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Goodell: No updates, timetable for action regarding Deflategate 04.24.15 at 3:33 pm ET
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In a media session with Associated Press Sports Editors Friday in Kansas City, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there was nothing new to report regarding Deflategate, and that special investigator Ted Wells had not been given a deadline as to when his probe would be completed.

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Trip to White House only small part of Thursday’s journey for Patriots 04.24.15 at 7:41 am ET
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President Barack Obama walks with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick prior to Thursday's ceremony at the White House. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama walks with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick prior to Thursday’s ceremony at the White House. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The chance to be feted at the White House and meet President Barack Obama was just one part of the Patriots trip to Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Another part of the trip is the annual journey to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, something the team did before the trip to Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a tradition the team began doing that after winning Super Bowl XXXVI.

“Look, those are the real heroes; those guys are out there fighting and dying for our country and protecting our freedom, so we all have a lot to be thankful for,” said coach Bill Belichick. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. They make what we do possible. There’s no way to express the gratitude that I feel for what they do.”

“That was a great experience,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “To see the soldiers that were in Afghanistan and Iraq, having a visit with them and a couple of the players, Mr. Kraft, coach Belichick, so that was a great experience too and put some perspective on how great we have it as athletes. It’s an honor meeting the President and all of the troops that we met at the Walter Reed Hospital too.”

“It was a great time, a tremendous time,” defensive end Chandler Jones said of the Reed visit. “Like coach said, those guys are the real heroes. I was shocked at how many Patriots fans were in there, those guys, Gronkowski and Edelman and Jones jerseys in there, not even knowing that we were coming. It gives you a different outlook on life, and I just want to thank those guys if they’re watching; they really are the true heroes.”

“It’s unbelievable to see these young men and women serving their country and going out there and seeing the things that you see there,” said wide receiver Julian Edelman. “It definitely puts life in perspective, and like coach said, those are the true heroes.”

Read More: Barack Obama, Bill Belichick, chandler jones, Julian Edelman
NFL mock draft roundup, Version 5.0: No consensus among national pundits on what Patriots should do at No. 32 04.23.15 at 8:00 am ET
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UConn CB Byron Jones has been mocked to the Patriots at No. 32 by several national draft pundits. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

UConn CB Byron Jones has been mocked to the Patriots at No. 32 by several national draft pundits. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

As the final countdown to the draft looms, folks have started locking in their final mocks and preparing for the big night, set for next Thursday in Chicago. With that in mind, here’s our fifth roundup of what the national pundits are saying the Patriots will do with the 32nd overall pick. (For comparisons sake, check out the first four installments of our mock draft roundups here, here, here and here.)

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah – guard Laken Tomlinson, Duke
NFL Network’s Charley Casserly – defensive tackle Arik Armstead, Oregon
NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger – cornerback Byron Jones, Connecticut
NFL Network’s Charles Davis defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, Florida State’s Lance Zierlein – strong safety Landon Collins, Alabama’s Bucky Brooks – cornerback Byron Jones, Connecticut
ESPN’s Mel Kiper – cornerback Marcus Peters, Washington (subscription only)
ESPN’s Todd McShay – cornerback Byron Jones, Connecticut (subscription only)
CBS Sports’ Rob Rang – offensive lineman Cameron Erving, Florida State
CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler – defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr., Florida State
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco – cornerback Byron Jones, Connecticut
CBS Sports’ Will Brinson – cornerback Eric Rowe, Utah
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar – running back Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft,
Is a potential trade up looming for Patriots in this year’s draft? 04.23.15 at 6:45 am ET
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Nick Caserio addresses the media in Foxboro on Wednesday, ( photo)

Nick Caserio addresses the media in Foxboro on Wednesday, ( photo)

FOXBORO — It’s always a dicey proposition to try and read between the lines when assessing New England and its draft possibilities, but it was hard to ignore the nugget dropped by Patriots personnel chief Nick Caserio at his pre-draft press conference on Wednesday. Caserio seemed to hint that New England might be more inclined to make a deal that could move it upwards from the No. 32 overall selection.

“There’s not as many spots as there has been in the past just from an overall roster standpoint. I think we’re around 73 or right around there — 73 or 74,” Caserio said of the current roster, which actually stood at 75 as of Wednesday according to the league, unless Caserio knew of a looming deal that had yet to be announced.

“I think in years past we’ve been a little bit lower. But the roster is more full relative to where we are in the whole process,” added Caserio, who said there hasn’t been a lot of dialogue around draft-related trades to this point. “Right now, we have nine picks. We’ll see how that goes if we end up using those nine picks, and then there’s players we’ll sign after the draft.”

(For the record, the Patriots have traded up or down in the draft 17 times since Bill Belichick took over the franchise in 2000. That includes four trades up in the first round four times and two trades out of the first round.)

With 75 players, that would leave just 15 spots available for the nine draft picks, as well as any undrafted free agents the Patriots might be interested in when the draft closes Saturday. There’s always the possibility New England would cut some of its draftees — of the nine players taken in the draft last season, three were cut — but that would still hamstring a team that relies heavily on mining the undrafted free agent market in the hours after the draft. The Patriots have always made good use of their undrafted free agents, a group that includes Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler.

One way to have fewer picks? Push some of your trade capital to the middle of the table in hopes of moving up the board, or into next spring. To that point, Caserio said that any deals up or down the road are “usually player-specific or player-driven,” and that supply and demand occasionally comes into play.

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Nick Caserio: ‘No other coach in football that I’d rather work alongside than Bill Belichick’ 04.22.15 at 3:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — One of the under-the-radar stars of the Patriots team-building process is Nick Caserio. The Patriots personnel chief, who prefers to operate out of the spotlight, plays an integral role in the construction of New England roster every season. From free agency through the draft, as well as trades and waiver wire moves, Caserio’s fingerprints are all over the franchise.

Several former members of the Patriots front office have gone on to bigger and better things at other locations: Scott Pioli took the reins in Kansas City, while Jason Licht became GM with the Bucs and Thomas Dimitroff did the same thing with the Falcons. While Caserio has had his opportunities to leave — he interviewed for the GM job with the Dolphins in January 2014 — he’s always returned to New England.

Now, it appears he’s going to be sticking around for a long time to come. In a rare session with the media on Wednesday — part of his annual pre-draft press conference — he was asked about the new deal he signed last fall, a contract that will keep him in New England through 2020. He said there were a “lot of things” that went into his decision to sign a new contract with the Patriots.

“I would say I’ve been fortunate to be able to be in the same organization for 14 years,” he said. “I’ve had a chance to work on a multitude of levels. The Kraft family has been extremely generous to me and my family, and there is no other coach in football that I’d rather work alongside than Bill Belichick.

“I like being here, I like winning and I enjoy my role. I have plenty of responsibility, and I enjoy being a part of a winning culture and winning organization. I feel blessed. To be here and to have the opportunity that I have, I’m really grateful and hopefully we can continue to win some games along the way as well.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio,
Nick Caserio: Dante Scarnecchia has been ‘great resource’ when it comes to pre-draft evaluation 04.22.15 at 3:08 pm ET
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Dante Scarnecchia has been spotted at pro days at Florida State, South Carolina and Florida this spring. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has been spotted at pro days at Florida State, South Carolina, Duke and Florida this spring. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — When it comes to the pre-draft process, it’s all hands on deck.

At least that’s the way that Patriots personnel chief Nick Caserio looks at it. Coaches and scouts are all part of the process when it comes to pre-draft evaluation. That means ex-coaches as well, including former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia — even though Scarnecchia abruptly retired after the 2013 season.

Scarnecchia has been a ubiquitous presence on the pre-draft radar, showing up at several pro days over the course of the last two months while working out prospects at Florida State, South Carolina, Florida and Duke. Caserio said that when it comes to Scarnecchia, it’s not out of the ordinary to have him involved in the process.

“I would say that there’s a lot of people that have been involved in the process this time of the year,” Caserio said Wednesday when asked about Scarnecchia’s involvement with the team this spring. “Every coach in the building has worked out players. I would say that there’s a number of people in the personnel department that have worked out players.

“Dante has a lot of experience in our system. He’s a great resource. He’s been a great resource for us. It’s something that we decided that might be helpful to us in the entire process. Dante has a lot of experience in our system, and he has a lot of insight. I’d say it’s kind of worked out,” Caserio added. “We can’t cover everybody. We’re trying to take our resources and allocate our resources the best we can to try to get as much information as possible on a player however we can do it.”

Read More: Dante Scarnecchia, Nick Caserio,
7 incredibly early thoughts on Patriots 2015 regular-season schedule 04.22.15 at 1:13 am ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will lead the Patriots into five prime-time regular season contests in 2015. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will lead the Patriots into five prime-time regular season contests in 2015. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

1. According to Google maps — using the distance between Gillette Stadium and the opposing stadium — the Patriots will travel a distance of 17,652 miles during the 2015 regular season. That represents a slight (almost negligible) spike from 2014, where Pro Football Reference had New England at 16,722 regular-season miles. (Those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt because the Patriots ended up going from Green Bay to San Diego late in the season instead of coming home in between games.) At the same time, both numbers represent a sizable increase from 2013, when New England was held to 12,124 round-trip miles, and just one regular-season game outside the Eastern Time zone (Houston).

By way of comparison, in 2012, the Patriots went 19,648 round-trip miles, including games in London, Seattle and Miami. In 2011, it was 14,630 round-trip miles, with three extended trips (Miami, Oakland and Denver). And in 2010, the Patriots regular-season odometer read 13,610 round-trip miles at the end of the year, with the longest trips to Miami and San Diego. The most round-trip mileage in recent memory came in 2009 when they traveled 21,122 miles in the regular season, a slate of games that included a contest in London against the Bucs. In all, there were five trips that season that could be described as extensive — London, Denver, New Orleans, Miami and Houston.

The biggest travel hurdles for the Patriots might come at the end of November and the start of December, as in one three-week period, New England has to play road games in Denver (a 3,938-mile round trip journey, most on the 2015 regular-season schedule for the Patriots), followed by a home game against the Eagles, and then a road game the following week on Dec. 13 in Houston against the Texans, a road trip of 3,676 miles from Foxboro to Houston and back again. The road games against the Cowboys, Broncos and Texans represent the only three regular-season games New England will play outside of the Eastern Time Zone in 2015. (By way of comparison, in 2013, the Patriots played one regular-season games and one postseason game outside of the Eastern Time Zone. In 2014, the Patriots had four regular-season games outside of the Eastern Time Zone, but just one — Super Bowl XLIX — not on the East Coast.)

While the grind of football travel isn’t necessarily the same as other sports, it can play a sizable role in the success of failure of a team that might not be mentally equipped to handle the occasional issues that come with a lengthy road trip. According to Grantland, from 1997 to 2011, teams that traveled 2,000 miles or more for a road trip only won 39.8 percent of their games. The winning percentage jumped up to 40.3 percent for road trips that were 1,000-1,999 miles long. Teams that traveled 999 miles or less to a road game won 43 percent of the time. While lots of mileage isn’t necessarily an indicator for some teams — playing in the Pacific Northwest, the Seahawks are almost always at or near the top of the league in terms of miles traveled — it can play a role for some teams who might not be mentally equipped to handle its’ business.

2. One more note, at least as it relates to logistics: it doesn’t appear that the Patriots will be forced to practice on the road for a week, like they did last season between road games against the Packers and Chargers. (New England also did the same thing in 2008 when. instead of criss-crossing the country on back-to-back weeks in October for road dates against San Francisco and San Diego, the Patriots stayed in California following their game against the Niners.)

3. There don’t appear to be any six-game gauntlets like the one that threatened the 2014 Patriots, a brutal stretch of schedule that was initially a point of dread but ended up forging a champion. Instead, there are a pair of three-game stretches that appear to offer the biggest challenge for New England: The first is in mid-October, with back-to-back road games against the Cowboys (Oct. 11) and Colts (Oct. 18), with the latter marking the first time the two teams will have met since the Dawn of Deflategate. That’s followed up by the first game of the season against the Jets, at home on Oct. 25. The second interesting series of games is the aforementioned three-game stretch that features road contests against the Broncos (Nov. 29) and Texans (Dec. 13), sandwiched around a home affair against the Eagles (Dec. 6).

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