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New England Patriots Links 7/09/12 - Big Man Kyle Love Could Have Even Bigger Season

<em>Philip Rivers' life flashes before his eyes as Kyle Love shifts his weight from the QB to the ball</em>.
Philip Rivers' life flashes before his eyes as Kyle Love shifts his weight from the QB to the ball.

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.