Always a good sign when a linebacker is carrying the ball, but Gary Guyton's future with the Pats is unclear.
Defensive line. It sounds as if Andre Carter will be back, but a lot of teams like him and might be willing to pay more than the Patriots. I could see Carter rebuffing those offers to stick with the sure thing in New England, even if he’s not paid as much. Mark Anderson is a very interesting situation that no one really has a read on. Doubt the Patriots would overpay for him. Gerard Warren might be back, but not Shaun Ellis.
Linebacker. Could see a situation in which Gary Guyton and Tracy White return for the minimum after striking out on the open market, but the Patriots need to get better at backup inside linebacker. Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes take a pounding. The Patriots also need at least one bonafide cover inside linebacker. The draft is a possibility. You would like to see the Patriots add a dynamic athlete to the front seven, but Bill Belichick hasn’t seemed inclined to do that outside of Adalius Thomas.
Secondary. Besides Welker, Patrick Chung’s the next contract situation. He is up after 2012. That’s not a straight-forward negotiation either, because Chung hasn’t stayed healthy. He looks like he could be a star, but how comfortable are the Patriots committing to a player who has been banged up the past two seasons (eight games played in 2011)? Hopefully something is worked out that is smart for Chung and the team. Would seem like a win-win. The Patriots definitely need to get more safety help in free agency and/or the draft. James Ihedigbo should be back to provide depth, leadership, and special teams play. Cornerback Antwaun Molden could be back with a minimum offer and then the team will wait to see what happens in training camp. Possibly Nate Jones, but I doubt it. The Patriots need more and better.
Mike Reiss expands a bit on Ras-I Dowling's injury and rehab.
A source familiar with Dowling's injury and progress said that he's remained in the area this offseason and is showing up at Gillette Stadium on a daily basis for rehab work. The source described Dowling as having made "great progress" after undergoing a surgical procedure.
The surgery wasn't initially in the plans when the Patriots placed Dowling on injured reserve in late October with a torn tendon in his leg. Initially, the thought process was that Dowling could have a full recovery without surgery, but it was ultimately decided that a "clean-up" would give him a better chance of not re-injuring the hip.
This created a tougher offseason for Dowling in terms of rehab, but he's currently hitting all his checkpoints.
- Paul Perillo notes that one thing the Combine can't measure is toughness.
- Paul Perillo discusses some of interesting possibilities for the Patriots at the safety position.
- Patriots Today - Final thoughts from Indy. (4.20 min. video)
- Patriots Roster Report - The PFW crew discusses the current contract status of Wes Welker and take a look at the Pats free agency situation. (2 hour program)
- Greg A. Bedard gives us a snapshot at where things stand on the Patriots’ roster, the most important being the future of Wes Welker.
- Jim Donaldson thinks it's strange that he hears people clamoring for the Patriots to draft a deep threat WR, when they still clearly need help on defense.
- Christopher Price says Dowling's status raises some interesting questions about the Pats' CB situation.
- Mike Reiss shares some picked-up pieces from the NFL combine as they relate to the Patriots.
- Mike Reiss follows up on some of the OLB/DEs in this year's draft after Monday's workouts.
- DJ Bean doesn't think ILB Luke Kuechly (BC) will fall far in the draft.
- Mike Reiss revisits some top D-linemen, from a Patriots perspective, after watching their televised workouts Monday at the NFL combine.
- Christopher Price notes Greg Cosell thinks Ben Jones could be the answer for the interior of the Pats' O-Line.
- Tom E. Curran notes Wes Welker has little use for the Combine. "Just watch the film!"
- CSNNE reports Deion Branch told Jason Cole (Yahoo! Sports) that he's optimistic he'll be back. "Gotta retire as a Pat," he said.
- CSNNE reports, "Where in the world is Rob Gronkowski today?" Back in Florida to support the Jason Taylor Foundation.
- Jeff Howe notes Julian Edelman will ride the Zamboni at Tuesday's Bruins-Senators game.
- Jeff Howe previews the safety position in free agency, and sees Brian Dawkins or LaRon Landry as possible fits for the Patriots.
- Ian Rapoport profiles intriguing hybrid DE Vinny Curry (Marshall) and DE Andre Branch (Clemson) as prospects who might fit the Patriots.
- Christopher Price profiles Jim Leonhard as a possible free agent fit for the Patriots at safety.
- Tom E. Curran wonders if New England would move up to take promising pass-rusher Melvin Ingram (South Carolina).
- Tom E. Curran listens to Whitney Mercilus (Illinois) explain away the "one-year wonder" label from his 16-sack, 9-forced fumble season.
- Greg A. Bedard and Shalise Manza Young Combine Notebook: LB Luke Kuechly (BC) checks out fine after medical exams; QB Robert Griffin III won over team officials and media members with his interviews throughout the week, and impressed with his 4.41 40-yard dash time; Local safety Jerron McMillian (Maine) was surprised to get the combine invite and is considered a late-round pick at best; CB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) may have more problems than he is worth for a lot of teams.
- James Walker (ESPN) Should Pats worry about Welker's cap hit?
- Caylor Ballinger (Odessa American) NFL player wows students. Marcus Cannon visited students at Noel Elementary to encourage them to stay in school.
- Andrew Brandt (Nat'l Football Post) Game of Tag ends Monday.
- Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post) NFL Combine: Breaking down the linebacker workouts.
- Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post) NFL Combine: Breaking down the defensive linemen.
- Mike WIlkening (Pro Football Weekly) PFW's top 100 free agents.
- Rich Eisen (NFL.com) Origins of my mad 40-yard dashes might surprise you.
- Alex Marvez (Fox Sports) Running backs fighting uphill battle.
- Jason Cole (Yahoo! Sports) Source: Untretired Randy Moss willing to return to league with no guaranteed money.
- Chris Burke (SI) Best of the Firsts, No. 28: Derrick Brooks (1995, ) and No. 27: Dan Marino (1983, ).