Pats send Wilhite to IR; Belichick lauds Brady

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Pats send Wilhite to IR; Belichick lauds Brady

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - Jonathan Wilhite, whose moments of solid play in 2010 were somewhat lost in the shuffle, won't get another chance to shine this season. He was sent to injured reserve on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. His hip has also been a sore spot for him. A fourth-round pick out of Auburn in 2008, Wilhite worked his way up the depth chart to become a starter in 2009, but the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder's play was just OK as the Patriots defense as a whole struggled. This season he was supplanted by a few players - Devin McCourty, Darius Butler and Kyle Arrington among them - and became mostly an off-the-bench situational guy. "Jonathan's situation just wasnt improving the way that he hoped or we hoped it would, so we had to move along there," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots filled Wilhite's roster spot with a defensive lineman who most recently played with the Panthers, Louis Leonard. At 6-4, 325, Leonard is a product of the Fresno State program coached by Friend of Belichick, Pat Hill. "Leonard is a guy that has a little experience in the league; defensive lineman is a position that we're kind of short on; we just had five at the game last week," Belichick offered. "Hopefully he can give us a little depth there if he can get ready to go. I don't know; we'll see how it goes." The Patriots' most recent acquisition before Leonard was defensive end Eric Moore, who had consecutive impressive plays against the Bears (strip sack and a tackle for loss). Belichick explained that defensive line is a position players can quickly assimilate to. "Relative to other positions, there's not as much for a defensive lineman to know assignment-wise," Belichick explained. "The big thing for most of those guys, really defensive lineman is to be able to play with good technique, with good leverage, defeat run blocks or defeat pass blocks and rush the passer. So if you can play with good technique within the framework of assignments which, again, its not a massive assignment situation there. Jim Corbett of USA Today was in Foxboro to take the temperature of the NFL's hottest team. He posed a question to Belichick about Tom Brady's improvements that the coached warmed to. "Tom works hard on the little things," Belichick observed. "I think that's one thing as a coach that you really respect and admire about Tom. He's always working on the little things. It might be on one thing that could come up on one play and that one play might happen twice a season; who knows? He just continually prepares at a very high level, both the opponent and the opponents scheme and personnel. He continues to try to have a better understanding of our offense and what options there are on certain plays, certain situations, the way a team plays it."Brady'spayoff for that preparation,Belichickbelieves, islike unearthing little secrets. "He does a lot of things well, but he knows there are things he can improve on and he's always working to get better at those," said his coach. "Sooner or later, you'll see one come up in a game that maybe hasn't come up in a month or six weeks or a year. He'll be able to make a play on that. I think that's a very satisfying thing for him that he can say, 'Hey, this didnt happen when it happened a year ago or whatever and here we had a chance to get it and we got it.' You feel good about that. So, I think that's kind of what Tom Brady does. He does all the things that you expect him to do and a lot of the little things Somewhere along the line those little things help him make a play. It might be a long way back in the history books where you find, but there's a teaching lesson in there somewhere that he picked up on."Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Belichick headlines big-name crowd in attendance at Ohio State pro day

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Belichick headlines big-name crowd in attendance at Ohio State pro day

Bill Belichick has counted both Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano among the list of coaches he trusts. On Thursday, the Patriots coach was in attendance at Ohio State's pro day to watch players who've been coached by both. 

Belichick has been closely tied to both Meyer and Schiano over the years, drafting multiple players from their programs when Meyer was at the University of Florida and Schiano was at Rutgers University. The Schiano connection has been particularly strong in recent years as Belichick's son, Steve, played for Schiano, and the Patriots had three key players in their secondary -- Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan -- for the last four seasons who studied under Schiano. 

Now the head coach and associate head coach/defensive coordinator, respectively, Meyer and Schiano have tutored some of this year's top draft prospects. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the top-tier talent hailing from Columbus this year . . . 

Malik Hooker, safety: The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder is expected to be the first true free safety off the board. His impressive ball skills made him a turnover waiting to happen in the Big Ten. 

Marshon Lattimore, corner: With a 38.5-inch vertical and a 4.36-second 40-yard dash time, Lattimore is one of the best draft-eligible athletes this year. He was hampered by hamstring injuries in college, but he's still projected to be one of the first defensive backs taken. 

Gareon Conley, corner: Among the draft's fastest risers after putting together a strong combine (4.44 40-yard dash, 6.68-second three-cone), Conley will give his next team good size (6-feet, 195 pounds) and length (33-inch arms). He may not be as polished as Lattimore, but still could very well be a first-round pick.

Pat Elflein, center: This smart, hard-working pivot may not have the world's best footwork, but he should be among the first players taken at his position. Elflein (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) is a former wrestler who has experience at both center and guard. 

Curtis Samuel, receiver: A true all-purpose threat in college (AP All-American, first-team All-Big Ten), he could have trouble adapting to life as a full-time receiver in the NFL. At 5-11, 196 pounds that's probably where he'll end up.

Raekwon McMillan, linebacker: At 6-2, 240 pounds McMillan was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some concern as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level. The Patriots, as we've noted, have been looking at the linebacker position throughout the pre-draft process.

FBI returns Brady Super Bowl jerseys to Gillette

FBI returns Brady Super Bowl jerseys to Gillette

The FBI returned Tom Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LI jerseys to Gillete Stadium Thursday, days after recovering the stolen items. 

After the FBI’s visit, Robert Kraft issued the following statement:  

"We want to thank the FBI, the Mexican authorities and the many different local agencies that were involved in the investigation and ultimate recovery of Tom Brady's Super Bowl LI jersey. Working along with the Patriots and NFL security, those agencies collectively coordinated an investigation that also led to the recovery of Tom’s missing Super Bowl XLIX jersey. It was great to have both jerseys returned to Gillette Stadium today. I don’t know that any agency could have accomplished this independently, but collectively multiple agencies -- both in the U.S. and in Mexico -- worked together to achieve the goal of retrieving the stolen property. It is another example of the importance of teamwork and what can be accomplished when everyone works together. We appreciate the effort of everyone involved and look forward to returning these jerseys to Tom when he gets back to New England."

Brady’s jersey was reported missing shortly after the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI victory over the Falcons, with it being learned in recent days that Martin Mauricio Ortega Camberos of Mexican newspaper La Prensa was the culprit. Video emerged Tuesday of Ortega illegally entering the Patriots’ locker room and leaving with the jersey.