Potential Patriots draftees: Gabe Carimi

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Potential Patriots draftees: Gabe Carimi

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Heading into the NFL draft, Tom E. Curran plans a series oflooks at potential Patriots draftees. Today's player:Gabe Carimi

Gabe Carimi, 6-7, 314OT,Wisconsin

The Skinny:After an injury-plagued junior season, the cocksure Carimi came back in 2010 and won the Outland Trophy, an award given annually to the best interior lineman (defense or offense) in the country. Carimi was part of a bludgeoning rushing attack for the Badgers. He demonstrated excellent smarts and toughness and a willingness to play through the inevitable dings an offensive lineman will deal with. With the Patriots needing to soon hire the successor to Matt Light at left tackle - or do some shuffling to get Sebastian Vollmer over there from right tackle- they will need a new guy. With BC's Anthony Castonzo and USC's Tyron Smith seemingly stacking up as the most attractive LTs in the draft, that will leave Carimi on the board for New England later in the first round.

Gotta Have Him:Smart, very confident and the kind of player you can probably expect a long and stable career from. Carimi takes football seriously and cares about the craft. He said at the NFL Combine that he's the best left tackle prospect in the draft. Bless his bearded heart for thinking so. He's also played very well against talented competition in the Big Ten.

Don't Need Him:The Patriots' offensive linemen have a unique vibe as a unit. They are very self-effacing, almost shy. Carimi came off as a blowhard at the Combine. An interesting blowhard, a funny blowhard, but a blowhard. Offensive lines are unique battalions and you don't want to upset the group with a dingbat. On-field, it will be a bit of a challenge to figure where best to play Carimi. He thinks he's a left tackle but, as our buddy Wes Bunting at National Football Post points out, he's so much better suited for the right side.

Forecast: Says Bunting, "People think he's a right tackle only. Ideally, he's a right tackle but he can play on the left. He's got strong hands, understands angles and - while he'snot the best of athletes - he's talented. He's a Pro Bowl caliber player on the right side. He's probably adequate on the left. For a team like the Patriots, I'd let him get after it in the run game." The Patriots need to determine whether Carimi is versatile enough for them and whether his personality and skill set fits their team Bunting isn't sure Carimi's boastfulness will be an issue past the draft. "Right now, he is Gabe Carimi the prospect. He seems a good enough guy that he'll be able to read the atmosphere of a team and won't be a diva. He's trying to sell himself right now. In a goodlocker roomlike New England, Baltimore or Pittsburgh, he should be fine."
Patriots Draftability: 7

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

Curran: Too early to read anything into Patriots' practice groupings

Curran: Too early to read anything into Patriots' practice groupings

FOXBORO – On Thursday, we noted that the early part of Patriots practice -- 7-on-7 passing -- had Tom Brady running with the starters. When 11-on-11s came, it was Jimmy Garoppolo The Patriots flipped it on Friday. 

A major part of training camp is seeing who’s running with whom to get an idea of which way the coaching staff is leaning. But not all reps are created equal, as Bill Belichick pointed out Thursday morning. 

“There’s a balance,” he explained. “Players that will probably play together, you let them work together, but you never really know how that’s going to go. And in the end everybody’s got to work with everybody until those things get worked out, get declared. 

“I don’t think we’re really in that spot yet,” he added. “But, you know, you get into the season and you want a certain receiver running a certain route, a certain situation, that’s who it’s going to be. I don’t think we’re really there. Offensively, we’re just installing our offense. We don’t even have 50 percent of our red-area offense [installed], and that’s what we worked on yesterday so we’re a long way from really trying to nail down a lot of specifics. But you saw some times in practice where the quarterbacks would be working with an individual receiver, maybe during a special-teams period, things like that. There’s some of that but we’re not in that full-scale mode yet.”

And it will take a while before you can really read the tea leaves on groupings and figure out who is near the top of the depth chart. Some guys are still in 100-level classes. Others are more highly evolved.

“Everybody can work with everybody, that’s not a problem -- I’d say the knowledge base, the overall level of execution of certain things is higher in one group than it is in another group. We have some players with less experience spending more times on the basics and the fundamentals, Not that they don’t practice some of the little more sophisticated things, but that’s not the point of emphasis for them. It’s for them to work on their fundamentals and more of the basics first. But it’s a balance, it’s a tough thing in camp that you’ve got to balance, and at some point you’ve got to turn the corner and get your players that are going to be ready to play, whoever those are, ready to play.”

That time’s not now. And it may not come in force until after the Bears and Saints joint practices and preseason games. So take every report of reps and combinations with a grain of salt for the short term. And we’ll keep pumping them out.  

Bennett on chemistry with QBs: 'I've dated two girls at the same time before'

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Bennett on chemistry with QBs: 'I've dated two girls at the same time before'

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett has what may be seen as a difficult task this summer: Pick up some measure of chemistry with not one but two new quarterbacks as he learns the Patriots offense. 

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo have different skill sets, different arm slots and different release points. Their timing with their throws probably isn't identical, either. Still, Bennett has to figure out how to get in lockstep with both while deciphering a complicated offense with a playbook built up over 16 years. 

But the challenge of working in unison with two quarterbacks shouldn't be much of a challenge at all, Bennett explained. 

"I've dated two girls at the same time before," Bennett said with a laugh. "That's the old Martellus though."

During his short time in New England, Bennett has shown he is not afraid to engage in colorful back-and-forths with reporters, and Friday was no different. 

Here are some other highlights from Bennett's interaction with the media on Day 2 of training camp: 

* On if he could see himself in New England long-term (Bennett is currently in the last year of his contract): "Yeah. I don't really think about next year. Right now, I'm just trying to have the most fun playing football this year. It could be taken from me at any time. I didn't get to finish the season last year. For me, it's just a joy to be out there playing and enjoying the game. I'm enjoyig the process and making progress every single day. I'm haven't even thought about tomorrow, I'm just worried about my todays."

* On the pressure to perform for his new club: "I always feel pressure to perform. It's a performance-based game. If you don't perform, they move on from you. Every single player out here has pressure to perform. It's our lives on the line, it's our careers. Every single day, you just try to show them what you can do. That way you can get a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more. I've always had that pressure on myself. I don't play for myself. I play for my family. My wife and my daughter and my teammates so I have pressure on me every single day because if I don't play well, it affects my wife and my daughter so that's my mentality when I come on the field."

* On what it's like to play with Brady versus other quarterbacks: "I wouldn't compare apples and oranges. I've been fortunate to play with a lot of great quarterbacks. With Tom, he's just really good. I just tell [teammates] every day: 'Man, you guys are lucky, you guys have played with Tom Brady forever.' He's just a really good quarterback."

* On competitiveness he's seen from Brady, who spiked a helmet on Friday : "He's been competitive even when we're just working out. It's fun because he plays at such a high level that you have to match that level. Oil and vinegar don't mix. You just want to make sure you rise to the top when he rises to the top as well."

* On where he sees players on the team exhibit competitiveness: "Everywhere. Even in the cafeteria."

* On how it feels to get back on the football field: "It's like when you break up and you finally get back with the girl that you love in the first place."

Collins: Contract situation will take care of itself

Collins: Contract situation will take care of itself

FOXBORO -- Not long after Bill Belichick confirmed that Jamie Collins' absence from Day 1 of training camp practice was excused, the fourth-year linebacker was spotted on the field loosening up with his teammates for Day 2. 

Given the impact Collins has on the Patriots defense when he's healthy and on the field, his return to work was not an insignificant one. His health didn't appear to be an issue as he worked in for reps with the first-team defense alongside fellow linebacker Dont'a Hightower in the middle of the field. 

He explained that his contract is not an issue at the moment, either. In the final year of his rookie deal, the 2015 Pro Bowler is scheduled to make $917,864 in base salary this season -- far below what he would make on an annual basis if he were to hit free agency.

"I'm just handling business, man," Collins said when asked if there were any updates on his contract status. "That'll take care of itself."

The Patriots are in an unusual position in that they have a handful of young players of import to the defense that in the final years of their deals. Hightower is set to become a free agent after this season, as are defensive end Jabaal Sheard, safety Duron Harmon and corner Logan Ryan. Malcolm Butler, a Pro Bowl corner last season, will be a restricted free agent after the season. 

Signing them all could be difficult if not impossible, but there have been no holdouts to this point. After being publicly excused from Thursday's on-the-field work by Belichick, and after hearing from him on Friday, Collins' brief absence certainly would not fall under that category.