Thursday's New England Patriots Links 10/27

Ian Logue
October 27, 2011 at 07:52am 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

Here are this morning's top stories:


X-rated review - Karen Guregian
Guregian writes, "This probably hasn’t been the best few days in Rob Gronkowski’s life. But as the proverb says: This too shall pass."

Tom Brady wary despite Steel success - Ian Rapoport
Rapoport writes that although last year's match-up worked out in New England's favor, Tom Brady said on Wednesday that they'll need to execute better in the first half this time around.
“Would it just be like last year?” Brady asked back at a reporter’s question about his dominance over LeBeau’s unit. “We didn’t score much in the first half last year. The second half we played a little bit better. It all comes back to execution.”

NOTEBOOK: Dan Koppen with down time - Ian Rapoport
Rapoport files his notebook this morning, which leads off with some words from Dan Koppen, who sounded upbeat yesterday despite the fact he's on injured reserve as he continues recovering from an ankle injury.
“I just got off crutches, and I’m pretty happy about that,” said Koppen, who went on injured reserve on Sept. 21 with a broken fibula suffered in the opener. “Just getting back into working out, taking it slow. No rushing back now. Just get it 100 percent, be back next year.”

True test for Patriots DBs - Karen Guregian
Guregian writes that the Patriots secondary will be tested by a tough Steelers offense, and also points out that in the next five games, the Pats will be facing three passing offenses — Pittsburgh, the New York Giants and Philadelphia — that sit in the top 10 of the league.


Gronkowski issues apology‎ - Monique Walker
Walker has her "notebook" for this morning, which leads off with yesterday's public apology from Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who told reporters he didn't mean to damage the team's reputation with the photos of him posing with adult film star BiBi Jones.
“I didn’t intend to hurt the reputation of anyone, the New England Patriots or on behalf of Robert Kraft, and that’s all,’’ he said. “It was just a simple picture, that’s all, and from here on out, I’m just here to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the big game this weekend.’’

Roethlisberger a big pain for opponents‎ - Julian Benbow
Benbow writes that Ben Roethlisberger was on Pittsburgh's injury report yesterday, which most players and coaches are always skeptical of since he always seems to be battling some kind of injury.
“If you look at his history, he’s always playing with some kind of injury or going through something,’’ said Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty. “He’s a tough competitor. So I’m not really surprised by that at all.’’

Cold case closed?‎ - Stan Grossfeld
Stanfeld has an article on former Patriots outside linebacker Erick Naposki, who was convicted of murder in 1994 but says there are many gaps in his conviction. (Warning - this article is behind their paywall)


Versus Pats, Steeler defense never rests‎ - Chris Forsberg
Forsberg writes that despite New England's dominance over the Steelers, each match-up has been a tough one thanks to Pittsburgh's defense.


Patriots, Steelers are proof that stable QB/coach relationships are big key to success - Christopher Price
Price takes a look at how the continuity for teams that have long tenured quarterback / head coach combinations have been key to their long-term success, and obviously the Brady/Belichick combination has worked out well in New England.


Dan Koppen's future uncertain after injury‎ - Rich Garven
Garven files his "notebook" which leads off with some notes on Dan Koppen, who is uncertain about his future as he recovers from a broken ankle that ended his season and put him on injured reserve.  Koppen's in the final year of his contract, and told Garven, “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” regarding his future.

Gronkowski, porn star took 'simple picture'‎ - Rich Garven
Garven has more on Gronkowski's apology, with the 2nd year tight end telling reporters he didn't mean to hurt anyone with his photo with Jones.
“I didn't mean to hurt no one,” he said. “I love this organization, love being part of it here and everything, and definitely not trying to put anyone on the map or anything. Like I said, I'm just here for the Steelers. All I care about is the Steelers, and all I care about is this team and being here with the team this week and practicing and getting better every day.”

Tom Brady at hist best vs. Steelers‎ - Rich Garven
Garven looks at Tom Brady's dominance over the Steelers in recent years, although Brady - as expected -  downplayed any of that yesterday during his press conference.
“We’ve had our moments and they’ve had their moments,” Brady added. “I think we realize the kind of challenge that it is, and we put a lot of time into the preparation, and we put a lot of effort into understanding what we’re trying to accomplish from a game-plan standpoint, and then we’ve executed well.”


Can the Patriots pass defense find a way to keep Steelers receiver Mike Wallace Grounded? - Nick Underhill
Underhill ponders how New England's secondary can slowdown Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace, who had a big game against them last season.


Patriots must look for safety first‎ - Mark Farinella
Farinella has an article this morning on Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were both wary of yesterday as they discussed him during their press conferences.

College football draws fewer fans, more arrests - Bill Stedman
Stedman offers some interesting notes from last Saturday's game between UNH and UMASS at Gillette Stadium, with Police Chief Edward O'Leary pointing out that the game ended with more police custodies - 64, compared with 48 at the previous weekend's professional football game.  Stedman also writes that there were 49,203 fewer fans - just 19,800 -  at Saturday's Colonial Clash between the University of Massachusetts and the University of New Hampshire.


NOTEBOOK: Gronkowski didn't intend to hurt team's reputation‎ - Glen Farley
Farley has his "notebook", which like some of the others leads off with Gronk's apology to the media yesterday.

Time ticking on Patriots' meeting with 'Big Ben'‎ - Glen Farley
Farley looks at Ben Roethlisberger, who several players noted just how tough he is to bring down as they prepare to face him this weekend.
“Even if you’re hitting him and he’s going down, he still can throw the ball. With him, you’ve got to definitely emphasize finishing the rush or finishing the tackle because he can still get away.”