Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe writes that two days into offseason workouts with the Patriots, new receiver Reche Caldwell already has hooked up with quarterback Tom Brady. "I had the chance to meet with him [the last two days]," said Caldwell, who inked a two-year deal March 20. "I'm looking forward to working with him, catching balls from him, learning the offense, and being a part of it." The receiver-quarterback work is part of the Patriots' offseason program, which officially began Monday. For the 27-year-old Caldwell (6 feet, 215 pounds), it marks a fresh start after spending the first four years of his career with the San Diego Chargers. Reiss also reports that the Patriots recently spoke with free agent cornerback Eric Warfield according to Warfield's agent, Craig Domann.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that as a second-round pick who battled injuries in San Diego, Reche Caldwell experienced frustration and disappointment during his first four NFL seasons. But he expects that to change in New England. The highest-profile signing of a heretofore quiet Patriots offseason, Caldwell is ready to make his mark. "I definitely see a career ahead of me where a lot of good things can happen," he told reporters in Foxboro yesterday. "What happened in San Diego is in the past. I'm just looking forward to moving on and being the best player I can be for this team, and doing what I need to do to help this team win." Caldwell is a 6-foot, 215-pounder who set career highs last year with 28 catches for 352 yards. He doesn't view himself as a replacement for David Givens, even though he's currently the No. 2 receiver on the roster. Givens caught 59 passes for 738 yards last year, more than double Caldwell in each category.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that the Patriots need receivers to emerge. Free agents David Givens, Tim Dwight and Andre Davis all have left, and of the wideouts that remain only Branch, Caldwell and Troy Brown have had a lot of experience in the league. Caldwell gave a glimpse of his ability in Foxboro on Oct. 2 when he caught a 28-yard touchdown pass and finished the day with two catches for 36 yards. The Chargers' win that day snapped the Patriots' 21-game winning streak at Gillette Stadium.
Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was the only coach who did not attend the breakfast meeting with the national media at the annual league meetings. Borges also talks about former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Jets head coach Eric Mangini who spoke with the national media yesterday.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald and Tom Curran of the Providence Journal report that according to Colts head coach Tony Dungy, Vinatieri needed just 45 minutes before accepting Indy's five-year offer last week. Speaking at the NFL owners meetings yesterday, Dungy said he was as surprised as anyone to hear the 10-year veteran would consider leaving the Patriots. The deal with the Colts went down so fast, Dungy didn't even talk to Vinatieri until after he agreed to the contract. "We felt Adam was going back. He had been in the same place so long, you never thought he was going to leave," Dungy said. "Then he spent a day and a half in Green Bay and we thought, maybe there's something to this." Rival coaches and executives remained shocked yesterday not only that Vinatieri would want to leave New England, but that the Patriots would let him get away.
Ron Borges of the Boston Globe reports that NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he expected the search firm to speak individually with each of the 32 owners, or their representatives, to establish the criteria for candidates. The firm is expected to bring forth names from within pro football and from the corporate world, to be reviewed by the league's search committee before any recommendations are made. Although Tagliabue hopes to step down by the end of July, he made it clear yesterday that he does not intend to recommend anyone for the job.
Glen Farley ofThe Enterprise writes that the NFL announced its 2006 Kickoff Weekend nationally televised schedule and for the first time since 2004 the New England Patriots are not in the picture. The remainder of the NFL schedule will be announced next month.
Larry Weisman of USA Today discusses the process of finding a new NFL commissioner. Weisman also writes that the NFL's competition committee's officiating points of emphasis this year revolve around sportsmanship and limiting celebrations of touchdowns. The owners will have to vote on the change that states that players may no longer go to the ground to celebrate, nor can they use the ball, the pylon or any other object as a prop as they express themselves in the end zone. Their team will be penalized 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff if they draw a flag, and the player can also be fined by the league.
The Republican reports that Go FIT, a nonprofit fitness and wellness organization based in Western Massachusetts, will hold a fund-raising event, "Breakfast For Champions," featuring keynote speaker Doug Flutie of the New England Patriots on April 4 from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the Blake Student Commons at Bay Path College in Longmeadow. Tickets for this event are $50 per person.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.