Paul Perillo catches up with Ras-I Dowling after he addressed 500 students at the Foxborough Charter School yesterday. Dowling is eager to return.
"It’s a good way to get ready," Dowling said of his role in kicking off the school’s rally. "It’s a great opportunity for me to go back and give back to the kids the way I had the opportunity to listen to others when I was growing up in Virginia."
"I’m just trying to get better every day," Dowling said. "You can never stop working hard around here. It was great to be around such a great group of guys last year, and going through the experience of the Super Bowl was great. But it was also frustrating to not be able to be a part of it. Of course you want the chance to get out there and help your teammates win."
"Obviously you keep track of the moves the team is making and how they will help the team," Dowling said of the offseason activity. "I’m just going to keep working to get ready and am looking forward to being part of it."
Greg A. Bedard gives his thoughts on the Patriots individual signings, "which as a group I like because they're all good football players who at the minimum will increase competition and depth":
WR Brandon Lloyd: Smart pickup because the Patriots now have an X receiver who can a) catch and b) knows the offense. He's tremendous in the air and gives the Patriots a legit receiver to take some shots with. I'm not worried much about his baggage, at least in the first year, because of the presence of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. And the Patriots, with Tom Brady and a solid core, can put up with just about anything.
WR Donte Stallworth: A solid player with much to prove, and he'll have to do that in camp.
WR Anthony Gonzalez: Good ballplayer who has had a terrible run with injuries the past three years. He'll have to prove he can stay healthy. He can't be counted on.
TE Daniel Fells: Patriots desperately needed depth, especially behind Aaron Hernandez. He's missed time his first two seasons and the offense struggles too much when he's out. Fells is an easy plug-and-play guy at the Patriots "F" position, which is a TE/WR hybrid.
G/T Robert Gallery: Long coveted by Bill Belichick, the 6-7, 325-pounder gives the Patriots a veteran presence they lack and allows Marcus Cannon to develop at a slower pace. Gallery can play guard and tackle so he's good to have on Sundays with the 46-man roster.
DE/DT Jonathan Fanene: Good, versatile player that can do a lot of things on the line. He can be stout against the run when needed, and he also has terrific feet to rush the passer.
DE/LB Trevor Scott: He is likely to give the Patriots protection at both hybrid end behind Andre Carter when he's healthy (and perhaps Mark Anderson) and behind Rob Ninkovich, who played way too many snaps at times last year.
S Steve Gregory: Can play a bunch of different positions in the secondary. He can start next to Patrick Chung if need be, but the Patriots will probably be hoping to use him in different packages. They also need depth because Patrick Chung gets beat as well. The Patriots just need a bunch of alternatives at safety because it takes a lot to get through a season.
CB Marquice Cole: A really good special teams player who gives the Patriots better depth at cornerback, where they've been thin.
- Patriots Today - Dowling rallies Foxboro students. (2.10 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Draft preview: Quarterbacks. (3.04 min. video)
- Mike Reiss sees Bill Belichick's master plan unveiled - using free agency to make his roster deeper and more competitive.
- Mike Reiss gives his view of what the Patriots have done so far, using free agency to mostly address the 20-40 range of the roster.
- Shalise Manza Young recaps the Patriots bargain-basement shopping spree.
- Ian Rapoport notes the Patriots thrived in 2011 by plugging holes in their lineup with talented cast-offs hungry to rejuvenate their careers. They are back at it again.
- Mike Reiss looks at all the receivers currently on the roster (and by 'currently' I mean as of Monday afternoon).
- Christopher Price breaks down each of the players acquired by the Patriots in free agency.
- Mike Rodak takes a step back to re-set the Patriots roster following the recent flurry of activity.
- Christopher Price analyzes the Patriots' decision to bring back WR Donte Stallworth.
- Jeff Howe reports Donte Stallworth is "smiling ear to ear" after getting his long-awaited wish to reunite with the Patriots.
- Ian Rapoport discusses what the Daniel Fells signing means for Aaron Hernandez and Nate Solder.
- Mike Reiss likes the Daniel Fells signing, even though it might seem like a lot of money to spend on a third TE.
- Christopher Price takes a closer look at the Patriots' addition of free agent TE Daniel Fells.
- Jeff Howe thinks Daniel Fells adds reliable depth to Patriots' star-studded tandem of tight ends.
- Mike Reiss notes Robert Gallery would add some insurance to the Patriots O-line, especially considering Matt Light's and Brian Waters' uncertain status.
- Christopher Price tells us two things that stand out with the Patriots' signing of OL Robert Gallery.
- Jeff Howe thinks Robert Gallery will help the Patriots in 2012, no matter what his position will be.
- Mike Reiss details the contracts of Anthony Gonzales, Steve Gregory and Tracy White.
- Mike Reiss shares the AFC South view of Anthony Gonzales from Paul Kuharsky.
- Rich Levine says Brandon Lloyd had to be the worst kept secret of Bill Belichick's career, and his question for Belichick is, "That wasn't so horrible, was it?"
- Greg A. Bedard asserts that Peyton Manning chose Denver because more than anything -- even more than winning -- Manning wanted to be comfortable.
- Karen Guregian tells the team to forget about Tim Tebow, the Patriots already have a savior.
- Kirk Minihane explores whether Tim Tebow could wind up with the Patriots.
- Steve Buckley wonders if Tebow's true calling is with the Patriots.
- ESPN Boston gives us the case for and against Tim Tebow in New England.
- Mary Paoletti says that Luis Castillo made a visit to New England before back in 2005, but an issue with steroids might have taken him off the Patriots' draft board.
- WEEI profiles potential Patriots in the Draft: WR Michael Floyd (Notre Dame), DT Kendall Reyes (UConn) and DT DaJohn Harris (USC).
- Ian Rapoport Patriots Notebook: Logan Mankins played through Super Bowl XLVI on a partially torn ACL and underwent a surgical procedure afterwards; The signing of Daniel Fells gives the Patriots the best group of TEs in the NFL; Patriots signed former NE Jets special-teamer Marquice Cole; The Anthony Gonzales deal offers the team injury protection; Matthew Slater's 3-year deal includes a $2 million signing bonus.
- Christopher Harris (ESPN) Loaded Patriots could limit Lloyd.
- James Walker (ESPN) Mario Williams Twitter jabs Tom Brady.
- John Clayton (ESPN) AFC West should fear Broncos.
- Don Banks (SI) In Elway, Broncos, Manning sees his best shot at another Super Bowl.
- Jim Trotter (SI) With Manning Denver-bound, a look at trade market for Tebow.