Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers an article on what Richard Seymour has learned about leadership since his rookie season in 2001. The leadership once exhibited by veterans such as McGinest, Anthony Pleasant, Bobby Hamilton, and Roman Phifer is now the responsibility of others. The torch has been passed and Seymour -- entering his sixth season and having signed a rich contract extension -- isn't afraid to grasp it with his massive hands. "Now I have guys asking me questions," he said. "It's a little different role when you don't have a Willie or Adam [Vinatieri], but we're going to stick to the script. Any time I see a young guy who is hungry and willing to listen, I go out of my way to help them. If you want to help yourself, then I want to help you. That's my attitude and approach."
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald and Tom Curran of the Providence Journal both offer stories on Patriots linerbacker Ryan Claridge. Claridge missed his entire rookie season because of injury, but if the second-year linebacker can cover the ground, there could be a key spot awaiting him on the Patriots defense. Claridge is an intriguing prospect to the Pats because he represents the highest-drafted linebacker of the Bill Belichick era and he has rare collegiate experience playing in the 3-4 defense, which UNLV employed during his time there.
Previously in the blitz...
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.
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.