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Patriots.com News Blitz - 5/24/2006

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that of all the jobs available in the Patriots' starting lineup (running back, cornerback, right tackle and linebacker among them), none is more wide open than the No. 2 receiver spot opposite Deion Branch. The top two candidates for the position, veteran Reche Caldwell and second-round pick Chad Jackson, have already paired up in the team's offseason conditioning program. They train together and work on routes together, building off their common background as University of Florida alums. The last thing they see themselves as is combatants, although that's exactly what they are. "I don't find it odd that we're competing for the same spot - everyone has to deal with that across the roster," Caldwell said between workouts yesterday at Gillette Stadium. "I'm going against the defense, trying to get open and catch balls. I'm not going against Chad. We're both in the learning stage, anyway."

Vinnie Lyer of the Sporting News asks the burning question - what can we expect from the team's "new-look" offense? Though Brady lost two of his former favorite targets, David Givens and Christian Fauria, the team filled the wide receiver void with Reche Caldwell and rookie Chad Jackson. It also added surehanded rookie tight end David Thomas. The Patriots' trademark has been spreading the ball around, giving several players -- who all accept their roles on a playoff team -- touches all over the field. All signs point to Brady coming back strong from his bout with a sports hernia, and the core of the offensive line remains intact. With those two factors, expect everything else to fall into place.

Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa of the Boston Herald's "Inside Track" report that Disney is in negotiations with the New England Patriots to use the three-time, Super Bowl winning team in it's upcoming movie "Daddy's Girl." The Track also reports that retired Patriot Ted Johnson has opted not to return to CBS4 this fall where he did football commentary with Bob Lobel, Steve Burton and the Channel 4 sports team.

Anthony Hanshew of The Herald-Dispatch writes that a record crowd of more than 600 campers attended the pair of instructional sessions at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on the Marshall University campus and took place from Saturday, May 20th to Sunday, May 21st. The Bartrum and Brown camp is hosted by Philadelphia Eagles longsnapper, Mike Bartrum and New England Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown. New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch and New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington also volunteered their services. The camp offered football instruction to kids between the grades 1-7.

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.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest Patriots mailbag.

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