Archive for February, 2011

Friday Patriots Mid Afternoon Notes

Thanks to the snow here in New Hampshire there wasn’t any time to get the headlines in before work, but here’s a quick look at some of what we’ve seen so far through one day of the Scouting Combine. Today is Day Two, and there are also some additional things worth mentioning here:

  • Following up on last night’s entry on Logan Mankins, the Herald reported today that the two sides remain gridlocked over the terms of an extension. According to a story in this morning’s Herald Mankins agent, Frank Bauer, believes that Mankins and New Orleans’ Jahri Evans are the two best guards in the league, and he sounds like he’s not going to budge until the Patriots meet that contract. “As much as they talk about what he could be, or what he could not be, it’s all fluff,” Bauer told the newspaper. “Because now you have the 2010 year that he played eight games in, at a reduced tender, then he makes the Pro Bowl, then he makes the All-Pro team. The two best guards in the business are Logan Mankins and Jahri Evans. Does that tell you anything? They just can’t come to (Evans’) figures.’’
  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff may not be in New England anymore, but Ian Rapoport points out some of his comments with the media where he had some great things to say about the Patriots Nick Caserio. “Nick Caserio’s a fine man,” Dimitroff said. “He’s a very intelligent guy. I don’t know who works harder than him in the NFL. He’s won many hats, Bill’s asked him to do quite a bit. You talk about a well-rounded individual… I think he’s top-notch.”
  • WEEI has a story on University of Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson, who hopes to become a quality receiver in the NFL. Hankerson hopes he can be just as successful as former stars Michael Irvin, Andre Johnson, Devin Hester, and Reggie Wayne. “Being able to have my name mentioned with the great receivers that came out of the University of Miami, comes from working hard, doing what you’ve got to do off the field, and on the field, in the weight room, film room,” he told the website Friday. “I feel like I’m living up to that dream.”
  • Mike Reiss reports that Villanova offensive lineman Ben Ijalana spent some time talking to the media yesterday, and that like Stephen Neal, Ijalana has a background in wrestling and claims it helped him quite a bit. “It was vital. Wrestling is probably the hardest physical activity I’ve ever been involved in. It’s intense. It’s a matter of what you do after you get tired,” he said. “When you think of a [football] game, 60 to 70 plays, fourth-quarter drive, overtime, guys putting their hands on you — it definitely helped me.” Reiss also pointed out that the Patriots have drafted just one offensive lineman in the first three rounds of the last five drafts (Sebastian Vollmer), which sets them up to potentially address that area early this year.
  • Reiss also reports that with a possible lockout looming, things look like we won’t see any free agent deals done until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached. According to his report the player agents are all on hand for a meeting in Indianapolis, and apparently the overall consensus remains unchanged. He also points out that there are more procedural issues, such as with a player like cornerback Kyle Arrington, who should be receiving an exclusive rights offer in the coming days.
  • Some fans have discussed the possibility of the Patriots acquiring Larry Fitzgerald over the offseason. Although that may be unlikely, Mike Rodak of ESPNBoston.com reports that the team may look at a guy like Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin. Rodak points out that he has a similar style to Fitzgerald, and was very confident during interviews Friday. “I’ve taken some of the things he has in his game and incorporated them into my game,” Baldwin told the website. “How you attack the football. Great catching ability. I have those traits. Jumping ability, speed. I have all those things.”
  • Jeff Howe of NESN released his mailbag earlier, and offered up a great point about the Patriots tendency to trade down in early rounds. He writes that, “the implementation of the rookie salary scale will carry a lot of weight with the Patriots’ trading strategy. If it’s in place for this draft, I can see them trading up or staying in place. If it’s not, look for the same strategy you’ve seen in the last decade.”
  • Howe also feels the Patriots may want to explore pursuing Takeo Spikes once free agency starts because he may be a good mentor for his cousin, Pats linebacker Brandon Spikes.
  • On the topic of Matt Light, Howe feels that Light will have some suitors in the open market, and that there’s no way the Patriots will be able to keep him with only a one-year deal as some fans have mentioned. Howe writes, “I can see him giving them a hometown discount, but not to that extent.”

We’ll take another look later on and will add more as things become available.

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Agent Says It’s a ‘Travesty’ What Patriots Are Doing to Mankins

When it comes to the contract situation between the Patriots and guard Logan Mankins, it appears very little has changed.


One has to wonder if Mankins and his agent can ever find common ground with the Patriots to keep him in New England. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

His agent, Frank Bauer, believes his client deserves one thing, and it seems that the two sides remain locked in a stalemate without an agreement on a long-term deal.

Meanwhile Mankins has been hit with the franchise tag, worth $10.1 million for next eason. At this point he’s one of the few players who have been given the designation who hasn’t signed the tender, all while the clock begins to tick down on a date that could end his chance at guaranteed money in a year that doesn’t even guarantee a season.

Ian Rapoport and Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald happened to catch Bauer on Thursday after he came up empty trying to grab coffee at a Starbucks at the Westin. Their conversation didn’t go well, and his comments were interesting.

”Everything with New England is built on leverage and using the system. Everything is leverage,” Bauer said. ”This is one of the greatest guards they’ve had in the history of the place . . . John Hannah was the other one. I think it’s a travesty what they’ve done to the kid. There’s a lot of people in the NFL going, ‘How do you treat one of your great players this way.”

It’s interesting that Robert Kraft has repeatedly said that he wants to reach a deal with the Pro Bowl guard, yet it seems that the two sides can’t seem to find common ground. It sounded by the tone of the release that the goal was to reach a long-term deal and keep him in New England.

“Logan Mankins is a tremendous player…and he remains an important part of our future plans,” read the release. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach a long-term agreement, despite many attempts and proposals by both sides. That remains our objective in utilizing the franchise designation and we are hopeful that Logan will be a Patriot for many years to come.”

It sounds like they’re pretty determined to get something done, and while Mankins was tagged, the Patriots gave him the non-exclusive designation – which allows them to seek out a trade with another team.

For now it sounds like Bauer and Mankins are trying to explore their options before the clock ticks down and the deadline arrives on what appears to be an inevitable lockout.

“We’re working on it. We’re thinking about it,” Bauer told them when asked ‘what’s next’ for he and his client.

They say there’s more to come in tomorrow’s Herald. We’ll have to see if there’s something else that was said that can give us a clue as to where this may be headed.

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Mid Afternoon Patriots Notes

Some quick news from this afternoon on day one of the NFL Scouting Combine.

We’re still waiting for some of the reports to come out of today’s events, but here are some interesting notes from some online reports and entries this afternoon that are worth noting.

  • Mike Reiss held his weekly chat this week and offered up some interesting thoughts this afternoon, which could potentially be areas the team focuses on over the next couple of days. One thing that he noted was the fact it’s certainly possible that the team may address the long-snapper position, which was clearly a problem this past season. The 6th round may be the place we could see one selected, which would be – as Reiss pointed out – similar to what they did with Jake Ingram in 2009.
  • Another note that was interesting was the discussion regarding the drop off in playing time and snaps toward the latter part of the season for rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez. Most fans obviously felt that it may have been the hip injury that attributed to that, however, Reiss feels it may have had to do with an issue with the rookie’s route running. He noticed that Hernandez and Brady were seen having discussions several times at the end of drives while walking off the field, and that the Patriots quarterback may have been discussing this with him hoping for more precise routes.
  • We’re used to seeing the Patriots making trades, especially in the early rounds. Reiss addressed the number of selections he thinks they’ll take, and agrees that we could see them making their selections at #17 and #28, and then trading out of the #33 slot for a 1st round pick in 2012. He also doesn’t expect them to select a receiver in round one.
  • With the offensive line being a need, Reiss feels that the focus will likely fall on interior linemen, and we should see some reports on some prospects from him over the next couple of days. He’s a fan of Mike Pouncey, along with Maurkice Pouncey – who is Mike’s brother.
  • Obviousy barring a deal struck between the players and owners by next week, free agency isn’t going to start on time. However, when the time comes one guy Reiss feels could have the best chance of landing here would be Saints runningback Pierre Thomas. Another potential player, according to Reiss, could be Carolina’s Steve Smith.
  • In another report this afternoon Shalise Manza Young reports that former Patriots strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik was recognized by his peers for his work in his final season in New England, and was named the 2010 NFL Strength Coach of the Year yesterday. It was the third time in his career he received the honor. He recently opted to take a similar position with the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland spoke at the Combine Thursday, with Greg Bedard reporting that for now they’re committed to quarterback Chad Henne, although he also noted that Henne was the only quarterback they had. Certainly an interesting way to put it. He also talked about whether or not they were “worried” about the AFC East, saying, “We’ve got to worry about the Miami Dolphins, but obviously the Patriots, the Jets and the Bills would say the same thing as the Dolphins: We’re obsessed with winning the division. We’re obsessed with finding out how to beat our opponents. So we pay attention to them. They pay attention to us. But it’s not going to dictate how we do business.”
  • We’ll end with this one. Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald reported that Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi spoke with reporters today at the combine and when asked if he’s spoken with the Patriots, he offered up, “I can’t comment on the Patriots.” He’s a tough guy and feels that he’s the “best tackle in the draft”.

We’ll have more later on as more news from the Combine becomes available.

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Thursday New England Patriots Links 2/24

Today is the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine, and there are some interesting stories this morning, so let’s get to the headlines.

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald has an article on today’s event, pointing out the process of how things will unfold, along with some recent comments from Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Mike Reiss is at the combine, and offers up some insight as to how the Patriots may approach things during this event.

Reiss also points out some top Patriots players who weren’t even invited to the combine who are certainly playing quite well here in New England.

WEEI’s DJ Bean offers up an “incomplete list” of guys to keep your eye on during the next couple of days.

ESPNBoston’s Mike Rodak has his own look at how the Patriots approach the combine, and talks about the process New England uses to determine the talents of each of these players.

Reiss also an article this morning comparing the Patriots’ and Jets’ drafts over the past five years.

He also has an article pointing out a recent mock draft by SI’s Don Banks, and gives his analysis on the selections.

Rapoport also has an article on runningback Kevin Faulk, who told him should there be a lockout, he’ll have to head back to LSU to finish continuing his rehab. Faulk also pointed out that with a lockout players will have no contact with staff members or the coaches.

“See, nobody even thinks about that part of it,” said Faulk, who added that he’s “pretty sure” a lockout will happen.

Monique Walker of the Boston Globe writes that Ron Brace is continuing to recover from a torn elbow ligament which placed him on injured reserve. After failing the conditioning test during training camp he told Walker he’s planning on coming out strong this season and doesn’t expect to make the same mistake again.

“Basically, I just had to learn what was going on,’’ Brace said. “I feel like I’m better educated now, so that same situation won’t happen again.’’

NESN Patriot beat writer Jeff Howe is putting together this week’s mailbag and giving fans a chance to submit a question, which can be done via this link.

Tom Curran of NECN has an article this morning looking at Pittsburgh right tackle Willie Colon, and wonders if he could be on the Patriots radar.

And finally, Frank Mortimer of the Attleboro Sun Chronicle writes that an NFL lockout would leave the town of Foxboro in serious trouble, with Finance Director Randy Scollins saying it “would basically wipe out Foxboro’s capital budget.”

That’s it for this morning. With the Scouting Combine underway we’ll have periodic updates throughout today, so be sure to check the front page of PatsFans.com for new content.

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Wednesday New England Patriots Links 2/23

The big news story for this morning comes from Adam Schefter, who reports that the NFL has scheduled a meeting this week to discuss the upcoming labor situation, citing a source. According to the report three members per team are being told to attend — general manager, head coach and another high-ranking team official. The meeting is expected to be held at 5:30 p.m. ET Thursday.

Schefter writes that, “At the meeting, the NFL is expected to debrief teams on any number of issues pertaining to labor uncertainty and football operations, including what to expect in the days leading up to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, the manner of league business that will be allowed this offseason, and the type of contact that teams will be permitted to have with agents.”

What this means obviously remains to be seen, but one can only hope it’s not the beginning of a long, long offseason.

Meanwhile, in other news, our own Derek Havens takes another Scouting Combine preview, and looks at some potential defensive linemen that the Patriots may target heading into April’s draft,

Jeff Howe of NESN.com has a good article about Devin McCourty, who told fans he won’t change his jersey number for superstitious reasons.

Howe also has an article on the Top 10 NFL Rookies from the 2010 season, which includes Devin McCourty and Rob Gronkowski.

WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin has a look at Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder, who he writes could be someone the Patriots may have on their radar heading into April’s draft.

A follow up article on the one from earlier mentioned here regarding Wilmington elementary school essay winner Christian Gomez. Gomez, a third-grader at Saint Agnes School in Arlington, was the winner of an essay contest last November called Four Downs for Finance, sponsored by Upromise Investments and WBZ-FM, The Sports Hub. The topic of the essay was the importance of saving for college. In his essay, Christian, wrote, “Saving for college early will help you get into a good college and get a good job.” He also won a visit by Patriots Dan Koppen.

“I want to be an astronomer when I grow up,” said Christian, “because when I began learning about space and the stars, I just wanted to learn more and more. I want to go to Boston College and study astronomy.”

Christopher Price has the second edition of a podcast looking at the draft. In this episode , Christopher Price and D.J. Bean discuss the NFL Scouting Combine, what the Patriots look for when they assess a prospect at the combine and how some teams fail to put the combine in the proper perspective when it comes to evaluating a prospects chances for success at the NFL level.

Speaking of podcasts, for any fans who missed it, there was a podcast held last night by PatsPropaganda’s Mike Dussault, the Bleacher Report’s Eric Frenz, and our own Derek Havens. During the podcast they discussed a variety of topics, including the upcoming draft and some guys the Patriots may target. If you missed it, you can listen to the replay here.

Andy Hart of Patriots.com has this week’s “Ask PFW” and touches on a variety of topics, including whether or not the Patriots will go after recently released Bob Sanders, the scouting combine, and more. Don’t forget to turn your speakers down, unless you want to hear Bob yell at you.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com also has his mailbag, and discusses the possibility of whether or not we could see Randy Moss reunite with the Patriots next season.

And finally, so that you can start your day with this incredible insight worthy of being written, in an upcoming article in “More” magazine former girlfriend Bridget Moynahan told the magazine she would “never” say anything negative about former boyfriend (and father to her son) Tom Brady, or his new wife Gisele Bundchen. This is an amazing breaking news story, so be sure and snatch this off the shelves next month.

That’s it for this morning. Hope everyone has a good day and we’ll have another update later this afternoon.

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Tuesday Patriots Buzz Links 2/22

After a quick spin around the internet this morning, it’s a quiet news day, but here are today’s Patriots-related headlines.

DJ Bean of WEEI.com has an article about the fact that despite an impressive NFL Combine showing there is always the potential for those players to end up as busts.  It’s an interesting write-up, so if you follow the draft be sure and check it out.

Mike Reiss breaks down the Patriots vs. Ravens drafting in the first three rounds over the past few years, and it’s interesting to note what a solid job Baltimore has done in grabbing guys who have made an impact.

Following up on an earlier report that was mentioned here on Friday, NESN.com reports that former Patriot Brian Cox has officially joined the Miami Dolphins coaching staff as the team’s pass rush coach.

Former Patriot Ellis Hobbs will reportedly call it a career following his second serious concussion.  According to Fox Sports’ Adam Kaplan, Hobbs is set to retire following a neck injury that will force him to hang it up after just six NFL seasons.

“The veteran cornerback will retire because of his second serious neck injury in the past two seasons. This one, a source said, will end his career because it’s higher up in his neck. He has a pretty good career in broadcasting waiting if he wants to pursue it. He gave excellent analysis during the season on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia after he got hurt.”

Our friends over at NEPatriotsDraft.com will be airing a scouting combine preview tonight beginning at 6:30pm.  They’re currently taking questions for the broadcast, so if you have any to submit, be sure and do so.

For fans who want information on what type of drills that are run, along with the names of guys who hold the records in each one, this link to a page at ESPN.com provides a lot of that information, along with a list of who’s invited to this year’s event.

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

Albert Breer of NFL.com has a good report this morning on yet another day of mediated talks between the NFLPA and the Owners.  Breer reports that executive committee member Charlie Batch sounded fairly upbeat last night as he was leaving following a day of discussion. 

“Things are going well right now,” Batch said, while climbing into a car bound for an airport Monday afternoon. “We’ll see how things progress over the last couple of days. Any time that you’re talking, you have to feel better.”

Should there be a lockout, the New York Daily News reports that the Jets will institute a furlough policy for their employees.  Citing VP of business operations Matt Higgins, the Jets will reportedly require employees to take a one-week, unpaid leave each month until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

The Daily News also reports that the Jets have taken over the top spot as the most popular team in the social media world.  They point out that according to NM Incite, a Nielsen company that analyzes social media, the Jets are generating more “buzz” than any NFL team.

Tim Graham of ESPN looks at the recent Carmello Anthony trade that involved 15 players, and reminds fans of the famous Herschel Walker deal that involved 18 players and is encouraging fans to try and come up with an interesting deal that could involve a huge player such as Tom Brady.

And finally the Business Insider has a heartbreaking story on former Viking Fred McNeill.  Coming off of the story about Chicago Bear Dave Duerson committing suicide by shooting himself in the chest so his brain could be preserved for study, this story talks about the tough shape he’s in, and how important this issue really is.

That’s it for this morning.  Hope everyone has a good day, and we’ll have more later on.

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Tuesday New England Patriots Links 2/22

After a quick spin around the internet this morning, it’s a quiet news day, but here are today’s Patriots-related headlines.

DJ Bean of WEEI.com has an article about the fact that despite an impressive NFL Combine showing there is always the potential for those players to end up as busts. It’s an interesting write-up, so if you follow the draft be sure and check it out.

Mike Reiss breaks down the Patriots vs. Ravens drafting in the first three rounds over the past few years, and it’s interesting to note what a solid job Baltimore has done in grabbing guys who have made an impact.

Following up on an earlier report that was mentioned here on Friday, NESN.com reports that former Patriot Brian Cox has officially joined the Miami Dolphins coaching staff as the team’s pass rush coach.

Former Patriot Ellis Hobbs will reportedly call it a career following his second serious concussion. According to Fox Sports’ Adam Kaplan, Hobbs is set to retire following a neck injury that will force him to hang it up after just six NFL seasons.

“The veteran cornerback will retire because of his second serious neck injury in the past two seasons. This one, a source said, will end his career because it’s higher up in his neck. He has a pretty good career in broadcasting waiting if he wants to pursue it. He gave excellent analysis during the season on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia after he got hurt.”

Our friends over at NEPatriotsDraft.com will be airing a scouting combine preview tonight beginning at 6:30pm. They’re currently taking questions for the broadcast, so if you have any to submit, be sure and do so.

For fans who want information on what type of drills that are run, along with the names of guys who hold the records in each one, this link to a page at ESPN.com provides a lot of that information, along with a list of who’s invited to this year’s event.

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

Albert Breer of NFL.com has a good report this morning on yet another day of mediated talks between the NFLPA and the Owners. Breer reports that executive committee member Charlie Batch sounded fairly upbeat last night as he was leaving following a day of discussion.

“Things are going well right now,” Batch said, while climbing into a car bound for an airport Monday afternoon. “We’ll see how things progress over the last couple of days. Any time that you’re talking, you have to feel better.”

Should there be a lockout, the New York Daily News reports that the Jets will institute a furlough policy for their employees. Citing VP of business operations Matt Higgins, the Jets will reportedly require employees to take a one-week, unpaid leave each month until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

The Daily News also reports that the Jets have taken over the top spot as the most popular team in the social media world. They point out that according to NM Incite, a Nielsen company that analyzes social media, the Jets are generating more “buzz” than any NFL team.

Tim Graham of ESPN looks at the recent Carmello Anthony trade that involved 15 players, and reminds fans of the famous Herschel Walker deal that involved 18 players and is encouraging fans to try and come up with an interesting deal that could involve a huge player such as Tom Brady.

And finally the Business Insider has a heartbreaking story on former Viking Fred McNeill. Coming off of the story about Chicago Bear Dave Duerson committing suicide by shooting himself in the chest so his brain could be preserved for study, this story talks about the tough shape he’s in, and how important this issue really is.

That’s it for this morning. Hope everyone has a good day, and we’ll have more later on.

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Aaron Hernandez Recently Had Hip Surgery

Many fans had wondered why we saw so little of Aaron Hernandez during the final weeks of this past season. It appears now we may have an answer.


Hernandez hopes to have an even better season in 2011. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

The Hartford Courant reported last night that Hernandez’ appearance Sunday morning at Southington High School, where he spent time working with nearly 80 kids for a 90-minute skills camp. However, according to the newspaper, the rookie was there on crutches, and revealed during a Q&A session with the kids that he had undergone hip surgery recently when one of the kids asked him “what happened to your leg.”

According to the report Hernandez later made the kids’ day by giving them a personally autographed item, which included a shirt, a photo, and a football.

“It’s just good to give back to the community,” Hernandez told the newspaper. “It’s good to give back to the kids in Southington and it works out for my brother. I love kids, I know it’s going to make the kids’ day with me coming here, and so, why not?”

Hernandez had a strong rookie campaign, playing in 14 games and finishing with 45 receptions for 563 yards along with 6 touchdowns. Now he claims his goal is to try and improve over the offseason so that he can be even better next year.

“You’ve always got to make changes,” he said. “You can’t be the same player two years in a row. You’ve got to be better every year, and there will be something that the coaches will tell me I need to work on, so I’ll make sure to get it done.”

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Monday Patriots Buzz Links 2/21

Some interesting news this morning after the Hartford Courant reported Sunday night that rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez recently underwent hip surgery.

According to the newspaper Hernandez was at Southington High School Sunday morning, where he reportedly spoke to nearly 80 kids following a 90-minute skills camp.  He was reportedly there on crutches, and revealed the injury when one of the kids asked him “what happened to his leg”.  He was there helping his brother, who organized the event.

“It’s just good to give back to the community,” Hernandez said. “It’s good to give back to the kids in Southington and it works out for my brother. I love kids, I know it’s going to make the kids’ day with me coming here, and so, why not?”

Jeff Howe has an interesting article this morning on the current labor situation, which he writes shouldn’t be a reason to stop the Patriots from reaching a long-term deal with Logan Mankins.

Allison McKinnon of the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reports that the NFL wants fans to help make the stadiums safer, with the league working with the Department of Homeland Security to try and get fans involved in reporting anything unusual during events.

“We have always worked closely with local and state officials to plan each event and run security in a way that optimizes the safety of our fans,” Patriots spokesman Stacey James said. “With ‘See Something, Say Something,’ it’s enhancing that, and we’re in constant communication with the department to get safety updates and alerts.”

Christopher Price of WEEI.com has an article this morning on the upcoming NFL Combine, and points out some of the things the Patriots look for in a player.

The Nashua Telegraph has an article this morning on the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia, who is coming off of a broken foot.  He says he hasn’t talked to Tom Brady – who recently underwent foot surgery for  a fracture of his own – but says he expects to chat with him once the Patriots QB starts rehabbing the injury

“I haven’t talked to him,” Pedroia said. “I’m sure I’ll talk to him once he starts the rehab stuff. Right now, he’s just got to rest. There’s nothing more he can do. He can’t do much yet.”

Our friends at NEPatriotsDraft.com have an article this morning looking at some potential linebackers, with a breakdown of some of the college players the Patriots may target.

Our own Derek Havens takes a look at some of the top college prospects who the Patriots may target to bolster an offensive line that may be without Mankins and Matt Light next season.

And finally this afternoon the NFLPA is scheduled to have a Ustream broadcast where they will be answering questions submitted by fans about the current labor dispute.   For anyone who wants to tune in and watch it you can CLICK HERE for more information.  If you live on the Seacoast in New Hampshire we’ll be gathering with some fans to watch it locally this afternoon at “Wings Your Way” in North Hampton New Hampshire from 2pm-4pm.

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Monday New England Patriots Links 2/21

Some interesting news this morning after the Hartford Courant reported Sunday night that rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez recently underwent hip surgery.

According to the newspaper Hernandez was at Southington High School Sunday morning, where he reportedly spoke to nearly 80 kids following a 90-minute skills camp. He was reportedly there on crutches, and revealed the injury when one of the kids asked him “what happened to his leg”. He was there helping his brother, who organized the event.

“It’s just good to give back to the community,” Hernandez said. “It’s good to give back to the kids in Southington and it works out for my brother. I love kids, I know it’s going to make the kids’ day with me coming here, and so, why not?”

Jeff Howe has an interesting article this morning on the current labor situation, which he writes shouldn’t be a reason to stop the Patriots from reaching a long-term deal with Logan Mankins.

Allison McKinnon of the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reports that the NFL wants fans to help make the stadiums safer, with the league working with the Department of Homeland Security to try and get fans involved in reporting anything unusual during events.

“We have always worked closely with local and state officials to plan each event and run security in a way that optimizes the safety of our fans,” Patriots spokesman Stacey James said. “With ‘See Something, Say Something,’ it’s enhancing that, and we’re in constant communication with the department to get safety updates and alerts.”

Christopher Price of WEEI.com has an article this morning on the upcoming NFL Combine, and points out some of the things the Patriots look for in a player.

The Nashua Telegraph has an article this morning on the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia, who is coming off of a broken foot. He says he hasn’t talked to Tom Brady – who recently underwent foot surgery for a fracture of his own – but says he expects to chat with him once the Patriots QB starts rehabbing the injury.

“I haven’t talked to him,” Pedroia said. “I’m sure I’ll talk to him once he starts the rehab stuff. Right now, he’s just got to rest. There’s nothing more he can do. He can’t do much yet.”

Our friends at NEPatriotsDraft.com have an article this morning looking at some potential linebackers, with a breakdown of some of the college players the Patriots may target.

Our own Derek Havens takes a look at some of the top college prospects who the Patriots may target to bolster an offensive line that may be without Mankins and Matt Light next season.

And finally this afternoon the NFLPA is scheduled to have a Ustream broadcast where they will be answering questions submitted by fans about the current labor dispute. For anyone who wants to tune in and watch it you can CLICK HERE for more information. If you live on the Seacoast in New Hampshire we’ll be gathering with some fans to watch it locally this afternoon at “Wings Your Way” in North Hampton New Hampshire from 2pm-4pm.

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