TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 5 days until Patriots training camp

A beautiful Saturday here in New England, and it’s exciting to think that next weekend we’ll hopefully have plenty of football to talk about as Training Camp will be underway.¬†¬†But for now,¬†here are today’s headlines.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com takes a look at the Patriots offensive line, and ponders what changes that will be made now that it’s looking more and more doubtful that they’ll have Logan Mankins on the field this season.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that the Patriots and Mankins remain in a standoff, with the two sides not having spoken since Mankins publicly demanded a trade.  Mankins is not expected to report this week when the team opens camp on Thursday.

Howe also looks at quarterback Tom Brady’s current contract situation, and expects Brady to remain the¬†consummate professional he’s always been.¬† He also looks at the fact that for the first time during Brady’s career, the Patriots are underdogs heading into this season.

Christopher Price of WEEI.com has part two of his “Rating the Roster” from 1-82, and today has the ratings from 70-61.¬† Each day he’ll be releasing the next 10, and we’ll be including it here in the headlines.

Yesterday we learned that Wes Welker won’t be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list when training camp opens on Thursday, and Albert Breer of the Boston Globe talks about¬†Welker’s remarkable return.

Glenn Farley also takes an in-depth look at Welker’s return, and hopes that some of the guys around him take some of the pressure off, as Welker has lead the team in receptions the past¬†several seasons.

The Charlotte Observer reported some sad news this morning, with former Boston Patriot Dennis Byrd passing after suffering a heart attack on Thursday.¬† The 63-year old suffered a heart attack July 15 while undergoing unrelated back surgery and never regained consciousness.¬† Byrd¬†was the team’s number one draft choice in ’68, and played two seasons in the old American Football League before finishing his career with the Jets in the NFL.

 For fans who wonder whatever happened to former linebacker Chris Slade, the Virginia Gazette reports that this past week Slade made a return trip to the Colonial Capital as part of Football University’s 2010 Top Gun camp at James City County Stadium.  Slade is also entering his second season as sideline reporter for Virginia’s radio broadcast of Cavalier games, as well as working with Comcast Sports in Atlanta where he resides. 

The Lexington Herald-Leader has an article on Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, reminding us of an incident from back in November of 2008 where¬†Crowder engaged in a memorable exchange with Patriots tackle Matt Light.¬† The incident led to Light ripping Crowder’s helmet from his head before tugging at his dreadlocks, and both players were ejected and fined $15,000.

Sam Farmer of the Gloucester Times wonders how the Patriots will contend with the new look Jets, and also takes a quick look at the rest of the AFC East.

Christopher Gasper of the Boston Globe says that with the changes to the coaching staff in recent years, it’s an experienced group around Belichick that will need to grow quickly in order for the Patriots to be successful this season.

Tom Curran of Comcast Sports New England has an article talking about the fact that while the Patriots have plenty of “quantity” on offense, we’ll have to wait and see how much of that is “quality” when they take the field this week.

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

Danny O’Neil of the Boston Herald has an article on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who brought USC’s football program to greatness, but now controversy surrounds the program.¬† The interesting note from O’Neil in this article is that in Carroll’s¬†book titled “Win Forever” reportedly begins with the epiphany he experienced in the months after he was fired by the New England Patriots.¬†¬† It began while he was reading a book by John Wooden that prompted him to refine the philosophy that he now sees as the backbone to his success at USC.¬† Carroll hopes that philosophy will translate to a similar success with Seattle.

College Coach Nick Saban recently compared professional athlete’s agents to that of “pimps” recently,¬†suggesting that the NFL step in and¬†do something about it.¬† ProFootballWeekly has an article where several agents respond to Saban’s comments – with many of them feeling it was an unfair generalization.

That’s it for this morning.¬† Enjoy your Saturday, and we’ll have updates later on.