Patriots

Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: The guards

wendell-patriots.jpg

Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: The guards

Leading up to the first day of training camp, we’re going to look at the most important Patriots, counting down from 10 to 1. Today, it’s not a sexy position, but one that’s far more critical than most ever give it credit for, even the Big Boss in Foxboro.

NO. 3: THE GUARDS

Why? Because without a solid interior offensive line last September, Tom Brady looked like a below average quarterback, prompting my question (and classic Bill Belichick response) following the debacle in Kansas City. The very next week, rookie Bryan Stork was flanked by Dan Connolly and veteran Ryan Wendell and all of a sudden, Brady and the offense looked a lot more like what we’ve come to expect than what they were to start the year. Now Connolly is retired and the interior once again will need to be sorted out, hopefully much quicker than last season.

Previous Performance: Wendell was a godsend last year, going from unwanted to a critical performer from Week Five on. A pro’s pro. No pouting. No complaining. Worked and worked and finally got his chance and then did the job on a weekly basis. Remember, Wendell was a healthy scratch, if you will, while Belichick experimented with Marcus Cannon and Jordan Devey as his starting guards. Cannon was so bad the stink rubbed off on left tackle Nate Solder. As for Devey, well, it was a nice story and all, but he was not even close to being ready for prime time.

Questions surrounding the players: So now the Pats go into the 2015-16 season with Wendell recovering from offseason surgery and then a handful of players competing for the spot vacated by Connolly. (And with Belichick, who knows? Maybe competing for Wendell’s spot, as well.) They spent a pair of mid-round picks on interior 'o' linemen, Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason. Mason was a violent run blocker in college, capable of eclipsing the moon with those meat hooks. Jackson got the job done at the 33rd NFL team, FSU. Both got loads of work in OTAs. There’s also holdovers Josh Kline, Chris Barker and Caylin Hauptmann. We know Kline is serviceable. The others? No clue.

Overall Outlook: More questions then answers. I hope Brady and/or Jimmy Garoppolo have their running shoes on. They may need ‘em until the Pats find the right combination.

Patriots rookie Sony Michel buys his parents new cars

Patriots rookie Sony Michel buys his parents new cars

Patriots first-round draft pick Sony Michel surprised both of his parents with new cars.

Michel told the NBC Sports Boston Camera Guys all about it, saying "It's my obligation to take care of my parents. That's always been my goal, to take care of everything they need from here on out."

Michel posted photos on Friday of his parents posing next to their new rides:

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Ex-Patriots WR accused of vandalizing former college teammate's car

Ex-Patriots WR accused of vandalizing former college teammate's car

Jabar Gaffney, a former Patriots (2006-08) wide receiver, is suspected of vandalizing a car belonging to his former high school and college teammate Lito Shepard, an ex-Philadelphia Eagles cornerback.

Gaffney and Sheppard were teammates at the University of Florida and in high school, and according to details from the police report published by First Coast News, Sheppard said he and Gaffney, and Gaffney's longtime girlfriend, have had an ongoing feud that began in 2012.

Here's the account of the incident outside a Jacksonville Beach restaurant from the police report: "Gaffney retrieved some type of tool and a container from the suspect's vehicle, walked over to the passenger's side of the victim's vehicle near the gas tank, and pried it open. Gaffney then poured an unknown substance from the container into the gas tank...The unknown female walked around the vehicle and stabbed all of the tires with a sharp object."

The report said the suspects fled the scene in an unknown direction. Sheppard said his BMW sustained about $14,000 in damages.

No arrests have been made as of yet. Gaffney, 37, caught eight touchdown passes in 43 games (20 starts) in three seasons in New England. 

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