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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
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,
BC’s Rich Lapham looking to make the leap to the NFL 02.25.11 at 1:32 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” When it comes to preparing for life in the NFL, Boston College offensive lineman Rich Lapham already has an edge on the competition.

The 6-foot-8, 327-pound offensive lineman is the nephew of former Bengals offensive lineman Dave Lapham, a Melrose native who played for Cincinnati from 1974 until 1983 (and then for New Jersey in the USFL) before becoming a Bengals radio analyst. In addition, BC remains the gold standard for turning out offensive linemen.

It’s added up to quite the resume for the New Hampshire native, who is projected at this point to be a mid- to late-round pick in this year’s draft.

“[There's a] great coaching staff at Boston College,” Lapham said. “My offensive line coach, Sean Devine, has been really helpful, and through the prep for what we would do at Boston College, he’d would almost treat it the same way at the combine ‘€” go up [to the board] and draw the play, so we were familiar with it. Stuff like that. I credit him for a lot of the situations and the last couple of years that has gotten me ready.

“There have been a lot of great players coming out of Boston College who have played offensive line, especially the right tackle position ‘€” guys like Gosder Cherilus and Marc Colombo,” he added. “These guys have these reputations and these attitudes and we have to live up to that.”

Lapham’s uncle played all five offensive line spots and was a member of Cincinnati’s 1981 AFC Championship team, and the BC product credits the support of his uncle with helping him become the player that he is.

“He’s been there from the beginning,” Lapham said. “Him and my Dad talk a lot, and even throughout high school, he kind of told me, as a freshman, he knew I had the potential and he gave me the encouragement to say, ‘The sky is the limit. It’s up to you. You can do what you want to do.’ He’s given me support through all different things ‘€” not just athletics. Everything else. He’s been a great guy. He’s been there for me. I really appreciate him helping me out in this way.”

Lapham, who suffered an injury to his left kneecap this past season, said he will not be working out this weekend at the NFL scouting combine, instead holding off until April.

“I want to shake as many hands and meet as many people as I can, because I think I have a lot to offer,” Lapham said. “Being able to do that ‘€” meet the coaches, being able to sit down and talk with them about football, I think that’ll impress a lot of people and go a long way.”

Read More: Dave Lapham, Gosder Cherilus, Marc Colombo, NFL scouting combine
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff pitches Nick Caserio as a possible GM 02.25.11 at 12:46 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff is one of a handful of ex-Patriots front office men who have moved on from Foxboro to run their own teams, a group that includes Scott Pioli. Friday morning at the NFL scouting combine, I asked Dimitroff if Nick Caserio ‘€” the Patriots current director of player personnel and former front office mate of Dimitroff ‘€” could be the next great front office star to leave Foxboro and take control of his own franchise sometime soon.

Caserio has been with the Patriots in several capacities over the years, both as a personnel guy and as a coach, and his background would certainly lead you to believe that he might be the next guy to follow in the footsteps of Pioli and Dimitroff. Dimitroff said he’€™s going to get some grief from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but he certainly sounded like someone who would endorse the idea of Caserio as a GM.

‘€œNick Caserio’€™s a fine man,’€ Dimitroff said. ‘€œHe’€™s a very intelligent guy. He’€™s a tireless worker. I don’€™t know who works harder than him in the National Football League. He’€™s won many hats in New England, Bill’€™s asked him to do quite a bit, not only on the personnel side, but on the coaching side. You talk about a well-rounded individual. I hope coach Belichick isn’€™t upset with me that I’€™m pitching Nick Caserio, but I think Nick is a top-notch personnel man.’€

Dimitroff also noted that he wasn’€™t surprised that the Patriots have been able to pull together six picks in the first three rounds ‘€” despite the fact that New England finished 14-2 last season.

‘€œBill Belichick and his regime never cease to surprise me,’€ said Dimitroff with a smile.

Read More: Bill Belichick, NFL scouting combine, Nick Caserio, Scott Pioli
Packers GM Ted Thompson has a pleasant problem 02.25.11 at 11:49 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” Green Bay GM Ted Thompson has the sort of problem that 31 other general managers would love to have.

Thompson and the Packers are getting a later start on offseason prep work because of their win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLVI. Logistical work, scouting and long-term planning are all offseason priorities, and Green Bay is getting a later start than the rest of their brethren because they went later into the season than any team other than Pittsburgh.

But as Thompson said Friday morning at the NFL scouting combine, that’s a “good complication.”

“We won’t change anything ‘€” we kind of go about our business the way we do it,” Thompson said when asked about changes to offseason priorities because of the lack of time off. “It makes it a little more complicated, because we have some catching up to do, because normally we start [offseason] preparations even before the Super Bowl game. It’s a good complication to have. We’ll muddle through somehow.

“Winning comes with some complications ‘€” we’ll see how we handle success. We’ll see how we handle the fact that we are the reigning world champions. It won’t be an easy task ‘€” the NFL is a very hard business, as I’ve said over and over. It doesn’t make us any more hungry. We’re anxious to take on this challenge.”

Green Bay’s team-building approach the last couple of seasons has been to put the focus on the draft, and use free agency as an almost ancillary part of the routine ‘€” in Super Bowl XLVI, all of the Packers’ starting offensive players were drafted by Green Bay, while seven of the Packers’ starting defensive players either were drafted by the Packers or signed by the team out of college as undrafted free agents.

Thompson, who learned at the foot of former Packers GM Ron Wolf, is confident that things won’t change.

“He believed in that you build the core of your team around the draft,” Thompson said. “Certainly, free agency is another avenue, but I think you do that a little bit more selectively. That’s just the way we were taught.”

Read More: NFL scouting combine, Packers, Ron Wolf, Ted Thompson
It Is What It Is Cast, Episode 2: Focus on the Combine 02.22.11 at 8:04 pm ET
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In the second edition of the It Is What It Is Cast, Christopher Price and D.J. Bean discuss the NFL Scouting Combine, what the Patriots look for when they assess a prospect at the combine and how some teams fail to put the combine in the proper perspective when it comes to evaluating a prospects chances for success at the NFL level. Check out the full podcast here.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Christopher Price, D.J. Bean,
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