TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 9 days until Patriots training camp

A surprisingly busy news day, as most of the beat writers appear to be back from vacation and were very active late yesterday into this morning.

We’ll kick off with a piece from Jeff Howe of NESN.com, who feels that the Patriots may want to keep Wes Welker from returning punts this season as he continues to recover from his knee injury.¬† Howe feels that it may be better to shift that duty over to Kevin Faulk or Julian Edelman – or potentially one of the rookies.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com takes a look at which players were featured on each of the season tickets to Gillette Stadium this season, and tells us which player photos were on each one.

Reiss also takes a look at the average age of this team, with New England ranking as the¬†6th¬†oldest overall in the league.¬† Reiss points out that could change once final cutdowns are made, but that’s where they rank up to this point.

He also takes a look at defensive coach Corwin Brown, who was originally hired as a defensive coach but so far seems to be spending the majority of his time working with the defensive backs.

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe takes a look at the Patriots defensive backs and linebackers, who Yahoo! Sports recently ranked 22nd in the NFL.

Breer also takes a look at who he feels will be the next rookie to sign, pointing out that talks have also started with rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes, with his agent saying that talks started about a week ago Рwith the goal being to have things done before camp opens.

Breer also provides us with a quick scouting report on the Minnesota Vikings, whom the Patriots will face on October 31st in Foxboro.

Karen Guregian takes a look at the contract talks of first round draft pick Devin McCourty, which so far appear to be progressing.  His representative, Andy Simms, told Guregian that he is hopeful a deal will get done on time and that McCourty should be in camp next week.

‚ÄúThere‚Äôs not a lot to discuss or report at this point, but we are speaking and have been the last couple of weeks,‚ÄĚ Simms said. ‚ÄúObviously, it‚Äôs a slow process. There‚Äôs some issues with the pending lockout, and working with option bonuses, but we‚Äôve pretty much have figured out the best way to structure the deal and I‚Äôm very optimistic we‚Äôre going to get a deal done on time and I think the Patriots would say the same thing.‚ÄĚ

The only tough part about his deal may be the option bonus, which Breer also points out and goes into detail in a similar entry.

Glenn Farley writes a piece this morning in the Metrowest Daily News, looking at how head coach Bill Belichick will handle coaching the season without any official offensive or defensive coordinators on his staff.

Jessica Isner of NESN.com has an interesting article this morning on quarterback Tom Brady, who she feels has been distancing himself from fans since the last time the Patriots won it all.

Despite a report yesterday by Tim Graham who claimed that Brady may holdout from the start of training camp¬†over the lack of a contract extension, Tom Curran of Comcast Sports New England reports that won’t be the case.¬† Curran reports that Brady should be in town this weekend, and that the chances of him holding out are “slim”.

ESPN.com reports that former New England Patriot Steve McMichael was left “speechless” by his induction into the College Football Hall of fame this past weekend.¬† He spent one season in New England before spending the next 13 with the Chicago Bears.

Paul Perillo of Patriots.com has their next installment of “Meet the Rookies”, this time offering up a terrific piece on linebacker Jermaine Cunningham.

Finally our friends behind the Patriots PatsCast podcast have released this week’s episode, and talk about a variety of subjects including the impending Sam Bradford contract and how it will effect Tom Brady, along with whether or not they feel Brady will be in camp or not.¬† Be sure to check it out.

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

Jill Seward of NESN.com reports that Terrell Owens’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, claims that he’s confident that his client will sign with a new team soon.¬† Owens is currently blaming his public perception as the reason why he’s still unemployed, and has recently reportedly been turned down by both the Patriots and San Diego Chargers.

It appears that the regular season games in London may be just the start of the league taking the next step in trying to make an NFL franchise in the UK a real possibility.  According to ProFootballTalk.com it appears that a team in England and a Super Bowl there are becoming a very likely scenario.

For fantasy football fans Fanhouse has an article ranking the top NFL runningbacks, with a list that runs all the way from 1-70.

We’ll close today’s headlines with an article from FoxSports on Buffalo Bills defensive end Alex Carrington.¬†¬†The¬†3rd¬†round pick¬†recently signed with the team and is expected to be quite a player in their defense.¬† Needless to say keep him on your radar for when these two teams face off this season.

That’s it for this morning.¬† Hope everyone has a great day and we’ll have updates later on.