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Patriots by position: Offensive line 01.30.11 at 9:04 pm ET
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As the Patriots offseason gets underway, we’€™ve presented a snapshot of the team by position ‘€” we’€™ve already examined the defensive backs, the linebackers, the defensive line, special teams, quarterbacks, running backs, tight end and wide receivers. We’€™ll wrap things up with the offensive line:

On the roster: Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Mark LeVoir, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Rich Ohrnberger, Quinn Ojinnaka, Sebastian Vollmer and Ryan Wendell. (Thomas Austin and Steve Maneri ended the year on the practice squad.)

2010, in three sentences: While the tackle spots were relatively steady ‘€” Vollmer on the right and Light on the left for 99 percent of the season ‘€” the guard sports were a steady rotation because of injury (Connolly and Neal) or contract problems (Mankins). But no matter who was in the lineup, the offensive line was steady in its play over the bulk of the regular season in both the running and passing game. However, things ended poorly in the playoff loss to the Jets, as Brady was sacked five times by a Jets team that rarely blitzed.
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Read More: Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins, mark levoir
Patriots by position: Wide receiver 01.30.11 at 11:41 am ET
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As the Patriots offseason gets underway, we’€™ll continue to present a snapshot of the team by position. We’€™ve already examined the defensive backs, the linebackers, the defensive line, special teams, quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends. Now, here’€™s the wide receivers:

On the roster: Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater, Brandon Tate, Wes Welker. (Buddy Farnham ended the season on the practice squad.)

Stat standouts ‘€” Total receptions: Welker, 86; Branch (48 with Patriots, 61 overall). Total receiving yards: Welker, 848; Branch (706 with Patriots, 818 overall). Yards per catch (minimum 20 receptions): Tate, 18.0. Touchdowns: Welker, 7; Branch (5 with Patriots, 6 overall). Best single game: Two favorites for us: The first was Branch against the Lions on Thanksgiving, when he flat-out torched Detroit cornerback Alphonso Smith for three catches (two of them touchdowns) and 113 yards. The second was Welker’€™s eight-catch, 115-yard performance on Dec. 12 in the snow against the Bears in Chicago.

2010, in three sentences: Remade. The October trade of Randy Moss to Minnesota changed the look of the New England receiving corps ‘€” instead of the traditional deep threat, it was more reliant on midrange and intermediate routes. It was a success, as the Patriots’€™ passing game became one of the most difficult to defend over the second half of the season, thanks in large part to the duo of Branch and Welker.
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Read More: Brandon Tate, Buddy Farnham, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman
Patriots by position: Tight end 01.29.11 at 2:37 pm ET
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As the Patriots offseason gets underway, we’€™ll continue to present a snapshot of the team by position. We’€™ve already examined the defensive backs, the linebackers, the defensive line, special teams, quarterbacks and running backs. Now, here’€™s the tight end position:

On the roster: Alge Crumpler, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez. (Carson Butler ended the season on the practice squad.)

Stat standouts ‘€” Total receptions: Hernandez, 45; Gronkowski, 42. Total receiving yards: Hernandez, 563 yards; Gronkowski, 546 yards. Touchdowns: Gronkowski, 10; Hernandez, 6. Best single game: For Hernandez, he announced his presence at the NFL level in Week 2 when he proved to be a matchup nightmare for the Jets, catching six balls for 101 yards. As for Gronkowski, he had several big games, but our favorite was against the Steelers ‘€” a week after he committed a few big errors in a loss to Cleveland, he had five catches for 72 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Pittsburgh.

2010, in three sentences: Amazing. After an offseason where the Patriots performed an extreme makeover on the tight end spot, the rookies ‘€” and Crumpler, who was an invaluable mentor for both of them ‘€” became an important part of the New England passing game. The two youngsters had an occasional problem disappearing in big games, but after years of shuffling tight ends through Foxboro, the position appears to be set nicely for the next several seasons.
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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Alge Crumpler, Carson Butler, Rob Gronkowski
Patriots by Position: Running Back 01.29.11 at 12:02 am ET
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As the Patriots offseason gets underway, we’€™ll continue to present a snapshot of the team by position. We’€™ve already examined the defensive backs, the linebackers, the defensive line, special teams and quarterbacks. Here’€™s a look at the running backs:

On the roster: Thomas Clayton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Danny Woodhead. (Kevin Faulk ended the season on injured reserve.)

Stat standouts ‘€” total rushing yards: Green-Ellis, 1,008; Woodhead, 547. Yards per carry (minimum 20 carries): Woodhead, 5.6. Rushing touchdowns: Green-Ellis, 13; Woodhead, 5. Total receiving yards: Woodhead, 379 yards. Best single game: We’€™ve got two: The first is Green-Ellis against the Vikings in October, when he had 17 carries for 112 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Second is Woodhead against the Bills in December where he finished with 13 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground, to go along with three catches for 32 yards in the air.

2010, in three sentences: Much better than anticipated. After the September trade of Laurence Maroney and the season-ending injury to Faulk (plus multiple injuries to Taylor), not much was expected from the running back position. But the combination of Green-Ellis and Woodhead proved more than a serviceable duo, doing their part to help fuel a record-setting New England offense.

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Read More: Antowain Smith, BenJarvus Green Ellis, bll belichick, Corey Dillon
League still plans on having franchise tag in place next month 01.28.11 at 1:08 am ET
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In a sitdown with a handful of reporters on Thursday afternoon, an NFL spokesman talked about the financial consequences of a possible lockout, and one of the things that came up was the fact that the league expects the franchise tag to still be in place for teams to use this year, beginning in February. With the looming labor uncertainty, there was some question as to whether or not the franchise tag would still be in place.

This should have an impact on the Patriots when it comes to sitting down at the bargaining table with free agent Logan Mankins. New England has commonly used the franchise tag on players while they continue to negotiate with them ‘€” they did it last year with Vince Wilfork, and also did it in the past with former kicker Adam Vinatieri ‘€” and could use it as they talk with Mankins about a new deal.

Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork,
Tom Brady checks in at No. 5 on BusinessWeek list of most powerful athletes 01.28.11 at 12:48 am ET
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BusinessWeek magazine has revealed their list of the 100 most powerful athletes in sports, and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is No. 5, up from No. 30 last year. The magazine salutes Brady’s on-field talents, but gives a nod to his off-field business acumen as well.

They write: “Tom Brady signed a contract in September that earned him a spot as the highest-paid player in football, then had one of his best-ever regular seasons, with only four interceptions. Three Super Bowl rings and chiseled good looks make Brady a perfect pitchman for everything from Stetson hats to girly UGG boots. (It doesn’t hurt that he’s married to supermodel Gisele Bündchen.) We estimate that he pulled in a cool $20 million in endorsements.”

For what it’s worth, Brady’s most famous contemporary ‘€” Peyton Manning ‘€” tops the list.

For more on Brady’s spot, click here.

Read More: Gisele Bundchen, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,
NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Shane Vereen 01.27.11 at 10:37 pm ET
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SHANE VEREEN

Position: Running back

School: Cal

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 204 pounds

Achievements: Vereen earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in his final collegiate season (also first-team by Phil Steele, second-team according to Scout.com) as a junior in 2010; honorable mention All-Pac-10 player during his 2009 sophomore campaign despite spending most of the campaign as a backup to Heisman Trophy candidate and 2010 first-round pick Jahvid Best.

What he brings: A three-down back, the 21-year-old Vereen brings a versatility to the backfield with skills as a runner and a pass catcher. (He also has experience as a return man.) As a collegian, the speedy Vereen posted 1,667 career rushing yards and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground in 325 carries for an impressive average of 5.1 yards per rush. In all, he has totaled 2,693 career all-purpose yards, adding 465 receiving yards and three TDs on 52 catches and 551 kick return yards on 24 returns.

Where the Patriots could get him: Third or fourth round.

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Potential Patriots, Shane Vereen,
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