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NFL officially names Sarah Thomas one of 9 new officials

04.08.15 at 12:03 pm ET
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The NFL confirmed that Sarah Thomas will be one of nine first-year officials in the NFL this year, making the official announcement Wednesday morning.

Thomas, who previously worked as an official on Conference USA games since 2007, is the first female to be assigned full-time to an NFL officiating crew and will be the second female to officiate in a regular-season NFL game. Shannon Eastin, an official in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, served as a line judge for the first three games of the 2012 NFL season.

Also included among the nine is side judge Walt Coleman IV, the son of Walt Coleman. The elder Coleman, held in high esteem as the dean of NFL officials (he’ll enter his 27th season in the league in 2015), has enjoyed a small measure of fame in New England since January 2002 — he was the official who presided over the “Tuck Rule” call in the divisional playoff game that year against the Raiders. (For what it’s worth, Coleman has not worked a Raiders game since that evening.) Coleman and Coleman IV will become the third active father-son officiating duo, joining Ed and Shawn Hochuli and Steve and Brad Freeman.

The nine first-year NFL officials are graduates of the NFL Officiating Development program, which trains top college football officials in all aspects of NFL officiating. They will be on the field at team OTA sessions next month.

Read More: Sarah Thomas, Tuck Rule, Walt Coleman,

Reports: Dolphins bringing in WR Wes Welker for a visit

04.08.15 at 11:41 am ET
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The Dolphins are bringing in former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker for a free-agent visit, according to multiple reports.

The 33-year-old Welker, who set numerous marks with quarterback Tom Brady in his six seasons with New England (2007-2012), played the last two years with the Broncos, where he had 122 catches for 1,242 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder has been dogged by concussion issues of late, which may have played a role in Denver’s apparent decision not to re-sign him for 2015.

An undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech, the receiver first gained a measure of notoriety with Miami, playing three seasons with the Dolphins (2004-2006) and finishing with 96 catches for 1,121 yards and a touchdown before he was dealt to New England prior to the start of the 2007 season.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Ohio State TE Jeff Heuerman

04.08.15 at 9:18 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Jeff Heuerman (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Jeff Heuerman was a captain for the Ohio State team that won the BCS national championship last season. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

JEFF HEUERMAN

Position: Tight end

School: Ohio State

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 255 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Big Ten second team, 2013 All-Big Ten honorable mention

What he brings: Heuerman has not posted dazzling numbers with Ohio State, but scouts see a lot of potential in him. He is considered to be very athletic for a tight end and could become a deep threat with his speed, ball skills and ability to shed tacklers. He is praised for having improved his blocking and is believed to be above average in pass protection, where he is able to use his long arms and quick feet to wall off blockers. He spent most of his senior season as a blocker, which explains his pedestrian offensive production.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-5

Notes: Heuerman was a team captain in his senior year. He posted the second-best bench press among tight ends at the combine with 26 reps. In 2014 he caught 17 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Heuerman did not miss a game in his last three seasons with the Buckeyes, including starts in every game in 2013 and 2014. His brother Mike is a tight end at Notre Dame.

Related articles:

Columbus Dispatch: Heuerman on personality, lifestyle

Video: Here’s Heuerman catching one pass for 16 yards and making some key blocks against Rutgers in October 2014.

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, 2015 Potential Patriots, Jeff Heuerman,

Deconstructing current Patriots roster by school

04.08.15 at 8:00 am ET
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This is a chart put together by Jimmy Kempski, who covers the Eagles for PhillyVoice.com. While personnel will undoubtedly change over the rest of the offseason, it’s an interesting breakdown of all 32 teams and what colleges predominantly make up each roster.

For a closer look at how the the rest of the league looks, Kempski has a nice piece here. As it relates to the Patriots, here’s a look at how the entire roster breaks down by school at this point in the offseason:

5 – Rutgers (Wright, Freeny, McCourty, Ryan, Harmon)
4 – Illinois (Hoomanawanui, Wilson, Buchanan, Green)
3 – Mississippi State (An. Johnson, Skinner, Chris White), Michigan (Brady, Branch, Gordon), Iowa (Fletcher, Morris, Chandler)
2 – TCU, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Kent State, Maryland, Memphis, Nebraska
1 – Alabama, Appalachian State, Arizona, Arkansas, Bowling Green, Brown, Colorado, Concordia, Connecticut, Eastern Illinois, Florida, Florida A&M, Florida International, Florida State, Fresno State, Harvard, Hofstra, Houston, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Mississippi, Nevada, Sam Houston State, Southern Methodist, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Tarleton State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington State, West Alabama, Wisconsin

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Rob Gronkowski plays flip cup with the gang from ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’

04.07.15 at 9:10 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski hung out at ESPN on Tuesday, and appeared as a guest on a handful of shows. The highlight might have been an appearance on “SportsNation,” where the big tight end played some flip cup with the rest of the gang. Check out what happened:

Read More: because it's the offseason, Rob Gronkowski,

NFL suspends LeGarrette Blount for Patriots 2015 opener

04.07.15 at 5:45 pm ET
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Tom Brady hands off to LeGarrette Blount. (Getty Images)

Tom Brady hands off to LeGarrette Blount. (Getty Images)

LeGarrette Blount won’t be able to partake in the raising of the banner ceremonies or the game itself when the Patriots open defense of their Super Bowl title in September.

The NFL announced Tuesday, through a spokesman, that the Patriots running back has been suspended without pay for the 2015 regular-season opener for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

The suspension is the result of an arrest last Aug. 20 when he and Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell were in a car in which police said they found about three-fourths of an ounce of marijuana in Bell’s car during a traffic stop in the Pittsburgh suburb of Ross Township. The criminal charge was dropped if Blount agreed to complete 50 hours of community service by Feb. 4.

The 28-year-old Blount, who won the team’s lead running back role almost immediately after coming over from Pittsburgh in November, will lose $48,685 in base salary as part of the one-game suspension, in addition to a $6,250 per-game roster bonus.

Blount, who still projects as the Patriots’ top running back entering 2015 ahead of Jonas Gray, can participate in all offseason practices and preseason games before the suspension. In five games with the Patriots after his release by the Steelers, Blount rushed for 281 yards on 60 carries, with three touchdowns.
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Read More: Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots,

Florida State OL Tre Jackson says he will take visit with Patriots

04.07.15 at 5:38 pm ET
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Florida State offensive lineman Tre Jackson told “NFL Network” on Monday that he has three pre-draft visits lined up, including one with the Patriots. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Jackson, considered one of the best guard prospects in this year’s draft, said he also has meetings set up with the Panthers and Bucs.

A unanimous All-American in 2014, he played in 49 games with Florida State, starting 42. Jackson was named first-team All-ACC for two years in a row (2013-14) while helping lead Florida State to a 27-1 record and 2013 BCS national championship. A former college teammate of current Pats’ starting center Bryan Stork, he reportedly had an interview with the New England brass this past February at the combine.

The idea of Jackson to the Patriots certainly makes sense — former New England offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has been a ubiquitous presence on the pro day circuit, and was seen at FSU’s pro day with his friend, current Seminoles OL coach Rick Trickett. New England certainly had a need at the guard position, and Jackson is thought to be a late first-round possibility.

Here’s a video of some of his best work, put together last November:

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, Tre Jackson,

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