Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. Patriots players Brian Hoyer and Wes Welker confirmed what I thought when it comes to player-organized workouts during this lockout offseason. The Xs and Os impact of the workouts is minor, with the true value coming with players forming stronger relationships with others on the club. I think that team dynamic is underrated and it’s why I think every first, second or third-year player would be smart to train in Foxborough in Jerod Mayo-led workouts.
2. Third-year Patriots receiver Brandon Tate has done so. The jury is still out on whether Tate can be a consistent top-2 receiver, but it sounds like he’s doing everything possible to put himself in position to take the next step.
3. Staying on the team dynamic theme, I like hearing stories of how two players who didn’t know each other prior to joining a team become roommates and very close friends. That’s what has happened with second-year tight end Rob Gronkowski (Arizona) and second-year inside linebacker Dane Fletcher (Montana).
4. As has been dissected in the weeks following the draft, picking a pass-rusher in the first round comes with some more volatility than other positions. The Chargers, for example, would like more production out of 2009 first-round pick Larry English, who has been slowed by injuries.
5. The Eagles have done a good job building up quarterback Kevin Kolb on the trade market, to the point that some analysts think it’s only a matter of time before another club hands over a first-round pick for him. You might hear that and shake your head and ask "how?", and it also makes you think that the Patriots’ selection of Ryan Mallett in the third round was a no-brainer.
6. Interesting to read about the teams turning down the opportunity to go on HBO's Hard Knocks, as well as how the Falcons are open to the idea. One thing about Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff – he might have come from the Patriots’ system, but he’s been adaptable and flexible when factoring in the different dynamics in play in Atlanta vs. New England.
7. It’s disappointing to hear another team (this time, the Cardinals) slash the pay of employees and/or implement furloughs because of the lockout. Why not wait until September to see if games are lost? It just seems like too convenient an excuse at this point.
8. This note from Len Pasquarelli’s “Tip Sheet” caught the eye: The salary for UFL players has been reduced to $40,000, from $50,000 a year ago. Training camp per diem payments went from $55 to $50. Last year, the league champion received $20,000 and the runner-up bagged $10,000. For 2011, the payments are $6,000 and $5,000, respectively .
9. With Josh McDaniels taking over the Rams’ offense, and receiver Danny Amendola coming off an 85-catch season, it makes sense to think Amendola’s production could spike even higher. Amendola is a tough matchup in the slot and McDaniels’ Patriots’ offenses got a lot out of Wes Welker in that role.
10. Bill Belichick presents Jerod Mayo on NFL Network’s “Top 100” series tonight (8 p.m.). I expect to hear Belichick talk about Mayo’s professionalism, maturity beyond his years, and passion for the game. When Mayo was looking for a place to live after getting drafted, he made sure it was within five minutes to the stadium because he knew that’s where he’d be spending most of his time.