The Patriots' excellent adventure begins again

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The Patriots' excellent adventure begins again

The Patriots have lost 42 regular-season games in the 11-year span since 2001. That's an average of less than four losses per season.

To put that in localized context, anyone over 30 can vaguely recall when the Patriots lost 61 games in five seasons (1989 to 1993). That's an average of 12 losses a year.

It's impossible to overstate how deeply entrenched the Patriots were as the NFL's laughingstock for most of their existence.

And now their excellence has become so routine that they've sucked the drama out of a question American sports fans obsess over at this time of year: "Can my football team make the playoffs; can it win the Super Bowl?"

Around here, the answers now -- and for more than a decade -- have been "Yes, definitely" and "Yes, maybe."

Like fall foliage and the Atlantic Ocean, the Patriots have become a regional privilege that we're aware and appreciative of, but no longer struck by. It's a fact of New England life.

Today, training camp opens.

The editorial staff at the region's paper of record, the Boston Globe, decided a soccer "friendly" between Roma and Liverpool at Fenway would be the centerpiece for their Thursday sports section. A scene-setting column for the London Olympics -- which begin Sunday -- was at the top of the page. Two Patriots stories -- including a column that referenced Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Bill Buckner and Hugh Hefner -- were wedged into the left rail.

The annual departure of the Red Sox equipment truck gets breathless coverage; the start of training camp for the AFC Champions gets a shrug and a "wake-us-in-January" feel.

Admittedly, there's a "chicken-or-the-egg" debate to why the Patriots don't rate.

They don't make it "fun." They believe in the "one-voice" theory, and that monotone and grunt-infused voice belongs to Bill Belichick. He believes a good day is one where his team is flying happily under the radar, and a scrimmage between European soccer teams gets center stage.

The 90 Patriots in training camp will sweat and run into each other from 1:30 until 4 p.m., and then come off the field and say they are "Happy to be back to work," "Working hard," "Taking it one practice at a time" and "Moving on from last year."

The actual stories are what happens on the field, not what the players and coaches don't say when they come off of it.

And there are stories. The addition of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd on offense. The pecking order at running back with BenJarvus Green-Ellis gone. The uncertainty on the offensive line because of injury and the absence of Brian Waters. The defensive transformation from one that favored wide-bodies up front to one that focuses on speed at the edges and depth in the secondary.

Watching the Patriots roll the rock up the mountain -- especially when they are at sea level -- may not be fascinating because the potential of the rock rolling back on them doesn't exist until they are near the peak.

But the process of getting the rock up there -- if you choose to look closely -- will never fail to be fascinating.

Patriots represented at Stanford, Utah, Missouri pro days

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Patriots represented at Stanford, Utah, Missouri pro days

The Patriots had a busy day of gathering intel on Thursday. A very busy day. 

While Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia represented the Patriots at Ohio State and Notre Dame, respectively, the team had other representatives at high-profile pro days around the country including Stanford, Missouri and Utah. 

Here are a few of the players the Patriots were able to get a better look at . . . 

Stanford: The Patriots have shown plenty of interest in players coming from David Shaw's program in the past (Cameron Fleming, Jordan Richards), and they'll undoubtedly appreciate the talents brought to the table by two of the school's projected first-rounders in Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey. Thomas is a powerful 6-foot-3, 273-pound defensive lineman who can play just about anywhere up front. McCaffrey, meanwhile, is one of the most athletic running backs in this year's class. He worked out as a receiver on Thursday and could fill a multitude of roles as a pro, whether it's as a back, a slot receiver or a kick-returner. The Patriots would need to trade back into the first round to have a prayer at landing either player. 

Utah: The Utes have a handful of draftable offensive linemen and one who is expected to come off the board in the first round. Garrett Bolles, who lit up the combine, might be the top tackle available -- and there are those who believe he's just starting to tap into his potential. Isaac Asiata is a monster guard (6-3, 323, 34-inch arms) who put up more bench-press reps than any other offensive lineman at this year's combine, and center JJ Dielman is an intriguing later-round option. One of the quickest risers in the pre-draft process? Marcus Williams, who is an eye-popping athlete. He was top-five for those at his position at the combine in the vertical, broad jump and three-cone drill, and he looks like a ready-made NFL free safety. The Patriots are pretty well stocked at that spot, but if they're picking at the bottom of the first round and going with the best player available, they may very well think that's Williams. 

Missouri: Defensive players were in focus for scouts and coaches at the Tigers pro day, and Charles Harris was the headliner. One of the most impressive players within a very deep class of edge defenders, the 6-3, 253-pounder appears to have the quickness and burst to give NFL tackles fits. One of Harris' teammates up front, Josh Augusta, ran a pretty ridiculous 40-yard dash Thursday, clocking in just a shade under five seconds. Ridiculous, why? Because he's a defensive tackle who wighed 390 pounds during the season. That's moving. Augusta dropped down to 347 after being diagnosed with a thyroid issue in January and is looking to get to 335. Corner Aarion Penton can competes well for the football, but his size (5-9, 177) may scare teams off until late in the draft. 

Curran: Patriots, Darrelle Revis have not discussed deal

Curran: Patriots, Darrelle Revis have not discussed deal

The Patriots and Darrelle Revis have not discussed a deal that would bring the cornerback back to New England, according to CSNNE's Tom Curran.

This comes after CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported multiple anonymous NFL executives were convinced Revis would return to the Patriots.

Revis spent one season with the Patriots in 2014 when New England won Super Bowl XLIX. However, the Patriots did not pick up Revis' second-year option in the following offseason, and he elected to sign with the New York Jets in free agency. He played 14 games in 2015 and 15 games in 2016. He finished last season with 53 tackles, five pass deflections and one interception

The 31-year-old cornerback declined significantly during the 2016 season. Even Tom Brady said he noticed Revis was struggling phyiscally in the Patriots' Week 12 win over the Jets.

"I know he's not feeling great," Brady said in November. "I could see after the game, he winced a few times getting up. It looked like his leg was bothering him a little bit. But he's still very close on a lot of those plays. Even though you're hitting them, he's still very competitive.

"He's been one of the great players in the league for a long time. He's given up more plays this year than in the past, but you've gotta have a lot of respect for his style and his game."