Scott Van Voorhis of the Boston Herald writes that the National Football League is blocking out local TV station cameras from the sidelines of its games in a move that has raised the hackles of stations across the country. League owners recently voted to clear local TV crews from the sidelines, a move that could force local stations like WHDH-TV and CBS4 to rely on the league for footage of Patriots games. It's not clear what's driving the new rules, with speculation ranging from a NFL front-office drive to gain more control of how its product is marketed, to a move to alleviate congestion on the sidelines.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe is reporting that the Patriots agreed to terms with free agent safety Mel Mitchell, according to a league source. The 27-year-old Mitchell (6 feet 1 inch, 222 pounds) is entering his fifth NFL season and spent his first four years with the New Orleans Saints. Mitchell has played in 44 games (no starts) and is primarily known for his special teams prowess. In 2004, Mitchell had a career-high 29 special teams tackles, two partially blocked punts, a special teams forced fumble, and a blocked punt recovery in the end zone. In 2002, he had 25 special teams tackles.
Leading up to the NFL Draft, the Providence Journal's Tom Curran will profile a player at a "need" position for the Patriots each day. New England has 10 picks in the draft, six in the first four rounds. Their first-round pick is the 21st overall. Today Curran profiles running back Deangelo Williams from Memphis. Over the weekend, Curran also profiled running backs Maurice Drew and Laurence Maroney.
USA Today's "Inside Slant" writes that as the month of March came to a close, ending what is generally the most active free agent period of the NFL offseason, Patriots fans were left wondering what the three-time Super Bowl champions were doing to restock a dwindling roster. While teams like the Browns, Redskins and a whole slew of others were wheeling and dealing their way through the veteran retooling process, New England signed just one unrestricted free agent, wide receiver Reche Caldwell.
Mark Farinella of the Sun Chroncicle writes that the NFL announced its schedule of nationally televised preseason games on Wednesday, and two of the Patriots' four tuneups will be broadcast to a national audience - although one will get relatively limited exposure on the league's own cable network. The complete schedule will be released later this spring.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.