Jeff Howe spotlights key players on the defensive line from the breakout players to the bubble players and the depth in-between.
Pressure to perform: The front seven goes as Vince Wilfork goes, and that’s never been clearer than last season’s AFC Championship, when Wilfork was the most dominant player on the field. Wilfork has also turned into a very good three-down performer, and that’s been huge for the defensive line. In important games, Wilfork has to be the most valuable member of the Patriots’ defense, at least up front.
Breakout candidate: Defensive tackle Kyle Love surpassed expectations as much as anyone on the defense last season. He was a force alongside Wilfork, and Love’s ability to consistently push through the middle gave the coaches enough comfort to swing Wilfork to the outside in certain situations. Love was good from start to finish last season, which was noteworthy because he wasn’t affected by the lockout like other second-year defensive players. So, with a full offseason, it’s worth wondering how much better he can be this year. Lastly, due to Love’s position, he won’t accumulate the stats to make him a household name, but he’s got a chance get even better in 2012. (More...)
Mark E. Volger reports three Patriots captains send a video to thank "a true patriot captain" who just returned home from Afghanistan.
Quarterback Tom Brady, linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork couldn't make the surprise party at the Claddagh Pub for U.S. Army Capt. Nassar G. Jabour Jr., 27, of Methuen.
But the three NFL football stars sent personal "thank you" messages on a special video prepared by the Patriots which was viewed on two television sets. It was the highlight of the evening for more than 60 relatives and friends who showed up at the downtown pub to wish Jabour well as he begins his civilian life after the military service.
- Andy Hart and Paul Perillo debate who's the team's most indispensable player, aside from Tom Brady.
- Patriots Roster Report - The PFW crew discusses the upcoming start of training camp, and more. (5.02 min. program)
- Top 20 games: Devin McCourty on AFC Championship. (1.31 min. video)
- NFL Total Access weighs in on what the fans voted as the best rivalry in the NFL. (3.01 min. video)
- Mike Reiss notes that two defining themes of the Patriots' offseason have been building better depth on the roster and redefining the focus on defense.
- Mike Reiss shares some quick-hit weekend thoughts from the Patriots and around the NFL.
- Jeff Howe examines the team position by position: Tight Ends - Offensive Line - Defensive Line.
- Jeff Howe spotlights the Tight Ends, and tells us who will be the breakout player, who's on the bubble and who will be the key role player.
- Jeff Howe believes Sebastian Vollmer's performance is key for the Patriots offensive line, but there's just as much pressure to perform on Nate Solder.
- Mike Rodak analyzes players on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2012: FB Tony Fiammetta - OT Matt Kopa - LB Tracy White.
- Field Yates scouts the Patriots roster: 3-4 nose tackles - 4-3 Defensive Tackles - 3-4 OLBs.
- Boston.com takes a close look at the Patriots opponents in the upcoming season: Miami Dolphins.
- Mike Rodak posts an updated look at the Patriots scouting staff.
- Tom E. Curran tells us who got the most reps of New England's 460 total special team snaps. Tracy White and captain Matthew Slater are tops.
- Mike Reiss serves up some leftovers from last week's Patriots chat.
- ESPN Boston transcribes Ron Jaworski's comments after ranking Tom Brady as the NFL's No. 3 QB behind Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Bogus.
- Greg A. Bedard Sunday Football Notes: The Wes Welker countdown will be on this week; Aaron Hernandez may not accept the franchise tag next year at TE and may fight for a WR designation; The Gronkowski family helped unveil a workout facility for a home for youth fighting addiction problems.
- Pat Kirwan (CBS Sports) 'Triple' teams: Saints, Patriots have third big threat to scramble defenses.
- Mike Kirby (NFL Draft Examiner) New England Patriots 2012 team preview.
- Greg Cosell (NFLFilms.com) The evolving chess match. Terrific read.
- James Walker (ESPN) Are two QBs better than Tom Brady?
- Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Aaron Hernandez could try for wide receiver franchise tag down the road.
- Brian McIntyre (NFL.com) Wes Welker, Patriots reportedly face financial gap.
- Doug Farrar (Yahoo! Sports) Hernandez, not Welker, could be Patriots' biggest receiver contract challenge.
- Kevin Fishbain (Pro Football Weekly) Ihedigbo re-signing adds to Patriots'' training-camp battles.
- Tim Graham (Buffalo News) UB's James Starks, Trevor Scott eager to prove.
- Josh Katzowitz (CBS Sports) Ten offseason transactions that could make a huge difference. Josh McDaniels to the Patriots makes the list.
- Bruce Allen (SI) Guest MMQB: Redskins GM Allen on lessons from NFL owners, more.
- Analysts Debate (NFL.com) Which NFL team was the offseason champion?
- Kerry J. Byrne (Cold Hard Football Facts) Alex Smith sacks Cam Newton, conventional wisdom (regarding passing yards).
- Jeff Hunter (Cold Hard Football Facts) Troll Report: The value of first-round QBs.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) After peaking in 2007, NFL attendance steadily has declined.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Goodell rejects argument that players were simply following orders.
- Jonathan Vilma lawsuits consolidated in federal court: Settlement conference scheduled for July 23. (Times-Picayune) NFLPA and