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Voluntary workouts & player attendance

One topic that has generated debate around the Patriots has been linebacker Brandon Spikes' decision to stay away from the team's voluntary offseason program.

Spikes, who is the lone player on the 90-man roster to stay away, plans to attend next week's mandatory minicamp.

It's something that has come up in other NFL locales as well -- such as the Giants with Hakeem Nicks and Eagles with Cary Williams -- and ESPN.com NFC East reporter Dan Graziano writes strongly on why he believes any criticism of players staying away from voluntary workouts is unwarranted.

"Words have meaning, and the word 'voluntary' means of one's own will and without outside interference," Graziano writes. "The fact that almost everyone else on the team is there practicing doesn't change it. The fact that they make a lot of money and play a game for a living doesn't change it. The fact that coaches and fans prefer players who go above and beyond what's required of them doesn't change it. Nothing does. ... [Criticism] needs to stop."

To read Graziano's piece, CLICK HERE.