Patriots Midweek News and Notes

The Patriots continue to sort through their off-season priority list as they head toward the NFL Draft. A few quick hit items of note this week surfaced. Here's a brief recap of the quick hits of interest.

Brady Injury Update

Quarterback Tom Brady has a sports hernia, which requires surgery to correct. It is the same injury that sidelined Donovan McNabb during the season. According to one report in The Boston Herald, Brady will have surgery shortly, and can expect to miss anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks during his recovery.

McNabb elected to have the surgery during the season, something Brady was able to avoid as the Patriots made their postseason run.

Don Davis Re-signs

Linebacker Don Davis, a 10-year veteran and special teams ace for New England, has agreed to extend his term with the Patriots for one more season. Davis signed a one-year $770,000 deal with a $25,000 signing bonus. The deal falls under the qualifying contract terms of the CBA, which allows teams to sign vested veterans to minimal contracts and have a portion of the contract exempt from the teams' overall salary cap. Davis' contract meets those requirements meaning that only $485,000 ($460K base and $25K bonus) will count toward next season's cap.

Coaches on the Radar

As reported early yesterday in the Tipline, and again in the forums, The Patriots have hired a new coach. South Dakota Tech assistant football coach Josh Boyer will join New England as an assistant in quality control.

The Rapid City Journal broke the news late Monday (link).

Also in the Patriots' sights is a potential assistant to the offensive side of the ball. Scot Loeffler, an assistant at the University of Michigan, is under consideration for a position with the Patriots. The Detroit Free Press (link) broke news on Loeffler's connection to the Patriots Saturday. PI followed up on on Sunday night. ( Belichick remains Busy )

Wednesday's edition of The Detroit News has more on Michigan coach Llyod Carr's staff changes, including an update on Loeffler's meeting with his old friend Tom Brady (link).

Officiating Controversy

The public outcry over the status of officiating in the postseason has caused the NFL to issue a statement on the matter. The center of the issue is the postseason calls made in three games, not just the Super Bowl. The Broncos-Patriots game, the Steelers-Colts game and of course, everything came to a head at the Super Bowl.

After the Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFC Division round, New England head coach Bill Belichick expressed his disappointment in some of the calls.

"There were certainly some very questionable decisions in that game," Belichick said. "I'm surprised that was a playoff crew."

After the Steelers victory over the Colts, which included a controversial call overturning an interception by Troy Polamalu that should have ended the game, NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira felt it necessary to issue a statement.

"He [Polamalu] maintained possession long enough to establish a catch. Therefore, the replay review should have upheld the call on the field that it was a catch and fumble."

Then in the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks' coach Mike Holmgren was so incensed by a call in the first half, he headed to the locker room at the half barking at Bill Leavy, the head official of the game.

A number of questionable calls provided enough fodder for fans to wonder if the NFL was pushing an agenda. Virtually every controversial call went against Seattle, turning what could have been a close game into a moot point. Holmgren capped the public outcry when he referenced the issue at a post-game rally in Seattle.

"We knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers," he said. "I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well."

The NFL's response arrived yesterday via a statement from NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello.

"The game was properly officiated, including, as in most NFL games, some tight plays that produced disagreement about the calls made by the officials."

That statement, as contrite and well intentioned as it is, has hardly put a damper on columnists around the country. One went so far as to list the top 10 worst calls of these playoffs.

Top 10 worst calls of NFL postseason, by Kevin Hench (FoxSports.com )

A quick perusal of message boards around the Internet confirms that the outcry over the officiating isn't limited to just Seattle fans. Fans from every major city and of most major teams took umbrage at the performance on Sunday.

While the league hopes the issue will go away, it's unlikely to do so until the powers that be decide to revise some rules in the off-season, as many have so suggested.

NFL Combine Closing In

The NFL combine is just two weeks away. On display will be college football players who hope to hear their name called on Draft day. Leading up to the combine, Scout.com will continue to provide coverage of players as they prepare for the Draft.

More information on the players invited and their workouts can be found at TFY Draft Preview (link).

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