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Patriots.com News Blitz - 5/3/2006

John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that of all the Patriots' picks, it's possible none has more sleeper potential than the selection of Garrett Mills in the fourth round. Considered undersized for tight end at 6-foot-2, 232 pounds, Mills can also play fullback, H-back and anywhere else that requires the ability to catch a pass. "He can hurt you in a lot of ways coming out of the backfield," Central Florida coach George O'Leary said yesterday. "He has a great knack of finding voids in the cover age and getting off the coverage. He's got enough size to put a block on someone. And the kid has great hands. He catches everything thrown at him." Mills, quite simply, is a football player. He set an NCAA record for receiving yards (1,235) by a tight end and had nine touchdowns on 87 receptions. But the production doesn't even begin to tell the story of what he brings to the field.

Chris Kennedy of The Republican writes that Laurence Maroney was asked what he most wanted fans of the New England Patriots to know about him, and his answer had nothing to do with fancy moves or breakaway speed. "Basically, I'm a hard worker," said the running back from University of Minnesota, who was taken 21st overall by the Patriots Saturday in the NFL draft. Maroney, who was at Gillette Stadium on Monday, shared time with current Dallas Cowboys back Marion Barber as sophomore, but then stepped up last season to have some 40-plus carry games. He rushed 46 times for 217 yards in a 42-35 triple-overtime win over Purdue, and he carried 42 times for 258 yards in a 38-34 loss to Wisconsin.

Carolyn Kessel Stewart of the MetroWest Daily News reports that a Hudson man was sacked by a federal jury yesterday who found him guilty of scamming Super Bowl fans out of more than $250,000 by selling tickets to the 2005 Patriots-Eagles game he didn't have. The bogus tickets were sold on eBay and some of the bilked customers are taking legal action of their own to recover their lost cash.

USA Today's "Inside Slant" offers a Patriots draft review. The Patriots surprised some people by focusing on the offensive side of the ball at the top of the 2006 draft, but it's hard to argue with the team's top selections and the needs they fill on the depth chart. And the picks, including six straight offensive or special teams players to lead off the team's 10 overall selections, certainly have to please Tom Brady. Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney, Florida wide receiver Chad Jackson and Texas tight end David Thomas bring an instant injection of youth, playmaking ability and depth to a New England offense that struggled at times last season and had holes to fill. And with the duo of Maroney and Jackson the Patriots got a pair of offensive playmakers who many thought could have been early first-round talents.

[Ian Clark](http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=On Football: Patriots go on the offensive&articleId=58fbd49c-868d-4f6b-8eef-d91e3b55eaec) of the Union Leader grades the Patriots draft. With some reaches or project-type players in the mix, the initial feeling on the 2006 Pats draft class is a mixed bag. But the top two picks of Maroney and Jackson factored with the Patriots' knack for developing mid and late-rounders with promise brings the score up. GRADE: B.

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that Doug Flutie will announce this week whether he plans to play one more season. Flutie, who has played 21 seasons in three professional leagues, returned to the Patriots last year, serving as backup quarterback to Tom Brady. "I still have that passion, but you've got to make that decision if you can stay healthy through the year," Flutie, 43, told the Associated Press at an appearance at Catholic Memorial High yesterday.

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots signed Alabama middle linebacker Freddie Roach as a rookie free agent. He was a second-team All-Southeastern Conference selection last season. They also added Vernell Brown, a cornerback from Florida, and Vanderbilt receiver Erik Davis. The News Journal in Delaware reported that Delaware State All-American safety/linebacker Sam Smith signed with the Patriots. The Tallahassee Democrat said Florida State safety Kyler Hall is expected to sign with the team as well. The Patriots drafted 10 players and will bring as many as 25 rookies to their rookie minicamp May 13-14.

The Providence Journal writes that Laurence Maroney and Chad Jackson hope they can give the Patriots offense more big-play capability. The team's first two selections in last weekend's draft have the ability to score from anywhere on the field. Maroney, taken 21st overall, became the first running back at Minnesota to start his career with three straight 1,000-yard seasons. He had runs of 80 and 93 yards while playing for the Gophers, the latter for a touchdown against Wisconsin last season. Jackson, a second-round receiver from Florida, averaged only 10.2 yards per catch for the Gators last season. However, he said that was a result of coach Urban Meyer's offense, which utilized him in the slot. Jackson gained a school-record 22.3 yards per catch as a sophomore and had plays of 80 and 81 yards for the Gators. He is only the third player in school history to produce two receptions of 80 or more yards.

Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger offers his comments on each player of the Patriots 2006 draft class.

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

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.

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