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DL Ellis recalls his ‘shock, disbelief’ on 9/11

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / September 12, 2011

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There were ceremonies commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy all over the NFL yesterday and they will continue tonight before the Patriots-Dolphins game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

Each fan will receive a small American flag and 400 police and firefighters will be on the field for pregame ceremonies, which will conclude with a flyover by B-2 Stealth Bombers.

At halftime, members of the Army’s Golden Knights will parachute into the stadium.

Last week, some Patriots recalled the events of Sept. 11, 2001, though some were closer to it than others. Many current Patriots were in middle or high school.

Shaun Ellis was a second-year member of the Jets, living in Freeport, N.Y., on Long Island, about 25 miles from the World Trade Center.

“I was asleep, my mom called me and she was like, ‘Babe, turn on the TV,’ ’’ Ellis said. “I’m thinking, for what? She was like, ‘Something’s going on up there, y’all are under attack.’ And I’m like, ‘under attack?’ So I turned on the TV and that’s when I saw the second plane hit the other tower.

“I was just like, wow, I thought it was a dream, like I thought somebody was playing tricks or something like that. And as you kept watching you knew it was real life. Just going through the whole experience was overwhelming - it’s shock, disbelief that something like that could actually happen.’’

The Jets tried to practice the next day, but then-coach Herm Edwards realized his team wasn’t thinking about football and the session ended quickly. The team held a vote and decided that it would not play that Sunday, five days later, and would forfeit the game.

They didn’t have to, because the NFL postponed the weekend’s slate of games.

“A lot of players were like, frightened,’’ Ellis said. “They were just hurt by the amount of people that died and what actually took place. Vinny Testaverde on our team, he had family that worked at the Trade Center. You know, actually seeing it and then you being around people that was actually affected by it, it made you take it that much harder. It was tough.’’

They’re out The Patriots last night downgraded five players to out for tonight: tackle Sebastian Vollmer, linebacker/defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, receiver Taylor Price, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell.

Though Vollmer (back) is questionable, he is not expected to play because he did not practice all week. His absence means rookie Nate Solder likely will start at right tackle, where he will see heavy doses of Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake.

The other four players were limited in practice and also were listed as questionable.

On the plus side, Albert Haynesworth made the trip, which means there’s a good chance he’ll play - the defensive tackle missed Saturday’s practice because of illness.

Daboll on sideline The Patriots will see at least one familiar face on the Miami sideline tonight as former assistant Brian Daboll is now the Dolphins offensive coordinator.

Daboll was the Patriots receivers coach from 2002-06, but left with Eric Mangini when Mangini took the Jets job before the ’07 season. Mangini made Daboll his quarterbacks coach, and when Mangini was hired by the Browns after being fired by New York, he brought Daboll with him again, this time as offensive coordinator.

Miami coach Tony Sparano is happy to have Daboll.

“He’s done a great job. I couldn’t ask for more and he’s done a super job, well prepared,’’ Sparano said. “You can see that Brian’s time with coach [Bill] Belichick and the Patriots there has served him well. Of course, he was on the defensive side of the ball for a little while there so that helps any young coordinator coming into our league, having some experience on the other side of the ball and seeing it from [that] end. So Brian has done a great job and has a lot of enthusiasm and it rubs off on our players.’’

Daboll inherited quarterback Chad Henne, who was booed by his own fans during training camp. Henne completed 64.4 percent of his passes in the preseason, with two touchdowns and two interceptions in three games. His performance was solid enough that the cry to replace him has died down for now.

Interestingly, in the game notes provided by the Patriots, Daboll is not mentioned in the section that lists Miami-New England connections.

Brady by the numbers Tom Brady is 12-6 all-time against the Dolphins. The New England quarterback is 10-4 on “Monday Night Football’’ . . . New England has won seven consecutive season openers and eight of its last nine. The only loss was on the road in Buffalo in 2003 . . . Though Brady threw an interception early in New England’s playoff loss to the Jets, his NFL-record regular-season streak of 335 passes without a pick is ongoing.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Shalise Manza Young can be reached at

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