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Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio spotted at Auburn pro day 03.03.15 at 12:29 pm ET
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As is expected at this time of the year, Patriots coach Bill Belichick will occasionally hit the road to check out some pro days. On Tuesday, he was spotted — along with personnel chief Nick Caserio — at Auburn.

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5 things we learned at NFL combine from Patriots perspective 02.23.15 at 6:58 pm ET
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Things were relatively quiet for the Patriots at the NFL combine this week. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Things were relatively quiet for the Patriots at the NFL combine this week. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The 2015 NFL combine wrapped up in Indianapolis on Monday, and here are five things we learned, mostly from a Patriots perspective:

1. Deflategate won’t go away

Sadly, the whole Deflategate situation didn’t go away at the combine, it just got talked about even more after a few quiet weeks following the Super Bowl. The big development was Colts general manager Ryan Grigson saying the Colts notified the NFL of suspicions they had of the Patriots the week leading up to AFC championship game. Going by Grigson, the NFL was aware of the Patriots potentially using under inflated footballs, and the NFL didn’t do anything about it until halftime. Also coming up last week was the revelation of an NFL employee being fired as part of a memorabilia sting — stealing game balls for himself that were intended for charity. It seems this story will not die until the Ted Wells investigation is completed, and even then there may be more to this story. It’s also worth noting the Patriots will play the Colts in Indianapolis next season.

2. Another offensive lineman?

Joining Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio and the rest of the staff at the combine was former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who for a second straight season has assisted the Patriots leading up to the draft. It’s possible the Patriots have plans to select another offensive lineman, as last season they drafted two — Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming — with Scarnecchia’s input. His presence in Indianapolis this week conducting interviews with players may suggest the team has plans to select another one, especially on the interior given how much longer Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell have with the team. Scarnecchia has long-lasting relationship with Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, helping draft Stork last season, and the Seminoles have a few other strong offensive line prospects this season as well, so it’s possible a Florida State-New England pipeline has been started.

3. Pats stay quiet

This wasn’t much of a surprise, but no members of the Patriots organization held formal press conferences, like most other teams. Belichick almost never speaks at the combine, although he did in 2014, so this isn’t exactly an earth-shattering development. Belichick did make headlines when he walked into the combine on Friday with Rex Ryan. Ryan had a throwback Thurman Thomas jersey on, while Belichick wore a hoodie for his foundation. Caserio did give a 1-on-1 interview with Patriots.com, where he talked about free agency and with the reality of the NFL, the Patriots will be a different team next year.

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Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Bill Belichick, Dante Scarnecchia, Jameis Winston
Sunday NFL Notes: Nick Caserio looks ahead to offseason, proclaims ‘our team is going to be different’ 02.22.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Nick Caserio

Nick Caserio

With Chris Price taking a well-deserved vacation this week, we’ll keep the Sunday NFL Notes going, hoping to live up to the high standard he sets every week.

1. At the NFL combine in Indianapolis this week, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio gave a 1-on-1 interview with Jackie Brittain of Patriots.com, hitting on a number of subjects (the interview can be seen here). One of those subjects was free agency and how it relates to what happens with cornerback Darrelle Revis. “We’re going through an evaluation process,” said Caserio. “When we get back here from the combine, we’ll actually go through pretty comprehensive analysis of our roster, go through player by player, strengths, weaknesses, what we see their role as and what their future’s gonna be moving forward. Those are decisions that will be made at the appropriate time. The reality is our team is going to be different from what it was last year. That’s just a reality of the NFL and a reality that every team faces. We’ll go through, and in the end we’ll do what we feel is best for the organization moving forward.”

As it stands now, the Patriots’ top order of business is Revis and getting him signed long-term instead of paying him $20 million for 2015. Then, they have Devin McCourty and Stephen Gostkowski as free agents, with the possibility of placing the franchise tag on either of them. Also set to become free agents are running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, so when Caserio says the team is going to be different next year, he isn’t lying.

2. In addition to Caserio at the combine, the Patriots have a number of coaches and executives present in Indianapolis this week. Coach Bill Belichick is there as always, and also accompanying him are recently retired assistant coaches in special teams coach Scott O’Brien and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. O’Brien retired after this past season, but will stay in the organization, while Scarnecchia is assisting Belichick at the combine like he did last year. Also seen at the combine this week was former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, as he’s been seen helping out the Patriots and Belichick a number of times over the last year. Current Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo has also been seen helping run drills during the week.

3. There aren’t too many local players at the combine this week. Representing the New England schools are: running back Tyler Varga from Yale, wide receiver Geremy Davis from UConn, tight end Jean Stifrin from UMass, offensive lineman Andy Gallik from Boston College, defensive lineman Zach Hodges from Harvard and defensive back Bryon Jones from UConn. While none of these players are expected to go very high in the draft, getting invited to the combine is a big accomplishment in itself. Stifrin from UMass has a pretty interesting story, as he is 27 years old — much older than most of the other combine participants. MassLive.com’s Kevin Duffy did a good job going into Stifrin’s past and telling his story.

4. The Schiano-Belichick connection has led to a number of Rutgers players becoming Patriots over the past few years. That pipeline may have gotten even stronger lately, as Josh McDaniels‘ brother Ben has been named offensive coordinator at the school. So, who could be the next Rutgers player drafted by the Patriots? Tight end Tyler Kroft could be a possibility and join former Rutgers player Tim Wright as Rob Gronkowski‘s backup. Kroft is looked at as more of a receiving threat than an in-line blocking tight end, so he would be a great complement to Gronkowski, given Gronkowski’s size and Kroft’s lack there of. Kroft weighed in at 246 pounds at the combine, the 16th heaviest tight end out of the 19 attending the workouts.

5. Here are a few interesting stats we dug up following the season:

  • The Patriots were 13-0 this season when scoring 23 or more points and are 160-12 under Belichick.
  • The Patriots finished 11-0 this season when scoring first.
  • Going into the Super Bowl the Seahawks allowed an average of 6.8 points per game in the second half of games this year — the Patriots scored 14 in Super Bowl XLIX.
  • According to Elias, the Patriots were the first team to reach the Super Bowl without having a player with 100 rush attempts during the season.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dante Scarnecchia, Darrelle Revis, Julian Edelman
Pete Carroll appreciates Bill Belichick’s support after Super Bowl: ‘He gets it’ 02.20.15 at 6:10 pm ET
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Pete Carroll said Friday he appreciated Bill Belichick's support following Super Bowl. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Pete Carroll said Friday he appreciated Bill Belichick‘s support following Super Bowl. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Following the Super Bowl Seattle coach Pete Carroll took a lot of criticism for his play call at the end of the game on Malcolm Butler’s interception.

One of those was criticisms was not from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who actually defended Carroll’s play call.

On Dale & Holley in his season-ending interview, Belichick said the criticism was “totally out of line.”

Friday, speaking at the NFL combine, Carroll appreciated the support from Belichick.

“€œIt is important, and I really care about that,” Carroll said to reporters. “Bill’€™s an extraordinary coach, and anything he says, people should listen to. In this case, he’€™s just respecting coaching. He understands the game. he knows what was going on exactly … he knows. He gets it.

“€œI’€™ve always respected the work Bill has done, the accomplishments, the achievements. For him to take the moment to do that, it’€™s very gracious of him. I think, we all care a lot coaches, we all care about the game. I think he made a statement, just to try and let people know, if they’€™re curious, what he feels about it. And I appreciate that.”

Carroll also noted the Patriots threw on second down inside the 10-yard line in the game as well, so he wasn’t the only one calling a pass play down by the goal line.

‘€œThey’€™re in their sequence on the 6-yard line, when they scored, they ran on first down, made a few yards, they threw the ball for a touchdown on second down,” Carroll said. “It was a great play, great concept, got them ahead, all of that. We were kind of in a similar kind of mode.”

Now that a few weeks have gone by since the game, Carroll said he and the rest of the organization have moved on, and are now focusing on 2015.

“We’re in a situation that is notable, because of the way our game finished, coming off a Super Bowl, all of those things,” Carroll said. “We shared the experience with the world, and in that I feel there’s responsibility for us to really extend a message of accountability. Let’s get into the truth of what happened and then move on constructively and competitively and immediately as soon as you possibly can.”

Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll,
Spotted: Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan walk into NFL combine together at 11:22 am ET
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NFL Network cameras caught two AFC East coaches, Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan walking into the NFL combine in Indianapolis together on Friday morning. Ryan was wearing a throwback Thurman Thomas No. 34 Bills jersey, and Belichick a gray hoodie for his charitable foundation.

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Chuck Pagano: Theory Colts deflated football on their sideline is ‘ludicrous’ 02.19.15 at 5:22 pm ET
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Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Thursday he didn't know his organization has suspicions about the Patriots before the AFC title game. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Thursday he didn’t know his organization has suspicions about the Patriots before the AFC title game. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

For those who believe the theory that the Colts deflated a football in the AFC title game after D’Qwell Jackson’s interception leading to the Deflategate scandal, Colts coach Chuck Pagano strongly denied that even being a possibility.

“That’€™s ludicrous,” he told reporters at the NFL combine Thursday.

Pagano said he hasn’t reached out to Bill Belichick since the game. The Colts head coach also said he had no idea there were suspicions on team’s behalf of the Patriots’ footballs, which contradicts what general manager Ryan Grigson said earlier in the day that the organization notified the NFL the week leading into the game of some concerns.

“To be honest with you I have no idea,” he said. “Until after they start talking about it a day later, as a coach I’€™m just trying to get a first down, try to get them off the field, which we didn’€™t do a very good job of. As far as I’€™m concerned, I had no idea.”

Pagano is now looking forward to when the Ted Wells report is released following the league’s investigation.

“There’€™s an investigation that’€™s going on,” said Pagano. “When the report comes out we’€™re all anticipating to see what’€™s in that report then we’€™ll go from there. I trust … our league does such a great job of making sure everybody does the right thing.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Bill Belichick, Chuck Pagano, Deflategate
Adam Schefter on D&C on recent AFC championship game developments: Indisputable that the [NFL] screwed this up at 9:48 am ET
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Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to talk about his recent report of an NFL employee being fired for a sting of stealing game balls intended for charity, and also everything else involving the recent case surrounding the AFC championship game. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schefter said with everything that has happened surrounding Deflategate, and the most recent special teams football situation, it is extremely complex, and with everything that’s happened, including an NFL employee being fired, it is going to be hard to prove anything. He said ultimately the NFL looks bad by the way everything has been handled.

“It is going to difficult to prove anything and anybody,” Schefter said. “Maybe they deflated footballs, maybe they didn’t. I have my own ideas. That is up for Ted Wells to determine and we will see what the facts in the case turn out to be. It is also indisputable here that the league screwed this up. They didn’t control the balls the right way. They didn’t have one guy in charge. One guy embezzling footballs. You have to be kidding me. Good luck proving something. I mean, they might. They might have something on Tom Brady or something that went on the in the bathroom. I don’t know. Again, it’s up to Ted Wells. We’ll see what he determines.”

An Outside the Lines report said the unapproved special teams football was tried to be introduced in the first half of the AFC championship. Schefter said people became suspicious when Adam Vinatieri was attempting an extra point with 4:54 left in the second quarter and he noticed they were on the No. 2 ‘K’ ball.

Schefter was asked why the NFL employee was working the AFC championship game with a reported history of suspicious behavior with potentially stealing footballs intended for charity, but he said the league didn’t know the severity of things until after this particular game.

“The NFL has declined comment because it is an ongoing investigation,” Schefter said. “The way it has been explained to me, is this is a guy they were on to. At some point there, in the first or second quarter, he took one of the footballs, took it out of the game because he works for this group that is part of charitable endeavors. I didn’t even know this went on, to be honest with you. There are things I am learning about during this process that I never knew and I have covered the NFL for 25 years. …

“This one particular individual, this one NFL employee. An NFL employee, a game day employee, who would hand the balls to an equipment manager or whatever it may be, at one point he took the balls out of the game and was going to continue on in his pattern of behavior that the league had been on to and he recognized — for some reason they noticed that one of the balls was missing.

Adam Vinatieri tried an extra point and they were on to the No. 2 ‘K’ ball and not the No. 1. [Vinatieri] said, ‘What happened to the No. 1 ball?’ No. 1 was gone because the league employee had taken it out of the game to go [sell] it on the side. … It sounds like this game was probably the final straw that the [NFL] figured it out. They had been on to him. It was a pattern of behavior. It wasn’t for his behavior in this one particular game where a controversial Deflategate ball went missing, that is not it.

“This guy had been under their microscope and apparently they figured it out after this game. They have subsequently fired this particular NFL employee who worked on game days and gave the balls to the various ball boys — [Jim] McNally or the Patriots other equipment ball boys.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Read More: adam schefter, Bill Belichick, Deflategate, Mike Kensil
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