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Foxborough, Mass. –After leading the Lynn Classical Rams to a perfect 4-0 start to begin the season, first-year head coach Brian Vaughan has been named this week’s New England Patriots High School Coach of the Week.

Coach Vaughan, a former standout running back from league rival Lynn English, led the Rams to an impressive start with back-to-back victories over Medford High and Malden High by a combined score of 79-7, before notching their third victory; a 12-6 overtime thriller against the Revere Patriots. Last week, Coach Vaughan’s team was able to pull off a 21-19 victory over the Gloucester Fishermen in a nail biter between the two undefeated squads. The Rams jumped out to an early lead behind two touchdown passes from junior quarterback Keith Ridley, while Ridley added another score on a 13-yard run to give the Rams a 21-0 advantage at the half. Despite a late push from Gloucester, the Rams were able to remain unbeaten and atop the Northeastern Conference’s Central Division standings. Next up for the Rams is a date with undefeated Danvers High School this Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m.

Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett, now the team’s executive director of community affairs, visited the Rams players and coaching staff Tuesday afternoon to present Lynn Classical High School’s football program with a $1,000 donation on behalf of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, in honor of Coach Vaughan. The visit and check presentation will be featured on the Patriots weekly television show, “Patriots All Access,” which airs on Friday night at 7 p.m. on WBZ-TV in Boston and will be available immediately after on Patriots.com.

This is the 22nd year in which the Patriots joined the National Football League in conducting the High School Coach of the Week program, which recognizes outstanding high school coaches and promotes youth football throughout New England. The 2017 season marks the seventh year that Tippett has taken the award on the road to visit the schools that benefit from the program.

“What an impressive start for Lynn Classical and Coach Vaughan,” Tippett said. “Jumping out to a 4-0 start under a new head coach shows the Rams have bought into Coach Vaughan’s leadership. We wish them the best in 2017.”

At the conclusion of the fall, one of the weekly winners will be named the New England Patriots High School Coach of the Year and will receive a $2,000 contribution towards the school’s football program.

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The 2014 Patriots won the Super Bowl, so why can’t this version?

The New England Patriots are 2-2, they’ve lost an embarrassing game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and there are problems on the roster that seem unfixable in the middle of the season. Many are wondering if this era of Patriots football might be over.

Sound familiar?

What the Patriots are going through right now is eerily similar to what happened in 2014. The Patriots were also 2-2 after four games then, with the Chiefs loss coming on Monday Night Football during Week 4 and the fan base spinning into a frenzy.

Things worked out pretty well that season. The team went on to win the Super Bowl, and it all started when the team went “on to Cincinnati” a week later. That is the situation that this current team is in now, and some players see it as motivating. According to Jim McBride of The Boston GlobeJames White sees plenty of similarities between that team and this one.

“Guys took it as a challenge. We came out the next week against the Bengals and guys were just flying around, making plays, and just trying to improve off the Kansas City game,’’ White said Monday afternoon. “That’s all it really is. That’s the approach we really take every week whether you’re coming off a loss or a win. You try to find things you can improve on and come out flying around that next week.”

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In that sense, these early losses could prove to be beneficial to the Patriots this season. It’d be easy for a team that has had as much success as New England to get complacent.

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They join the protest started by Colin Kaepernick.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dontari Poe and Grady Jarrett joined the ranks of NFL players protesting during the national anthem on Sunday, taking a knee prior to the Week 3 matchup between the Falcons and the Lions. Their teammates stood with locked arms in a show of solidarity.

Eight Lions players knelt during the anthem.

For players like Colin Kaepernick and his former 49ers teammate Eric Reid, and so many others who have joined the protest, the choice to kneel during the national anthem represents opposition to ongoing oppression of black Americans in the United States.

Players’ decisions to protest during the anthem has been met with mixed sentiments, from support for the cause to a “stick to sports” mentality. That was the gist of comments from President Donald Trump, who suggested that team owners should fire any “son of a bitch” who kneels.

Arthur Blank released a statement denouncing Trump’s perspective, and Steve Wyche reported that Blank would join the team on the field on Sunday for the anthem to show his support for his players.

“Creating division or demonizing viewpoints that are different than our own accomplishes nothing positive and undermines our collective ability to achieve the ideals of our democracy,” Blank’s statement read.

Kaepernick continued his protest all last season to demonstrate that the liberties and rights represented by the national anthem and the American flag should be enjoyed universally by all Americans.

“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers and remains unemployed. Many believe he is being blackballed due to his protest, even though he said he did not plan to continue kneeling this season.

After Brandon Marshall remained kneeling for the anthem prior to the Broncos’ Week 1 Thursday Night Football matchup last year against the Panthers, he emphasized that he was simply standing against oppression.

“I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America,” Marshall said, according to Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. “I’m against social injustice.”

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Home games are always vital

Andrew from West Allis, WI

Sorry to hear about Perry’s hand, but I’m super-excited to see the cast-petting celebration as soon as he’s cleared to play. What’s your favorite player celebration and who did it?

Billy “White Shoes” Johnson with the funky chicken dance, followed by the splits and the behind-the-back fake throw. You can’t beat it.

Daniel from Copenhagen, Denmark

It seems like the Inbox is still lingering on the Atlanta game. Let’s really get on to Cincinnati. What is the key to winning this game? Is it just containing A.J. Green or is it something more?

It’s the Packers playing like the Packers. This game isn’t about the Bengals, it’s about the Packers. That means containing the run, winning the turnover battle, and making more big plays than the opponent. That’s McCarthy football.

Corey from Mooresville, NC

I know the Bengals offense hasn’t been clicking as of late and with the new offensive coordinator. Do you see them trying to run the ball more against the Packers?

Yes. I’ve had that feeling all week, and McCarthy confirmed it on Thursday. There’s no better way to rebuild a foundation for a struggling quarterback than to give him a running game, and the Bengals have three backs they can turn to.

Amanda from Villa Rica, GA

Every week I find myself getting more and more excited for game day as the days go by. This week is no exception. Now I know that it’s only Week 3 and we play our best football in December, but how important is a win against the Bengals?

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The annual Patriots Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar Launch Party took place on Monday, September 11 at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.

The 2018 Swimsuit Calendar is now available and the Patriots Cheerleaders hosted an event at the Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon to celebrate the launch.  The night included autographs, photos and meeting some amazing Patriots fans!  The cheerleaders also performed on stage outside at Patriot Place, overlooking Gillette Stadium.  Our friends at the Divi & Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives, the location of the calendar shoot, were also in attendance and gave away an all-inclusive trip to one lucky fan!  The event was a great way to kick off the start of football season.

Weren’t able to attend?  Patriots Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendars are available online here and also in store at the Patriots Pro Shop.

Check out photos from the night here:

Aaron Rodgers photo
Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, in Green Bay.

JEFFREY PHELPS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers is no dummy.

After the Green Bay Packers’ past six seasons have ended short of the Super Bowl — he led the 2010 team to the Super Bowl XLV title in his third season as the starter — there was no way on earth the two-time NFL MVP quarterback was about to wax philosophic on what a third such award would mean to him.

“I hope we’re having this conversation later in the year, where we’re talking about our team being successful and me playing the right way,” Rodgers said simply.

Whether Rodgers has given any thought privately to the possibility, only he can say. But after the way he finished last season, delivering on his run-the-table remark by putting together one of the best stretches of football of his 13-year NFL career, there’s certainly reason to think he’s got another MVP-caliber season in him.

“He’s at the peak of his career. He’s at the top of his game. It’s hard to imagine what more he can do or how much better he can play,” said Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whose team opens its season against the Packers today at Lambeau Field.

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Credit: Nancy Lane

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks during a media availability at Gillette Stadium on Monday, August 21, 2017. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

FOXBORO — Two games into their preseason schedule, the Patriots have an O-fer in the win column.

The significance of that number in the grand scheme of things is also zero. The projected starters have seen limited action to this point, and coach Bill Belichick and Co. have yet to install game plans for opponents. The scores have been recorded and statistics kept, but the decisive metrics in the losses to Jacksonville and Houston rest in smaller details.

So even though — both from a personnel and preparation standpoint — Friday night’s game in Detroit against the Lions figures to more closely resemble the regular season, the stripped-down nature of the first two exhibitions in some ways had greater value, especially when decisions loom on how to go from a 90-man roster down to 53 by Sept. 2.

“You’re able to evaluate your basic fundamentals against another team’s basic fundamentals,” Belichick said Monday of the Jacksonville and Houston games. “So, it’s not an X-and-O game. It’s just a basic fundamental game. There’s a lot to be said for that. I mean, that’s the foundation of every play is good fundamentals. So, we win some, they win some, but along the way, even if you’re losing on a fundamental matchup on a particular play, hopefully you’re improving, you’re gaining experience and you’re correcting mistakes and moving forward on it for the next player and the next game, that type of thing.”

Third-year safety Jordan Richards knows the drill by now when it comes to that distinction. For someone who is not an established starter, he finds himself on the bubble to make the final cut. He understands that to do so, he has to mind the minutia.

“It’s football in its truest sense,” Richards said. “They’re trying to find out who can compete. And we’re trying to prove to each other and our teammates that we belong on the field. So whether it’s a fundamental game or a true game-plan week, it’s an opportunity to go compete. The fundamentals of the game never leave the game, so you’re just trying to focus on that and make the most of the opportunities.”

But whatever type of game, “fundamental” or not — at the end of the day, it’s all just football. For running back Rex Burkhead, strategic installation aside, he always holds himself to the same standard.

“You look at (fundamentals),” said Burkhead, who is a safe bet to make the team. “You look at everything still, just like it’s a regular season game, honestly. I’m such a competitive guy. I think all of these guys are. We’re always trying to play our best. Even if we’re going to be rusty on things, we’re going to be upset. We’re always trying for perfection. If there’s things we see we need to improve on, I’m like, ‘Man, I wish I did that better.’ We’re definitely going to do our best to get better.”

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Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) intercepts a pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – When praising safety Tyrann Mathieu during training camp, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians always added a disclaimer: Do it on gameday.

Hardly a practice has finished without seeing Mathieu either break up a pass, deflect a pass or intercept a pass; and sometimes all three.

“He’s got his hands on a lot of balls,” Arians said recently, before adding, “Until it’s real bullets, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Wait no more.

In the second quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Chicago Bears, Mathieu recorded his first interception of the preseason. He stepped in front of a Mike Glennon pass intended for Kendall Wright, jumping the route for a red-zone turnover.

“I just saw the receiver stem me. He stemmed me outside, so I knew he was running an out route,” Mathieu said after the 24-23 setback. “I actually thought I was about to get a skinny post, but he ended up breaking it off. We were in an outside leverage coverage, anyway, so I was just able to slip him and get in front of him.”

And once Mathieu had the ball secured in his hands that’s when he really went to work.

Running up the right sidelines, Mathieu high-stepped his way past several would-be tacklers, further exciting the 64,016 in attendance at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Crossing midfield, Mathieu momentarily lost control of the ball only to regain his hold on it and then finally went to the ground at the Bears 43-yard line. It was a 52-yard return.

“He’s a beast. He’s back,” linebacker Markus Golden said of Mathieu. “He’s been doing it in practice since camp started, so we already knew what he could do. He’s just back to being himself.”

The interception helped set up the Cardinals’ first touchdown, a Carson Palmer one-yard throw to tight end Jermaine Gresham on 4th-and-goal to give the Cardinals a 7-3 lead.

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Arizona Cardinals’ Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson is set to welcome star wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the NFC West

Over the last couple of years, Arizona Cardinals’ cornerback Patrick Peterson has found his strongest competition outside of the NFC West. Wideouts he has faced within the division during that time like Doug Baldwin, Kenny Britt, Torrey Smith and Tavon Austin are all good players. They’re certainly not the league’s cream of the crop at the position, however.

A trade made yesterday by the Los Angeles Rams could be the first step in changing all of that. The club acquired Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills, surely getting the attention of Peterson. You can rest assured that the Cards’ six-time Pro Bowler received news of the deal as soon as it went down.

ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 27: Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a pass interference penalty during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on November 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Peterson is an intense competitor, so he has to be thrilled with this brand new challenge placed before him. Unlike Seattle Seahawks’ corner Richard Sherman, the Cardinals’ seventh-year pro’s job is to shadow the opposing team’s best pass-catcher each and every week. In contrast, Sherman only covers the receivers that line up on his side. When comparisons between the two cover guys is made, that fact alone should give Peterson the nod as to who is better (But I digress!).

That being said, it’s a foregone conclusion that Peterson will be everywhere on the football field that Watkins is whenever the two meet. Barring injury, there will be two matchups this upcoming campaign, and hopefully many more for years to come. Perhaps this new rivalry has the potential to mimic the great Aeneas Williams-Michael Irvin battles that fans enjoyed in the 1990’second.

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