PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 30: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is sacked by Andre Carter #93 of the New England Patriots during the game on October 30, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
With Patriots mandatory mini-camps slated to start on Tuesday, the roster outlook will look a little bit more clear than it did during Team OTA's. That means, that the close to 90 players that the Patriots currently have on their roster will be in attendance starting tomorrow for workouts.
One player that could be in attendance, that isn't on the team, is defensive lineman Andre Carter. Carter, who played for the Patriots last season, has been undergoing rehab following his offseason surgery to repair an Achilles injury he sustained last season.
One consensus around the league is that the free-agent Carter will more than likely re-join the Patriots, and return for a second season in New England. Last season, he recorded his first 10-sack season in two seasons and was praised as one of the strong leaders on the team's defense.
While there have been "preliminary discussions" between the two sides, no contract agreement has been reached (more than likely due to his health). Carter's agent, Carl Poston, is hopeful that his client and the Patriots will reunite for the upcoming season.
"He's rehabbing. He's in good shape. He wants to play," Poston said of Carter, who will turn 33 in May. "We're just kind of monitoring and tracking his injury, and when it's time to talk they're going to let me know. I just called them to see what their plans were, to see if they were interested, and I would have been surprised if they said they weren't interested. Obviously, they said they were interested, but it's a little premature, a little early, and I understood that. In terms of being a professional and doing my job, I just wanted to kind of call them and see where we stood."
BRANCH EXCITED TO DEFY HISTORY ONCE AGAIN
Winning back-to-back championships is tough; getting back to the game itself is even tougher. The last team to get back to the Super Bowl were the New England Patriots, when they won it back-to-back in 2004 and 2005. One man who was on both teams is looking to get back to the Super Bowl for consecutive years once again.
Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch will once again look to help the Patriots get back to the Super Bowl for consecutive years. But this time, he says it's time to do something the team hasn't done since 05', which is take him the Lombardi Trophy.
"It's hard every year, regardless," said Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch, who was on the last NFL team to advance to consecutive Super Bowls. "I think it's all about game to game, taking care of business each and every game. It's not about this year is going to be harder than last year and all that stuff. If we go out there and take care of business, we'll be OK."
"I think it's all about us just going out each and every week caring about executing our game plan," Branch said.
VEREEN READY FOR TIGHT RB COMPETITION
Running back was a point of focus for the Patriots this offseason, as they signed former Indianapolis Colts starter Joseph Addai to help fill the void of the departed BenJarvus Green-Ellis. With it, the Patriots will bring six running backs to tomorrow's mandatory mini-camp, making competition pretty stiff for everyone.
Even though he didn't see the field very much during his rookie season, second-year running back Shane Vereen seems poised for a bigger role in 2012. He's received the majority of the first-team reps during team OTAs, which has surprised a lot of people (including myself).
For Vereen, he's excited to get back on the field on Tuesday and compete for a more significant role next season.
"It's been good to be able to get back, and work with the guys," Vereen said. "I've learned a lot, and been working hard. It's been going really well."
"I love competition," he said. "I think the rest of the guys love it, too."