New England Patriots Links 3/03/11 - Patriots Lose 'Man Of Great Character' With Stephen Neal's Retirement

Shalise Manza Young and Greg A. Bedard report Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is in Virginia for NFL owners meetings, had this to say about retiring guard Stephen Neal:

“One of the classiest, nicest men we’ve had. Our family loves wrestling, and seeing how he is a world champion and then transforming into a terrific football player, it was amazing to see.

“He is a man of great character. The intangibles were great, and to be able to be a world champion and then do what he did in the field, no one wanted to go near him. And he just did it all in a nice way.

“Absolutely, it’s tough to lose players that helped win three world championships, but he was a real special guy.’’

Mike Reiss updates us on the status of DL Mike Wright, who missed the final six regular-season games with a concussion before being placed on IR.

Wright, according to a source, has made strides in his recovery and has been working out at Gillette Stadium. While some players have left the area over the last few months, Wright has stayed close by, positioning himself to be at his strongest when organized workouts ultimately begin.

Wright, who turned 29 on Tuesday and enters his seventh NFL season, led the Patriots with 5.5 sacks last season. His contract runs through 2012.

Ian Rapoport hears from agent Mark Slough that RB Sammy Morris still wants to play in the NFL, and he may stick around with the Patriots.

“He’s definitely not retiring,” Slough told me. “He’ll be an unrestricted free agent, and the CBA uncertainty puts us in limbo like everyone else. We’ll see, like everyone else, what it looks like when it’s all said and done. But he has no intention of retiring. He still hopes to be playing football in 2011.”

TEAM TALK

  • New England Patriots guard Stephen Neal announced his retirement today, closing his 10-year career as a member of the Patriots offensive line.
  • Andy Hart notes Stephen Neal's retirement announcement will leave the O-Line as arguably the most uncertain spot on the team's roster.

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