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New England Patriots Links 2/25/10 - A Patten Emerges and Don't Forget About Tyrone McKenzie

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<em>Patriots LB Tyrone McKenzie running at the Combine last year.</em>
Patriots LB Tyrone McKenzie running at the Combine last year.

Mike Reiss reminds us not to forget about Tyrone McKenzie.

McKenzie was selected by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2009 draft (97th overall), and the team had high hopes for him at inside linebacker, yet those hopes were put on hold for a year when he tore his ACL in rookie minicamp May 2.

McKenzie's road to recovery now looks as if it's almost complete.

"I'm excited for the season and the chance to get back out there with my teammates and coaches," he said last week while attending a charity event for Haiti relief efforts. "I'm not going to put a timeline on it and say 'I'll be out there the first week of minicamp,' but it's been a situation where I've been counting down the days."

"I was here full-time, in all the meetings, learning the game plans for each week, staying on top of my playbook," he said. "I think that's going to be huge, just being around the team last year, seeing how the regular season will go, and staying on top of my football game."

When his teammates took the field for practice, he stayed behind to work with strength coaches Mike Woicik and Harold Nash and trainers Jim Whalen, Joe Van Allen and Dave Granito. McKenzie said "they did a great job pushing me forward and getting me to the point where I'm ready to go out and play football again."

Christopher Price talks about the importance of the interview process at the Combine for Patriots' potential prospects.

The interview process gives each team the opportunity to get up close and personal with a player. Teams are limited to 60 players, and they get 15 minutes with each player. Called "the NFL equivalent of speed dating," it’s a frantic process that can often tilt the organizational scales in one direction or another when it comes to making a draft day decision.

"You ask questions to figure out if this guy is controlling his life or is someone else controlling it," said Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, who was part of the Patriots interview process at the combine when he was part of the New England front office.

Ace the interview with the Patriots, and chances are good that you’ll be hearing from New England on draft day. The Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said one of the reasons New England was so high on safety Pat Chung entering the draft was its interview with him at the 2009 combine.

"After 15 minutes, we were ready to run through a wall," Caserio later recounted of their time with Chung. "It was like, ‘Sign me up.’"