"It will bring a smile to all our faces seeing him back out there," McCourty said. "He's been working extremely hard all offseason just getting back out on the field, so I'm excited just to see him get back out there."
"High-character guy in the locker room," Arrington said of Dowling. "He's physical; he brings a physical element to our secondary. You can't teach height. He's tall. He gets those arms on you. Definitely looking forward to seeing what he can do."
With the NFL schedule for this season released earlier this week, McCourty said he is most excited to face his twin brother, Jason, a cornerback for the Titans, in the regular season opener.
"It'll be interesting. He's already trying to mess with my psyche. Hopefully he'll be ready to go," McCourty said. "We love to compete against each other, and hopefully a couple times we get out there on the field and have action on the field at the same time."
Kerry J. Byrne (Cold Hard Football Facts) Our Naughty Nurse finds the New England Patriots suffering from a bad case of bi-polar disorder: frighteningly good on one side of the ball, but seriously lacking anyone who instills fear in opponents on the other.
General off-season strategy/overview: The Patriots have been extremely active in free agency, having already signed 10 unrestricted free agents (as of April 21). Among these are five defenders but few stars. They’ve also continue to surround Brady with pass catchers, including Anthony Gonzalez and Brandon Lloyd, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010 (1,448) when playing in Denver for head coach Josh McDaniels – now back as New England’s offensive coordinator. But it’s obvious to anyone armed with the Cold, Hard Football Facts – New England does not get over its big-game hump without harvesting playmaking defenders.
Totally premature 2012 diagnosis: The Patriots, once again, are early off-season favorites to challenge for the AFC and Super Bowl championships. Barring a huge breakdown on offense, it’s very easy to see the Patriots repeating as AFC East champs for an incredible 10th time in 12 years. But the difference between being a really good team once again or returning to championship form will be determined by harvesting one or more game-breaking defenders in the draft or, if possible, in free agency.
- Erik Scalavino and Andy Hart debate what the Patriots should do in the first-round of the Draft.
- Patriots Today - Mesko meets Hungarian fans. (2.24 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Talking trading picks. (3.06 min. video)
- Mike Reiss highlights Michael Lombardi sharing some of the tips he learned from working with Bill Belichick when the two were with the Cleveland Browns.
- Christopher Price shares 10 things we learned this week about the Patriots and the NFL.
- Mike Reiss offers some quick-hit weekend thoughts from the Patriots and around the NFL.
- Karen Guregian looks ahead to the Pats-Broncos matchup and notes Kurt Warner thinks we'll see the same Peyton Manning everyone remembers.
- Greg A. Bedard explains how evaluating an NFL team’s draft performance is almost an impossible task.
- Mark Farinella admits that no matter how informed his speculation may be, it's still nothing but speculation where Bill Belichick is concerned.
- Mike Reiss predicts that all signs point to defense, defense, defense when it comes to the Patriots and the NFL Draft.
- Christopher Price talks discusses five players who are on the hot seat this offseason.
- Paul Kenyon believes that NE will have little interest in selecting an offensive lineman this year.
- Mark Farinella says the Pats might need some help along the O-line.
- Karen Guregian thinks the Patriots might need to stock up on offensive tackles, especially considering Sebastian Vollmer's back problems.
- Karen Guregian says whether the Patriots draft a corner is hard to project as a lot hinges on how Belichick feels about the status of Devin McCourty and Ras-I Dowling.
- Karen Guregian notes the Pats are thin at OLB, with steady-but-unspectacular Rob Ninkovich and yet-to-make-an-impact Jermaine Cunningham.
- Karen Guregian profiles the top prospects at Offensive Tackle, Cornerback and Outside Linebacker in the Draft.
- Mark Farinella notes that even though Vince Wilfork is playing so strong that he hardly even comes off the field, Belichick still may want to draft some D-Line depth .
- Greg A. Bedard compiles a thumbnail sketch of the top Defensive Line prospects in this year's Draft.
- Mark Farinella asserts the Patriots are always looking for depth at linebacker.
- Paul Kenyon sizes up the Patriots' DB draft prospects.
- Tom E. Curran breaks down the Guard/Center position in this year's draft.
- Jeff Howe thinks Shea McClellin's versatility and admiration for Mike Vrabel should make him the right fit for the Patriots in the Draft.
- Paul Kenyon discusses the possibility of the Patriots turning to the draft for depth at running back.
- Jeff Howe includes Kendall Reyes as a potential first-round prospect who fits the Patriots' scheme.
- Greg A. Bedard thinks BC linebacker Luke Kuechly will be picked early.
- Shalise Manza Young profiles LB Shawn Loiseau (Merrimack College).
- Mike Reiss highlights a conference call with Mike Mayock when he was asked about the influence Bill Belichick and the Patriots have had on the draft.
- answer Patriots' fans questions about the future of the team after the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, and more. (3.33 min. video) , Adam Schefter and Mike Reiss
- Felger and Mazz discuss what the Patriots should do with their picks in the upcoming draft. (1.53 min. video)
- Tom E. Curran talks about the possibility of the Patriots moving up in the draft. (2.33 min. video)
- Nick O'Malley takes a closer look at the top 10 players who could be late fallers in the draft.
- Karen Guregian puts her spin on the trio of veteran free agent RBs recently hosted by the Pats.
- CSNNE reports the Patriots will listen to offers for their backup quarterbacks.
- Megan Johnson reveals Tom Brady told her he used to be a paper boy when he was young.
- James Walker (ESPN) Patriots wise to kick tires on veteran RBs.
- Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Kevin Faulk not expecting quick Patriots decision.
- Rich Exner and Bill Lubinger (Cleveland Plain Dealer) New England Patriots best, Cleveland Browns worst at finding All-Pros in the NFL Draft.
- Dan Hanzus (NFL.com) Pats, Browns on two ends of draft spectrum since 2002.
- John Czarnecki (Fox Sports) Best and worst team NFL Drafts since 2000.
- Peter King (SI) MMQB: Tannehill not a lock for Dolphins or top 10; more recent draft buzz.
- Dan Pompei (Nat'l Football Post) Sunday Blitz: A look at low motor players, evaluating pass rushers by production, and all the latest draft rumors.
- Clifton Brown (Sporting News) NFL Draft 2012: Day 2 to be loaded with impact players.
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) A look back, before the NFL draft got big. /Interesting read.
- Dan Hanzus (NFL.com) Is restricted free agency heading toward extinction?
- John Clayton (ESPN) Patriots' plan for 2012 NFL draft. (39 sec. video)
- James Walker (ESPN) Walker's AFC East weekend mailbag.
- Chris Burke (SI) Top 10 remaining NFL free agents.
- Bucky Brooks (NFL.com) Ryan Tannehill, Dontari Poe headline overrated draft prospects.
- Scott Kacsmar (Cold Hard Football Facts) 2012 NFL schedule: The cure for primetime-itis.
- Mike Tanier (NY Times) A head-scratching, bone-chilling schedule.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) It's time for action, not words, on Saints players involved with bounties.