Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. The NFL news cycle will keep spinning this week as 26 teams have some form of organized team activities planned. What offseason?
2. The Patriots’ organized team activities are scheduled for May 24-27, June 1-4, June 7-8 and June 10-11. The team’s lone mandatory mini-camp is scheduled from June 15-17 and one business-based story line will be if guard Logan Mankins – unhappy with the pace of dialogue on a contract extension – shows up.
3. The Jets deserve credit for hitting big on draft picks Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and David Harris in recent years. Now they have what some would call a high-class problem: Can they sign all three to lucrative extensions?
4. The Chicago Bears plan to stay with a natural grass surface at Soldier Field, as reported by Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune. The team is in a similar situation to the Patriots in 2006, when the switch was made to a synthetic grass surface at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots visit the Bears this season on Dec. 12, when the field is more likely to be dirt than grass, which is another reason why the story hits closer to home.
5. The Patriots did not draft a running back and Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk all enter the final year of their contracts. In my mind, that makes third-man man BenJarvus Green-Ellis a player to pay extra-close attention to in training camp.
6. Entering the 2009 draft, a lot of time was spent considering the possibility of the Patriots drafting any of Southern Cal’s three linebackers – Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga. Two of the three (Cushing, Maualuga) have already been in the NFL headlines for the wrong reasons.
7. When reading about the Redskins’ plans to run a 3-4 defense, I wonder if they are forcing the scheme based on their personnel. Linebacker Brian Orakpo was solid in his rookie season in the 4-3, and that alignment also seems to suit defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth best.
8. Just because it’s the offseason doesn’t mean Bill Belichick takes his foot off the gas pedal. Patriots players said that he was especially hard on the team during drills last Tuesday in the offseason program.
9. USA Today conducted a survey on teams raising ticket prices and found that 18 of the 32 will have an increase this year. The Patriots, who traditionally increase once every few years, are not increasing ticket prices this year.
10. Patriots rookies are due in town this week and it will mark the most extended time that kicker Stephen Gostkowski has to work with new field-goal holder Zoltan Mesko, the team’s rookie punter. That is one trickle-down effect from the change at punter; it also changes the field-goal operation with punter/holder Chris Hanson no longer on the roster. To this point, Gostkowski and Mesko have exchanged just a quick hello, with Gostkowski calling Mesko to congratulate him after the draft.