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Report: Patriots’ offensive lineman Stephen Neal set to retire

03.02.11 at 6:07 pm ET
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Patriots offensive lineman Stephen Neal is listed as “reserve/retired” on the NFL’s internal transaction report, an indication he is going to retire. The news, which was first reported by ESPN Boston, indicates Neal’s career has likely come to an end. A former collegiate wrestler at Cal State-Bakersfield who signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2001, the 34-year-old Neal became a full-time starter in 2004 at right guard, starting 81 of a possible 86 games over the course of his professional career. Neal suffered a shoulder injury midway through the 2010 season and ended the year on injured reserve.

Read More: Stephen Neal,

Report: Patriots extend tender to Green-Ellis

03.02.11 at 5:19 pm ET
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According to a report from Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, the Patriots have extended a restricted free-agent tender to running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The tender is at a second-round compensation level.

Green-Ellis had a breakout season in 2010, rushing for 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns, a total that ranked second in the NFL. This is the first restricted free-agent tender the Patriots have extended this offseason.

Todd McShay on D&C: Patriots should focus on defense with 17th pick

03.02.11 at 10:40 am ET
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ESPN’€™s Todd McShay joined Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning to discuss the NFL combine and draft. He talked about how Cam Newton did at the combine and where he might go in the draft, as well as who the Patriots might be looking at with the 17th pick.

McShay discussed why the combine has become so popular. ‘€œIt’€™s hard to explain,’€ he said. ‘€œMy guess is the more we get to understand it and the more fans get to know more than just the 40-yard dash and understand all the different drills and the importance of it, I think that’€™s part of it. They can watch things and realize what’€™s going on.

‘€œAnd secondly, let’€™s face it, this whole draft process is all because we’€™re NFL fans and fanatics and lunatics, and it’€™s just a chance to be talking during the offseason about the NFL.’€

Despite that, McShay said the combine itself is still only a small part of what goes into scouting player. ‘€œIt’€™s really difficult to do a percentage. But if I had to, I’€™ve always gone by the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the entire process is game tape and studying and realizing what you’€™re looking for. Then 20 percent is the all-star game, the interviews, the 1-on-1 and obviously the whole combine experience.

‘€œIf you were to break the combine down into percentages, I’€™d go 80/20 there as well. Eighty for the medical and interview and then 20 percent is what you actually see in the workouts and the 40-yard dash.

‘€œThose things are nice and it’€™s good to see,’€ McShay continued. ‘€œSometimes it’€™ll be a red flag and you’€™ll have to go back and take a look at things and say, ‘€˜Maybe I gave him too much credit for his speed and agility because he was going up against poor competition.’€™

‘€œIt can be helpful in that way, but the reality of it is you have to pass these medical exams. And you have to be a player when the 15 minutes are over, in the interviews, those teams, especially the position coaches and head coach, have to have a good feel about you.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Aldon Smith, Cam Newton, Mark Herzlich

WEEI.com post-combine Pats Chat with Christopher Price and D.J. Bean

03.02.11 at 10:31 am ET
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Because workplace productivity is overrated, stop by the WEEI.com post-combine Pats Chat Wednesday at 11 a.m. With the annual NFL scouting combine in the rearview mirror, we’ll talk Patriots and how things look heading into the draft. We’ll also break down how the top prospects looked, and make a few predictions as to who is going to go where in the 2011 NFL Draft.

<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=d460a22b11″ mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=d460a22b11″ >WEEI.com Pats Chat</a>

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Patriots,

Judge’s ruling on owners’ ‘lockout insurance’ a win for NFLPA

03.01.11 at 8:30 pm ET
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The NFL players won a major victory on Tuesday, as a federal judge backed the NFLPA in a dispute over the release of television revenue.

U.S. District Judge David Doty said that the league’€™s decision to carve out $4 billion in additional TV revenue ‘€” referred to some as ‘€œlockout insurance’€ ‘€” violated its agreement with the union, which had argued that the league was effectively stockpiling money to prepare for a lockout.

The union had asked that the TV money be placed in escrow until the end of any lockout.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello downplayed the significance of the ruling, telling The Associated Press in an e-mail that clubs were ‘€œprepared for any contingency.’€

‘€œToday’€™s ruling will have no effect on our efforts to negotiate a new, balanced labor agreement,’€ Aiello wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the players were clearly heartened by the ruling.

‘€œThis ruling means there’€™s irrefutable evidence that owners had a premeditated plan to lockout players and fans,’€ the NFLPA said in a statement. ‘€œThe players want to play football. That is the only goal we are focused on.’€

The league’€™s agreement with players expires at midnight Thursday night, and owners have said they would institute a lockout if no new agreement is reached.

Read More: David Doty, Greg Aiello, NFLPA,

Has former Patriots assistant Brian Daboll already gotten the Dolphins into trouble?

03.01.11 at 4:20 pm ET
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Interesting goings on down in Miami ‘€” Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne talked to the media about new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and sounded excited about the new direction that they plan on taking down in Miami. Daboll, a former Patriots assistant, is installing a new system with the Dolphins, one that Henne describes as ‘€œsimilar to what I was used to at Michigan. It’€™s a New England offense ‘€” New England with a little Jets in it. It’€™s a good offense for a quarterback.’€

No shock there, as Daboll made his bones as an assistant under Bill Belichick in New England. Daboll served as the Patriots’€™ defensive coaching assistant from 2000 to 2001, and then was the wide receivers’€™ coach from 2002 until 2006. (He was one of the assistants who left with Eric Mangini, becoming the Jets’€™ quarterbacks coach in 2007 and 2008, and later, serving as Mangini’s offensive coordinator with the Browns in 2009 and 2010.)

However, the voluntary meetings between Henne and Daboll ‘€” get-togethers that are apparently designed to have Henne help install the offense with the other Dolphins in case of a lockout ‘€” appear to be in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, as interpreted by a recent NFL memo to each team that said players are not to meet with coaches and receive playbooks during this time in the offseason. Henne’s declaration could put Miami coach Tony Sparano in jeopardy of an NFL fine. (UPDATE: It appears that the Dolphins will not be punished, according to Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald.)

Of course, many former New England players and executives probably aren’€™t surprised that something like this has happened to Daboll. When Daboll was initially hired by Miami, former Patriots fullback Heath Evans took a shot at the hiring, saying, ‘€œThe Dolphins probably just got worse. ‘€¦ When he was in New England, he was never a guy that I would have considered the brains of the operation.’€ And at the NFL scouting combine over the weekend, former Patriots’€™ GM Scott Pioli was asked by Miami reporters what his memories of Daboll were when they were together in New England.

‘€œI remember that [Daboll] was a part of a great deal of success there,’€ Pioli said, simply. Whoa.

For their part, the Dolphins are backing Daboll. This past weekend at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, GM Jeff Ireland said Daboll’€™s track record was what sold him on Miami.

‘€œHis history with quarterbacks, his history being a defensive coach and offensive coach. Coach Sparano and myself were really impressed with the way he put a plan together for our offensive players on the football team,’€ Ireland said. ‘€œI wasn’€™t necessarily looking at what his production was with Cleveland. I know there were some things there that were different, but we’€™ve got different personnel and the way he presented his play with us with our personnel was very impressive.’€

In addition, quarterback Chad Pennington ‘€” who played for Daboll in New York and was in Miami the last three seasons in Miami ‘€” said Daboll was a tremendous teacher.

‘€œA lot of the coverage knowledge that I have and understanding defenses comes from Brian,’€ Pennington recently told the Palm Beach Post. ‘€œThe year I spent with him, I just learned so much about how defenses attack offenses and all of the nuances of coverage that I didn’€™t understand before.’€

Read More: Brian Daboll, Chad Henne, Chad Pennington, Eric Mangini

Are the Patriots going to target a ‘Conehead’ at wide receiver?

03.01.11 at 1:39 pm ET
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One of the things the Patriots love to look at isn’€™t necessarily speed, but quickness. That’€™s why New England football fans should pay particular attention to what prospects ‘€” particularly wide receivers and defensive backs ‘€” do in the 3-cone drills this week. The Patriots have traditionally put a lot of stock ‘€” maybe more than most teams ‘€” in shuttle/cone drills in their pre-draft workouts. That’€™s not to say they would select a player based solely on what he did in one of the drills, but it would certainly cause New England to take notice.

(For a complete look at what the 3-cone drill entails, check out this exhaustive definition courtesy of NFL.com.)

To that end, lots of the relatively under-the-radar receivers (non first-rounders) they’€™ve targeted in recent years have all excelled in the agility drills. Julian Edelman had a 6.62 second time in the 3-cone drill as a collegian. Deion Branch was 6.71 (at the 2002 combine), Chad Jackson (at the 2006 combine) was 6.74 and Wes Welker was 7.06. (To give you some perspective, all of those performances would have put them near or in the Top 10 at this year’€™s combine.) That also translates to the defensive side of the football, as Devin McCourty‘€™s 6.7 in the 3-cone drill at last year’€™s combine put him second among all corners.

Here are the Top 10 performances among all the wide receivers in the 3-cone drill. (The times for the defensive backs have not yet been posted.) It’€™s worth noting that many of these guys are not billed as potential first-round picks, so as a result, they could have drawn New England’€™s interest because of their performance this week.

1. Oregon’€™s Jeffrey Maehl (6.42)
2. Ohio State’€™s Dane Sanzenbacher (6.46)
3. LSU’€™s Terrence Toliver (6.48)
4. Mount Union’€™s Cecil Shorts (6.50)
5. Wake Forest’€™s Marshall Williams (6.61)
6. San Diego State’€™s Vincent Brown (6.64)
7. SMU’€™s Aldrick Robinson (6.65)
8. Hawaii’€™s Greg Salas (6.65)
9. Alabama’€™s Julio Jones (6.66)
10. Stanford’€™s Ryan Whalen (6.67)

(For what it’s worth, WEEI.com has already profiled Maehl as a “Potential Patriot.” Check out his information here.)

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Aldrick Robinson, Cecil Shorts, Chad Jackson
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