Patriots potential draftees: Mark Ingram

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Patriots potential draftees: Mark Ingram

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Heading into the NFL draft, Tom E. Curran plans a series of looks at potential Patriots draftees. Today's player: Mark Ingram.

Mark Ingram, Alabama5-9, 215Running Back

The Skinny: The highest-rated running back in this draft. Won the Heisman Trophy in 2009 when he ran for 1,658 yards. He was dinged up in 2010 but still averaged 5.5 per carry. He's compact and very solidly built. Thick. He's got elusiveness in small spaces, runs with excellent patience and finishes his runs. He's played against the highest competition, which is something the Patriots value in their evaluations. Also, he played for Bill Belichick's buddy Nick Saban, so the Patriots will get a solid review of Ingram's skills. He's not exceptionally fast but accelerates quickly to his top speed and has excellent quickness.

Gotta Have Him: The Patriots got excellent production from BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2010 (1,008 yards) but the cupboard is nearly bare around him. Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor are both free agents and both are aged and injury prone. It will be a minor upset if the Patriots re-sign either, a stunner if they keep both. Ingram is a classic "bell cow" -- the kind of player you give the ball to 20 to 25 times a game. Yet his style is similar enough to Green-Ellis' that you could split carries and not lose rhythm with the offensive line. You need two solid running backs in today's NFL and a third-down back. Ingram would be the best back here since Corey Dillon.

Don't Need Him: The notion that teams need to build around big-ticket running backs with impressive resumes has vanished. Consider Green-Ellis. Or the NFL's leading rusher in 2010, Houston's Arian Foster. Both were undrafted. And there are many more examples of guys plucked from the bargain bin who are major contributors. Hence, would the Patriots want to spend a first-round pick on a position that can be ably filled later in the draft?

Forecast: Ingram will be there for the Patriots at 17. He could actually be there at 28 or 33, as well. Wes Bunting at National Football Post has Ingram as his seventh-rated player but doesn't have any team taking him in the first round of his mock draft. It just shows how the value of the position has dropped. The Patriots like Ingram. And his consistency, dependability and performance against top-tier competition makes it exceedingly easy to project him into the NFL. The last time the Pats took a running back in the first round it was Laurence Maroney and he didn't work out so good. But Ingram is kind of the anti-Maroney in style and resume.

Pats Draftability (1-10): 8

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

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Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

FOXBORO -- Roger Goodell will reportedly be in Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game this weekend and therefore will miss the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. His absence will mean he hasn't been to a Patriots game in more than two years, when he was present for the AFC title game in 2015 -- the birth of Deflategate. 

It's news that broke on Tuesday and sent some Patriots fans into an uproar. Patriots players, though, sound like they're having a hard time caring one way or the other.

"He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Monday. "If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come."

In the Patriots locker room on Tuesday, others struck a similar tone.

"I could care less," said Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. "I'm focused on Pittsburgh and their defense and studying them as much as I can this week, watching them as much as I can so that I can go out there on Sunday and be prepared."

Special teams captain Matthew Slater was similarly disinterested in the discussion.

"The game's going to be played," he said. "Whoever's in attendance is in attendance. We'll just worry about trying to play well."

Hogan 'feeling good' as he recovers from thigh injury

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Hogan 'feeling good' as he recovers from thigh injury

FOXBORO -- Patriots wideout Chris Hogan indicated after Saturday's divisional round win over the Texans that he'd be OK, and he doubled down on that stance when meeting with reporters Tuesday. 

The veteran receiver, whose first season with the Patriots has brought his first career postseason experience, injured his thigh against Houston. He left in the third quarter and did not return. 

"Feeling good," Hogan said. "Just had a little minor setback in the game. I'm working back every single day and feeling better every day."

Hogan had an awkward collision with Texans defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney at the end of the first half on a play at the goal line. To that point, he had reeled in four passes for 95 yards as the team's primary deep threat. With Hogan out, Brady relied upon Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd as wideouts.

Hogan explained that he was expecting to practice this week.

"I'm just gonna go day by day," he said. "Come in here tomorrow. Everything's been feeling better day by day. I'm looking forward to getting out there and practicing this week."