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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM News Blitz - 6/14/2006

In today's news blitz... The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald take a look at Deion Branch's absence from mini camp and how the lack of depth at receiver could be used a leverage for the new contract that Branch is seeking.

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that there is probably going to be a healthy dose of both Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney this coming season, as Maroney, the rookie from Minnesota, vies for playing time with Dillon, holder of the Patriots' season record for rushing yards. For now, Maroney is learning from the 10-year veteran, as well as from eight-year vet Kevin Faulk and seven-year man Patrick Pass. "It's a good situation for a young guy," said running backs coach Ivan Fears. "The one thing about this kid is he wants to learn. He's hungry to learn. He doesn't have a big head, and the other guys see that and want to help him get better."

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that coach Bill Belichick wished Ben Roethlisberger well in his recovery and called the Pittsburgh quarterback's motorcycle accident "unfortunate." Though several Patriots are motorcycle riders, Belichick didn't say he was more concerned about their safety after the Roethlisberger incident. "I think we all have individual choices to make and that goes for every player and coach on this team and the responsibility that we have to the team," he said. "I think it's always in the team's best interests for all of us to make good choices -- every player, every coach, everybody involved." Solomon also offers mini camp notes in his article and reports that inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi worked side-by-side with Monty Beisel, with Mike Vrabel returning to the outside for much of yesterdays workouts.

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that Johnathan Sullivan, the veteran defensive lineman and No. 6 overall pick by New Orleans in 2003, made his public debut in a Patriots helmet yesterday as the team kicked off its annual veteran minicamp. Felger writes that Sullivan appears to be out of shape.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports the Deion Branch was absent from mini camp as he is in the process of negotiating a new contract. Cafardo writes that the current lack of receiver depth gives Branch leverage over the Patriots. There is nobody else among this thin receiving corps who comes close to being the accomplished, game-breaking, money receiver Branch has become. John Tomase of the Boston Herald also reports on the Deion Branch holdout.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald offers an article on second-year cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Tomase writes that Hobbs isn't a rookie anymore and after a promising debut season, he's ready to take the next step as a leader. "Obviously, that's my nature and the way I play," he said. "If I have a larger role or responsibility, whatever it is, I have to make sure I do the job and that goes for everybody out there." Hobbs looked good in drills yesterday, for whatever that's worth three months before the opener. He said he can't believe how much more comfortable he is now vs. this time last year.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that with favorite receiver Deion Branch AWOL, quarterback Tom Brady had a frustrating day trying to hone in on unfamiliar targets. The lack of familiarity between quarterbacks and receivers clearly was an issue during practice. "Just now, in the two-minute drill, (we were) walking through that at the end of the practice," Brady said by way of example. "Before it would be Troy [Brown] and [David Givens] and Deion [Branch], and now it's Reche [Caldwell] and John Stone and Troy. So just trying to get used to those new guys and get those guys accustomed to what we're doing (takes time). Over the years you develop a rapport with guys and that's just through throwing a lot of passes."

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal also offers a story on defensive lineman Johnathan Sullivan, who made his debut in a Patriots uniform at yesterdays first practice of mini camp. Acquired in a trade with the Saints last week for wide receiver Bethel Johnson, Sullivan comes to New England looking to start anew after three disappointing seasons. "I'm focused on the future," said the No. 6 overall pick from the 2003 draft. "The past is not an issue for me. I'm focused on what I can do for New England now." The 6-foot-3, 315-pound defensive lineman was tight-lipped about his time with the Saints and appropriately deferential about fitting in with the Pats. "Coach says he'll let me start at nose and learn the plays, then move to end and see if I learn those plays," he said. "I'm just looking to get on the field in any way possible." A friend of Richard Seymour's at Georgia, Sullivan has the chance to go from being a near-bust to a valued player on a good team. The Pats need a backup nose tackle to Vince Wilfork , and the team never feels it can have too many capable defensive linemen. Curran also offers camp notes in his article.

Michael Parente of the Woonsockett Call offers a story on Tedy Bruschi. Parente writes that Bruschi is happy to be on the field sweating through two practices a day under the feverish sun at Gillette Stadium. At this time last year, Bruschi was still recovering from the minor stroke he suffered during the offseason and was unable to participate in the New England Patriots' three-day minicamp. Bruschi has participated in every voluntary and mandatory workout since the Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs in January. He's on track to start the season opener in September against Buffalo after missing seven games in 2005.

The Boston Globe's Mike Reiss offers his daily Patriots blog with news and notes.

Previously in the Blitz...

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe offers an injury update on Rodney Harrison. Harrison, who was injured Sept. 25 in Pittsburgh, will not be on the field today when the Patriots began their full-squad minicamp, and he is unlikely to be on the field six weeks from now at the start of training camp. The season opener is Sept. 10 against Buffalo. "I don't think about that," Harrison said of a target date for his return. "I think about how I'm progressing week to week, day to day. I don't worry about the big picture, because I know if I take care of all the small increments, I know at the end of the day I'll have a chance to go back out there, and that's what I'm trying to do." John Tomase of the Boston Herald also offers a similar report.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald offers Tom Brady's reaction to the motorcycle accident that left Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in a Pittsburgh hospital with a broken jaw and missing most of his teeth. Brady reacted with concern and wished his rival a quick recovery. "Obviously, football is a distant second in his mind right now," Brady said. "Hopefully he's OK, and I'm sure everybody out here feels the same."

Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald reports that former Patriots guard John Hannah will be honored as part of the New England Sports Museum's Tradition program at TD Banknorth Garden. The Tradition salutes athletes "whose accomplishments have helped make Boston the best sports town in the nation." Other honorees include Bruins president Harry Sinden, former Red Sox left fielder Jim Rice, Celtics great Tom "Satch" Sanders, Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson, and marathoners Dick and Rick Hoyt.

Albert Breer of the MetroWest Daily News offers a story on defensive lineman Ty Warren. Breer writes that since drafting Warren out of Texas A&M in 2003 with the 13th overall pick, the Patriots have played in 48 regular season games and eight postseason contests. For each and every one of them, the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder's been in there on a defense that seems perpetually nicked up. And rarely do you hear of Warren messing up. You might not see his name on the marquee, either, but playing in the Patriots' two-gap, no-glory-for-the-grunts scheme, that's not part of a lineman's job description anyhow.

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