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Patriots.com News Blitz - 2/28/2012
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com provides a progress report on Patriots' CB Ras-I Dowling as he recovers from hip surgery. Selected 33rd overall in last year's NFL Draft, Dowling is said to be ready for most if not all of his offseason work, according to SI's Peter King. Reiss reports that a source familiar with Dowling's injury said he has remained in the Foxboro area this offseason and is showing up daily at Gillette Stadium for rehab work. The 6-foot-1 Dowling projects as a key player for the Patriots' secondary in 2012.
Greg A. Bedard of The Boston Globe writes that the future of wideout Wes Welker is just one of the issues the Patriots will have to face this offseason, which kicks into high gear when the signing period begins on March 13. Bedard believes that barring an unusual development, the Patriots will likely place the franchise tag on Welker. Bedard also reports that the Patriots are prepared to move on without Matt Light and free agent C Dan Koppen, according to multiple NFL scources.
Ian R. Rapoport of The Boston Herald gives his report on defensive end prospect Vinny Curry, who has been linked to the Patriots in numerous mock drafts. Last season at Marshall, Curry forced seven fumbles, blocked three kicks, recoreded 11 sacks, and had 22 tackles for loss. Rapoport believes Curry could be an option opposite Rob Ninkovich, especially considering he played in a 3-4 scheme the first two years of college.
Christopher Price of WEEI.com gives his "Free Agent Snapshot" on safety Jim Leonhard and argues why he would be a good fit with the Patriots. Price writes that Leonhard is "a smart, savvy veteran who has made his bones the last couple of seasons as the most integral safety on the New York (Jets) roster." He also points out that if the Patriots are looking to improve at safety in the draft, it doesn't appear there will be many impact players past Alabama's Mark Barron and Notre Dame's Harrison Smith.
Jeff Howe of NESN.com previews the top free agents at safety heading into the 2012 season, and writes that the Patriots will likely look to put a playmaker alongside Patrick Chung. Howe writes that the best fit for New England maybe be Redskins safety LaRon Landry, who has elite talent but was plagued by an Achilles condition the past few seasons.
Will Brinson of CBSSports.com takes a look at the top wide receivers hitting free agency and gives potential landing spots for the top 9 players at the position. Brinson writes that if Wes Welker chooses to test the free agent market, potential landing spots might include the Jets, Rams and Bears. Other wideouts linked to the Patriots include Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace, St. Louis' Brandon Lloyd, and Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that, according to sources, former Patriots' wide receiver Randy Moss is willing to take a deal to return to the NFL that doesn't guarantee any money. "This is not about money for him, he wants to play," the source said. "He’s not trying to grab a check." Cole writes that Moss has received interest from two teams, although neither is the New England Patriots.