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Patriots.com News Blitz - 2/23/2012

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**Mike Rodak** of ESPNBoston.com gives his thoughts following the release of former Patriots defensive lineman Mike Wright and guard Rich Ohrnberger on Wednesday.  Rodak argues that the release of Wright and Ohrnberger highlights the defensive and offensive lines as draft needs for New England.

**Ian Rapoport** of The Boston Herald breaks down five needs for the New England Patriots as they prepare for the 2012 NFL Draft.  Rapoport chooses safety, receiver, pass rusher, guard, and defensive line as the most glaring needs for the Patriots to address on Draft Day.

**CSNNE.com** reports that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was spotted on crutches as he visited the new Boston Red Sox spring training facility in Fort Myers on Wednesday.  Gronkowski, who is recovering from ankle surgery, Tweeted testimoy of an enjoyable trip.  "@RobGronkowski Had a blast in Fort Myers with my family.  Met a lot of great people too in the area!  Now time for my flight, cya!"

**Tom E. Curran** of CSNNE.com writes about which free-agent wide receivers might fit in New England.  Curran is not sure whether Steelers wideout Mike Wallace "can make the transition quickly to a very different and complex offense" in New England.  On the other hand, Curran highlights Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe and Rams wideout Brandon Lloyd as better fits for the Patriots. 

**Jeff Howe** of NESN.com shares his first mock draft of 2012.  Howe projects the Patriots to pick Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus with the 27th pick and Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard with the 31st pick in the first round. 

**Jeff Howe** also looks at the 2012 free-agent tight end class.  Howe writes that the Patriots could look at veterans Alge Crumpler or Visanthe Shiancoe to sure up their depth chart, but will most likely look to the draft to fill their needs. 

**Christopher Price** of WEEI.com highlights five things that Patriots' fans should be looking for at the combine.  The list includes the Patriots and the 3-cone drill, New England's Alabama connection, sitdowns, a state of the Patriots defense, and Vontaze Burfict. 

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