TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 11 days until Patriots training camp

We’ll kick off this morning with Albert Breer’s football notes from the Boston Globe, which looks at the offseason workouts for some of the top players in the league this year, including Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Breer points out that while Brady may have given up his parking space in Foxboro that he earned from his previous offseason work back here, it hasn’t stopped him from working just as hard on his own to be ready for the season.

Beer also has another entry in the Globe’s “Scouting the Opponents” series, this time looking at the Baltimore Ravens.

NESN.com’s Jeff Howe takes a look at the Patriots return game, which is an area they struggled a bit with last year. Howe points out that they averaged 22.7 yards per kickoff return, which ranked 15th in the NFL. The Patriots were also one of 18 teams that didn’t return a kickoff for a touchdown.

Howe also takes a look at new punter Zoltan Mesko, and hopes that Mesko proves that he can be an upgrade over the departed Chris Hanson. Hanson had a disappointing season last year, with Howe pointing out that New England finished last in the NFL in average gross (and net) punting yards.

Patriots runningback Laurence Maroney is doing something interesting today, he’s spending today from 4 to 7 p.m. at Kiener Plaza in St. Louis downtown: challenging area children to quick-chess games. According to the American Chronicle The Chess Club of St. Louis will set up four tables, and Maroney will play as many games as possible.

Plans for a new stadium for the New England Revolution seem to be picking up steam, with the Boston Globe reporting that a 20,000 seat stadium is under consideration to be built in Somerville, Massachusetts. The facility would reportedly double as a soccer stadium, and a potential new concert venue.

Three former Patriots were inducted into the College Hall of Fame on Saturday, with Dick MacPherson, who coached at UMass and Syracuse as well as the Patriots; Marshall wide receiver Troy Brown, and University of Miami quarterback Gino Torretta. The Boston Herald has more from the event, which took place in South Bend, Indiana yesterday. For fans of MacPherson, Syracuse.com has a great retrospective on his career both with the University, and the Patriots.

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

Woody Paige of the Denver Post has an article this morning where he takes to task the Broncos “offensive offense“, and hopes that head coach Josh McDaniels can get his club putting more points on the board than they did last season after they finished tied for 20th in the NFL in points per game.

NESN.com’s Howe previews the Pittsburgh Steelers, who he feels without suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, are going to be in need of leadership early in the season to have a shot at making the playoffs. New England will face off against them on November 14th at Heinz Field.

The Los Angeles Times takes a quick look at the NFC South, and has questions about each team that could decide each of their fates this season.

The Seattle Times has an interesting AP article about the professional sports owners, who author Tim Dahlberg feels are not believable when crying poverty. It’s an entertaining read, and I definitely recommend it.

Finally, we’ll end on some sad news unrelated to football but it definitely needs to be mentioned. Actor James Gammon – the actor who played head coach “Lou Brown” in the movie Major League (one of my all-time favorite sports films) – has passed away at the age of 70. Gammon apparently had cancer a couple of years ago, and when it came back this time last month, unfortunately it was a battle he couldn’t win. Very sad indeed, and best wishes to his friends and family.

That’s it for now. Hope everyone enjoys their Sunday and we’ll have updates later on.