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Patriots.com News Blitz - 4/2/2012
Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe writes that Patriots tackle Nate Solder could be taking on a bigger role with the offensive line next season, and he's looking forward to what might come. After being New England's first round pick last season, Solder played in all 19 games for the Patriots -- including 16 starts. When asked to reflect on his rookie season, Solder responded, "My sole drive was not to be a disappointment, so I hope I wasn't a disappointment. But it continues on, you know; I have to get better next year, too." Solder has spent most of his offseason working out at Gillette Stadium. "The best way to learn and get better is practicing with someone else in full-speed game mode, but right now you work on little techniques with your footwork and your hands and all of that, so they can carry over to the field," Solder said.
Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald reports that Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes attended an autograph show at the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass. yesterday. When Spikes came across a group of kids that didn't have the necessary amount of money to enter the event, he generously paid for their admission. "He drove up and saw us and turned around," Chris Newton of Wilmington said. "He's our favorite player. We came just for him. He handed us a $100 bill, so we got in and that paid for our autographs and everything. What a great guy. I didn't realize how giving he was, how generous. I mean, this was awesome. My friends were so excited. This was the best thing that ever happened to me, I think." Spikes also gave Guregian an update on his recovery from offseason knee surgery. "It's going good," he said. "I'm just rehabbing, trying to get better, staying on top of it. I had surgery a couple weeks ago. This was like my first surgery ever. But it's going well."
Karen Guregian also takes a look at the Patriots options when looking at a pass rusher in the NFL Draft. She names Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram, Whitney Mercilus, Andre Branch, and Chandler Jones as possible early-round draft options for New England. In writing about Upshaw, Guregian added, "There's no way Upshaw will be around when the Pats make their first selection at No. 27. But he's in the neighborhood of where they'd be if they were to package the two picks together and shoot up the board. Using the draft value chart, the Pats can get up around No. 11."
Jeff Howe of NESN.com writes that Nike is set to unveil its new line of NFL uniforms on Tuesday. Reebok's 10-year contract with the NFL ended and Nike took over on Sunday. Nike now owns exclusive rights to jersey sales and uniform designs. Howe says the changes to the jerseys will be minimal. "Patriots fans shouldn't be worried about an uber-patriotic design in which the Flying Elvis is replaced by Uncle Sam and the jerseys are red, white and blue and loaded with American flags, bald eagles and apple pies," writes Howe.
Jeff Howe also writes that Alabama safety Mark Barron would address the Patriots' most immediate draft need on defense. He argues that the Patriots would want to draft Barron because he was considered the leader of the best defense in the country last season. With Barron and Chung, the Patriots would have two strong leaders in the back end of the secondary. "Barron should start right away, and he'd provide a playmaking boost to a secondary that really needed it last season. He may be used on a rotational basis as a rookie, but his impact would be large," writes Howe. If the Patriots really want Barron, they may need to consider moving up in the draft to get him.
CSNNE.com shares Pro Football Talk's list of college players that the Patriots have met with for a draft visit or workout. The list includes: WR/CB Josh Bellamy, CB Omar Bolden, DT Michael Brockers, CB Ron Brooks, S Brandon Taylor, DE Ryan Davis, LB Bruce Irvin, LB Ronnell Lewis, and CB Micah Pellerin. CSNNE's report states that some insight can be made from these visits. "The Patriots hosting four guys who play cornerback, for example, confirms concern for the secondary."