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Reports: Tight end Dustin Keller meeting with Patriots

04.30.14 at 2:43 pm ET
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Dustin Keller is making a free agent visit to Foxboro on Wednesday, according to multiple media reports.

The 29-year-old Keller, who has spent six seasons in the NFL, suffered a nasty knee injury in the 2013 preseason which kept him sidelined for the year. His best season came in 2011 when he had 65 catches and 815 yards (both career highs) for the Jets. The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder has played for both the Jets and Dolphins.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste

04.30.14 at 9:28 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.


Position: Cornerback

School: Nebraska

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 218 pounds

Achievements: 2013 second-team All-Big Ten (coaches and media), 2013 Phil Steele midseason second-team All-American, 2010 Big 12 Commissioner’€™s Fall Academic Honor Roll

What he brings: Jean-Baptiste has ideal size and both good balance and body control. One of the raps on him is that he is not as physical as he could be for his size.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: Jean-Baptiste was the top cover cornerback for Nebraska during the 2013 season as he led the team with four interceptions and returned those interceptions for a total of 134 yards — the most interception return yards for a Nebraska player since 2005. He finished his career with a total of 22 pass breakups, 12 of which came during his senior season. … At the NFL combine, Jean-Baptiste had the top vertical jump of all cornerbacks with a mark of 41.5 inches and had the third best broad jump mark at 10 feet, 8 inches. … Jean-Baptiste transferred to Nebraska after spending one year at Fort Scott Community College, where he did not see any football action.

Related articles:

Kansas City Star: Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste might just be in the right draft

The Washington Post: Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste hopes to follow Richard Sherman’s path

Video: Here is a video highlighting Jean-Baptiste’s career with Nebraska.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Furman OG Dakota Dozier

04.29.14 at 5:41 pm ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Offensive guard

School: Furman

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 313 pounds

Achievements: 2013 AP FCS first-team All-American

What he brings: Projected as a better guard than tackle, Dozier has a good mix of power, strength and slide ability, making him a good puller. Dozier has a history of overextending, but he does possess excellent hands and lower-body strength. Dozier is a better run blocker than a pass protector.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Dozier started 44 out of 45 games while at Furman, mostly playing tackle. He was a team captain during his senior season. … At the NFL combine, Dozier ran a 5.42 40-yard dash and the 3-cone drill in 8.14 seconds.

Related articles:

Fan Sided: 2014 NFL draft rumors: Furman OL Dakota Dozier emerging as top-60 pick

The Paladin: Dakota Dozier impresses scouts at the NFL combine

Video: Here’s a closer look at Dozier.

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Rob Gronkowski: ‘I’m just improving every day’

04.29.14 at 3:19 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski sounded an optimistic note about the state of his current rehab, but still wouldn’t comment on specifics when asked by WAAF’s Greg Hill about a possible return date.

Speaking with Hill on Tuesday morning, Gronkowski wouldn’t say if he’d be ready for the 2014 regular-season opener.

“That’s too far away, man. I’m just improving every day right now,” Gronkowski said. “I’m working hard every day to put myself in the best situation so that I’m ready.”

Gronkowski injured his knee on Dec. 8, and underwent surgery on Jan. 9. The process was performed by Dr. James Andrews.

While he’s been through the recovery process before — the tight end has undergone back and arm surgeries over the last two years — Gronkowski indicated that the toughest part of the recovery process this time around has been the mental grind.

“You’€™ve just got to have a mindset basically every single day that you’€™re going to go in, work hard and you’€™re going to get better,” Gronkowski said. “Definitely going in when it’€™s the same thing 15 weeks straight, it starts to get tough, but you’€™ve got to stay mentally tough, stay physically strong. You’€™ve got to just keep going in and keep grinding.”

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Nick Caserio goes deep on WR position, Patriots’ approach to NFL draft

04.29.14 at 2:58 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots drafted Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce last April. They signed undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins out of the University of Cincinnati. Mark Harrison didn’t even see the field and could be a wide receiver or tight end in 2014. They signed Danny Amendola to replace Wes Welker. They brought back Julian Edelman this offseason.

But if you think that would keep them from drafting another high-profile, highly accomplished receiver this May, think again. Nick Caserio, the Patriots’ director of player personnel, said Tuesday during his annual pre-draft press conference that there is a lot that goes into selecting a receiver they project as NFL ready.

“To the receiver position in general, there are so many more multiples that are involved which a lot of these players don’t see. One of the things that has come into play is the use the high frequency-high tempo offense,” said Caserio, who will be in the Patriots’ war room May 8-10.

Caserio, taking after his boss Bill Belichick, gave a fascinating play-by-play Tuesday into exactly how the Patriots evaluate the position and how they project a receiver transitioning from college to the pros.

“So, you run a play, you sprint to the line and get a play off within 5-10 seconds. So, the player stays in one spot. Chances are, the player is repeating the same play,” Caserio said. “The complexity of coverages defensively is minimal because you can’t have a lot of calls defensively to combat the pace and speed of what a team is doing offensively. There are definitely more multiples coverage-wise that they’re going to see on a week-to-week basis, with a lot of time being the proximity of the defender between himself and the receiver.

“I would say the number of teams that actually play at the line of scrimmage defensively on a consistent play-by-play basis is very small so the majority of the time, the defender is five, six, seven yards off so he has free access into the defense so there’s less he has to deal with at the line of scrimmage. Now, you fast-forward when I would say the majority of time [in the NFL] you’re going to have a defender in your face at the line of scrimmage on the perimeter or on the slot as well. Inside, there’s some different components that go into play. There’s just more multiples, there’s more variety of coverages, there’s more disguise so the ability to think quickly and react to see. Some can do that better than others, from the sheer fact they haven’t been asked to do it.

“And the tight end position is different, but some of these tight ends are detached from the line of scrimmage 95-100 percent of the snaps. Well, the likelihood of that player actually doing that on a 70-snap game basis is minimal. He’s going to be on the line of scrimmage. I think there’s just more of a multitude, more multiples that those players are forced to deal with at those positions.”

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Nick Caserio on looking for Tom Brady replacement: ‘We’re focused on the short term’

04.29.14 at 2:24 pm ET
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FOXBORO — While there’s almost no chance Johnny Manziel will be on the board when the Patriots draft at No. 29, there is the possibility that Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles might be.

What about Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo?

Even with Ryan Mallett on the roster, are the Patriots in the market for the future replacement of Tom Brady?

The question was raised Tuesday to Nick Caserio, Patriots director of player personnel.

“I think right now our focus is on the draft and trying to improve our team,” Caserio said. “We’ll go through the offseason program, once we have the players that are here. Look, we’re focused on the short term. We’ve just started on the offseason program. We’ll see our players, where they are physically once we get on the field, once we start practicing. Right now, I think our focus is on the draft and just trying to improve our football team.”

While stressing the phrase “short term,” Caserio didn’t rule it out altogether when pressed on a follow-up question about the topic.

“I’d say we’re focused on improving our football team in whatever capacity we can do it, and we’ll always consider that.”

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Read More: New England Patriots, nfl, NFL Draft, Nick Caserio

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Arizona State LB Carl Bradford

04.29.14 at 9:24 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Linebacker

School: Arizona State

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 243 pounds

Achievements: 2013 second-team All-Pac-12, 2012 honorable mention All-Pac-12

What he brings: Bradford is a big-hit, big-play player who showed his versatility by playing defensive end, inside linebacker and outside linebacker during his time at Arizona State. While Bradford is undersized and doesn’t have great change-of-direction speed, he has a knack for making timely plays and delivering punishing hits. Scouts are concerned that he doesn’t fit anywhere as he appears to be too small for an outside linebacker and too slow for an inside linebacker. Bradford sometimes misses tackles when trying to deliver a big hit.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: In 2013 Bradford started all 14 games, recording 61 tackles, 8 1/2 sacks, 19 tackles for losses, three forced fumbles and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. He then decided to pass up his senior season and declare for the draft. … At the NFL combine Bradford ran a 4.76 40-yard dash, benched 250 pounds 23 times and ran the 3-cone drill in 7.25 seconds. … compared Bradford to former Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes.

Related articles:

SB Nation: 2014 NFL draft: Carl Bradford brings versatility to pro level

Fox Sports: ‘He died in my arms': Memory of father fuels former ASU DE Carl Bradford

Video: Here are Bradford’€™s 2013 highlights with Arizona State.

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