- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Some initial thoughts after Thursday morning’s news, reported by the Omaha World-Herald, that Alfonzo Dennard was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence:
1. Rough offseason continues for the team. No NFL team has had as rough an offseason as the Patriots. At a time when the club would like to distance itself from the Aaron Hernandez murder charge, now comes more bad news. When it rains, it pours.
2. Dennard’s future with team. Would the Patriots release Dennard based on this reported arrest? Although some might view it as an extreme step, this is a time -- in the wake of the Hernandez murder charge -- when the club is probably extra-sensitive to any off-field issues with its players. Nothing would be a surprise.
3. Another player in the risk/reward category. Dennard slipped to the seventh round of the 2012 NFL draft, mainly because of an off-field incident in Nebraska in which he was later convicted of assaulting a police officer. The Patriots felt comfortable selecting him in the draft’s final round, in part because Bill Belichick met with Dennard personally on the Nebraska campus and also because of a strong recommendation from Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. Dennard emerged as a starter last season and proved to be a good on-field value -- he seemed to do everything asked of him football-wise -- but now the Patriots could be asking themselves, “Was it worth the risk?”
4. Pressure turning up on Belichick, Patriots. A few lingering questions based on the reported arrest: Is Belichick taking too many risks with personnel decisions? How much should the team be held accountable for the player's actions? Are there enough checks and balances on personnel decisions? Owner Robert Kraft, entering his 20th year of ownership, takes pride in what the Patriots’ brand represents. News like this puts another mark on the brand and likely will lead to further introspection.