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Report: Pats will also practice with Saints

05.25.10 at 8:33 am ET
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The Patriots’ 2010 preseason is going to be one of the most unique in the history of Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach. After it was announced the team will hold a series of “combined practices” in the days leading up their preseason contest against the Falcons in Atlanta on Aug. 19, ESPN reported Tuesday morning the Patriots will do the same thing in the days prior to their Aug. 12 preseason opener against the Saints in Foxboro. This year will mark the first time New England has engaged in a series of combined practices with another team since they worked out with the Giants in the summer of 2001.

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Report: Mankins will be a no-show for OTA’s

05.24.10 at 9:13 pm ET
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Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins won’t attend voluntary organized team activities with the Patriots over the next month without a new contract, his agent told Comcast Sports Net on Monday. Mankins’ agent Frank Bauer said Mankins would not be in attendance, and added that no progress was being made at this time on a new deal.

A Fresno State product who was taken in the first round of the 2005 draft, Mankins signed a five-year deal as a rookie, and was slated to become a free agent. However, with the change in the labor situation — players with four and five years of experience reverted to restricted free agent status — Mankins was instead tendered a one-year deal at $3.26 million by New England.

Technically, the OTA’s are voluntary, and because Mankins has yet to sign his tender, Mankins is under no obligation to attend.

The big day to keep in mind for Mankins’ deal is June 15 — the first scheduled day of the Patriots’ mandatory minicamp. If he hasn’t signed the deal by then, New England can drop his RFA tender to 110 percent of last year’s salary ($1.5 million).

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NFLPA Chief: ‘Substantial threat’ of lockout

05.24.10 at 3:45 pm ET
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In an online chat Monday afternoon at NFLPlayers.com, National Football League Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said there is a “substantial threat of a lockout” in 2011, pointing to three factors that make him believe the NFL could be headed for a stoppage.

“The NFL renegotiated the [TV] contracts to give them $4B of lockout insurance; they have renegotiated assistant coaches contracts to envision a lockout and hired the same guy who locked out hockey for a year,” wrote Smith.

“If that were the only three things, out there, it would be significant, but when you add that they have not given us anything that would suggest that teams are losing money; I have to be concerned for our fans and players that there will be a lockout.”

Smith said the two sides continue to talk, but he hopes they can pick up the pace.

“We are continuing to discuss the new CBA and I believe that we should continue and increase the pace of negotiations,” he said.

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Pats make it official, add Teel

05.24.10 at 1:29 pm ET
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The Patriots announced moments ago they picked up quarterback Mike Teel off waivers. The move, which was hinted at over the weekend by many people (including Teel on his Twitter feed), gives the Patriots four quarterbacks on the roster — Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Zac Robinson and Teel.

Here’s the official announcement from the team on the move:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced today that they claimed and were awarded QB Mike Teel off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks.

Teel, 6-3, 225 pounds, was drafted by Seattle in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2009 draft out of Rutgers. He was inactive as the third quarterback for all 16 games as a rookie with the Seahawks. He was waived by Seattle on May 19, 2010.

Teel was a three-year starter for Rutgers. As a senior in 2008, he started all 13 games, setting career highs with 3,418 passing yards and 25 touchdowns.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings

05.23.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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With free agency and the draft behind us, now is a good time to take a look at all 32 NFL teams and see where they stack up at the midway mark of the offseason. No real surprises, as the top two teams — the Saints and Colts — earned their way to the No. 1 and 2 spots following dominating 2009 campaigns and solid offseasons. After a great draft and the addition of some key free agents, the Ravens shoot up to No. 3, while the Packers and Cowboys round out the top 5. As for the AFC East, the “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets” are two spots ahead of the Patriots after a great offseason in which they added more depth in the secondary and at the wide receiver position.

And now, I leave you with the first offseason edition of the 2010 rankings. Give it your best shot and tell me why I’m wrong. I’m waiting.

New Orleans Saints1. The defending Super Bowl champs are poised and ready to make another run at the title. The Saints will benefit from their soft regular-season schedule — based on opponents’ 2009 regular-season record, they have the sixth-easiest schedule in the NFL in 2010. They used their first-round pick to select cornerback Patrick Robinson from Florida State to shore up their pass defense, which was ranked 26th in the NFL last year.

2. The Colts have focused on their defense this offseason with the re-signing of linebacker Gary Brackett to a five-year deal and the drafting of Jerry Hughes, a defensive lineman/outside linebacker, with their first-round pick. Hughes is an extremely fast and dominant pass rusher and will fit in nicely with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. Hughes can rush the passer from either side, and Mathis and Freeney will benefit greatly from having a younger defensive end to shoulder some of the load.

3. The Ravens have had an excellent offseason to this point. They certainly transformed the wide reciever position from a position of weakness into a position of strength with the addition of Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth. They added great depth to their front seven in the draft with linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

Green Bay Packers4. The Packers’ main concern this year will be protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked 57 times last season. Green Bay used its first-round pick on offensive tackle Brian Bulaga. If the Packers can figure out a way to keep Rodgers off the turf, they can get to the Super Bowl.

Dallas Cowboys5. Dallas was in the top 5 in most major offensive categories last year, and now the Cowboys add Dez Bryant to the mix. Not bad. The Cowboys also have a great front seven, highlighted by DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Belichick second on Forbes’ list of highest-paid coaches

05.22.10 at 9:10 pm ET
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Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft on the wake of the 2007 AFC championship win over the Chargers. (AP)

A couple of days after it said the Patriots were the No. 10 most valuable sports team brand in the world, Forbes magazine published its list of the 10 highest-paid coaches in professional sports, and it has Bill Belichick at No. 2 with an annual salary of $7.5 million.

The magazine says: “After a so-so run in Cleveland in the early 1990s, Belichick has reeled off a 112-48 record with New England since 2000, including nine division titles and four Super Bowl appearances.”

Belichick’s contract and salary have been a well-guarded secret over the years. The last time we heard talk about it was back in 2007, when it was reported the coach and franchise agreed to an extension that would keep him with the franchise through at least the 2013 season, according to ESPN. And earlier that year, Belichick made a brief mention about his contract situation.

“I don’t talk about contracts, but I would say I like working here, I like the organization — ownership, coaches, scouts, players, and the guys I work with,” he said in July 2007. “I appreciate the opportunity to work here, and it’s a good situation. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

Belichick is the highest-paid NFL coach on Forbes’ list — the only coach who makes more annually is Lakers coach Phil Jackson, whose yearly salary is listed as $10.3 million. (Reportedly, Jackson has been asked to take a pay cut after this season.) Other NFL coaches who made the list include Washington’s Mike Shanahan and Seattle’s Pete Carroll (tied for third overall at $7 million a year) and Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher (ninth at $5.75 million annually). In addition, Celtics coach Doc Rivers is 10th overall at $5.5 million a year.

The story does take note of the fact that when it comes to coaching in the NFL, there has been a lot of turnover — and lots of big new contracts — as of late. Forbes says that’s an indication of “confidence in an improving sports economy.”

“To the extent that coaching offers serve as a barometer of confidence in an improving sports economy, some recent NFL moves are certainly encouraging,” writes Tom Van Riper. “Following a period in which several highly paid veterans (Shanahan, Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren) walked away or were let go, replaced by younger, cheaper coaches, spending is picking up in some quarters. After a year off following his dismissal by the Broncos, Shanahan was handed a five-year, $35 million deal by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, complete with control over the football operation, with marching orders to turn around the franchise.”

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Welker: Rehab ‘going good so far’

05.22.10 at 5:45 pm ET
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Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker reiterated his stance on Saturday that there is no set timetable for his return, but feels like his rehab is “going good so far.” Speak at his football camp in Braintree, Welker told reporters his plan was to “keep working hard, keep doing the things I’ve been doing to get to where I am right now.”

“It’s a long process, but I feel like we’re making a lot of strides,” said Welker, who injured his left knee in the regular-season finale against the Texans and sat out the playoff loss to the Ravens. “I’m just trying to stay pain free.

“It’s gone as good as expected so far. Hopefully we stay on that track and keep on progressing every day.”

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