Wakeup Call: Dead man walking in Dallas

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Wakeup Call: Dead man walking in Dallas

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, February 14.

BASEBALL
Mariano Rivera knows whether or not he'll play beyond 2013 . . . but he's not telling you. Yet. (AP)

Well, this is different: Francisco Cervelli, one of the players named in the Miami New Times article, admits that, yes, he's actually heard of Biogenesis of America LLC, and, yes, he consulted with them. But, of course, he didn't take any PEDs, no, no. (AP)

As for players who actually got caught with their hands in the PED cookie jar, the Padres' Yasmani Grandal plans to make his apologies this weekend. (AP)

And the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz made his yesterday. Very quietly. (CSN Philly)

Pete? Pete who? (NBC's Hardball Talk)

He looks a lot different with short hair. And Tim Lincecum says he feels a lot different -- a lot better -- at this early stage of spring training. (CSN Bay Area)

Johnny Cueto feels better, too. (AP)

The Rays are trying to figure out ways to keep Evan Longoria feeling better. (AP)

The Mets insist the worst of their financial woes are behind them, and that their modest 83 million payroll is that low simply because they don't have many good players. Well, they didn't say that, but . . . (AP)

Yes, that's right, Robin Ventura declined his contract option this offseason. But that doesn't mean he wants to stop managing the White Sox. (CSN Chicago)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Connecticut sure made its last-ever regular-season meeting with Syracuse a good one. (AP)

And it's reason for the Orange to start worrying. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

It wasn't the clash of the titans it usually is, not with North Carolina just sort of stumbling along this year, but Duke is still happy with the 73-68 win over its arch-rivals. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The Big Ten is putting its teams on a cupcake-free diet. (AP)

Hitting a defenseless opponent in the head may get you kicked out of the game if the NCAA institutes a proposed rule change. (AP)

The Merry Maids should do housecleaning as thorough as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops. (AP)

New coach Brett Bielema has his first player arrest to deal with at Arkansas. (AP)

GOLF
Here's a little break in the monotony of the qualifying round: Daniela Holmqvist uses a tee to extract what she thought was potentially fatal venom from a spider bite on her ankle at the Women's Australian Open . . . and then continued playing. Alas, she shot a 74 and didn't make the cut. (AP)

We might still have belly putters if only Ernie Els and Webb Simpson hadn't won majors in consecutive months last year. At least that's whay Els thinks. (golfchannel.com)

HOCKEY
The Senators lose star defenseman Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, when his left Achilles is cut by the dastardly Matt Cooke's skate blade during Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over Ottawa. (AP)

Mike Milbury thinks it was just an unfortunate accident but knows that "a lot of people are going to start yakking . . . about Matt Cooke this and Matt Cooke that." And sure enough, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray fumed after the game: "It's Matt Cooke. What else should I say? Watch the replay." (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

You have your upper-body injuries and your lower-body injuries. But those head injuries are another matter entirely . . . and that's what the Avalanche's Erik Johnson has to deal with. (AP)

All the Blues had to do to break their five-game losing streak was get out of St. Louis. (AP)

You can go home again, right, Alexei Ponikarovsky? (AP)

Right, Andrew Brunette? (AP)

As expected, the Blue Jackets make Jarmo Kekalainen the first European GM in NHL history. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Shaq and Kobe are pals again. Now we can all sleep at night. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Derrick Rose says if he has to sit out the year in order to get completely healthy, then he'll sit out the year. Good news, eh, Bulls Nation? (CSN Chicago)

This isn't the Pro Bowl; players actually like participating in the NBA All-Star Game. But, like his NFL brethren, 'Melo says he has an injury that may force him to miss it. Unlike his NFL brethren, it's a real one. (AP)

Come on, Clippers. You score 46 points in the first quarter, you really should finish with more than 106 for the game. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Jason Garrett insists that all those moves which seemed to diminish his powers as Cowboys coach were collaborative decisions with everyone, him included, in on the discussions. (AP)

But Mike Florio wonders if Garrett isn't a dead man walking, even at this late date of the offseason. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

At the other end of the security spectrum, the Vikings pick up Leslie Frazier's option for 2014. (AP)

Johnny Knox, released by the Bears Tuesday, is calling it quits. (AP)

Terrell Suggs made a miraculous recovery from a partial Achilles tear. Now he may go without surgery to fix the partial tear of his right biceps. (CSN Baltimore)

The NFL's movers and shakers, including Robert Kraft, come together in a tribute for Steve Sabol, the late president of NFL Films. (CSN Philly)

Prototypical Patriots: Garcia an athletic option at offensive tackle

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Prototypical Patriots: Garcia an athletic option at offensive tackle

No one's clamoring for additions to the Patriots offense in this year's draft class. They had the third-best scoring unit in the NFL last season, and they were fourth-best in the league in terms of yards per game in the regular season. 

PHIL PERRY'S PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS DRAFT PREVIEW

There's not a whole heck of a lot of room for improvement, and most of last year's group is back for another run. With a major upgrade sprinkled in.

The quarterbacks and the starting offensive line seem set to return. The tight ends lost Martellus Bennett but added Dwayne Allen via trade. The running backs lost LeGarrette Blount but added Rex Burkhead and are primed to add Mike Gillislee. The receivers lost Michael Floyd but picked up one of the most explosive receivers in the league with the addition of Brandin Cooks.

On paper, this is among the best supporting casts Tom Brady has ever had. 

When it comes to this year's draft class, then, any picks made on the offensive side of the ball will seem like they're made with an eye toward 2018 and beyond. We covered a series of those types of contingency-plan picks in this week's mock draft, and in the third round we had the Patriots taking a offensive tackle.

The reasoning? With Nate Solder headed into a contract year, and with only LaAdrian Waddle behind Solder and Marcus Cannon as the team's backup tackle, having a high-upside edge-protector added to the mix could prove beneficial. 

So what do the Patriots typically look for at that position? 

Length, for one. Just looking at their last four early-to-mid-round tackles selected -- Solder, Cannon, Cameron Fleming and Sebastian Vollmer -- all measured 6-foot-5 or taller with 33-inch arms or longer. Weight seems to be less of a factor at this spot as the members of the above foursome ranged from 358 pounds (Cannon) to 312 pounds (Vollmer). 

Athleticism matters, too. All four ran sub-5.3-second 40-yard dashes, while Solder and Vollmer ran three-cones in the 7.5-second range. Cannon, Solder and Vollmer each broad-jumped over 107 inches and surpassed the 30-inch mark in the vertical at their respective combines. 

Taking all of those measurements into account, and keeping in mind some of the other factors the Patriots might appreciate -- college level of competition, experience in a diverse offensive scheme, intelligence, toughness -- here are a few of the names of offensive tackles we'll be keeping an eye on next weekend. 

Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin, 6-foot-6, 310 pounds: This was one of the more head-scratching visits made to the Patriots facilities during the pre-draft process. Ramczyk is widely considered a first-round prospect and arguably the top tackle in the draft . . . yet the Patriots aren't scheduled to pick until the third round. One reason for the extra homework done on the former Badger may have been that he was forced to have hip surgery after last season. He wasn't able to test at the combine, but he's considered one of the better athletes at the position in this draft class. 

Taylor Moton, Western Michigan, 6-foot-5, 319 pounds: Some experts have Moton pegged as a guard moving forward but his arm length (34 inches), hand size (10.5 inches) and athleticism (30.5-inch vertical, 109-inch broad jump, 4.58-second three-cone drill) could make him a fit on the outside. Regardless of where he ends up at the NFL level, the Patriots may need a second-round pick in order to have the opportunity to draft him. 

Antonio Garcia, Troy, 6-foot-6, 300 pounds: The Patriots have taken projects at tackle in the past. Vollmer entered college as a 250-pound tight end who eventually made the move to tackle, but even then rarely had his hand on the ground in Houston's pass-happy offense. Garcia may be seen in a similar light as showed great athleticism to mirror pass-rushers in college -- he did not allow a sack in 2016, per Pro Football Focus -- but is still raw as a run-blocker. Athletically he seems to meet New England's requirements with a 5.15 40-yard dash, a 31-inch vertical and a 108-inch broad jump. He visited the Patriots late in the run-up to the draft, and we highlighted him in our most recent mock.

Julie'n Davenport, Bucknell, 6-foot-7, 318 pounds: In what's thought to be a weak draft class at the position, Davenport's long arms (36.5 inches) and agility (7.57 seconds) may get him selected early on Day 3. If the Patriots feel comfortable giving him what amounts to a red-shirt year in order to clean up his technique and get him acclimated to a new level of competition, they may be willing to bite in the fourth or fifth round. 

Roderick Johnson, Florida State, 6-foot-7, 298 pounds: A durable full-time starter since the middle of the 2014 season, Johnson's tremendous length (36-inch arms) and power allowed him to be named a first-team All-ACC selection each of the last two years. The Patriots have long held an affinity for Seminoles who've worked under offensive line coach Rick Trickett (Bryan Stork, Tre' Jackson), and Johnson could be the latest to make his way to Foxboro if he's available in the middle rounds.

Conor McDermott, UCLA, 6-foot-8, 307 pounds: Maybe the ideal candidate to man one of the edges when it comes to his physical profile, McDermott has nearly 35-inch arms and 11-inch hands. He also ran a 5.18-second 40 and clocked standout times in the three-cone drill (7.52 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.58 seconds). He could afford to get stronger, but in an offense where he won't be pressed into action as a rookie unless there's an injury, he could spend his first pro season focusing his time on developing his power. 

Ex-Patriot Tre' Jackson fails physical with Rams

Ex-Patriot Tre' Jackson fails physical with Rams

The Patriots' waiving of guard Tre' Jackson may have been related to his physical status, judging by what's happened since he keft Foxboro.

The Los Angeles Rams claimed Jackson off waivers last week, but the former third-round draft choice failed his physical exam and was again let go. He's now a free agent, and may have to prove he's healthy before another team will give him a shot.

Jackson missed the entire 2016 season because of a knee injury.