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News Blitz 3/14: Chris Long reportedly visiting Patriots

The Patriots have been tied to a number of pretty big free agent names since the new NFL league year kicked off last week.

Though the team didn't end up inking deals with the likes of Marvin Jones, Rishard Matthews or Mohamed Sanu, the connection between New England the some top free agent targets has spiced up the NFL's version of hot stove talk in Patriot Nation.

That list added maybe its biggest name this weekend, as the Patriots are reportedly hosting former Rams defensive lineman Chris Long on Monday.

The interest in Long, the former No. 2 overall pick and son of Hall of Famer Howie Long, was first reported late last week by the Providence Journal. ESPN, though, pinpointed the interested into today's visit.

ESPNBoston.com looks at what led to the Patriots losing free agent Akiem Hicks to the Bears over the weekend. The site's Sunday notes column includes word that New England rookie offensive lineman Tre Jackson had a minor knee procedure after the season ended.

The Boston Globe's Sunday notes break down the flurry of free agent activity across the league to open the new football year. The Globe also notes the Long visit and Hicks departure.

The Boston Herald digs into the past of recent Patriots free agent signing Chris Hogan, finding that former coaches agree that receiver has always been a "Patriots guy." The Herald has a roundup of NFL news, led by safety/special teamer Nate Ebner re-signing with New England.

The Providence Journal has the Patriots receiving four compensatory selections in this spring's NFL Draft – a third-round selection and three sixth-round picks. The *ProJo *says that former Rams linebcker James Laurinaitis plans on visiting New England on a free agent visit, while ESPNBoston.com says the tweet that led to that report is erroneous.

WEEI.com touches on a variety of topics in its Sunday notes column, including the Chiefs and Patriots alignment against seemingly unprecedented NFL punishments.

NFL.com offers Mike Mayock's top-five prospect rankings at all the positions, which, as always, includes more than five players at many positions. NFL.com also has a four-round mock draft, with New England landing Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller with its top pick. 

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