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Alabama running back Mark Ingram on his way to Boston

04.18.11 at 12:11 pm ET
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Alabama running back Mark Ingram Tweeted Monday morning: “Headed to the airport, off to Boston. Another week living in the airport.”

The former Heisman Trophy winner is viewed as one of the top running backs available in the draft, but questions have recently surfaced about the health of his knee. Teams have until Wednesday to complete their on-site visits, and this (presumed) visit with the Patriots could be to check the status of his knee.

Ingram just finished up his college career at Alabama playing for former Bill Belichick assistant Nick Saban, and said most of his knowledge of Belichick comes from his work with Saban.

‘€œI know him and coach Saban and real close,’€ Ingram said when he was asked about Belichick. ‘€œI 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.

‘€œCoach Saban was great. He’€™s a demanding guy. He demands perfection,’€ Ingram said. ‘€œAs 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, Nick Saban,

Bill Parcells says he’s ‘done’ with coaching

04.18.11 at 11:22 am ET
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In a conference call with reporters Monday morning, Bill Parcells said his time in the NFL was over, but joked that you could write down the statement “in pencil.”

“No, I’m done. I know I’ve said that before ‘€” you better put it down in pencil,” Parcells said. “I’m going to be 70 years old in August and I’m enjoying my time now. This is the first … I really left Miami about October 1st last year, and this is the first time I’ve really had any extended period of time to myself. I’m doing some things that I enjoy doing.

“It’s a good time for me and fortunately I’m in good health, and feel good. I still have a lot of things I’d like to try to do, but I think I’m going to leave the NFL to someone else now.”

Parcells, who was named as a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame (along with Drew Bledsoe and Houston Antwine) said he regrets the way things ended for him in New England, but he has since mended fences with owner Robert Kraft.

“Let’s say we had a couple of domestic misunderstandings with the ownership, and I do regret that. Those things have since been resolved, and I think retrospectively, I would have handled things substantially differently than I did,” he said. “I was always saddened by the fact that I had to leave there. In all honesty, I didn’t really want to. I’m sure Bob would say something along those lines himself, because we have talked about that.

“I do regret that. But hey, that’s life. You learn from things as you go on. Certainly, retrospectively, I would have approached it a little bit differently than what I did.”

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Some highlights from Bill Parcells’ Monday Q&A with the media

04.18.11 at 11:14 am ET
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Bill Parcells ‘€” along with Drew Bledsoe and Houston Antwine, one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame ‘€” held a conference call with the media Monday morning. (Fans can vote at Patriots.com.) Here are some of the highlights of his Q&A with the media:

You say this is a surprise … why is that?
“I don’t know. First of all, I really didn’t know much about this. I really didn’t know that this was in existence at the Patriots. Stacey was kind enough to call me and tell me about it, so it was a surprise in that matter of speaking. I really just wasn’t familiar that they had something like this going on.”

On the second stint in New England, what do you remember the most?
“Well, I remember going there, and in all honesty, the franchise was ‘€” I don’t want to say in disarray, but it certainly was unsettled. That would be the best way to put it. The ownership was unsettled, there were not a lot of people going to the games. The management of the franchise was unsettled. It was a big undertaking. I do see a lot when Robert Kraft took over the team, that was very, a major step for stability for the franchise, and for the Patriots themselves. Of course, now it’s one of the premier franchises, top three or four in the league, no doubt. Just look what’s happened in the 15 years or 16 years from then until now. It’s gone from being a place that didn’t have very good facilities to having the best. The team wasn’t great and now it’s certainly a premier team. And Bill Belichick’s done a tremendous job there, a remarkable job. It’s a model for the teams in the league there that are striving to do what the Patriots have already done. I don’t really think I had a whole lot to do with that, but I think the one thing I would say that was helpful is that we were able to, in the course of my time there, I’ll name a few guys because I was just thinking about what i was going to say: besides the obvious in Drew Bledsoe, [Willie] McGinest, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Troy Brown, [Tedy] Bruschi, Curtis Martin, Adam Vinatieri, Terry Glenn … we were able to put those players on the team to go with Ben Coates and [Bruce] Armstrong and Sam Gash and Maurice Hurst, who was a good little player, guys who were already there, and I think that was the beginning of some personnel continuity. Some of those kids have gone on to be as you know some of the great players in Patriots history. So I do take a sense of accomplishment in that because there are some real quality players there who made a significant contribution to the development of the franchise.”
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Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Ben Coates, Bill Parcells, Bruce Armstrong

Drew Bledsoe talks about being a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame

04.15.11 at 6:19 pm ET
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Drew Bledsoe ‘€” one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame, along with Bill Parcells and Houston Antwine ‘€” held a conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon. (Fans can vote now at Patriots.com.) Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are a few of the highlights:

What were your impressions of the Patriots organization when you were drafted and later when you left the organization in a better place a decade later?
‘€œMy wife and I had a chance this last year to come back, and [we] hadn’€™t been back a lot to New England since. We had a chance to walk around the stadium and around Patriot Place and see The Hall there and see all that’€™s transpired since we left. I think we all probably recognize the state of the organization when I was drafted in ‘€™93. [It] was not an organization that had had a lot of success. But under the stewardship of Bill Parcells and moving on obviously to the ownership of the Kraft family, it’€™s really become one of if not the marquee franchise in the NFL. Certainly I’€™m very proud of whatever part I played in that rise to prominence of the organization. You know the comment I made to my wife the last time [we were there] was I really felt like during my time there the organization went from one place to a much better place and then from there, once I left, it’€™s continued to go onwards and upward. I’€™m certainly very proud to have been part of that resurgence of the Patriots and I also take some degree of pride in seeing where they’€™ve gone since I left. What the Kraft family has done with that organization and with the support of fans across the New England region, it’€™s pretty neat to see where it was and where it is now.’€

Another finalist who is on the ballot with you is Bill Parcells. Can you talk about being under his guidance, not once, but twice?
‘€œI was a glutton for punishment. I went back for more. It was a petty rare thing when I was drafted to come to an organization that had not had much success but all of a sudden had a Super Bowl-winning coach on the sidelines. That was very fortuitous for me and for the organization to have a coach of his stature come in, even when there hadn’€™t been much success, but instantly there seemed to be a sense of optimism and Bill was certainly a part of that. Bill’€™s record is what it is. He’s a fantastic coach. He was great at rebuilding franchises. He did it numerous times. I’€™m proud to say I played for him.’€

Is there anybody on the team that you still keep in touch with, including Tom Brady?
‘€œI keep in touch with Tommy every now and then, mostly via text message. We’€™ve talked a handful of times over the years. I’€™ve certainly been very proud to watch the way Tom has handled himself. Obviously he’€™s been one of the best players in the league for a number of years now on the field, but the way that he has continued to conduct himself with such a level of class, on and off the field, I’€™ve been proud to watch that. Success is one thing, but there is only so much you can control of that part. The part that you can control is how you handle yourself as a person, and watching Tommy’€™s success and the way that he has handled all of it has been great to watch. I keep in touch with a number of guys. I talked to Todd Rucci just yesterday. We keep in touch quite a bit. I stay in touch with Bruce Armstrong from time to time. I did touch base with Kevin Turner here just in the last couple of months. Hearing about and seeing what he’€™s been going through has been kind of a rough deal, seeing somebody who was a teammate and a great friend going through what he’€™s going through is a pretty difficult thing. But I’€™ve touched base with him a couple of times. And then, when we were back out there, I spent some time with [Scott] Zolak and Max Lane and some of those guys that I played with. But the guy I keep in touch with the most is Rucci. I touch base with a number of other guys from time to time, but it’€™s going to be fun to get back together with everybody, so hopefully we’€™ll get that done here soon. I keep in touch with Terry Glenn once in a while, too. Terry and I exchange text messages from time to time. I got to play with Terry twice.’€
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Read More: Ben Coates, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Bruce Armstrong

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

04.15.11 at 12:35 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. We’€™ve already put the eighth through the second rounders in the spotlight. Now, we’€™ve got the best of the first round, a group with two Hall of Famers are two others who will almost surely get some consideration for Canton down the road. Vote for your favorite:

Mike Haynes: 1976, fifth overall. The Arizona State alum played in New England from 1976 until 1982 before ending up in Los Angeles with the Raiders, but while with the Patriots, he made his mark as one of the best young corners and return men in the game. A six-time Pro Bowler, he has 28 career picks (sixth in franchise history), including eight as a rookie. He was twice named an All-Pro, named to the Patriots All-Time Team in 2009 and was the second Patriots’€™ player in franchise history elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ‘€” he received the honor in 1997.

John Hannah: 1973, fourth overall. Accorded as the best offensive lineman in the history of the game, the Alabama product spent his entire 13-year career with the Patriots, and was the first player in franchise history inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Named to nine Pro Bowls, the guard helped power an offensive line that helped set an NFL record with 3,165 rushing yards in 1978 ‘€” still an NFL record. Small wonder he was a 10-time All-Pro who was named to the Patriots All-Time Team in 2009.

Ty Law: 1995, 23rd overall. A five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, this corner out of Michigan was named to the Patriots’€™ All-Time Team in 2009 after a career where he set the franchise record for most career interceptions (36), including nine in 1998. In addition, he holds team records for most interception return yardage (583), most interceptions for a touchdown for a career (six) and in a season (two). He departed following the 2004 season, playing two seasons with the Jets, two with Kansas City and one with Denver, but his part as a three-time Super Bowl Champion while with New England will always endear him to Patriots’€™ fans. (His 11 career picks of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning probably don’€™t hurt either.)

Vince Wilfork: 2004, 21st overall. The three-time Pro Bowler, this Miami product has made his mark in New England as a leader, both on and off the field. His numbers aren’€™t especially overwhelming, but his ability to occupy two blockers on the nose and his versatility ‘€” he kicked out to defensive end several times over the last year ‘€” have made him an absolutely vital force along New England’€™s defensive line. A three-time team captain, he is perhaps the most respected voice in the Patriots’€™ locker room.

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

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Just missing the cut: Devin McCourty (2010, 27th overall); Logan Mankins (2005, 32nd overall); Jerod Mayo (2008, 10th overall); Richard Seymour (2001, sixth overall); Willie McGinest (1994, fourth overall); Drew Bledsoe (1993, first overall); Ray Clayborn (1977, 16th overall); Stanley Morgan (1977, 25th overall); Pete Brock (1976, 12th overall); Tim Fox (1976, 21st overall); Russ Francis (1975, 16th overall); Sam Cunningham (1973, 11th overall); Jim Plunkett (1971, first overall).

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, John Hannah, Mike Haynes, Ty Law

Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio talks draft

04.14.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio spoke for roughly 45 minutes on Thursday at The Hall at Patriot Place about the pre-draft process, and how the New England braintrust approaches the draft. Here are some of the highlights:

‘€¢On draft day, Caserio described things in the draft room as being ‘€œpretty tame’€ for most of the time. ‘€œWhen you’€™re not picking, things are pretty quiet,’€ he said. As for trades, most of them occur on draft night, with most discussions usually picking up between five and eight picks out: ‘€œThere are [trade] possibilities examined the week before, but things don’€™t really manifest themselves until the draft,’€ he said.

‘€¢Where are things right now? Caserio said that most of the Pro Days have been completed to this point, with most of the players who will be drafted having worked out. He added that the time frame for the 30 allotted visits expires next Wednesday, April 20. However, you can work a player out until the day before the draft ‘€” he recalled an instance a few years ago where he flew out to work out a player a day or two before the draft.

‘€¢The private workouts are important for getting a handle on a prospect, but they can be invaluable for trying to figure out if a small school prospect, an injured player or a non-combine invitee might fit into your system. Caserio used wide receiver Julian Edelman and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer as examples of two guys the Patriots were able to get a much clearer picture of as a result of private workouts, as both were not invited to the combine. When it comes to private workouts, ‘€œWe’€™re just trying to make sure we have the most accurate picture of the player possible.’€ (Caserio added that when they were working out Edelman prior to the 2010 draft, they had multiple private workouts with him, including as a wide receiver, running back and return man.)

‘€œIn the end, the goal is to have it right. Is it perfect? No. There are players where it hasn’€™t worked out,’€ Caserio said. ‘€œ[But] it’€™s a projection element. You are talking about the unknown.’€

‘€¢Caserio showed a fictional draft card, and explained what the intricate grading system that appears on the card, a series of numbers and letters that includes height, weight and Wonderlic score. In addition, the card reveals whether or not a prospect is considered ‘€œheight deficient’€ or ‘€œweight deficient.’€ (Caserio was quick to let people know that a prospect being classified as ‘€œheight deficient’€ isn’€™t necessarily a bad thing ‘€” he mentioned players like Kevin Faulk, Barry Sanders and Maurice Jones-Drew as players who were classified as such but have gone on to successful careers.)

‘€¢As for how things might be different because of the lockout this year, Caserio said that their pre-draft process this year is no different than it’€™s been in year’€™s past. ‘€œOur approach this year is no different than in year’€™s past ‘€” we’€™re looking for the player who can improve our football team the most and that’€™s what we’€™re focused on doing,’€ he said. ‘€œWe’€™re evaluating a player for his skill set based on the information that we’€™ve gathered, and we’€™ll just move forward from there. So our approach hasn’€™t changed much at all.’€

‘€¢When asked about the preconceived ideas some people have when it comes to the Patriots and the outside linebacker spot ‘€” and if they have adjusted them somewhat ‘€” Caserio replied: ‘€œI think you’€™re always looking at different things. In terms of the players and the types of players and the standards … the most important thing is finding good football players that can help our football team, whatever shape and form they come in. Danny Woodhead is the perfect example. I’€™d say he falls short in some of the ‘€˜standards,’€™ but … that’€™s something we’€™re always evaluating across the positions, the different standards and where we are relative to the rest of the league. That position, there’€™s more teams that are looking for similar-type players, and in college, maybe the pool of players isn’€™t that big to begin with, so everybody’€™s looking at the same players and ultimately, you just have to make the decision on who you feel like is best for your team.’€

Read More: Barry Sanders, Julian Edelman, Kevin Faulk, Maurice Jones-Drew

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

04.13.11 at 2:22 pm 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. We’€™ve already put the eighth through the third rounders in the spotlight. Now, we’€™ve got the best of the second round, an intriguing list of four players who have nine Pro Bowl berths and one spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame among them, and all of whom had lengthy careers with the Patriots. Vote for your favorite:

Kevin Faulk: 1999: 46th overall. The running back hasn’€™t always put up the biggest numbers, but his durability (he’€™s the only current player on the roster who predates Bill Belichick as head coach) and his leadership have been large parts of the Patriots’€™ success over the last 10 years. Taken out of LSU, he’€™s worked as a return man and third-down/changeup back, and remains a valuable option in the passing game. A knee injury early in the 2011 season put his rest of his career in doubt, but Faulk has already put together an impressive resume, one with three Super Bowl rings.

Steve Nelson: 1974, 34th overall. Part of a collection of great linebackers in the 1970s and 80s, Nelson was a three-time Pro Bowler who recorded over 100 tackles nine times during his career and finished with 1,776 tackles, an average of 10.2 per game. For his efforts, the North Dakota State product was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1993, and had his No. 57 jersey retired.

Andre Tippett: 1982, 41st overall. A resume unmatched by just about anyone in the history of the franchise. A Pro Football Hall of Famer, the Iowa product was one of the best pass-rushers of his era ‘€” he holds the team record with 100 career sacks, including 18.5 in 1984. In his 12 seasons with the Patriots, Tippett tied cornerback Michael Haynes’€™ team record for a defensive player by going to five consecutive Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1999, and elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

Julius Adams: 1971, 27th overall. This Texas Southern product played 16 seasons for the Patriots, and like Faulk, his numbers weren’€™t always overwhelming. But his durability and consistency made him an invaluable part of many Patriots teams throughout the 1970s and 80s. He led the team in sacks four times (including three straight seasons in the early 1970s). Named to the Patriots’€™ 50th anniversary team, he’€™s second in franchise history in games played (206).

Who is the best second-round draft pick in Patriots' history?

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Just missed the cut: Deion Branch (2002, 65th overall); Matt Light (2001, 48th overall); Lawyer Milloy: 1996: 36th overall; Ted Johnson (1995, 57th overall); Garin Veris (1985, 48th overall); Robert Weathers (1982, 40th overall); Bob Golic (1979, 52nd overall); Horace Ivory (1977, 44th overall); Don Hasselbeck (1979, 52nd overall).

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Andre Tippett, Bill Belichick, Julius Adams
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