Andy Hart awards his top five stars from Mini-camp. Since it was no-contact, the linebackers and linemen will get some love after training camp and preseason action.
Fifth star – Rob Gronkowski. G-Force, as I like to call him, isn’t exactly tailor made for non-contact action. He’s probably best suited displaying his all-around tight end skills in padded work. But his soft hands, solid route running and reliability stood out. He may have gotten chewed out a bit a couple times, but they yell because they care. Right? I still think Gronkowski will be a huge contributor to the Patriots offense in a wide variety of ways as a rookie, and we saw the seeds of that in mini-camp.
Fourth star – Taylor Price. Despite missing a lot of work this spring while still at Ohio, Price looked good in mini-camp. Though I missed the first day of practice, my hard working fill-in Paul Perillo tells me Price hit the ground running. So far I’ve seen good speed, soft hands (despite a couple drops) and solid route running. The coaching staff praised his work while away from Foxborough. There is a lot of competition going on for roles at wide receiver and I think Price could be in the mix.
Third star – Aaron Hernandez. The rookie tight end was only a fourth-round pick, but his talents in shorts and helmets look to be much more than that. He’s a pass-catching presence with run-after-catch ability. His athleticism shines in non-contact work. We’ll see what happens when the pads go on, but Florida’s top target seems to be on track toward carving out a role for himself early on in New England.
Second star – Darius Butler. A lot could be expected of the second-year former second-round pick. My guess is he’ll be the opening day starter opposite Leigh Bodden. In camp he got his hands on a number of balls, made good breaks on the ball and looked comfortable in his role. He seems to have taken on a little bit more of a veteran air to him, good for a team looking for leadership and players who can be held accountable. I still say that Butler the athlete may have been a bit overrated coming out of UConn, while Butler the cover corner was underrated. He’s in line for a big Year 2 jump that could help this team immensely.
First star – Randy Moss. Physically Moss was as impressive as ever, making every reception look oh so soft and easy. But it was more than that. Moss was a vocal presence on the practice fields, single handedly raising the level of competition and camaraderie. A motivated Moss is a force that the NFL has never shown the ability to defend. Heading into a contract year and looking to maximize his marketing opportunities, Moss seems as motivated as ever. Patriots opponents should watch out!
- Kraft Sports Productions announced the winners of the Totally Patriots Totally Talent Search yesterday, after serious deliberation.
- Patriots Today - Patriots players 'coach' at BELL Bowl. (2.54 min. video)
- Albert Breer reports New England will wear their 1985 throwback jerseys against the Vikings on Halloween.
- Ian Rapoport offers five key questions for the Patriots.
- Jeff Howe says the Patriots have five tricky weeks ahead of them, and self-discipline will be key for a successful summer.
- Mark Farinella walks through this year's upcoming Training Camp schedule and concludes it may have the fewest days open for public attendance than ever.
- Jeff Howe talks about dark horse linebacker Thomas Williams, who caught the eye of Bill Belichick and joined the team last November.
- Mike Reiss looks at the Quarterback position and how the Patriots compare with the rest of the NFL.
- Mike Reiss looks at the running backs position and how the Patriots compare with the rest of the NFL.
- Christopher Price says Vince Wilfork 'has got Florida in his bones'.
- Mike Reiss points out Logan Mankins is one of several 2005 first-round draft choices at a fork in the road.
- Ian Rapoport notes the Patriots awarded $60,000 in college scholarship money to 28 local students.
- Mark Farinella takes a look at the just-completed minicamp and some of its storylines. (5.32 min. audio blog from Gillette Stadium with photos)
- Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) Once you clear away smoke, it's obvious Brady isn't going anywhere.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Who are best AFC East D-linemen?
- Pat Kirwan (NFL.com) Teams differ tremendously on how to handle backup QB spot.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Ryan wears passion on more than a sleeve.
- Peter Schrager (Fox Sports) NFL's top 100 players for 2010. (nos 81-100)
- Andrew Brandt (Nat'l Football Post) Lost in translation: What they say vs. what they mean.
- NFLLabor.com Calendar for 2010 NFL season.
- Yahoo Movies The Tillman Story theatrical trailer. (1.55 min. video)