By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
April 18, 2009

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The NFL Schedule was released this week, along with several more player visits heading into next weekend's NFL Draft. Here's a look back at what went on this week here in Foxboro.

More player visits and evaluations

The Boston Globe reported that the Patriots hosted offensive tackle Andre Smith on a pre-draft visit on Monday. Smith had been considered as one of the top prospects in the draft, but his stock has fallen since. The Patriots have the 23d overall selection, and Smith may be on their radar.

Joining Smith apparently was Auburn defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, who reportedly worked out for New England on Monday as well.

According to another report it was University of South Florida linebacker Tyrone McKenzie who was the next to visit Foxboro this week. McKenzie reportedly was present for a pre-draft visit on Wednesday and Thursday, and has already been in for a private workout with the team back in March. McKenzie would project to be an inside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 defense.

Meanwhile the Globe also reported that the Patriots held private workouts with defensive tackles Chris Baker (Hampton) and Terrance Knighton (Temple). Both are considered to be mid-to-late round prospects,

The final player to get a look was University of Florida tight end Cornelius Ingram, who according to the Boston Globe was put through a private workout by Bill Belichick and Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio on Friday. Belichick is reportedly scheduled to be one of the featured speakers at a university coaches clinic this weekend.

Patriots 2009 Schedule Released

The NFL Released the 2009 schedule in a prime time nationally televised event on Tuesday, with the NFL Network on location in four cities, including at the CBS Scene at Gillette Stadium. Fans finally got a chance to take a look at when and where New England would face off against this year's group of opponents. Obviously we knew about the opener and the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London, England, but we also found out this year's journey will not be easy. This year's opponents hold a combined record of 151-105 (.590) for last season, with 13 of the Patriots' 16 games coming against opponents who all finished 2008 with a winning percentage of .500 or better. They also finish the season with 4 of their final six games on the road, which includes trips to New Orleans and Miami for two primetime nationally televised match-ups. Their final game of the year comes on the road against the Texans in Houston on January 3rd.

The good news for New England is that after having to travel to London for an October 25th match-up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they'll have an extra week to recover from whatever jet lag they may have as their bye week will follow that game. They'll then have a home game against the Miami Dolphins, and then head off to Indianapolis for what has been an annual showdown against Peyton Manning and the Colts.

Here's a look at the full 2009 schedule:

2009 Regular Season Schedule
Monday, Sept. 14
Buffalo Bills 7:00 p.m. ET ESPN
Sunday, Sept. 20 @ New York Jets 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday, Sept. 27 Atlanta Falcons 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sunday, Oct. 4 Baltimore Ravens 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday, Oct. 11 @ Denver Broncos 4:15 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday, Oct. 18 Tennessee Titans 4:15 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday, Oct. 25 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers** 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday, Nov. 1 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Nov. 8 Miami Dolphins 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday, Nov. 15 @ Indianapolis Colts
8:20 p.m. ET NBC
Sunday, Nov. 22 New York Jets 4:15 p.m. ET CBS
Monday, Nov. 30 @ New Orleans 8:30 p.m. ET ESPN
Sunday, Dec. 6 @ Miami Dolphins
8:20 p.m. ET NBC
Sunday, Dec. 13 Carolina Panthers 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sunday, Dec. 20 @ Buffalo Bills 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday, Dec. 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
Sunday, Jan. 3 @ Houston Texans 1:00 p.m. ET CBS

**To Be Played at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

Throwback Jersey Sighting

The Boston Globe posted a picture of the throwback jersey that the Patriots will be wearing twice this season. The player caught wearing the jersey was runningback Fred Taylor. Here's a link for any of you who hadn't seen it and wanted to take a look at the photograph.

NFL Network and Comcast at a Stalemate

Things aren't looking good for Comcast customers who are used to having the NFL Network. With the contract set to expire on April 30th, the two sides faced off in court this past week and early reports don't look too promising. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue reportedly took the stand to testify, and in his testimony he stated that Comcast used a "threat of collaborative action by the cable industry" if the league did not license it an eight game package for its Versus network.

According to published reports Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said that he wanted to build a "new and different" relationship with the NFL, but that it was clear in the contract for carrying the NFL Network that if Comcast did not get rights to Sunday Ticket or another package of NFL games for a Comcast-owned network, "it would have the right to place the channel on a sports tier."

Well, they didn't win the rights to Sunday ticket, nor did they get the other eight games after the NFL Network instead kept those games and put them on its own network. So the issue at hand is whether Comcast discriminated against the NFL by moving the NFL Network to a sports tier, which Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says they didn't. Roberts reiterated that they had a contractual right to do so. The biggest problem now appears to be the fact that six of the top seven cable operators don't carry the NFL Network at all, while they do carry Versus and Golf. So since Comcast isn't required to carry the network at all, the odds of the NFL network forcing Comcast to make their channel free are probably pretty slim.

Needless to say the question now is whether or not should the case not fall in favor of the NFL Network, it remains to be seen if the two sides can at least repair the damage done to the point where the channel can return to it's current state as a "paid" channel in the "Sports Tier" with Comcast. It's going to be interesting, but I'd be surprised if a resolution was reached quickly. The bad news for fans is that considering that this will occur after the NFL Draft, it will leave quite a hole for football fans (myself included) in need of something to keep them busy before training camp opens in July.

John Madden Retires

Long time broadcaster John Madden decided not to return for the upcoming NFL season and has decided to retire after 30-years of broadcasting.

As part of NBC's press release, Madden said that "It's Time". and that he'd like to spend more time with his family.

"I'm 73 years old," said Madden. "My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and my five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I'm home and, more importantly, when I'm not..."

According to published reports Chris Collinsworth will join Al Michaels in the booth as his replacement. Considering what we've all heard about Michaels' ego, it will be interesting to see how those two interact when the season begins.

Ian Logue is the owner of PatsFans.com and a regular contributor to PatsFans.com. Please visit our messageboard to comment on this story or to contact him, as well as his Online Blog. You can also click "Talkback to the Author" below.


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