Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe writes that when Bethel Johnson joined the Patriots as a second-round draft choice in 2003, expectations were high. He was the fifth wide receiver taken, 45th overall. Now he's fighting to keep his career afloat. The Patriots are seeking a No. 2 receiver following the free agent departure of David Givens, and the speedy Johnson would like to be considered for the role. But with just 34 catches (including playoffs) over the last three years, he hasn't emerged as he'd hoped. Perhaps the low point came in last season's playoffs, when he was inactive for both of the Patriots' games. "It's hard for me to sit here and watch. I hate it. I hate it with a passion," Johnson said after a recent workout at Gillette Stadium. "I've been totally disappointed."
The Boston Herald's "Inside Track" reports that former New England Patriots QB Doug Flutie enjoyed his recent retirement by racing in yesterday's 7th annual 5K Road Race in Natick to benefit the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.
USA Today's "Inside Slant" writes that despite losing starter Willie McGinest in free agency, the Patriots again waited until Day 2 of this year's draft to address the position. Nevertheless, at the recent rookie minicamp, the Patriots had four intriguing newcomers to eyeball - sixth-round pick Jeremy Mincey of Florida, and undrafted free agents Pierre Woods (Michigan), Freddie Roach (Alabama) and Corey Mays (Notre Dame). Mincey and Woods project as outside linebackers, while Roach and Mays will try to carve out niches inside. Mincey (6-3, 263 pounds) has the best chance of sticking, provided he can make the conversion from college defensive end.
Albert Breer of the MetroWest Daily News writes that there could be several interesting players out there for the Patriots, including two at linebacker. San Diego Chargers veteran Donnie Edwards and University of Virginia's Ahmad Brooks both could pair with Tedy Bruschi inside, enabling Mike Vrabel to move back outside. Edwards and the Chargers have reportedly been at odds throughout the offseason and a serious rift seems to have developed between he and general manager A.J. Smith. Some expect San Diego to either waive or trade the 33-year-old. Brooks may be even more enticing. The 6-4, 260-pounder reportedly runs the 40 in the 4.5-second range. Before an injury-marred junior year, he was a Butkus Award finalist, first-team All-American and top 10 draft lock. Because he planned to return to Virginia for his senior season and missed the draft deadline, Brooks will be available in the July 13 supplemental draft. The Patriots will be slotted to pick in the bottom 12 of each round, and if they exercise a first-rounder on Brooks - who may not even be available at that point - they forfeit their first-rounder in next April's regular draft.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.