Milloy sweepstakes, offered about $6 million in the first two years of their proposal.'
Bills, Milloy agree to four-year, $15 million deal [4:55 AM]
CNN/SI reports: 'Though the Bills disclosed no contract figures, their deal with Milloy is believed to be for four years at $15 million, including a $4.75 million signing bonus and a $2 million base salary this season. The contract averages $3.75 million per season.'
Milloy agrees to sign with Bills [4:54 AM]
AP reports: '''Buffalo was the team that set the market, set the tone,'' he said. ''Drew Bledsoe called me. Sam Gash called me. They got everybody on the phone that they needed to early in the process.'''
Donahoe set stage for Bills to land Milloy [4:53 AM]
AP reports: 'If Milloy was looking for a way to get back at the Patriots for the way they treated him, he couldn't have picked a better place to go, an AFC East rival with intentions of making a run at the division title.'
No decision announced on new starter at safety [4:52 AM]
AP reports: 'Antwan Harris, Chris Akins, Aric Morris and Je'Rod Cherry all could take Milloy's spot, although coach Bill Belichick didn't say who would start.'
New England at Buffalo [4:51 AM]
AP reports: '``I will tell you this that everybody that plays against Lawyer is aware of where he is and aware of his ability to make big plays,'' Bledsoe said. ``As far as his speed, his aggressiveness, his physical style, I haven't seen a falloff at all.'''
Bills agree to deal with Pro Bowl safety Milloy [4:50 AM]
AFP reports: 'With his original signing bonus, Milloy was to count for 5.8 million dollars against the salary cap this season. The Patriots were hoping to soften the salary cap hit, but could not reach an agreement with Milloy and waived him.'
Milloy to Provide Defense for the Buffalo Bills [4:49 AM]
Reuters reports: 'A Patriots captain the last four years, Milloy will get his chance at revenge this Sunday when the Bills open the NFL season at home against New England.'
Bills agree to deal with Pro Bowl S Milloy [4:48 AM]
Sportsticker reports: 'Milloy will have the chance to face his former team on Sunday when the Bills host the Patriots.'
Bills quickly agree to terms with ex-Pat Milloy [4:47 AM]
The Sports Network reports: '"We need to get our focus where our focus needs to be and that's on New England," Donahoe said. "It would be great if we get the player, but if we don't get him we've got a very important game to play and it's going to need all of our attention."'
With Milloy, Bills might be best in AFC [4:46 AM]
NFL.com reports: 'I am on record as picking the Bills to win the AFC East, a prediction made on the strength of their earlier signings. I am beginning to have second thoughts about selecting the Kansas City Chiefs as the winner of the AFC championship. Right now, the Bills have moved into that territory.'
Bills Agree In Principle With Milloy [4:45 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: 'Milloy, 29, spent the last seven seasons with the New England Patriots, who selected him in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft out of Washington. He went on to appear in all 112 games for the Patriots since that time and has started the last 106 straight contests for New England.'
Bills To Host Food Drive This Sunday [4:44 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: 'All donations will benefit the Food Bank of WNY. Food Bank volunteers and Bills wives and girlfriends will join the Buffalo Jills and members of the team's Blue Coat program to collect monetary donations and non-perishable food items at all gates.'
Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript [4:43 AM]
Patriots.com reports: 'First of all, the biggest change that I notice in Buffalo is on special teams. They have a new kicker but they have a very explosive return game. Their kickoff return game in preseason has been strong. The punt return game is probably as good as anybody's in the league. Antonio Brown has shown great speed and play making ability in that phase of the game. So that is a big change for them. Offensively, they have a number of new faces. They have [Sam] Gash at fullback. [Josh] Reed stepped in as their regular receiver. [Bobby] Shaw is their third receiver. It looks like there is a little more emphasis on some of their two-back runs with Gash in there but they also still have their passing game even without Price they still have a lot of weapons in the passing game. They get the ball down the field and do a pretty good job of balancing their attack between power running and giving the ball to [Travis] Henry who is one of the top backs in the league, and being able to sling it. Defensively, the additions starting, with Dick LeBeau. I think you can already start to see some of his influence in the defensive scheme, some blitz-zoning, some different pressures. They are doing a few things schematically a little different than they did last year on defense. They have added some players like Spikes and [Jeff] Posey, Adams to go with Pat Williams on the defensive line. [Ryan] Denney is starting for them at left end so they look like they have incorporated a little bit of some scheme changes and then also some personnel changes. They look bigger on defense especially with Adams in there and Williams. They have added some pass rushers in terms of Posey and some playmakers in terms of Spikes. They are a good solid team that has added some players and added some scheme things in the offseason. You see those things in the preseason games. I am sure they have got some things that they are holding back too.'
Gregg Williams Conf. Call Transcript [4:42 AM]
Patriots.com reports: 'Well, the position was open a few years ago because I had to have some changes being made and we went through those difficult changes. Where the Patriots are dealing with a cap issue this week, we dealt with a bunch of those my first year. We had a bunch of really good football players that were no longer here, and all of them basically were on the defensive side of the ball. So I totally understand how the nature of the business with the salary cap era here affects your team and your organization. We've gone through those that first difficult year, made some progress last year and then were able to have maybe a little bit more of an impact this year. With three good drafts, with good young players and having the ability to bring in some quality free agents this past year, hopefully we'll be able to take another step along the road to where we all went to be. And that's winning a division championship and competing for a world championship. That's what we want to do and it's just a matter of time. And in this new salary cap era you've got to go through some of those things. I think that Tom [Donahoe] and his staff have done a great job on how we've gone through that time. From a football point of view we have done a pretty good job of transitioning and doing what is best for the players that are here. This year we made a significant impact on our defense and hopefully we can take another step there.'
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