NFL Combine set to begin


NFL Combine set to begin

By Tom E. Curran

INDIANAPOLIS - With no formal access to players and coaches on this Wednesday before the NFL Scouting Combine starts, we've spent the day getting our agenda set for this week (read: loitering in lobbies, rattling the locked gates at Lucas Oil Stadium and staying out of harm's way). The Patriots' contingent is trickling in gradually. The scouting department is pretty much all here, but Bill Belichick isn't expected until Thursday. Instead of flying coaches down en masse for the week, I'm hearing the team is having specific position coaches fly in for the workout and interview portions of their specialty. The Patriots will conduct their player interviews in a large meeting room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown. That's the hotel that houses all draft prospects. There's a security desk there staffed by Indy cops so that no riff-raff reporters get through. New England normally holds its meetings well into the evening with prospects - until close to midnight in the past - so thePatriots' coaches aren't out and about quite as much as other staffs. The Patriots low-key it at these events and I'm not even sure yet if Belichick is going to meet with the media. Last season, Nick Caserio, the VP of Player Personnel did most of the talking. There is an NFLmeeting scheduled for Thursday, to which each team is supposed to send its head coach, GM and a finance guy.That would be Belichick, Caserio and - most likely - Floyd Reese. Meanwhile, a planned Thursday meeting with a select group of agents has been cancelled. The agents will meet en masse with the NFLPA on Friday. Attendance is said to be mandatory. In both cases, it's expected the meetings will be held to answer questions and give info about what the marching orders for contact are if and when the CBA expires March 4. So many players are about to hit free agency, so the question is: can agents discuss their clients with decision-makers from teams who may be interested in draft prospects once the CBA expires.Talking this week is supposed to be tampering, but every team flouts that rule. I'll be lookingto track down Logan Mankins' agent Frank Bauer after the agent meeting. I'm sure he'll be psyched to see me.We'll be talking to offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long snappers andtight ends tomorrow.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'


Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue won't hit newsstands until July 8, but Vince Wilfork gave people a not-so-little preview of what to expect this week.

The former Patriots defensive lineman, who is listed at 325 pounds but said he's weighed as much as 350 pounds, sat down for an interview about his size that landed on on Thursday.

"I just think it's a good idea for people that are bigger-boned," Wilfork said when asked why he posed nude for the Body Issue. "If people can look at me, a guy that's 325-plus, doing an issue like this, I'm pretty sure that they might have a little confidence.

"There will be critics, just like with everything else. I think a lot of people will get a laugh out of it, I'll tell you that. I'm looking forward to what the locker room's going to say. But at the end of the day, I'm perfectly fine with who I am as a person and what I have accomplished. It shows a lot of my personality."

You can read the full interview here, as well as watch a video that shows Wilfork in all his modeling glory.

Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100


Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

Ask a football fan in New England, and he or she might tell you that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the top two players in the NFL. A random NFL player might not be as generous, but on balance, Brady and Gronkowski's peers consider the Patriots stars to be among the top 10 talents in the league. 

The NFL Network announced the final 10 players to be included in their annual Top 100 list, a list voted on by players, and both Brady and Gronkowski made the cut.

The order of the top 10 has been determined, but has not yet been announced. Brady and Gronkowski are in the running for No. 1 alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt. 

The weekly series, which has counted down Nos. 100-11, will end on Wednesday, July 6 with two, one-hour episodes on NFL Network at 8 and 9 p.m. Highlights of each player will be featured, as will interviews with some of their teammates and competitors. 

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder he’s always had," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Brady, "that really separates him."

Of Rob Gronkowski, Texans corner Charles James II said, "He's a glitch on Madden."

The only other Patriots players included in the Top 100 were Julian Edelman (who came in at No. 87) and Chandler Jones (No. 48). Jones, now a member of the Cardinals, was the only Patriots defender involved. 

Corner Malcolm Butler, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty all had an argument to be included but were left off. contributors Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor put together their own individual Top 100 lists to supplement the one voted on by current players. Rosenthal included Collins (No. 64), McCourty (No. 73) and Butler (No. 99) in addition to Edelman (No. 84). Wesseling included Collins (No. 43), McCourty (No. 88) and Hightower (No. 91), but not Edelman. Jones-Drew included both Edelman (No. 62) and Butler (No. 95). Taylor included only Edelman (No. 89).