TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 2 days until Patriots training camp

It’s another beautiful day here in New England, and there was more good news for Patriots fans last night – so let’s get to today’s headlines.

In case you missed it, the Patriots got another rookie under contract last night, with Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reporting on Monday afternoon that rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes agreed to terms on a contract with the Patriots. According to the report the deal is for four-years, and will pay him $3.215 million with a signing bonus of $950,000.

His signing now leaves just cornerback Devin McCourty without a contract with just a couple days to go until the team opens their first public practice at Gillette Stadium on Thursday.

Meanwhile Jeff Howe of NESN.com has an article this morning looking at the defensive backs, which lead by Leigh Bodden Howe feels there’s one spot still up for grabs – and several guys battling for it.

Howe also has 25 things the Patriots need to do in order to win it all this season, with some of them being obvious, while others you may find surprising. It’s a great piece by Howe, with fans already discussing it in our Patriots forum.

The Boston Herald has a blog entry on wide receiver Randy Moss, who is reportedly in town and “excited to get started.” Moss is in the final year of his contract, and if he plays anywhere near where he did the last time he was up for a new deal should have quite a season.

Glen Farley of the Patriot Ledger looks at the runningback position, and feels that New England will spend another season with the “runningback by committee” approach as he has his doubts Maroney will finally emerge as the lead back.

Michael Hurley of NESN points out that the Patriots are ranked ninth in the ESPN Power rankings, with the Colts and Saints leading the way at one and two, while the Jets find themselves two spots ahead of the Patriots at number seven.

Guregian also looks at six spots up for grab heading into training camp, including the battle that’s set to take place at inside linebacker.

Ron Borges of the Boston Herald takes a look at the impending labor situation, and feels that it could end up costing the owners. Borges has a historical perspective that really helps shed light on the challenges they face, and some of the things that need to happen for the two sides to reach an agreement. It’s definitely a good read.

Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal looks at the return of wide receiver Wes Welker, and feels that the Pats’ fortune is tied to how much he’s recovered once the season begins.

The Patriots made a charitable contribution to Camp Harbor View in Quincy, Mass. and as a result they have a new name for their playing fields. The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation has been a consistent contributor to the camp, and according to Patriots.com on Monday camp directors honored the foundation by officially naming the onsite athletic field, “New England Patriots Field.”

“Words cannot describe how good Camp Harbor View is for those kids that have the opportunity to spend the summer there,” said former Patriot Andre Tippet, who was on hand for the event. “Coming from their environment, it is a great safe haven for them.”

Christopher Price of WEEI.com continues his “rating the roster” series, releasing Part 3 yesterday afternoon, and Part 4 later on last night. Both are definitely interesting, so be sure and check them out and leave him your feedback.

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe continues his series on “Scouting the Schedule”, taking a look at the Green Bay Packers – who the Patriots face off with in week 14 at Gillette Stadium.

Tom Curran of Comcast Sports New England looks at New England’s running game and points out that the Patriots ran for 1,921 yards last year along with 19 touchdowns while averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Although while it may look impressive, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

In case you missed it, Adam Schefter of ESPN and Peter King of SI.com were both on WEEI yesterday, with the website offering up transcripts with highlights of each interview. Lots of good insight, so be sure to check it out if you weren’t able to hear it live.

Also in the “in case you missed it” worth noting is that “Bruschi’s Breakdown” is back on ESPNBoston.com, with yesterday’s edition appearing on the website. Bruschi offers up a lot of good insight into this wee’ks report, including how tough the conditioning test really is for the Patriots.

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

John Clayton of ESPN.com gives his thoughts about key AFC training camp battles with some NFL teams, but if you watch the video he also reports that it’s expected that the league will vote to go to an 18 game schedule at the end of August which he feels may help get things moving toward reaching an agreement for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. One other note from the video – despite being the first person in the media to suggest a Brady holdout, Clayton also changes his tune in his report.

As we mentioned yesterday the Cowboys Dez Bryant is refusing to take part in the “rookie hazing” rituals that have taken place for years, with Bryant refusing to carry Roy Williams’ pads out in Dallas. Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards says it’s something that’s gone on for a long time, but is usually just in good fun and told USA Today that it’s usually within limits.

WDEL 1150AM out of Philadelphia reports that despite having a shooting incident take place following his birthday party, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick won’t face any disciplinary action from the team or the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell is scheduled to visit the Eagles on August 3rd, where he’s expected to discuss the incident with Vick at that point.

We’ll leave you with kind of a humorous story. They’re all excited out in Detriot, with the Free Press reporting that Peter King listed his four teams who won’t make the playoffs this season, and the Lions didn’t make that list.

“Today is time for hope,” King writes. “The reason this is such a fun time is because 32 teams think they have a chance to make the playoffs right now, and I think about 28 actually do. (Scratch St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Buffalo and probably Cleveland.) …

“Detroit? Kansas City? Seattle? Not dead at all. They can all throw the ball, and all have made some defensive progress.”

It would be nice to see the Lions as NFC contenders. That whole area has struggled in this current economic client – so it would be nice to see them finally improve. Not to mention the fact that it would make the Thanksgiving day games a lot more interesting.

That’s it for this morning. Enjoy your day, and be sure to check back for updates – and join us in our Patriots Forum for more football discussion.