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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price dish on Dante Scarnecchia, Brandon Spikes, protecting ‘Patriot Way’ 04.17.14 at 5:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia is joined by Chris Price to discuss the leadership that offensive captain Logan Mankins brings to the Patriots. Mankins defended the team against the harsh criticism of former linebacker Brandon Spikes and laughed off a prediction from Spikes that his new team, the Bills, would beat the Patriots twice in 2014. Petraglia and Price also discuss how Mankins will stabilize a veteran offensive line that lost its longtime coach, Dante Scarnecchia, to retirement.

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Logan Mankins on Brandon Spikes’ guarantee of wins over Patriots: ‘Spikes being Spikes’ at 12:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Logan Mankins hasn’t spent much of his offseason worrying about Brandon Spikes.

Spikes, who signed with the Bills as a free agent after four seasons in New England, recently predicted a pair of Buffalo wins over the Patriots this season. He also took a shot at New England’s approach to the injury report, hinting that the Patriots aren’t completely truthful when it comes to reporting injuries.

But on Thursday morning, Mankins wasn’t interested in retaliating.

“Everyone has their own opinions and everyone likes to think they know it all,” said Mankins during a break in his offseason workout program while at Gillette Stadium. “It really doesn’t bother me too much. I know what we have here. I know the owner pretty well now over the years and the head coach and those guys care about the team. They care about winning football games. Whatever anyone says, it kind of rolls off our backs. We know what we have here.

“I don’t pay too much attention to the media that much anyways — I’ve only heard guys joking around about what he said. But I think it’s just Brandon being Brandon. He has a pretty good sense of humor, I think — well, I don’t know if it’s good. But he likes to make jokes. I don’t know if he was joking here or being serious. But I think that’s just Spikes being Spikes.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Brandon Spikes takes shot at Patriots, equates his time in New England to slavery 04.09.14 at 2:49 pm ET
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Former Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes took some shots at his old team on Twitter Wednesday.

Spikes, who signed with the Bills as a free agent, started with some relatively good-natured trash talk about playing the Patriots twice in 2014.

 
He then followed up with this one, a not-so-veiled shot at his four seasons in New England.

 
The occasionally controversial linebacker then spent his time blocking Patriots fans who — presumably — took issue with the comments. For what it’s worth, the last time Buffalo swept the season series with New England was 1999.

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Resetting list of Patriots and their own free agents at 1:04 pm ET
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Will Svitek

Will Svitek

With Matthew Mulligan agreeing to a deal with the Bears on Tuesday, here’s an updated look at the Patriots 2014 free agent class. If you’re scoring at home, of its 12 free agents, New England has retained four and lost five, while three remain on the market.

Long snapper Danny Aiken: Signed a one-year deal to return to New England.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: Signed a two-year deal with Pittsburgh.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Free agent, but has expressed an interest in returning.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: Free agent.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: Signed a four-year contract to return to New England.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: Singed a one-year deal with Chicago.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: Signed a one-year deal with Buffalo.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: Free agent.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Signed a six-year deal with Denver.
Center Ryan Wendell: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.

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At this point in offseason, where are Patriots personnel priorities? 04.04.14 at 9:55 pm ET
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Will Smith remains a free agent possibility for the Patriots. (AP)

Will Smith remains a free agent possibility for the Patriots. (AP)

With the offseason now one-third of the way done — and most of free agency now complete — the Patriots still have to address a few specific areas of need as part of the team-building process. Here’s a look at four personnel questions that have to be dealt with between now and the start of training camp.

Backup linebacker: Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher departed as free agents this offseason, with Spikes heading to Buffalo and Fletcher signing with Tampa Bay. Neither were starters, but over the last two seasons, both were called upon to play significant snaps for the Patriots. As a result, New England is a little thin when it comes to their linebacker depth. Currently on the roster, the Patriots have a few possibilities when it comes to backing up the expected starting trio of Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, including Steve Beauharnais, who just finished his rookie season. But their pursuit of veteran free agent Wesley Woodyard was likely a sign they believe they need more help when it comes to depth at the spot.

Strong safety: Steve Gregory was cut loose earlier this offseason, and Adrian Wilson was released on Friday. And while the Patriots did bring back Patrick Chung on Thursday, there’s some uncertainty as to what New England plans on doing at the position. Two things to remember: one, the Patriots like their defensive backs to be versatile, and so shuffling DBs from one spot to another wouldn’t be a surprise. And two, on that same vein, there are some possibilities on the roster, including Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, the latter of whom has been the subject of much speculation this offseason when it comes to a possible move to free safety. In addition, there’s Tavon Wilson, who slid down the depth chart in 2013 to more of a special teams role, one that’s also occupied by fellow safeties Kanorris Davis and Nate Ebner. (And there’s always the possibility that Gregory could return on a reworked deal — he said this week despite the fact that he was cut by New England, “it would definitely be a place I would love to go back to.”) Regardless of whether or not New England decides to address the position in the draft, right now, it’s shaping up to be one of the more intriguing camp battles this spring and summer.

Situational pass rusher: The Patriots were believed to be at least partially in the mix for Jared Allen in free agency before he signed with the Bears, and while New England does currently have youngsters Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan on the roster as backup defensive ends, it’s a fair dropoff at this point from the starting duo of Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. In terms of free agents who could still be on the market, Will Smith remains a possibility, but his recent injury woes leave him questionable at this stage of his career. When it comes to other in-house possibilities, Andre Carter could return for at least part of the season if New England struggles to find help — he sure sounds open to the possibility of returning. In addition, Armond Armstead could also be in the mix as an interior pass rushing presence at some point if he ever does get healthy. It’s also expected that if veteran Tommy Kelly can stay on the field, he’ll offer some support as another interior pass rushing presence in 2014.

Depth at tight end and running back: While New England appears to be set when it comes to starters at the two positions, it could really use some depth at both spots, and both will likely be addressed in some form or fashion come the second and/or third day of the draft. Despite the fact the Patriots might be more inclined to move away from the two-tight end sets they ran over the last few seasons, another tight end to compliment Rob Gronkowski could be had in this draft, especially given the fact that this year appears to be a pretty good one for tight ends. In addition, the fact that the Patriots made a serious play for veteran free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew could be taken as a sign they feel like they need someone to replace LeGarrette Blount in the backfield.

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Checking in with rest of AFC East at league meetings 03.26.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Jets coach Rex Ryan chats with reporters at the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday morning in Orlando. (AP)

Jets coach Rex Ryan chats with reporters at the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday morning in Orlando. (AP)

ORLANDO — While Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft and the Patriots have been making news this week at the NFL annual meetings in Central Florida, the rest of the AFC East was involved in the action as well. Here’€™s a look at some of the news from New England’€™s divisional foes over the last few days.

Jets – It wasn’€™t the old-school bravado we’€™ve come to know from coach Rex Ryan, but it was still a fairly brash statement for a team that hasn’€™t finished better than .500 since 2010.

“€œWatch out for the Jets, man,”€ Ryan said at Tuesday’€™s AFC coaches breakfast. “I’€™m just telling you.”

Ryan and the Jets have made a few moves to this point in the offseason, picking up wide receiver Eric Decker and swapping out Mark Sanchez for Mike Vick at quarterback. (Ryan indicated Tuesday that Geno Smith will remain the starter.) They’ve made some moves that give them some financial flexibility, which means they could be in on the race for DeSean Jackson if the receiver can be pried loose from Philly.

However, beyond an impressive front seven, the Jets still have questions at corner (Ryan has lamented the situation in the secondary), and despite the addition of Decker, still need to add offensive oomph this offseason. Look for them to target skill position players and defensive backs in the draft.

And look for Rex to stay Rex.

“€œMy expectations have never changed: I want to win and I expect to win,”€ Ryan said. “œI’€™ll say this: It’€™s time to deliver. It’€™s time to deliver for this community, for New York, for this entire area. We got to step up and deliver. I’€™m not running from it. Let’€™s put it that way — I expect a lot out of this football team.

“Nobody’€™s really talking about us, and that’€™s fine and dandy. They’€™re going to.”
Read the rest of this entry »

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Resetting latest on Patriots and their own free agents 03.20.14 at 3:53 pm ET
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LeGarrette Blount

LeGarrette Blount

Just over one week into free agency, here’s a status update on each of New England’s free agents:

Long snapper Danny Aiken: Signed a one-year deal to return to New England.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: No updates.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Carter has left the door open for a possible return — he expanded on his feelings in a recent interview with ESPN — but he remains in limbo, at least at this point.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: No updates.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: Signed a four-year deal to return to New England.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: No updates at this time, but a league source has expressed to WEEI.com some optimism the Maine product could return to the Patriots in 2014.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: Signed a one-year deal with Buffalo.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: No updates, but like Mulligan, league sources expressed a belief that the Patriots would welcome him back at a fair market rate.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Signed a six-year deal with Denver.
Center Ryan Wendell: No updates.

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