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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri May 07 - 12:00 AM | Sun May 09 - 11:58 PM

Thursday's Notes

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            **Captain Crunch**  

Hard-hitting strong safety Rodney Harrison was added as a defensive captain earlier this week by virtue of a team vote. An obvious on-the-field leader from the very start of his time with the Patriots, Harrison now joins Tom Brady, Troy Brown, Richard Seymour, Ted Johnson, Tedy Bruschi and Larry Izzo in the more official leadership role. …

Writing on the practice field

3-season NFL veteran Roman Phifer isn't surprised with the success some of the New England rookies are having in the early stages of their careers. The experienced linebacker thinks the signs of the rookies capable skills were evident well before the seasons ever started. "They impressed me in training camp," Phifer said of the rookies. "A lot of these young guys did really well and so actually I am not surprised that they are able to make plays in the games. …

Strahan strain?

Right tackle Tom Ashworth, forced into playing time by injuries to both Kenyatta Jones and Adrian Klemm, isn't taking anything for granted heading into this week's matchup with All-Pro Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. Despite the huge difference in resumes and experience between the two players Ashworth is trying to prepare as he would to face any opponent. "Everybody has a whole bag of stuff that they can do to you," Ashworth said. "It's somebody different every week. You have to prepare for everyone just like they are the best and if you don't then you get caught. How do you guard against not getting overwhelmed? I don't. We are professionals here. So I am going to come do my job and get prepared to do it." …

Butter ball

And speaking of Strahan, he isn't buying into the overwhelmingly positive words that have been used to describe him by Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and some of the New England players. "They are trying to sucker me," Strahan said. "They are trying to butter me up. My wife does the same thing when she wants something that is expensive. And that never works, so it's not working." Strahan admitted that at earlier times in his career he sometimes let the praise and accolades go to his head, but as he has aged he has done a better job of screening that out in his game preparation. "You make the Pro Bowl. You are feeling great. You are hearing how good you are. Of course it would get to your head, but then reality sets in when you go out there, you don't prepare yourself and don't play as well as you expect in some games. So for me, at this stage in my career, I know every week is a challenge. I can't afford to go out there and not be mentally prepared to play because with something physical, I can't do what I use to, so I have to make up for it in the mental aspect. The only way to do that is to study. I think we have a healthy respect for each other, and I'm not just talking about myself, I am talking about the two teams. We came out there and scrimmaged those guys the year that they went to the Super Bowl, and I have been in the Pro Bowl with quite a few of them and know quite a few of them. I have all the respect in the world for them and also Coach Belichick." …

Notes

Cambridge Ringe and Latin School's Kwame Dixon was named New England Patriots High School Coach of the Week for his team's performances so far this season. The Falcons are 3-1 on the season coming off a 12-0 victory over Peabody, marking Cambridge's first win over Peabody in the last 16 years. The Patriots Charitable Foundation will donate $1,000 to the Cambridge Ringe and Latin School's football program in Dixon's name in recognition of his selection as Coach of the Week. … After hearing of the immense praise that Belichick spoke yesterday in regards to the Giants, New York Head Coach Jim Fassel returned the favor. "I think they are the best team in the National Football League," Fassel said with a laugh as he returned the coachspeak. "They don't have a weak spot."

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