Thursday New England Patriots Links 2/3

Ian Logue
February 03, 2011 at 10:19am ET

No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not at the start of the team's OTA's today
NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers rise up for Patriots
New Patriots DL Danny Shelton preps to hit the hill
Patriots center David Andrews excited with his new Georgia Bulldog teammates

The big news last night was one day after it was announced that Tom Brady had won the Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year award, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was named the AP Coach of the Year, earning him the honor for the third time in his coaching career.  He last won the honor back in 2003 and 2007.

Belichick and Tom Brady have had plenty of success here in New England, and for the third time he's earned coach of the year. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)
Ian Rapoport has more on the story, with head coach Bill Belichick telling the NFL Network that he was glad to receive the award, but was disappointed in how the year ended.
“Ownership, our assistant coaches and certainly the players, they’re the ones that stepped up and made the plays this year. We had a lot of new people on the team, young players that contributed. It’s certainly an honor to receive this award on behalf of our performance in the regular season. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to carry that over into the playoffs.”

Tom Curran feels that after the "faceplant" the team had against the Jets, the decision to give Belichick the honor could certainly be debated.

Rich Garven writes that Belichick and the team are now focused on the upcoming draft in April, which is one of the only things that can be considered certain in the NFL thanks to the impending labor situation.

Speaking of the draft, Jeff Howe of takes a look at the top 10 draft prospects, inlcuding Clemson Defensive End Da'Quan Bowers.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had some good things to say about head coach Bill Belichick, with Mike Reiss speaking to him yesterday and posting some interesting comments from the veteran receiver.

“I think it all starts with the head coach [Bill Belichick]. He does a fantastic job, week in and week out, keeping his guys mentally prepared to go out there and play,” he said. “He’s the only coach in history to have four seasons with 14 wins, and that alone, speaks volumes of what he’s able to accomplish, especially in that [AFC East] division. I think you’re looking at the NFL’s strongest division, from top to bottom. If Buffalo played in the NFC West, they’d probably win the NFC West. That’s a strong, strong division and he’s found a way to win it [eight] times. It’s astonishing.

“Obviously, Tom Brady, he’s the [soon-to-be] MVP this year in the NFL. He has a nice leader of his team. He has a young squad, which you see when you’re starting four guys on defense who are rookies. And he has a 1,000 [draft] picks next season, so the future is going to be really bright.”

Reiss also takes a look at tight end Rob Gronkowski and points out that Belichick was seeking a player that fit the mold of former New York Giant tight end Mike Bavaro - and appears to have found that in Gronkowski. 

The former Giant, who is from Massachusetts and was born in Winthrop, talked a little about the Patriots rookie, and was impressed by what he saw.
"He is the kind of tight end I considered myself, in that type of class of all-around guy -- he is big, fast, can block and catch," Bavaro said Wednesday from his Massachusetts home. "He's definitely the old-school type of tight end."

Erik Scalavino of takes a look back at how the wide receivers performed this season, with a brief synopsis of each one in today's entry.

Bill Burt of the Laurence Eagle Tribune has a feature this morning on Zak DeOssie, who made the Pro Bowl this year with the Giants is back home now to watch the Super Bowl this weekend.  He predicts the Packers to win the game.
"I like Green Bay," said DeOssie. "They are firing on all cylinders right now. As we know, it's not necessarily the team with the best record that comes out on top this time of year.
"Pittsburgh has had an excellent track record over the recent few years, winning two Super Bowls since 2005, and I expect they will be impressive in this game," said DeOssie. "But the team that plays as the most cohesive unit is the team that plays best, and Green Bay has been doing that consistently. I see them going out this weekend and performing with the kind of heart that can win a big game ... and a Super Bowl title."

Christopher Price of writes that like the Cleveland game for the Patriots, the Packers trip to Foxboro was their wake up call and that loss ended up being the turning point in their season.

Ian Rapoport has a great story this morning on Springfield native Joe Philbin, who is the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers.  Rapoport points out some great moments over Philbin's career, and it's a great read.

Rapoport also has a notebook this morning and points out that Packers linebacker Clay Matthews actually thought he was going to be a Patriot during the 2009 NFL draft before being selected by Green Bay.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram writes that the Fox Television Crew will miss not having the Patriots in the Super Bowl this weekend.  Doyle points out that New England has played in four of the last five broadcasts of when the network has had the NFL's showcase game.  Joe Buck worked the last game between the Patriots and Giants, and said that game was one of the most memorable contests he's been a part of.
“To get through that fourth quarter,” Buck said, “and to be as wrapped up as we were in that back-and-forth between the Patriots and the Giants, is something that I’ll never forget. I don’t know if it will ever be topped.”

And finally we'll throw this in the "in case you missed it" category because it doesn't need to be rehashed - which is why it's buried at the bottom of this entry.  Many of you may have heard the story that came out in Sports Illustrated regarding NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell feeling "deceived" about the fact he expected Belichick to come out and make a public apology during the SpyGate fiasco back in 2007 and "tell his side of the story".  Instead Belichick only issued a printed statement and did not take questions on the topic.

Belichick responded to the allegation, telling the magazine, "I did not make any assurances about thoroughly discussing the subject publicly. I said I would address it following the league's review. I then did that in a way I thought was appropriate. I don't think that was deceptive."

Good for him for standing his ground and actually coming out and responding publicly.  This topic is a dead issue to most fans and was considered by many to be an overblown story to begin with by other coaches and people in the game.  One can only hope it will be the last we'll hear about it, but as we know that's probably unlikely.

That's it for this morning.  Hopefully everyone has a good day and we'll have more later on.