NFL journeyman Carpenter looks to bring best to Patriots

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NFL journeyman Carpenter looks to bring best to Patriots

FOXBORO -- You probably don't know much about Bobby Carpenter the linebacker.
New England is his fifth team in what will be his seventh year in the league.
"You understand a lot about the NFL," he said this week, of his journeyman role. "You know a lot of people, you know a lot of systems -- which I think helps you out in your preparation. It just kind of gives you a healthy respect for the league and the game and how tough it is to make it."
What you do know about Carpenter wouldn't make him proud.
Maybe you saw that 2008 episode of "Hard Knocks" when Cowboys teammate and right tackle Marc Columbo dubbed him "Barbie Carpenter." Columbo had beaten up on him all practice.
Maybe you remember Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff raising his voice when Dolphins STC John Bonamego was fired. "It's interesting that there was one particular guy that was involved in two of those major breakdowns," Westhoff said. "Frankly, I don't think he could play. I don't want the guy either." Review of the film revealed Carpenter was on both plays.
And you might have heard the term "bust" used in reference to the former first round pick. Several teams had been interested in the Ohio State product. Teams like the Patriots.
"This is one of the places I came up and visited," Carpenter recalls. "Had a good connection here, really liked it. Just ended up going someplace else, but this was a place that was interested in me."
He had met with the lot: linebackers coach Matt Patricia, defensive coordinator Dean Pees, Bill Belichick.
Dallas snapped him up with its 18 overall selection in that 2006 NFL draft (New England picked at 21). What the Cowboys got in return was three starts, 96 total tackles, and 3.5 sacks in four years.
Carpenter was traded to the Rams and released at the end of training camp. Miami picked him up for the first five games of 2010 then cut him.
That's when the Lions gave him new life.
Never a fit in a 3-4 defense, Carpenter appeared more comfortable in Detroit's 4-3 scheme. There he could read and react, use his quickness, know he'd be protected. He played all 16 games in his second year, first full season in Detroit. An interception of old pal Tony Romo and 34-yard touchdown return in 2011 must have been sweet.
Yet he still played less than a quarter of the defensive snaps.
Despite taking steps forward, Carpenter couldn't shore up a starter spot. The Lions dragged their feet when free agency rolled around. New England saw an opening in April and pounced; Carpenter had to pack his bags yet again.
He's dismissive of stability's elusiveness.
"It's not too bad. Each season is kind of a separate year. You take it as it approaches: offseason, training camp, it's all in each individual segment so you try to look at what's in front of you and not too far ahead."
Patriots training camp looms large. Though he's gotten solid snaps off the line during mini-camp, it's in late July that player evaluation gets serious.
Linebackers coach Pepper Johnson likes the potential.
"He's a guy that's a workaholic. He's constantly going. You have to slow him down on the field. I don't want to slow him down, but... " Johnson laughed.
"He's going to be a plus for us -- he already is a plus for us."
If only Carpenter can translate the words into something meaningful. So much of what's been said about him in the last six years has not been kind.
"I just try to go out there and play best I can," said the linebacker. "I don't know if you want to put tags on it -- reporters kind of do better with that. It's a tough game. You try to make plays. However you do it, someone else can say that."
They will. But that hasn't really been the trouble.

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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