Patriots

Scarnecchia spends afternoon watching, coaching, interviewing BC's Lindstrom

Scarnecchia spends afternoon watching, coaching, interviewing BC's Lindstrom

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Dante Scarnecchia was running the show. There were cones on the ground. There was a path that had been laid out. The drill had been explained.

Easy enough, right? Well...

"We're not building rockets here," Scarnecchia said after one botched rep. 

It wasn't vintage Scarnecchia ire. That kind of thing is likely reserved for when drills are screwed up in Patriots training camp. But it was Scarnecchia in the flesh. He was one of the more than two dozen NFL coaches and scouts in attendance at Boston College's pro day Wednesday.

The player drawing most of Scarnecchia's interest? Offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom. Before the workout began, Scarnecchia spoke with Lindstrom for a few minutes. Then when other players were running their 40-yard dashes, Scarnecchia broke away from the crush of stopwatch-wielders to study Lindstrom as he worked on snapping the football on his own patch of turf off to the side. (The 6-foot-4, 308-pounder played primarily right guard for the Eagles, but he's been practicing handling snaps since the end of the college season in case his next team wants to try him at center.)

Later in the afternoon, Scarnecchia ran the offensive line workout with Lindstrom and tackle Aaron Monteiro. He fiddled with their posture and he critiqued their ability to pull down an imaginary line of scrimmage. When they were done, Lindstrom and Scarnecchia walked off the field together, found a quiet spot, and Scarnecchia interviewed the first-team All-ACC selection. 

"It was really cool to finally get to meet him, the great coach that he is," Lindstrom told reporters once their meeting was through. "It was a great day."

Lindstrom grew up a Patriots fan in Dudley, Mass. He understood what it meant to be working out in front of the man who has become unanimously regarded as the top offensive line coach in football. 

Scarnecchia was largely credited for New England's ability to transform into a ground-and-pound offense -- behind a well-oiled offensive line -- late last season. And when Trent Brown recently signed the biggest contract for an offensive lineman in the history of the NFL, ESPN's Adam Schefter said Scarnecchia deserved a commission.

Yet Lindstrom said that there were no added nerves having Scarnecchia watch him closely all afternoon.

"I was expecting just to have an intense workout," Lindstrom explained. "That's what we got. It was really good. I was thankful I was able to have a good workout."

Lindstrom is no stranger to those. He destroyed the combine in Indianapolis earlier this month, running a 4.91-second 40-yard dash (second among all linemen), a 7.61-second three-cone (sixth), a 4.54-second short shuttle (seventh), and jumping 9-feet-9 in the broad jump (second). 

The entire pre-draft process has seemingly represented a steady upward climb for Lindstrom's draft stock. He was recognized by The Draft Network as one of the best players at the Senior Bowl, and NFL.com's Lance Zierlein has compared him to 2018 Pro Bowler Joel Bitonio. In a draft class with relatively few surefire interior offensive line prospects, it can't be ruled out that Lindstrom will hear his name called on the first day. 

But why the interest from Scarnecchia and the Patriots? (The team had college scouting coordinator Brian Smith and coaching assistant DeMarcus Covington in attendance as well, though Covington spent his time focused on BC's front-seven players.)

The Patriots have their fair share of needs to address this offseason, and interior offensive line seems pretty low on the list. If it's on the list at all. Receiver remains among the most glaringly thin position groups in New England. Depth behind Rob Gronkowski (or a Gronkowski replacement) is a no-brainer. They just released their primary sub-rusher from 2018, and their swing tackle signed with the Bills. An infusion of youth at safety shouldn't be out of the question. Quarterback is always in play. 

But the value in bringing aboard a capable young interior offensive lineman shouldn't be overlooked. 

The Patriots are set there for 2019, sure. Shaq Mason, David Andrews and Joe Thuney are all healthy and under contract. Ted Karras has served as the do-it-all backup there for three years. 

But if the Patriots are thinking ahead, it might not be a bad idea to draft Lindstrom. Thuney is going into the final year of his contract, and through three years as a pro, he's turned himself into arguably one of the top players at his position. In 2018, Thuney didn't miss a single snap and he graded out as the fourth-best left guard in football, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Consider the landscape. Guards are seeing their salaries rise as teams understand the importance of protecting quarterbacks against quick-hitting interior pressure, and the Patriots already have one guard on a lucrative long-term extension. As much as they would like to protect their soon-to-be 42-year-old quarterback, as important as it was to have a cohesive offensive line to change the team's approach and win a Super Bowl, will the Patriots be willing to meet Thuney's asking price he hits the market in 2020? 

It'd make sense for them to prepare against the potential of a departure. That's not building rockets. That's pretty straightforward roster management. 

It's why, even with loads of other positions to fill to improve the team for 2019, we shouldn't be shocked if the Patriots hand in a card with a guard's name on it in about a month. Maybe Lindstrom's.

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Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Editor’s note: In the coming weeks our Patriots insiders will be speaking with beat writers from around the NFL to get an outside view on what the future holds for the Patriots. Today’s team: The Las Vegas Raiders with Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area.

The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly were among the teams with some level of interest in signing Tom Brady in NFL free agency, but the Silver and Black ultimately decided to stick with Derek Carr as its starting quarterback.

Carr shouldn't be too comfortable, though.

Despite making the most of a tough situation in 2019 during which the Raiders lacked skill and depth at many offensive positions, Carr's job doesn't appear to be safe. For example, the Raiders signed veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota in free agency, and he has several seasons of starting experience.

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NBC Sports Bay Area's Raiders insider Scott Bair recently spoke to our Patriots insider Phil Perry, and one of the topics centered around Carr's future and if he can once again perform at the level of a top-tier quarterback.

"Actions speak louder than words, and (head coach) Jon Gruden and (general manager) Mike Mayock at the combine and all these different places, they say the right things -- Derek Carr is their guy," Bair said. "But then, they're constantly flirting with Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, and they sign Marcus Mariota to a deal that could evolve into paying him starter money should he take over that job. Those actions don't say (Carr is their guy).

"I've seen every professional snap that Derek Carr has ever taken. I've seen every practice rep that I've been allowed to see, and I may be in the minority, but this is a guy I believe can be an upper-tier NFL quarterback. He can make every throw, and if you go back to 2016 when he had a loaded offensive line and lots of good skill players, he finished third in MVP voting despite the fact he broke his leg in Week 16. I know that's in there. Now, Raiders fans don't believe me, the national media doesn't believe me, but I think the stage is set for him to have a career year and find that 2016 form yet again, that most fans think is lost forever."

One defense Carr will go up against in 2020 is the New England Patriots.

The Raiders are scheduled to visit Gillette Stadium on Sept. 27 for a Week 3 matchup, and they currently are underdogs by almost a touchdown, according to oddsmakers. Bair thinks the matchup is closer than the betting lines would suggest.

"I would definitely hammer the Raiders pretty hard right there," Bair said. "I just think they're going to have a lot of explosive firepower, and when there's uncertainty at quarterback, (the more explosive team) seems to be a safer bet. Maybe you know better than I do exactly how (the Patriots') quarterback situation is shaping up, but if there are major questions marks there, I would go with the more established quarterback, the more established offense. Again, (the Raiders) are going to be able to score in bunches, and I think they're going to be pretty excited to come to Foxboro and finally get a win, even if Brady isn't there."

The Raiders and Patriots both face a bit of uncertainty at quarterback entering the 2020 season, and whichever coach is able to surround his young QB with the best system and the right talent will put his team in a strong position to reach the playoffs. The Patriots haven't missed the postseason since 2008, while the Raiders have made only one appearance since 2002.

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

Rob Ninkovich sounded drunkovich when he spoke of Brian Hoyer starting Week 1 for the Patriots.

Get that man a breathalyzer. Stat.

And if Nink turns out to be right, get Bill Belichick one too. 

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I have said this before — and I will say it again: I will not watch one down of Brian Hoyer under center for the Patriots.

And you shouldn’t either!

Don’t be a sucker. Really, you’re going to waste your time watching a guy who has started 25 games in 11 seasons in the NFL?

He may be a nice guy, good at carrying a clipboard and ridding Tom Brady of his insecurities, but he is a lousy quarterback. Patriot fans deserve better.

Going from Tom Brady to Brian Hoyer is cold turkey to the extreme. I can feel the cotton mouth, cold sweats and shakes coming on already. 

Does Bill Belichick expect you to accept Brian Hoyer as a starter? If he does, it should piss you off. 

If Hoyer does get the call you can still watch some of the game. I plan to. When the Patriots are on offense I will switch to the other game or Red Zone, and when I see on my phone that the Pats are back on defense, I will switch back over and watch Gilmore, Hightower and the McCourtys do their thing. 

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.