Starting today, let Patriots.com be your personal clipping service. We'll scan the newspapers and Internet for everything Patriots and serve it to you every morning, Monday through Friday. Sorry, coffee and doughnuts are not included.
On one side, you have perhaps the most storied franchise in major league baseball. On the other, a professional football franchise that has discounted today's parity factor on its way to two Super Bowl victories in the last three years. With that in mind, the Boston Globe's Charles P. Pierce examines who is the reigning king of the Boston sports scene. "They are dueling symbols now -- the Patriots a symbol of modern success, and the Red Sox one of celebrated, historic competitive failure," reports Pierce.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald continues his pre-camp positional breakdown of the Patriots, devoting the sixth installment to the linebackers. "There is only one training camp question mark when it comes to the Patriots linebackers," writes Felger. "And it resides squarely on the metal plate that's been surgically implanted on the broken hip of Rosevelt Colvin."... He also offers his analysis of the offensive lineman, a group he affectionately refers to as the "lunchpail gang." As usual, the bit includes a player-by-player breakdown of the group. ... In his breakdown of the defensive line, Felger wonders if this year's group will be as productive as last year's unit following the loss of Ted Washington. "For all of rookie Vince Wilfork's upside and veteran Keith Traylor's experience, it's hard to fathom that either player will do the things Washington did last year."
In his NFL Notes, Felger goes inside the mind of head coach Bill Belichick to look at ways the Patriots offense could be improved from last season. The keys? Scoring consistency, staying on the field, and running the ball. "Belichick's focus this year shifted to the other side of the ball, and while offensive coordinator Charlie Weis & Co. have far fewer issues to sort out than the defense did last year, that hasn't stopped the staff from picking apart what remains a middle-of-the pack offense," according to Felger.
Mark Farinella tells us that the Patriots will be the most prepared they've ever been to defend a championship when they open their 45th training camp on Thursday. "They have improved themselves at key positions of perceived weakness, they have weathered assaults upon their strengths, and they have the added benefit of having the mindset and attitude of champions," says Farinella. ... Farinella also ponders fame, fortune, and the continuing improvement of Tom Brady after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. "Despite the trappings of his recent success -- and the growing notion around the national media corps that he is the ``best'' quarterback in the game, which is a little bit of a stretch -- Brady has not lessened in the slightest his drive to become better and more efficient at what he does," according to Farinella.
In case you haven't heard, the Patriots did sign two more of their 2004 draft picks over the weekend, coming to terms with sixth-round pick P.K. Sam and seventh-round selection Christian Morton on Sunday. The signings bring the total number of signed picks to five, as Ben Watson (first round), Gus Scott (third) and Cedric Cobbs (fourth) remain unsigned. The team also announced the release of defensive lineman Ryan Atoe and wide receiver Ricky Bryant.
In "The 10 Things I Think I Think" portion of his Monday Morning Quarterback column, SI's Peter King believes everyone is chasing the Patriots. "They better have some significant injuries if someone's going to catch them," writes King. ... He then goes on to predict a Seattle-Jacksonville Super Bowl.
It is officially the week of season previews. Nick Cafardo of the Globe takes his turn, examining the defending champs with a position-by-position breakdown. "Talent-wise, New England is still the best team in the NFL," says Cafardo. "The rigors of the season, the emergence of an upstart team or two, might change that. But review the rosters, and no team has the talent at each position, or the depth. They are still the best-coached team in the league." ... In his NFL Notes, Cafardo teams up with a contract analyst with a NFL Players Association affiliation to explore the contract status of Brady. In comparing Brady's contract to other quarterbacks - namely Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe, Indy's Peyton Manning and Jake Delhomme of the Carolina Panthers - the analyst gave the edge to the negotiators of the Patriots. "Once again, Patriots negotiators Scott Pioli and Jack Mula come out on top, just another reason the Patriots continue to be the best organization in football," writes Cafardo. ... He also reports here that Richard Seymour and the team are in the preliminary stages of contract talks that would leave Seymour with a contract similar to those of other top defensive lineman. "Don't expect this one to go smoothly," reports Cafardo. "Seymour could demand, with merit, to be the highest-paid defensive lineman." ... Cafardo also reports that Cobbs, the Patriots unsigned fourth-round pick, recently visited a chiropractor in Iowa to address hamstring issues.
Mike Reiss also chimes in on the preview front, turning the microscope on the Patriots with position breakdowns and overriding questions facing the team entering training camp. ... Hector Longo does the same for The Eagle Tribune. ... Mike Lowe of the Press Herald previews the Pats with 10 questions to ponder entering camp. "You should start breaking in your football clothes, those lucky socks you wore all last year, which hopefully have been washed, that decades-old Steve Grogan jersey with the holes in the shoulders," suggests Lowe. You just can't beat a Steve Grogan reference can you?
Tom E. Curran of the ProJo had a lengthy Q&A with Brady, whom he compares to New England sports icons Larry Bird, Bobby Orr and Ted Williams. "He is what they were: single-minded, blessed with the ability to lift a team, a cutthroat competitor, feared when the biggest games are about to turn," writes Curran.
What's one more opinion? Bill Burt of The Eagle Tribune says that while the signing of quarterback Kurt Kittner didn't turn any heads - "Kittner" does sound an awful lot like "Kitna" with the right East Coast accent, you know - the signing is significant. Just ask Kittner's high school coach, for one. "The Patriots got a kid that's going to be a player in the league," said Kittner's coach at Schaumburg (Ill.) High, Tom Cerasani. "I know they've had their eyes on Kurt in the past. He told me a few weeks ago the Patriots were interested. I think it's great. Bill Belichick is getting one tough kid." Burt reports that not only were the Patriots were interested in choosing Kittner in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft, one round after selecting Rohan Davey, but that several teams had Kittner rated ahead of Davey.