Pats to introduce Mayo tomorrow; rookie mini-camp set
New England will introduce first-round draft pick Jerod Mayo tomorrow at noon at Gillette Stadium, with Robert and Jonathan Kraft presenting Mayo with his ceremonial jersey.
On Friday, Bill Belichick and the rest of the Pats' coaching staff will have Mayo and the rest of the team's rookies on the field for the first time, as they will have the first two of three rookie mini-camp sessions.
On Saturday morning, there will be a third session.
All of the sessions are closed to the public but open to the media.
The Patriots have announced the release of DB Tim Mixon and LB T.J. Slaughter.
The veteran Slaughter had spent the 2007 season out of football, and was signed by New England earlier this year.
Mixon spent much of last year on the Pats' practice squad. The college teammate of Ryan O'Callaghan at Cal, he was a practice player of the week on a couple of ocassions.
Glen Lansky, the agent for former East Carolina OL Josh Coffman has confirmed Coffman's signing by the Patriots as an undrafted rookie.
Coffman is 6-foot-7, 310 pounds and "faster and stronger than ever," Lansky said in an email. He began his career with the Pirates as a tight end and developed into an all-conference offensive lineman.
While we were emailing Joe Linta, the agent for rookie free agent Vince Redd, we asked him about former Patriots' offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma nearly a year ago.
Linta reports that Andruzzi's cancer is in remission and the three-time Super Bowl winner is "doing very well."
The names of the undrafted rookies signing with the Patriots are starting to trickle in.
Agent Joe Linta confirms that Liberty DE/OLB Vince Redd has signed with New England. Redd is 6-foot-6, 264 pounds and transfered to Liberty from Virginia, where he played under former Bill Belichick assistant Al Groh.
In this interview Redd describes himself as a "complete outside linebacker" and says he prefers the 3-4 defense because "it allows for more freedom on the field."
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are saddened to learn that former punter Charles Michael “Mike” Patrick passed away suddenly Sunday morning in his hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi at the age of 55.
Patrick spent his entire professional football career with the Patriots in four seasons from 1975-78.
Patrick left the Patriots as the team’s third leading punter. He presently ranks fifth on the Patriots’ all-time punting leaders list after accumulating 8,481 yards on 225 attempts in 43 career games with the organization from 1975-78.
After being signed as a rookie free agent in 1975, Patrick burst onto the scene with the Patriots and had his finest professional season as a rookie. In his very first NFL game, he boomed a 62-yard punt against Houston, a punt that was the Patriots’ longest since 1968.
“I think what people would remember most about him is that he was probably the most gregarious, happy-go-lucky guy you would ever meet,” said longtime friend and former Patriots teammate John Smith. “He was the most generous man I’ve ever met and would give you the shirt off his back. He had that great Southern drawl and people were just drawn to him.”
In his collegiate career at Mississippi State University from 1972-74, Patrick claimed several season punting records with the Bulldogs. Patrick still ranks fifth on Mississippi State’s career punting list in punts (171 attempts), yardage (6,999) and average (40.9 yards per attempt).
Memorials may be given to: Hope Haven, P.O. Box 3777, Bay St. Louis, MS 39521.
The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 1 p.m. where friends may call from 11 a.m. until service time at the Riemann Family Funeral Home, 274 Beauvoir Rd, Biloxi, MS.
We just finished a long conversation with Jerod Mayo's high school coach, Tommy Austin. Austin coached Mayo at Kecoughtan High in Hampton, Va. from his sophomore season on, and had some great things to say about his former star.
It remains to be seen how Mayo will develop as a player for the Patriots, but it sounds as though he certainly fits the mold of high-character guys New England loves.
"He's probably the best I’ve ever coached as far as complete package," Austin said. "As a football player and a human being. Jerod is the total package."
The coach, who retired from teaching and coaching last year after more than 20 years and now works at Chowan University in North Carolina, also coached former Patriot Antwan Harris in high school.
Austin said he still talks to Mayo at least once a month, and when they do chat, Mayo's first question to Austin is about the coach's family. If Austin's two daughters are home, Mayo wants to speak with them as well.
The coach said Mayo is always appreciative and takes time to thank others for the little things. Austin's daughter, Lindsey, served as a team manager her senior year at Kecoughtan, and he recalled one day, after Lindsey did a favor for Mayo, he asked her to marry him.
"I doubt the proposal is still open," Austin said with a chuckle, "but I hope she finds somebody just like Jerod."
And really, what better compliment is there than that?
East Providence native Jamie Silva, who surprisingly did not hear his name called yesterday during Day 2 of the NFL draft, has signed a contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
One AFC scout told us last night that Silva would likely latch on with a team that plays a 4-3, Tampa-2 defense, and that's exactly what the Colts are. Coach Tony Dungy is the godfather of the Tampa-2, and while local fans might be disappointed to see a Rhode Islander headed to one of the Pats' biggest rivals, Indy is a good place for Silva and his style of play.
We should be speaking with him shortly to get reaction to his new team and to what must have been a disappointing day for him yesterday.
Before Bill Belichick began his wrap-up of the Patriots' draft picks, he took time to mention Bucko Kilroy, the longtime executive and former player who passed away last July at age 86.
"We were definitely missing the presence of Bucko," Belichick said. "He's been such a pillar here for so long, particularly as it relates to the draft. It was such an exciting day for him -- and for all of us -- and even in his later years he never lost his enthusiasm and zest for these two days."
Francis "Bucko" Kilroy was an All-Pro player with the Eagles, earning that honor as both an offensive guard and defensive middle guard. He joined the Patriots in 1971 as the team's player personnel director, becoming general manager in 1979. He served as a team vice president from 1983 until his retirement a decade later. But Kilroy never really retired -- until his death he assisted the scouting department and still put in several hours a week in his office.
Bill Belichick just met with the media to wrap up draft weekend and discuss the picks made -- and not made -- by the Patriots.
"Who ever thought you'd be covering a Bill Belichick draft with no offensive linemen, no defensive linemen, no tight ends?," he quipped.
Belichick relayed the story of how the draft with San Diego for the 69th pick came to be: a team official had linebacker Shawn Crable on the phone, but just before Crable could be told that he was drafted, the Chargers called wondering if the 69th pick could be had.
So Crable was put on hold, the Patriots swung the trade that netted them a second-round pick next year as well as a fifth-round pick this year (which was later dealt to Tampa Bay in order to acquire Matthew Slater) and the Michigan linebacker was still available with New England's second third-round slot, the 78th.
Belichick compared Crable to Pierre Woods, saying that both are tall and a little on the thin side but rangy and good special-teams players.
As for quarterback Kevin O'Connell, whom pundits were saying was a reach in the third round (not that Belichick listens to pundits), Belichick said, "He's a big, strong, athletic quarterback, he played on a passing team, in a passing league. In all honesty, he played behind not a very good line, so he was on the run quite a bit."
Pats' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels traveled to San Diego to work out O'Connell himself, and McDaniels' opinion did influence the team's decision to draft him. Most important, however, was what the team saw of O'Connell on tape as well as what coaches and players who may know him said about him, Belichick added.
Though New England is done making its picks, Belichick noted that the draft isn't really over yet because as soon as the final pick of the night is made, then it's open season on free agent rookies to fill out the roster. He credited Scott Pioli and the rest of the scouting department for the work that they did -- getting a late start because of the Super Bowl -- getting the staff ready for the draft.
As we type, the Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock with the 210th pick in the draft, and East Providence native and Boston College star Jamie Silva has yet to get the call from an NFL team.
Several scouts we spoke with before the draft spoke highly of Silva, particularly his skills around the ball. Silva's workout numbers weren't impressive, particularly his time in the 40 dash, but the feeling with Silva is that he was a football player, not an athlete. As colleague Jim Donaldson noted, the sum of Silva is much better than the individual parts would attest.
Most pundits figured Silva was a fifth- to sixth-round pick.
Slater's career with the Bruins apparently never really took off because of injuries and position changes -- he began his time as a receiver, then switched to corner and then to safety. He was set back by turf toe, a stress reaction in his left leg, and a shoulder injury.
However, he was able to become one of the most respected players in the UCLA locker room according to a newspaper article printed last year.
The 6-foot, 198 pounder is fast -- he finished second in the 100 meters in the California state championships as a high school senior -- and embraced a role on special teams.
UPDATE: We're told that the young man would like to be called Matthew, not Matt...
New England gave the Buccaneers the fifth-round (160th overall, received from San Diego earlier today) and seventh-round (238th overall) picks, and received the 153rd pick in return.
As of now, the Pats have one pick left, the 197th.
When Stacey James, the team's media spokesman, announced that we'd have to be sticking around a little longer -- he initially said the team had traded the 197 spot and the 160th would be New England's final pick of the weekend -- it was met with boos all around. The prospect of getting home in time for dinner was enticing to one and all here in the pressbox.
Pats take San Diego State QB Kevin O'Connell at #94
New England has selected San Diego State quarterback Kevin O'Connell with its third-round pick at number 94.
O'Connell is 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and his arrival in Foxboro is a clear sign to backup Matt Cassel that he's facing a challenge for his job. Cassel has one year left on his rookie contract, and like backups before him (Rohan Davey), has been given three years to prove himself.
The California native amazingly served as a team captain with the Aztecs for four years, and also was the first player in team history to lead the team in passing and rushing yards, last fall.
It's also pretty funny that in his nfl.com profile, O'Connell is compared to...Matt Cassel. Except, as colleague Dave Pevear of the Lowell Sun pointed out, O'Connell actually played in some games in college (Cassel hasn't started a game since high school).
The Patriots have drafted Michigan LB Shawn Crable with the 78th pick.
Listed at 6-foot-5, 241 pounds, Crable is an outside linebacker and has long arms, good for shedding offensive linemen when he's rushing the passer. He had 28.5 tackles for a loss last season, which was second-most in the country.
Crable already has something in common with current Pats' linebacker Pierre Woods: both are Ohio natives that ended up at hated Michigan.
San Diego will give New England their second-round pick in 2009 as well as their fifth-round pick today, which is number 160.
The Chargers did not have a third-round pick before the trade, and with Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal now gone, they clearly wanted to get their hands on Hester, who won the national championship with LSU last fall.
We are back here at Gillette Stadium, waiting for Day 2 of the 2008 NFL Draft to get underway at 10 o'clock. The Miami Dolphins will pick first in round three, and New England currently has the first of its three picks in the round a short time later, at number 69.
The Patriots have provided this quote from Bill Belichick on second-round pick Terrence Wheatley:
"Terrence Wheatley was a really good player for Colorado. He is smart. He has played multiple positions, both inside and outside. He returns kicks. I think he can contribute for us in a number of different spots. He is a very athletic guy and had a very productive career at Colorado."
Media members just took part in a conference call with the newest Patriot, Jerod Mayo, and I think I can say without hesitation that Mayo is excited -- he said so at least five times during the 13-minute call. And I would be too if I had been drafted by one of the best teams in the NFL led by one of the best coaches in league history.
The Virginia native said he was definitely surprised to get the phone call from Bill Belichick telling him that the Pats would select him at number 10.
"I'm excited to get up there. I had a great visit; the coaches and I sat down and talked for a long time," he said. "I'm just excited right now."
Belichick mentioned Mayo's versatility, and the 22-year old mentioned that he has played both inside and outside linebacker, and that Tennessee does use a 3-4 package at times. He played inside and outside in the 3-4 as well.
Mayo said he is looking forward to learning from some great players at his position -- "if I play inside, I'll learn from some of the best inside linebackers; if I play outside, I'll learn from some of the best outside linebackers" -- as well as Belichick, whom he called a Hall of Fame coach.
Growing up in Hampton, Virginia, Mayo followed the Redskins and then the Ravens, particularly because of their defense, but over the past few years, he said, he's watched a lot of Patriots games because of their defense.
Though he was the number 10 pick and will have a lot of expectations placed on him, Mayo just wants to contribute.
"I'm really confident (I can contribute), but a lot of people think 'contribute' means defensive rookie of the year. That is a goal of mine, but you can contribute on special teams -- that's one-third of the game."
(Somewhere Belichick and special teams coach Brad Seely are smiling.)
Mayo was doing yard work with his mother before he got the phone call from Belichick, but stopped after filling one bag of leaves. He sat down -- he mentioned a small cookout at the house as well -- and shortly thereafter learned he's headed for Foxboro.
Discussions regarding a possible trade between the Saints and Patriots began Friday night, Pats coach Bill Belichick said late this afternoon, after New England had swapped first-round picks with New Orleans -- moving down from No. 7 to No. 10. The Saints also gave the Pats a third-round pick, giving New England three in that round, and the Patriots gave N.O. a 5th-round choice.
"We did some 'prep' work on the New Orleans trade last night," Belichick said at a press conference at Gillette Stadium.
Part of the reason for that was that the NFL this year cut the time allotted for teams to make their first-round selections from 15 minutes to 10.
"Things whip right along," Belichick said. "We kind of anticipated the scenario. New Orleans certainly was looking for Sedrick Ellis (DL, Southern Cal.) That was no big secret. When he was still on the board (at No. 7), that led to the next step.
"We were on the clock. We had a trade partner. So we made a move that we thought would be good for our football team."
Bill Belichick -- looking surprisingly dapper in a gray suit with pink (!) tie -- just met with the media to chat about New England's first-round draft pick, Jerod Mayo.
"We're excited to have Jerod join our organization," Belichick said, "he's a versatile player, he did a lot at Tennessee. He's a smart kid, he runs well, we think he'll be a good addition to our football team."
Though Belichick spends most of his on-field practice time with the linebackers, New England has not selected a linebacker higher than the fifth round since Belichick and Scott Pioli took over the Patriots in 2000. And in true keep-you-on-your-toes fashion, just when it seemed like the organization would never take a 'backer that high, filling the position with free agents instead, they made Mayo the 10th overall pick.
And, it seems like, for good reason.
"He's one of the better linebackers we've seen in a while," Belichick said. "But we were picking higher than we have in a while."
Mayo shot onto New England's radar once the junior declared for early entry into the draft, he added.
During Mayo's visit to Gillette, Belichick said, team officials found him to be a "very intelligent, smart" player; with the Volunteers, Mayo was in charge of making calls in the huddle and on-field adjustments.
FOXBORO -- Tennessee LB Jerod Mayo, selected by the Patriots with the 10th overall pick in the first round, has had surgery on both knees.
Redshirted as a freshman after he was recruited out of Kecoughtan HS in Hampton, VA, where he was an all-state selection, the 6-1, 242-pound Mayo was hampered by problems with his right knee in the 2005 season. Following offseason surgery, he was a standout at weakside LB in 2006, when he had five sacks and 12.5 tackles for losses. But he again required surgery after the season, this time on his left knee.
The good news is that he clearly was healthy in 2007 when, having been moved to middle linebacker, he racked up 140 tackles. He had 1.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, and also intercepted a pass, which he returned for a touchdown.
"I wish my good knees were as good as his 'bad' ones," Pats coach Bill Belichick said.
The Patriots have selected Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo with the number 10 pick in the draft.
Mayo was a first-team All-SEC pick with the Volunteers last season; he is listed at 6-foot-1, 242 pounds. He becomes the first linebacker ever selected higher than the fifth round by the Bill Belichick-Scott Pioli regime.
The last linebacker New England selected in the first round was Ohio State's Andy Katzenmoyer. Let's hope Mayo works out better than Katzenmoyer, who injured his neck midway through his rookie season and never played again.
The Patriots moved to bolster their aging linebacking corps by using their first-round draft choice to select Jerod Mayo of Tennessee.
There's no question that New England needs linebackers. Tedy Bruschi will be 35 in June. Although Mike Vrabel had a career-high, and team-leading, 12.5 sacks last season, he'll be 33 in August. Adalius Thomas, a highly-sought after free agent last year, will be 31 in August. Junior Seau turned 39 in January and the Pats released pass-rushing specialist Rosevelt Colvin in February .
By taking Mayo, the Pats passed on another seemingly pressing need -- cornerback. With the 11th choice overall, AFC East rival Buffalo selected Troy, Ala., State CB Ledois McKelvin.
As a result of the trade with the Saints, the Patriots now have three picks in the third round, which gives them flexibility to do further deals in this draft.
"We're not afraid to trade," coach Bill Belichick said at a press conference at Gillette Stadium late in Round One. "I wouldn't rule anything out. Whether we move up to the second round, or trade 'em for picks next year, or use them to add players, we have a lot of options."
It didn't take long for teams to start moving up. Immediately after New England's deal with New Orleans, the Ravens traded their first-round choice, No. 8 overall, to Jacksonville, which coveted DE Derrick Harvey of Florida, who's a fearsome pass rusher.
It has just been announced that New England gave the number seven and 164th (which is in the fifth round) to New Orleans and the Patriots received the number 10 pick and the 78th pick, which is in the third round.
The Pats now have three third-round picks: 69 (from Oakland), 78 (from New Orleans) and 94.
The Saints used the pick on USC defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis.
With three former first-round picks on their defensive line -- Richard Seymour (2001), Ty Warren (2003), and Vince Wilfork (2004) -- the Patriots obviously didn't feel the pressing need that New Orleans did to select Sedrick Ellis of Southern Cal with the seventh choice overall.
It's a good move for the Pats, who now have the Saints' pick in the first round --10th overall -- and also the 78th choice overall, which is the 15th in the third round. As part of the deal, New England also gave up its fifth-round choice, number 164 overall, to the Saints.
Seven of the Patriots' last eight first-round picks are still with the team -- DB Brandon Meriweather (2007), RB Laurence Maroney (2006), OL Logan Mankins (2005), NT Vince Wilfork and TE Ben Watson (2004), DL Ty Warren (2003) and DL Richard Seymour (2001).
TE Daniel Graham (2002) left New England last year to sign with Denver as a free agent.
As a longtime member of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli's staff, new Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff was part of an organization that strongly believes in building its roster from the trenches out.
But Falcons owner Arthur Blank, trying to regain the faith of his team's fan base after the Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino fiascoes and wanting to make a splash, apparently wanted quarterback Matt Ryan.
It looks like Blank won out.
Dimitroff's first-ever pick as a general manager was Ryan -- and while we wish the Boston College star all the best, Atlanta has a lot of needs, particularly in the trenches. If Ryan isn't given the opportunity to stay upright or the Falcons don't have a defense that will get him on the field as long as possible, it will be hard for him to perform well.
Thomas Dimitroff, the new Falcons' GM -- and former Director of College Scouting for the Patriots -- "returned" to New England for the first draft choice of his career, selecting Boston College QB Matt Ryan.
With Michael Vick serving time in federal prison, Ryan will be the centerpiece of a rebuilding program in Atlanta. The cupboard isn't exactly bare, but Dimitroff will have to shop for a lot more "groceries" before the Falcons become a playoff contender.
Fortunately, the Falcons have 10 more picks in this draft.
A plus for Ryan is that he does not own any pit bulls.
The NFL Draft has been underway less than 15 minutes, but it's already been a "Long" day.
After Miami officially announced its selection of Michigan OT Jake Long, the Rams, with the second choice overall, took University of Virginia DL Chris Long, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long -- the Charlestown, MA, native who starred for the Raiders after playing his college football at Villanova.
First selection of the day...Jim Donaldson, Providence Journal...selects the "blond" brownies over the chocolate brownies on the media snacks table in the Gillette Stadium press box...
"It wasn't a pick based on need," he said. "It was the best available snack."
On a more serious note, the draft has begun and the Dolphins' selection of OT Chris Long has officially been announced. Miami now has a guy who can protect the quarterback. Unfortunately, the Dolphins don't have a quarterback worth protecting.
The Patriots, barring a trade, will be drafting at No. 7 overall. That's the spot they nabbed WR Terry Glenn in 1996. Since then, the seventh pick in the draft has yielded Ike Hilliard, WR, Giants, 1997; Kyle Turley, OT, Saints, 1998; Champ Bailey, CB, Washington, 1999; Thomas Jones, RB, Cardinals, 2000; Andre Carter, DE, 49ers, 2001; Bryant McKinnie, OT, Vikings, 2002; Byron Leftwich, QB, Jaguars, 2003; Roy WIlliams, WR, Lions, 2004; Troy WIlliamson, WR, Vikings, 2005; Michael Huff, DB, Raiders, 2006; Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings, 2007.
NFL Network reporter Adam Schefter just said that the "buzz" around Radio City Music Hall is that the New England Patriots are interested in moving up in the draft to select LSU defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey.
We thought this could happen, and if it does, it will guarantee the Pats' defensive line prominence for years to come. The only problem with Dorsey is that he can be injury prone.
Pats expect Walsh-Goodell meeting to exonerate them from charges of spying at Super Bowl XXXVI
The Patriots released the following statement this afternoon upon the announcment that Matt Walsh will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on May 13:
The New England Patriots are pleased to learn that Matt Walsh is finally willing to come forward to meet with the NFL. We are eagerly anticipating his honest disclosures to Commissioner Goodell next month and the return of all the materials he took during his time of employment. We fully expect this meeting to conclude the league’s investigation into a damaging and false allegation that was originally levied against the team on the day before this year’s Super Bowl.
It is important to note that there has never been a confidentiality agreement restricting Matt Walsh and no legal protections were ever necessary for him to speak to the NFL, to media outlets or to anyone else regarding his employment with the Patriots. He demanded to be released from responsibility for his statements, and after a frustrating and lengthy negotiation period, a settlement has finally been reached. Walsh has been granted a significant number of privileges through this agreement, none of which the Patriots or the NFL were obligated to give.
At all times, we cooperated fully with the league’s investigation and stand by our initial public statement from Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008: “The suggestion that the New England Patriots recorded the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 is absolutely false.”
The Patriots’ organizational focus at this time is on the NFL Draft and preparing for what we hope will be an exciting 2008 season. We will have no further comments regarding Matt Walsh at this time.
FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) - The New England Patriots signed three free agents Wednesday: tight end Marcus Pollard, punter Scott Player and defensive lineman Kenny Smith.
Pollard has been in the league for 13 seasons with Indianapolis, Detroit and Seattle. He has 349 catches for 4,280 yards and 40 touchdowns in 191 career games. The 36-year-old led Seattle's tight ends last season with 28 receptions for 273 yards and two touchdowns.
Player punted in three games last season for Cleveland before being released on Oct. 8. He sent nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. The 38-year-old kicker has 727 punts for 31,345 yards.
Smith has 69 career tackles in 30 games. The 30-year-old has not played since 2003 when he was with New Orleans.
NEW YORK (AP) - Former Patriots assistant Matt Walsh will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on May 13 about New England's videotaping of opposing teams.
The league reached an agreement with Walsh on Wednesday. The NFL had been negotiating for two months with Walsh, now an assistant golf pro in Hawaii, who has indicated he has further information regarding Spygate.
Goodell fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick $500,000, the team was fined $250,000 and was stripped of its first-round draft choice for taking video of New York Jets coaches on the sideline of the 2007 season opener. But the specter of what information Walsh might have has hung over the matter since the Super Bowl, when Walsh reportedly said he had other tapes.
The agreement with Walsh will allow him to "share with the NFL information about activities occurring during his employment with the club from 1997-2003," the league said in a statement.
Walsh also will be required to return any tapes and other items in his possession that belong to the Patriots.
The Patriots have reportedly signed veteran tight end Marcus Pollard, according to the Boston Globe.
Pollard joins a unit that includes Benjamin Watson, David Thomas and Stephen Spach. The 36-year old, 14-year veteran spent last season with the Seahawks, with 28 receptions for 273 yards and two touchdowns.
New England apparently has also re-signed DL Kenny Smith. Smith spent the preseason with the Pats last year but was among the final cuts in early September.
(Don't tell our boss Art that I wrote on vacation; he gave strict orders that I was not to touch a keyboard while here in Florida...)
Bill Belichick has just wrapped his annual pre-draft press conference, and was in a pretty chipper mood -- possibly because he is celebrating a birthday today.
He touched on a variety of topics during the session, including the new 10-minute limit for teams to make their first-round selections (down from 15), the so-called trade value chart, player visits and the advantages of having the seventh overall pick.
"We're plugging along," Belichick began. "We have a lot of loose ends, which is usually the way it is this time of year. We have a few last visits this week and then next week we'll talk draft strategy, scenarios that might come up."
Belichick said it will be interesting to see how the change from 15 minutes to 10 affects things, particularly when it comes to trades. He noted that teams are used to 10 minutes in the second round, but first-round trades often have more variables and must be submitted to the league to become official.
"We'll see how that goes. Having five minutes in rounds three through seven isn't too much of a problem. Most of those trades are pretty straightforward. (In the higher rounds) there are more complex trades, like we've been involved with. Last year with San Francisco, there was more negotiating. With first-round trades, there's more moving parts."
Ever the historian, Belichick mentioned that this year's draft, where no fewer than five players have been mentioned as the potential number one pick at some time or another, reminds him of the 1991 draft, when there was also no clear number one pick.
When asked about New England's schedule and the possibility of the team remaining on the West Coast in between its Week 5 and 6 games and Weeks 14 and 15, he said that has been discussed and that the team is looking into the options for doing so.
Vince Wilfork also came to chat this morning, mostly to talk about his annual Draft Party, which raises funds for the Diabetes Research Institute. Wilfork's father died from the effects of the disease, so it is a cause that is close to his heart.
There are still tickets available for the event, which will be held at Pinz Bowling alley in Milford, Mass. from 1-6 p.m. on April 26, the first day of the draft. There will also be a memorabilia auction.
Wilfork said it gives fans the chance to see that he's just a normal guy, and more importantly helps raise awareness of diabetes.
"I saw my father suffer for 12 years," he said. "He lost his eyesight, lost limbs; it was basically seeing my father die slowly."
To that end, Wilfork has continued to monitor his diet. He knows that it is easy for him to stay in shape and maintain his weight as long as he's playing football, but he has already started looking toward the days when he will no longer be in the NFL. Given his family history of diabetes and high blood pressure, he knows it is important to be diligent about his diet and weight.
As for the Patriots, Wilfork said he hasn't re-watched any of Super Bowl XLII and has no plans to. He gave credit to Giants' quarterback Eli Manning and receiver David Tyree for pulling off the improbable play that led to New York's win, but what's past is past and New England is looking ahead to this year
"Every year you go into camp wanting to get better. We lost the Super Bowl; that was a goal of ours, that is the goal of every team in this league. We have to do whatever it takes to get back there and win. We have to start now getting everything in order," he said.
The Patriots may have the easiest schedule in the league in 2008 when it comes to the numbers -- their opponents were a combined 99-157 last year, a .387 win percentage -- but it won't be that easy.
With four West Coast road trips, New England could potentially log 13,000 miles in the air this year; it is the first time since 1986 (L.A. Raiders, L.A. Rams, 49ers, Seahawks) that the team will play four games out west. Last year, the longest trip for the Pats was Dallas, which came in Week 5.
Here's our humble observations:
* The bye week is in the earliest possible week, Week 4, and comes with only one road game -- the shortest, at the Jets -- crossed off.
* The West Coast trips are in pairs, which may mean the team will stay out in the Pacific time zone on the in-between week to cut down on travel and fatigue. New England is at San Francisco and at San Diego in Weeks 5 and 6, and at Seattle and Oakland in Weeks 14 and 15.
* New England closes out the season with road games in three of their last four weeks.
* The Pats play back-to-back prime-time games in Weeks 6 and 7 -- they'll face the Chargers in the first and host the Broncos in the second.
* New England will have a short week of preparation in Week 11 -- it hosts the Jets for a Thursday night game, the first Thursday night tilt at Gillette Stadium.
* In all, New England is currently slated to play five prime-time games: in San Diego, home against Denver, in Indianapolis, home against the Jets and in Seattle. The Seahawks game could be flexed. The maximum per team is six night games in a season; last year, New England was in six.
* However, the team is scheduled to have five home games kickoff at 1 p.m.; last year, there were three.
* This is the ninth time in the last six years (including playoffs) that the Pats and Colts will play; the teams stopped being division rivals in 2001, when Indy was realigned into the AFC South. It is the second straight year the teams will meet in Week 9; last year, both teams were undefeated when they met at the RCA Dome. This year, the Colts open Lucas Oil Stadium, which has a retractable roof.
New England will be looking to continue its 19-game regular-season winning streak, and also its 10-game regular season road win streak.
The Patriots are 275-272-8 all-time against their 13 opponents.
Rivers said he spent five hours with New England coaches, including defensive coordinator Dean Pees and linebackers coach Matt Patricia, watching video and learning about the team's 3-4 defense.
He also met a few current Pats, at Gillette Stadium for offseason workouts.
Overall, Rivers seemed impressed.
"You could feel the winning environment right when you walk in. They pay attention to every detail. It was awesome because you see how much they prepare and what goes into having an amazing season as they did. They have pictures of all the great plays covering the walls from the whole season. They only put up pictures after they win so as you could imagine they had a lot of pictures on the wall," he wrote.
The Patriots have nailed down the dates and times of their four preseason games:
Thu., Aug. 7 Baltimore Ravens 7:30 p.m. WCVB/Patriots Preseason Network
Sun., Aug. 17 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8:00 p.m. NFL Network
Fri., Aug. 22 Philadelphia Eagles 7:30 p.m. WCVB/Patriots Preseason Network
Thu., Aug. 28 at New York Giants 7:00 p.m. WCVB/Patriots Preseason Network
Various media outlets are reporting that the NFL will release the 2008 regular-season schedule tomorrow at 2 p.m. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was apparently first with the news.
As we know, New England's opponents have already been decided -- they'll host their AFC East rivals the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins as well as the Rams and Cardinals from the NFC West, the Chiefs and Broncos from the AFC West and last year's AFC North winner, the Steelers. The Patriots will visit New York, Buffalo and Miami in addition to Oakland and San Diego in the AFC West, Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West and last year's AFC South winner, Indianapolis.
Four of those teams were in the playoffs last year.
Now we'll find out when these games will be played; with four West Coast trips on the schedule, the spacing of those will be a major factor. If, for example, the league scheduled the Oakland-San Francisco games on consecutive weeks, would Bill Belichick elect to spend the in-between week in Northern California to cut down on travel and fatigue?
Troy Brown, who held his annual Fantasy Camp at Marshall University last weekend, told the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, W.V. that he's still mulling his next move. The Patriots have informed the beloved veteran that he's not in their plans for next season, but other teams have shown interest in the receiver/special-teamer/sometime-cornerback.
"I haven't come to an answer to that question yet," Brown said. "I'm not in a hurry to make any decisions. We'll just see what happens in the next few weeks, months, whatever it takes to make up my mind."
Brown said his competitive fire isn't out -- he doesn't think it will ever extinguish -- but knows that time isn't on his side. If he has played his last game, Brown said, "I had one heck of a career."
One of the teams that has shown interest is the Jets, which have quarterback Chad Pennington on the roster. Pennington, like Brown, starred at Marshall.
The Patriots released their exhibition schedule today, with the highlight being a Super Bowl rematch against the Giants at the Meadowlands on either Aug. 28 or 29.
With the exception of one game -- a Sunday, Aug. 17 matchup at Tampa Bay, which will be televised by the NFL Network at 8 p.m. -- dates and times will be announced later. The league released which opponents the Pats will be playing each week of the exhibition season, with the potential dates:
WEEK ONE (sometime between Aug. 7 and 11): vs. Baltimore at Foxboro
WEEK TWO (Sunday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m.): at Tampa Bay
WEEK THREE (sometime between Aug. 21 and 25): vs. Philadelphia at Foxboro
WEEK FOUR (either Aug. 28 or 29): at N.Y. Giants
New England has announced its four preseason opponents, and the teams are quite familiar -- three were regular-season opponents for the club last year. And as has now become an annual event, the team will close out its exhibition slate with the Giants.
Only one date has been nailed down, however: the Pats will play in Tampa Bay on Aug. 17 at 8 p.m., a game that will be shown on NFL Network. New England also played the Buccaneers in the preseason last year.
Aug. 7-11* Baltimore Ravens TBA*
Aug. 17 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8:00 p.m.
Aug. 21-25* Philadelphia Eagles TBA*
Aug. 28-29* at New York Giants TBA*