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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: USC WR Robert Woods 03.18.13 at 7:11 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

ROBERT WOODS

Position: Wide Receiver

School: USC

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 201 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-Pac-10 second team, 2011 All-America first team, 2011 Biletnikoff Award finalist, 2010 Freshman All-America first team, 2010 Pac-10 Offensive Freshman of the Year, 2010 All-Pac-10 first team (kick returner), USC all-time receptions leader (252)

What he brings: Woods isn’€™t the tallest or the fastest athletic specimen in this wide receiver class, but he’€™s likely the most complete and balanced. While he won’€™t score any A-pluses on his report card from scouts, Woods likely won’t get anything lower than a B. The USC product features good, but not elite, size and speed with average strength for a receiver. He also boasts a great set of hands, is dangerous on screens and in the open field, is a willing and effective blocker and can go up and get the ball. The one area where Woods truly shines, though, is his polished route-running and his smoothness and acceleration out of breaks. While another ‘€œquick but not fast’€ guy isn’€™t the true no. 1 threat Pats fans have been clamoring for, it is the type of receiver that Tom Brady can find success with quickly.

With a time of 4.51 seconds, Woods scored a resounding ‘€œmeh’€ in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. On top of that, he went on to put up a time of 7.15 seconds in the Belichickian 3-cone drill, which was tied for worst of the receivers who participated. However, Woods did impress scouts during onfield drills, showing that he’s likely a game day-speed type of player. Woods has drawn multiple comparisons to the PackersJames Jones while Woods himself has made comparisons to the Colts’ Reggie Wayne.

Probably the biggest knock on Woods is his injury history and his inability to come back completely from injuries. During his sophomore season, the receiver dealt with lingering injuries in addition to undergoing offseason surgery on an ankle injury suffered while playing pickup basketball. He was also the center of controversy surrounding a concussion test after testing a huge hit against Utah and then stumbling and falling on his way off of the field. Woods was allowed to re-enter the game soon after, with rumors swirling that he’€™d actually failed a concussion test.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Woods kicked off his career at USC with a bang, starting all 13 games as a true freshman before becoming the team’€™s top receiving threat as a sophomore. During his junior season, though, Woods became overshadowed by sophomore Marquise Lee, who ended up taking his spot at the team’€™s no. 1 target.

While not a great sign for Woods, there’€™s no shame in being the the second-best receiver on the team when your teammate wins the Biletnikoff Award for being the best receiver in the country. After the team’€™s loss in the 2012 Hyundai Sun Bowl, Woods told the press that he would enter the draft early and that he’€™d accomplished everything wanted to in college. However, he did address the situation with Lee by stating, “If the coaches wanted to keep me another year, they would’ve probably got me the ball,” a quote from which he quickly backpedaled in the days following.

At this point in the process, Woods doesn’€™t grade out as a first-round lock. While some mocks have the Patriots targeting him at the end of the first round, he’€™s a heavy candidate for the Pats to go after him early in the second round should they make the ever-unpopular decision to trade down again.

Related articles: LA Times: Robert Woods isn’t complaining about reduced role

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Draft Profile: USC’€™s Robert Woods banking on experience

LA Times: Robert Woods sets USC record, then honors late sibling

Video: Here’s a collection of highlights from Woods’ junior season.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, James Jones, Reggie Wayne
How Andrew Luck sees leadership of his Colts 11.15.12 at 11:16 am ET
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FOXBORO — With great talent comes even higher expectation.

And when you’re a 23-year-old quarterback gifted with a golden arm and tremendous athletic ability, the pressure of leading a team from the cellar to a playoff contender can be overwhelming.

But not for Andrew Luck.

Luck knew exactly what he was getting into when he left Stanford for the NFL and was drafted first overall by the Colts last April. Nine games into his rookie season, his stats (2,600 yards passing, 10 TDs, 9 INTs) are good – not great – but those numbers are not how his success story is being told. He has led his team to a 6-3 record, just two games behind the AFC leading Texans in the AFC South. With leading being the operative word.

Several coaches and players in Indianapolis were mildly amazed in mini-camp and training camp that a rookie who missed rookie OTAs to finish his degree at Stanford would be able to come in and call check-downs at the line of scrimmage. It earned him immediate credibility and respect in the offices and most importantly in the locker room, a locker room that still has names like Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

How does Luck see himself as a leader?

“That’€™s a good question,” Luck said. “I try and do the right thing, try and work hard, try and learn from other guys. If I have something to add or feel my opinion is pertinent, then make it known.

“It hasn’€™t been too bad because for one, our locker room’€™s great with a lot of veteran leadership and it’€™s a very comfortable locker room. I do try to defer them on things that I realize that I know nothing about and they do. I also realize as a quarterback you do assume some of the responsibilities by virtue of talking in the huddle and having the plays sort of run through you. I’€™m lucky to be part of a good locker room.”

Luck said his NFL learning curve has gone about as smoothly as he could’ve hoped.

“I knew that every day was going to be a new learning experience ‘€“ every game, every trip, every practice ‘€“ was going to be a new learning experience,” Luck said. “Some has gone well. Some has been sort of bumpy, if you will. But, I’€™m try to go get better every day and I think I’€™m continuing to improve and the team’€™s continuing to improve which is good.”

Here is the rest of this week’s Q and A with the Colts rookie quarterback, along with RGIII, a leader in the NFL offensive rookie of the year race.
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Read More: Andrew Luck, dwight freeney, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots
Catching up with … the Colts 11.08.12 at 1:35 pm ET
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The latest in our semi-regular series that looks at the other potential playoff teams in the AFC. This week, it’s the Colts.

Well, this was unexpected.

The Colts’€™ 5-3 start this season can be partially attributed to a spark providing from a new coaching staff, a hotshot quarterback and the emotional charge provided by the team rallying behind head coach Chuck Pagano, who is undergoing treatment for leukemia, going from “Suck for Luck” to “Don’t Suck for Chuck.” It can also partially be attributed to the fact that the Colts were bad last season, but not 2-14 bad.

It’€™s been a bizarre early going for the Colts, who lost their season opener to the Bears … which makes sense. Then, they beat an upstart Vikings team, which was surprising. Then, they lost to the Jaguars (Jacksonville’s only victory so far this season), which makes no sense. After a Week 4 bye, the Colts seem to have figured out who they are as a team, racking up four wins in five weeks, including a win against the Packers in Week 5, a week before, oddly enough, a rough loss to the Jets the following week.

The main storyline for the Colts this season has been their playing for their ill coach, a motivation that has led to some great victories. While it may be time to wonder how many times the Colts can play the ‘€œWin This One for Chuck’€ Card, here’€™s what we know about the Colts:

1. Andrew Luck is as good as advertised

The success of the top overall pick this season really raises one important question for the Indianapolis Colts: Just how bad were their quarterbacks last season?

After an early season experiment with then-38-year old Kerry Collins blew up in their faces, the Colts tried to run with Peyton Manning‘€™s former backup Curtis Painter at the helm, which also failed to produce much offense or, more importantly, any wins. The answer, it turned out, came in the form of journeyman Dan Orlovsky, who posted decent numbers in leading the Colts to two wins in their final three games, putting up serviceable numbers in the process.

What may be surprising is the fact that Luck hasn’€™t been all that more efficient than his predecessors. Luck’€™s current passer rating of 79.0 is actually lower than Orlovsky’€™s 82.4 and all that much higher than the team rating of 72.2. The biggest difference has actually been in terms of pure production, which is where Luck has completely transcended the Colts’€™ quarterback play in 2011.

After eight weeks, Luck is currently tied with Manning at fourth in the NFL in passing yardage with 2,404 yards, good for 300.5 yards per game. Painter, the Colts’€™ 2011 leader in yards per game, averaged just 171.2 yards per outing. Luck has also posted improved numbers in interception percentage, touchdown percentage and ESPN’€™s QBR stat with a mark of 76.09. No Colts quarterback posted a mark above 50 — the average rating — for 2011.

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Indiapolis Colts, Reggie Wayne,
WR Reggie Wayne signs three-year deal to return to Colts 03.13.12 at 9:58 pm ET
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Free agent wide receiver Reggie Wayne signed a three-year deal to stay in Indianapolis, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 33-year-old Wayne, who has spent his entire 11-year career with the Colts, has caught 862 passes for 11,708 yards and 73 touchdowns.

His return is Indy is a curious move, given the fact that the bulk of the Colts’ offensive veterans — including quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Joseph Addai, tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Pierre Garcon — have already moved on from Indy, or are expected to move on sometime soon.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, adam schefter, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai
The 10 biggest questions entering NFL free agency at 12:57 am ET
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With free agency set to start at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, here’€™s a look at the 10 most important questions, with an eye toward what the Patriots might do:

1. Where’€™s Peyton going to end up? The quarterback is the biggest name in the free agent class, and will almost certainly command the biggest deal on the open market. Manning and agent Tom Condon are playing their cards close to the vest to this point, but it sounds like Arizona, Miami, Denver and Seattle are in the mix to this point. In addition, Tennessee is also reportedly poised to make a full-court press for Manning’€™s services.

2. What sort of impact is Peyton going to have on the rest of the free agent market?
A lot of his former Indianapolis teammates are also now available, including wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, running back Joseph Addai and tight end Dallas Clark. Chances are good that whoever will land Manning probably has a very good shot at landing at least one of his former mates, and subsequently, revamping a sizable portion of their offensive scheme.

3. How will Peyton affect the market for quarterbacks?
It’€™s not just the free agent signal callers like Matt Flynn who stand to be affected by Manning’€™s decision. Incumbents like Kevin Kolb (Arizona) and Tim Tebow (Denver) could find themselves on the street if Manning ends up in their respective area codes. That could ultimately create a secondary series of ripples for a handful of quarterbacks.

4. What’€™s going to be the course of action for the Patriots?
In New England last year, it was either a boom-or-bust with last year’€™s free agents: the big names (Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco) were busts, while the middle of the road guys (Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and Brian Waters) were some of the best free-agent signings of the Bill Belichick Era. This year? There are some intriguing fits for this team that wouldn’€™t break the bank, including Brandon Lloyd and Richard Marshall, while Mike Wallace remains a big-ticket possibility that would also cost them a draft pick.

5. Who will the Patriots lose?
New England isn’€™t necessarily on danger of losing any of its elite players, but there are some intriguing UFA’€™s on the roster, including wide receiver Deion Branch, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, offensive linemen Dan Koppen and Dan Connolly and Anderson and Carter, all of whom have been important pieces of the puzzle over the last few seasons with the Patriots. Anderson figures to be a sought-after commodity: a 28-year-old who finished with 10 sacks, he could be in line for a decent-sized payday.
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Read More: 2012 free agency, 2012 NFL Free Agency, Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter
Eagles slap DeSean Jackson with franchise tag 03.01.12 at 5:01 pm ET
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Cross one possible free-agent wide receiver off the Patriots’ wish list.

DeSean Jackson, the occasional mercural pass-catcher, was hit with the franchise tag by the Eagles on Thursday afternoon. Jackson was the first player franchised in the available window that runs between now and March 5. While it’s expected that the two sides will continue to discuss a long-term deal, the tag means the 25-year-old Jackson is now currently under a one-year contract with Philadelphia at the franchise tag rate, which is roughly $9.4 million.

‘€œWe want DeSean to be an Eagle for the long haul and this is a step in the right direction to accomplish that,’€ Eagles GM Howie Roseman said of Jackson, who finished last season with 58 catches, 961 yards and four touchdowns. ‘€œDeSean is a talented player and a proven playmaker in this league and we look forward to him continuing his career in Philadelphia. It’€™s our understanding that he has the same desire.  We will continue our efforts on getting a long-term deal done with him.’€

Jackson was one of several receivers who were free-agent possibilities this offseason for New England, a group that includes Reggie Wayne, Marques Colton, Dwayne Bowe, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd. (In addition, New England’s Wes Welker and Deion Branch are slated to become free agents, but it’s expected that Welker will also be slapped with the franchise tag between now and March 5.)

Read More: Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe
Free Agent Snapshot: Vincent Jackson at 1:06 am ET
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We continue our look at 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason with a breakdown of wide receiver Vincent Jackson. With the understanding that the NFL’€™s franchise tag window is from now until March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:

Vincent Jackson
Position: Wide receiver
Age: 29
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 230 pounds

If he somehow shakes free of the Chargers — that is to say, if San Diego doesn’€™t franchise him (which is still a serious question between now and the March 5 deadline) — Jackson appears to be the biggest name available among the free agent wide receivers. Big, strong and fast, Jackson has topped 1,000 yards three of the last four seasons, including 60 catches for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns for San Diego last year. (According to Pro Football Focus, his 18.4 yards per catch was fifth in the league for wide receivers who played at least 50 percent of their teams snaps.)

Recent reports indicate that Jackson could be on the Patriots’€™ short list. In addition, there was plenty of talk about a Jackson-to-New England trade when he was going through his latest contract flap in San Diego in 2010. Jackson is also used to playing with an elite tight end (Antonio Gates), and has been a key part of a high-powered passing game for the last several years.

Jackson has always done well against the Patriots. In last year’€™s Week 2 matchup, he finished with 10 catches for 172 yards (both season highs) and a pair of touchdowns. In his three career games against New England, he has 19 catches for 359 yards (tops for any opponent he’€™s faced outside the AFC West) and three touchdowns).

Why it might not work: If the Chargers franchise him, he’€™ll stick with San Diego for another year. But if he does hit the open market, he’€™ll likely draw top dollar for free agent wide receivers, which could ultimately leave the Patriots looking elsewhere. It’€™s going to be a fluid market for wide receivers, and depending on who gets tagged, it could create some market uncertainty for elite receivers like Jackson, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson, Marques Colton, Dwayne Bowe, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, who are all still possibilities to hit the open market.

Read More: Antonio Gates, Brandon Lloyd, DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe
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