Jeff Howe looks at who will fill the Mike Vrabel void.
Even though Vrabel’s exile seemed to have caused widespread panic across New England, the Patriots are still loaded at 10 other starting positions on defense. Not to mention, Pierre Woods and Shawn Crable should be more than ready to fill in. Vrabel, who turns 34 in August, has seen his skills diminish in recent years, but he was still more than capable on the field. He finished fifth on the team with 67 tackles last season, according to coaches’ film review.
Woods and Crable may be able to match Vrabel’s statistical production, but they can’t account for his leadership. That duty will fall in the hands of linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Adalius Thomas, along with a number of the other veterans on the defensive side of the ball.
Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa report on the renaissance qualities of the Patriots 2000 Rookie Draft Class.
First off, there’s defensive tackle Darryl Richard, picked in the seventh round of the draft, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech in three years and already has an MBA. Richard, BTW, is also an accomplished piano player. Show off . . .
Then there’s defensive lineman George Bussey, taken in the fifth round. He gave up a full scholarship to culinary school for a chance to kick it up a notch as a walk-on to the Louisville football team.
Top pick Patrick Chung, a safety from Oregon, loves to draw in his spare time. And snapper Jake Ingram, a surfer dude from Hawaii, is also a certified fork-lift operator. So he’ll never starve.
- Erik Scalavino catches up with Terrence Wheatley and his lifelong fascination with the weather. New England is definitely the place for him (and hey, what's up with all this RAIN?!?)
- Mark Farinella notes that fans can vote for their Favorite Patriots Memories, and offers some of his own suggestions.
- Jeff Howe says the Patriots are loaded with tight ends.
- Mark Hurley offers some of the greatest lines from one-of-a-kind Bill Belichick.
All Things Bill Belichick This is the ultimate source to go to for any and all quotes either about or from Bill Belichick. Awesome site. Example: BB on Brandon Tate's injury: "Yeah, I'd really like to go into a lot of detail on that, about the injury and the rehabilitation and the timeframe. I think we could probably get it right down to the day, certainly the week, that he would be available."
- Eddie Matz (ESPN Magazine) Ultimate Standings 2009 - New England Patriots No. 19.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Pats top AFC East in Ultimate Standings for fans.
- Ross Tucker (SI) Eagles, Pats, 'Skins, Bucs comprise best and worst offseasons of '09.
- Adrian Hasenmayer (Fox Sports) NFL's Top 10 smurfs: The biggest little men in the league.
- Steve Wyche (NFL.com) Colorful conclusion to NFL's Rookie Symposium. One player made the mistake of falling asleep.
- Andrew Brandt (Nat'l Football Post) The importance of the symposium for drafted players.
- Matt Bowen (Nat'l Football Post) The game is more than gettin' paid: Rookies should pay attention or pay the price.
- Don Banks (SI) Forgotten factor in Favre fiasco; Keyshawn rips WRs.
- Peter Schrager (Fox Sports) Summer two-a-days: AFC South and NFC North; NFC East and AFC West.
- Pat Kirwan (NFL.com) Smart teams find their starters in the Draft.
- NFL Network Jason La Confora replaces Adam Schefter on NFL Network. So far he's had some good articles, but Adam Schefter will still be my go-to-guy when he officially joins ESPN on Aug. 1st.
- Stephanie Stradley (NFL Fanhouse) All hail Roger Goodell...or else! A look at the NFL personal conduct policy.
- USA Today Peyton Manning only NFL'er near top of SI's list of 50 highest-paid athletes.