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Patriots scheduled to face Jags, Giants, Bucs and Lions in 2011 preseason

04.12.11 at 4:16 pm ET
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Despite the labor uncertainty, the NFL announced the 2011 preseason schedule on Tuesday, and the Patriots will host Jacksonville the weekend of Aug. 11-15 and the New York Giants on the weekend of Sept. 1-2. In addition, they will travel to face Tampa Bay on Aug. 20 and Detroit on Aug. 27, with the game against the Lions set to start at 8 p.m. and be broadcast nationally on CBS. (The dates and times for the rest of the games will be announced at a later date.)

Here are a few quick notes on the preseason slate:

‘€¢ It wouldn’€™t be a Patriots’ preseason if the Giants weren’€™t involved. Someone in the NFL offices loves setting up this meeting every summer ‘€” this will mark the seventh straight time and 10th time in 11 preseasons the Patriots will meet New York.

‘€¢The most important preseason game of the four is always the third one, and this one will involve the Lions. The nationally-televised contest against Detroit will provide local football fans with the opportunity to see a pair of talented young players in quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. In addition, considering the depth of the friendship between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Lions coach Jim Schwartz ‘€” and the fact that New England held scrimmages with New Orleans and Atlanta in the days leading up to their preseason games last summer ‘€” it’s not crazy to think the Patriots and Lions could meet for a series of scrimmages in the days leading up to this game.

‘€¢The preseason opener is also the weekend of the Patriots’€™ annual alumni reunion. Starting in August of 2009, the summer after The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon opened, the Patriots began a new tradition of hosting their alumni at that opening game. This year will mark the third consecutive season that past Patriots will return to Foxborough to visit The Hall.

‘€¢For the whole preseason schedule, click here.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jim Schwartz, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh

Report: Patriots host draft prospect Jake Locker

04.12.11 at 2:09 pm ET
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According to an ESPN report, the Patriots are hosting University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker for a two-day visit starting Tuesday. Locker, who passed for 2,265 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, is projected to go in the mid- to late first round of the draft later this month. The Patriots have the 17th and 28th overall picks.

Tom Brady‘s backup in 2010 was Brian Hoyer, who was signed as an undrafted free agent from Michigan State in 2009.

Read More: Jake Locker, Patriots, Tom Brady,

2011 preseason schedule will be announced Tuesday afternoon

04.12.11 at 1:45 pm ET
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On the heels of a Tweet from Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay, it was confirmed that, despite the labor unceratinity surrounding the NFL, the 2011 preseason schedule will be released at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Gregg Rosenthal of NBCSports.com later confirmed the news, and added that the league will also be announcing the TV schedule for nationally-televised games.

Read More: Jim Irsay,

Vote: Who was the best third-round pick in Patriots history?

04.12.11 at 12:57 am ET
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With the NFL draft on the horizon, we’€™re going to look back at the Patriots’€™ best draft picks by round, with the four best selections the franchise has made in each round. We’€™ve already put the best of the eighth through the fourth round in the spotlight. Now, we’€™ve got the best of the third round, a group that includes a pair of undeniable impact players that will likely make this a two-team race. Vote for your favorite:

Tedy Bruschi: 1996, 86th overall. This undersized defensive lineman out of Arizona made the switch to linebacker when he arrived in New England, and became a defensive stalwart with the Patriots. A Pro Bowler, he was part of five AFC Champions and three Super Bowl champions, and averaged more than 50 tackles a season over the course of his career. But even more than his on-field numbers, his attitude and intensity made him one of the most popular players in the history of New England sports ‘€” in 13 seasons in New England, he became one of the players most identified with the success of the Patriots.

Curtis Martin: 1995, 74th overall. Martin, a product of Pitt, only spent three seasons in New England, but ended up as one of the most prolific backs in franchise history, finishing with 3,799 rushing yards (fourth-best in team history). He still holds the franchise marks for most rushing attempts in a season (368), most rushing attempts in a game (40) and most rushing touchdowns in a season (14) and a game (three). In 11 seasons with the Patriots and Jets, Martin accrued 14,101 career rushing yards, good for a place in the Top 10 in NFL history. (Rather surprisingly, last year he was the first of the NFL’€™s Top 10 career rushers not elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.)

Clayton Weishuhn: 1982, 60th overall. The Angelo State product was part of a brilliant coterie of New England linebackers in the early 1980s that included Andre Tippett and Steve Nelson. Weishuhn, an inside linebacker, played five seasons with the Patriots, and finished with a team-record 229 tackles in 1983.

Carl Garrett: 1969, 58th overall. A running back out of New Mexico Highlands, Garrett played four years with the Boston/New England Patriots and had 2,235 rushing yards in his time in New England. (A versatile offensive option, he also had 107 catches for 1,158 receiving yards with the Patriots as well.) A Pro Bowler, he also worked as a return man, finishing his rookie season with a 28.3 average on kick returns.

Just missing the cut: Ellis Hobbs (2005, 84th overall); Kevin Turner (1992, 71st overall); Marv Cook (1989, 63rd overall); Robert Perryman (1987, 79th overall); Stephen Starring (1983, 74th overall); Steve McMichael (1980, 73rd).

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Carl Garrett, Clayton Weishuhn, Curtis Martin

Fred Taylor: I’m ‘basically retired’ from pro football

04.11.11 at 2:19 pm ET
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Running back Fred Taylor, who was with the Patriots the last two seasons, told the Gainesville Sun on Monday that he’s “basically retired” from football.

The 35-year-old Taylor struggled to stay healthy in his two seasons with New England, as he was hobbled by a series of injuries that forced him to miss 19 of 32 regular-season games while with the Patriots. In two years in New England, Taylor has 106 carries for 424 yards and two touchdowns.

In 13 seasons, the Florida product has compiled some truly amazing numbers, with 2,534 carries (21st on the all-time list) and 11,695 yards (15th all-time). The Pro Bowler also average 4.6 yards per carry in his NFL career.

Read More: Fred Taylor,

Tom Brady recalls his long wait on draft day

04.11.11 at 11:09 am ET
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In an excerpt from the upcoming ESPN special “The Brady 6,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks back on the long wait before being selected 199th overall by New England in 2000.

Read More: Tom Brady,

Vote: Who was the best fourth-round pick in Patriots history?

04.11.11 at 12:26 am ET
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With the NFL draft on the horizon, we’€™re going to look back at the Patriots’€™ best draft picks by round, with the four best selections the franchise has made in each round. We’€™ve already put the eighth, seventh, sixth and fifth rounders under the microscope. Today, we’€™ve got the fourth rounders, a group that includes three impact players and another that went on to bigger and better things with another franchise. In all, nine Pro Bowl appearances and an MVP award highlight this group. Vote for your favorite:

Aaron Hernandez: 2010, 113th overall. Listed as a tight end but playing more like a wide receiver, this rookie was a matchup nightmare in his first season in the NFL. A Florida product, he ended the 2010 season with 45 catches for 563 yards and six touchdowns. He was occasionally overshadowed by his fellow rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski, but Hernandez made a tremendous impact in his first full season in the league, and figures to have an even bigger role in the offense going forward.

Stephen Gostkowski: 2006, 118th overall. Charged with unenviable prospect of replacing the legendary Adam Vinatieri, the Memphis product has become one of the best young kickers in the NFL, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2008 and notching first-team All-Pro status to boot. Gostkowski has hit 113-of-134 career field goal attempts, and his 84.3 percent accuracy rate is the highest in Patriots history and sixth-best in NFL history.

Asante Samuel: 2003, 120th overall. The Central Florida product saw plenty of action his first two seasons, but became a full-time starter in 2005 and soon evolved into one of the most feared corners in the league, picking off a combined 16 passes in 2007 and 2008. However, his lasting legacy with the Patriots may be the way things ended for him in New England ‘€” a potential game-ending interception at the end of Super Bowl XLII went through his hands. And in the following offseason, hours into free agency, he signed a big deal with the Eagles. (As a side note, it’€™s hard to believe that Dan Klecko was taken three spots in front of Samuel at No. 117.)

Rich Gannon: 1987, 98th overall. The Delaware product was selected by the Patriots in 1987. But after a conversation with coaches who said he might work out better at a different position, he made it clear in no uncertain terms he was not interested in doing anything other than playing quarterback. That led to a trade to Minnesota just days after the draft. Gannon’€™s faith in himself would be well-founded ‘€” he played 17 seasons in the NFL and ended up passing for 28,743 yards. A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, he was the NFL MVP in 2002.

Just missing the cut: Jarvis Green, (2002, 126th overall); Scott Zolak (1991, 84th overall); Johnny Rembert (1983, 101st overall); Don Blackmon (1981, 102nd overall).

Vote: Who was the best fourth-round pick in Patriots history?

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Aaron Hernandez, Asante Samuel, Rich Gannon
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