Thursday, February 21, 2013
New England style combine quick hits
By Mike Reiss & Field Yates
INDIANAPOLIS -- Some more quick hits from the NFL combine, with a New England and Patriots twist:
1. Humor runs in the Fauria family. UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria, the nephew of former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria, was asked a series of questions about his family connections. Humor apparently runs in the family. "Waking up in the morning and seeing his ugly mug on TV, it's good. I'm happy for him," Joseph Fauria said of his uncle, who works for ESPN. Fauria projects as a later-round pick, and as for similarities in style of play with his uncle, he said: "The tight end position has changed tremendously since he played. We're different players, but there are a little bit of similarities here and there. I can be called more of a receiving tight end compared to him being more of the blocking style."
2. Big praise for Bill O'Brien. Bill Belichick has established connections with several college coaches, and he naturally has a strong one with Penn State's Bill O'Brien, the Patriots' former offensive coordinator. So any prospect from Penn State warrants some extra attention, and one of the top players at the combine is center Matt Stankiewitch (6-2 6/8, 302). "We ran the New England Patriots offense," Stankiewitch said, before adding: "If we were installing a new play, we'd turn on the New England Patriot film and watch how they were running the play against any team in the NFL. Of course, we had video recordings of Tom Brady's cadence before we started doing that. I remember in the weight room, it was me and the quarterbacks and the centers, and we had the playbook out trying to figure out how to do the cadences and we're screwing up, we're snapping the ball."
3. UMass lineman Milhim making big jump. As part of the media interviews at the combine, UMass offensive lineman Stephane Milhim noted that it was nice to be part of a process with players he watches on TV, such as those from Alabama and LSU. "It kind of hasn't hit me yet, but it's like 'I'm here too with these guys.'" Milhim said he measured at 6-3 7/8 and 314 pounds, and called tackle his best position even though some project him to move to either guard or center in the NFL. He has experience at all five positions along the line and felt his performance against Michigan defensive end Frank Clark was one of his best.
4. Wetzel meets Mankins in unlikely setting. There's a pipeline from Boston College to the NFL for offensive linemen, and offensive tackle John Wetzel is one of two former Eagles in Indianapolis hoping to take the next step toward the pros. While Wetzel hasn't had any interactions with the Patriots as it relates to the pre-draft process, he does have a brief history with guard Logan Mankins, whom Wetzel said he met at an event while interning for local radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. "I got a chance to talk to him and kind of learn about his experience [playing in the NFL], and learn from that," he said "I was kind of asking him some basic stuff about the whole combine experience, and he told me a little bit about that. Other than that, he talked to me about basic other stuff, other things besides football. ... It was nice just to have the chance to talk to him."