Troy Brown spent time with Navy's Reynolds at Shrine game

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Troy Brown spent time with Navy's Reynolds at Shrine game

While Bill Belichick and his coaching staff prepare for the AFC Championship Game, the pre-draft process has kicked into another gear with Saturday's the East-West Shrine Game.

The Patriots are without a first-round draft pick this year -- one of the penalties handed down by the NFL after it alleged the team was illegally deflating game footballs during last year's AFC Championship -- but the Shrine game features rosters with plenty of players who will be taken in later rounds.

One of those players, someone the Patriots are already quite familiar with, is Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick grew up around Navy's football program -- where his father Steve served as a long-time scout and assistant for the team -- and he still keeps a close eye on the Midshipmen.

Over the last few seasons, Reynolds has stood out to anyone watching as he finished his career with an NCAA record 88 total touchdowns. He also broke the record for career rushing yards by a quarterback set by Michigan's Denard Robinson.

Reynolds won't be drafted as an NFL signal-caller, but he worked out as a running back before the Shrine game, and some believe he has a chance to find success as a slot receiver. (Reynolds did not participate in the Shrine game due to tightness in his back.)

Given Belichick's willingness to draft players without clear-cut positions and his appreciation for the Naval Academy, Reynolds has already been deemed a potential Patriots pick. Former scout and front-office executive Gil Brandt, who now writes for NFL.com, thinks New England would be the best fit for Reynolds' skill set.

"He cannot play the quarterback position in the NFL," Brandt wrote. "But because of his off-the-charts quickness, speed and athletic ability, he might be a Wes Welker-type of player, a slot receiver, for the Patriots. Belichick has the patience and creativity to find a spot for this outstanding player."

NFL Network's Mike Mayock has compared Reynolds to Patriots wideout Julian Edelman. In his eyes, both left college as undersized but athletic college quarterbacks who could fill a variety of roles in the slot, out wide, as running backs or kick returners. All those spots are new to Reynolds, though, and at this point he's just trying to get a feel for lining up somewhere on the field that's not behind center.

At the Shrine Game, Reynolds got a chance to hone some different skills with a pair of Belichick's friends in former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and former Patriots receiver Troy Brown. Weis was the head coach for the East team while Brown acted as the receivers coach and reportedly showed Reynolds the ropes when it came to returning punts.

Brown returned 252 punts and 87 kickoffs in his Patriots career, and he may be able to relay back to those at One Patriot Place just how quickly Reynolds picked up on some of the tricks of the trade.

Patriots release OL Chase Farris with non-football injury designation

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Patriots release OL Chase Farris with non-football injury designation

The Patriots made a move on Thursday that opened up a roster spot exactly one week before the start of training camp practices. 

The team announced that it waived offensive lineman Chase Farris. It did so with a "non-football injury" designation. Farris spent most of last season on the Patriots practice squad after catching on with New England's 10-man unit in October. The former Ohio State product was a reserve option on the interior for Bill Belichick and Dante Scarnecchia. 

With Farris now out of the mix, the Patriots have 89 players on their roster and can add one more before camp begins.

Interior offensive linemen on the Patriots roster now include David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Jamil Douglas and James Ferentz. A handful of rookies -- including undrafted rookies Cole Croston and Jason King -- could also see work inside.

Rookies will report to camp on July 24, and veterans will do the same by July 26. On July 27, training camp practice will be held for the first time on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will practice for four consecutive days at 9 a.m. to kick off camp. All practices will be free and open to the public. 

NFL scout on Garoppolo: 'Bill thinks he's got the next great one'

NFL scout on Garoppolo: 'Bill thinks he's got the next great one'

Covering the NFL for almost 20 years allows you to make relationships with a bunch of people. So I thought I'd tap into some of those people as we gear up for New England Patriots training camp for a series of pieces about topics we've been kicking around.

COMPARING THE 2007 AND 2017 PATRIOTS

The panel consists of one former Pats player still in the game, two scouts of AFC teams, one front-office member in the AFC, and one NFC scout. They all requested anonymity for obvious reasons (as the player said, "hey, I might want to end up back there!") I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had talking to these guys.

Today's topic: Why is Jimmy Garoppolo still here?

Scout 1 (AFC) -- "He's Bill Belichick. He doesn't give a [damn] about what you, or me or anyone else thinks. I know teams called about Garoppolo. I don't believe they were ever given a realistic price. Why? To me, the answer is simple: Bill thinks he's got the next great one. I watched his snaps. I think he can be that. [Garoppolo] has a great base, and his mechanics are close enough to [Brady] that you appreciate his willingness to learn and the coaching he's gotten there."

Scout 2 (AFC) -- "I absolutely loved the kid coming out of college. When we interviewed him, [it was obvious] he's got those qualities you want in a QB, as a leader. I begged our guys to take him at the end of the first round. That's how good I thought he was then. He's a hell of a lot better now. The job Bill and [offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels] have done with him, the work he clearly has put in, wrap all that up and it makes all the sense in the world to keep him. They can win with him. That's all you need to know -- in my opinion -- as to why they kept him. The moment that Brady guy starts to show cracks, the next guy is in already there, already knows the locker room, the system, the environment. I think it's genius."

Former Pats player -- "I played against him every day in practice. He's all that." Why? "He can make all the throws. He can process all the information. He is a gamer. He can slow it down. He can spin it. I'm going tell you this, if he had gotten traded to Cleveland, they're a borderline playoff team. I really believe that."

Scout 3 (NFC) -- "I know teams called and got nowhere. Easy conclusion is they see Garoppolo as the next QB. But I think it could be as simple as the value there. He's the player one snap away. Weigh that against the third guy (Jacoby Brissett) or some vet and maybe it was just too wide a gap to risk it. Keep him. See how the year plays out and then decide, do we want to franchise him? Ink him to some kind of bridge deal? Or let him go off into free agency?"

Front Office (AFC) -- "Bill knows something we don't. That's the way I read it. Whether it's Brady's future, or what they didn't see in Brissett, or something about the makeup of Garoppolo, he just couldn't part company with him. I can't say as I blame him. Finding one good QB in this league is hard enough. Two? Maybe only a handful of teams in the league can say they have that. Plus, with Bill, he's not worried about coaching for his job. He can think big picture -- two, three, four years down the line. That's not something too many other coaches/front offices in this environment get. He can afford to pass on a handful of draft picks to keep a player he really likes."