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Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi starting to look like a Patriot

02.25.11 at 4:47 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” If Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi is looking to get picked up by the Patriots, he’s certainly taking a good first step in his professional development ‘€” he’s decided to work with Tom Brady‘s personal quarterbacking guru, Tom Martinez.

The 6-foot-4, 223 pound Stanzi is not considered an elite prospect along the lines of Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Mallett, but is hoping a little extra knowledge from the man who helped develop Brady into an All-World quarterback can help him out.

“We’€™ve been working on a lot of mechanical stuff, talking about the throwing motion, the science of it,” Stanzi said of Martinez, who has tutored Brady since the Patriots quarterback was a teenager. “The same with the footwork and getting down to the nitty gritty details, finding little tweaks or different moves that might be able to help you get a little more speed on the ball, get the ball a little bit deeper.

“At the same time, keeping what you do and fine-tuning it, finding some things you hadn’€™t known about, and now you can throw the ball with a little more power or deeper.”

Does Brady come around a lot when you guys are working?

“No, he’€™s got better things to do,” Stanzi said with a grin.

The Patriots are pretty secure with their backup quarterback situation, having gone with Brian Hoyer at the No. 2 spot the last two seasons. But New England is also one of just a few teams out there who go with two quarterbacks on their active roster, and if they wanted to add Stanzi, could almost certainly get him with a mid-round pick.

In addition to his work with Martinez, Stanzi also has another connection to the Patriots ‘€” while at Iowa, he played collegiately for former Bill Belichick assistant Kirk Ferentz, and Belichick certainly has an affinity for student-athletes who come of age while playing collegiately for an ex-assistant (Ferentz, Nick Saban, Pat Hill and Charlie Weis).

In that same vein, Stanzi said the experience he got in the pro-style offense under Ferentz will almost certainly benefit him at the next level.

“Coach Ferentz, the way he runs the program is very similar to the NFL,” Stanzi said. “The way he has his offense set up is very similar to how some other (NFL) teams do it.

“We’€™re under center a lot. It’€™s a lot of two-back sets. A tight end. A lot of traditional pro-style stuff that we do at Iowa. All that definitely gets you more familiar than a spread quarterback would be or someone who hasn’€™t had that. It doesn’€™t mean you’€™re better at it. It just means you’€™ve had more experience at it.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Blaine Gabbert, Brian Hoyer, Cam Newton

Jordan Todman receives high praise from teammate

02.25.11 at 4:05 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL scouting combine is about evaluating talent, and that’s why hundreds come to Indianapolis to do so.

Turns out that isn’t just limited to the scouts and executives. Connecticut fullback Anthony Sherman knows a good running back when he sees one. After all, he spent his career blocking for Donald Brown and, more recently Jordan Todman.

“I’ve seen him do some amazing things in my three years with him,” Sherman said of Todman, “and I feel like he’s definitely going to open up some eyes out here.

“If he’s not at the top, he definitely should be one of the top backs taken. He proved it with his stats this year. I think he’s one of those guys that can carry it 20-25 times a game for you and be a workhorse.”

Todman rushed for 1695 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Jordan Todman, NFL scouting combine,

Mark Ingram talks about the Patriots and Bill Belichick

02.25.11 at 3:41 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” Alabama running back Mark Ingram has been linked to the Patriots by several local and national outlets, and with New England holding the No. 17 overall pick in the NFL draft, the Patriots could be interested in the former Heisman Trophy winner.

On Friday afternoon, Ingram said his knowledge of New England coach Bill Belichick is derived mostly from Belichick’s relationship with Alabama coach Nick Saban, who served as an assistant under Belichick in Cleveland.

“I know him and coach Saban and real close,” Ingram said when he was asked about Belichick. “I heard they’re kind of similar in their coaching styles and how they run things, but I haven’t talked to them yet. I have meetings coming up tonight and tomorrow ‘€” I don’t know who they’re with. But I haven’t talked to them yet.”

Saban and Belichick remain close, and as far as Ingram is concerned, anyone who is like Nick Saban is OK in his book.

“Coach Saban was great. He’s a demanding guy. He demands perfection,” Ingram said. “As long as you’re working hard and doing what you’re supposed to do, then he’s not going to bother you. But just learning from his defense and learning from him as a player has been so great. Everybody who comes from Alabama is mentally and physically prepared for the next level just because of the type of system he runs and how he runs his program.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Mark Ingram, NFL scouting combine, Nick Saban

Finally, a running back

02.25.11 at 3:39 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — It was over four and a half hours before a running back came out to speak to the media Friday, but the first one was an interesting one in Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas.

The son of two pastors and a former quarterback whose low grades and SAT scores forced him to go the junior college route, Thomas is one to keep an eye on.

A well-rounded back who the Patriots could potentially nab in the third-round area, Thomas put up big numbers in his two years at Kansas State. After fielding numerous offers from top schools out of junior college, he chose Kansas State over other schools because they were the only program that viewed him as a corner back. Other schools including Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Baylor wanted him, but only as a defensive back.

Now, after back-to-back 1,200 yard seasons at Kansas State (including a 1,585-yard senior campaign), Thomas is in that mix of second-tier backs after Mark Ingram and Mikel Leshoure. He said he would compare himself to “Larry Johnson in his prime” and that when it comes to this class, he doesn’t take a back seat.

“Right at the top with the best,” he said when asked where he ranks in this class.

Not the speediest guy in the world, Thomas will not run in Indianapolis due to an injured hamstring. He measured here at the combine at 6-foot-0 and 230 pounds.

Read More: Daniel Thomas, NFL Combine, NFL scouting combine,

Should the Patriots go after Mark Ingram?

02.25.11 at 3:23 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” There’s been lots of talk about whether or not the Patriots should use their first-round pick on a running back, specifically Mark Ingram of Alabama. New England, which would almost certainly have to use the No. 17 overall pick on Ingram if they hope to get him, has only drafted one running back in the first round since Bill Belichick took over ‘€” Laurence Maroney in 2006.

Ingram, who is scheduled to work out at the NFL scouting combine on Sunday, is considered one of the best running back talents available. NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi certainly believes that Ingram gets the yards after contact that will make him “a very effective player in the league.”

“I think Mark Ingram is kind of a unique player ‘€” he’€™s more of a power back that’€™s not as big as those power backs,” Lombardi said. “And I think that every back has his own unique style and his balance is incredible and he always gets yards after contact which makes him a very effective player in the league.”

However, Lombardi ‘€” who worked as a personnel man in Cleveland with Belichick ‘€” doesn’t sound like the kind of guy who believes in using a high pick on a running back.

“Running backs, you can find them. Look at Chris Ivory from Tiffin College. He comes in the NFL and plays very well for the Saints. Running backs can be found,” Lombardi said. “I just think you have to buy what you can’€™t find in the top 10. So that’€™s why I would focus on that. Receivers, look at Green Bay. There’€™s not a first-round pick on the field. They have two twos, a seventh round pick and a third round pick. I think you can find those guys.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Laurence Maroney, Mark Ingram, Mike Lombardi

Report: Josh Barrett extended by Patriots

02.25.11 at 2:24 pm ET
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The Patriots have signed safety Josh Barrett to a two-year extension, according to multiple reports. The 26-year-old was acquired in a roundabout fashion by New England this past season ‘€” placed on waivers by the Broncos before he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, he was picked up by the Patriots, where New England kept him on its 80-man training camp roster until they placed him on injured reserve before the start of the season.

A 6-foot-3, 225 pounds safety from Arizona State, he was originally was drafted by Denver in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He has played in 20 games with three starts during his two seasons in the NFL and has totaled 25 tackles on defense and 13 tackles on special teams. Last season, he appeared in 14 games and finished with two tackles on defense and eight special teams tackles.

Read More: Josh Barrett,

Blaine Gabbert on first quarterback taken: ‘May the best man win’

02.25.11 at 2:04 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert knows that his name is smack-dab in the middle of the debate as to who will be the first quarterback selected in this year’s NFL draft.

“I think that’s what you guys are making it out to be: me vs. Cam [Newton],” Gabbert said at the NFL Scouting combine Friday. “It’s just an opportunity for us to try to get drafted as high as possible. I know Cam, Ryan [Mallett], and Jake [Locker] are working to be the No. 1 guy, and it’s going to be a fun next few months.

“He has all the talent in the world,” Gabbert said of Newton. “We’re just going to compete and fight it out, and may the best man win.”

Per the strategy of agent Tom Condon, Gabbert will not be throwing here at Indianapolis. He said he trusts his agent’s advice, citing Matt Ryan among others as recent top quarterbacks to have success in the draft despite not throwing at the combine. Gabbert will throw at Missouri’s Pro Day on March 17.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker
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