Patriots Fullback Marc Edwards was on with Dale and Neumy this afternoon, calling from the first day of mini-camp. Edwards remarked that the team seems really focused, everyone on the same page, the attendance at the offseason workouts has been better than last year, and the facilities are outstanding. In the old locker room there would be stuff dripping from the ceiling. He knows teams are not going to overlook them this year, but feels that the team learned how to win last year, they developed the ability to close games and come back in others. During this Mini-camp they mostly work on the core stuff, stuff they do everyweek during the season. It’s a time for the new guys to learn the system, time for the veterans to get their timing back. It’s the only time guys are there to work for themselves, not really as a team. They all have to learn what they need to do to fit in. He said it looks like “the Phifer thing is going to happen” and he’ll be back. He said that the morning session was “sloppy” and the coaches were on the guys pretty hard. I took “sloppy” to refer to the weather and that it’s raining pretty hard. Dale took it to mean that the players practiced sloppily. Not sure it’s clear which is the right interpretation.

Bill Simmons answers burning questions from the NBA playoffs. More fuel to the fire for conspiracy theorists, too. Check out the “most disturbing subplot”. He also answers “What happened to Paul Pierce?”

Sports Illustrated this week obviously does not want to be accused of any “SI Jinx” this week. They put both Kobe and Kidd on the cover. They have a small article leading off in “Scorecard” which addresses the topic of heckling in sports, with reference to the Kidd/Boston stuff last week. They have pictures of the guys who held the “Will someone please stab Paul Pierce” signs. There is also a feature on the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, and how for the players, it isn’t such a big deal, but for the fans, especially Boston ones, it’s a huge deal. Under “Sports Beat” there is a blurb on the Red Sox/Ben Affleck flap from last week. Slightly slanted.

Michael Kay with an absolutely horrid article on the YES Network web site. His “Hit and Run” section has some of the most dreadful stuff you’ll ever see in print. He attempts to do a Simmons “Rambling” type section and falls flat on his face. To wit:

* Chicago-style deep dish pizza is a little slice of heaven. And yes, the word slice was a beautifully executed and much intended play on words.

*I want to speak to the first person who had the nerve to try oysters. Are you kidding me with that stuff, or what? And also, if lobster and shrimp are as good as people say, then why are they always dunking it in some type of sauce or butter? If it tasted as good as people said, then just eat it without smothering it with another type of taste. I’m just trying to make this a full-service column, what can I say?”

*Also, who is the first guy to try and catch a bullet in his teeth? Talk about having to be great at something first time you try.

Then he takes a couple shots at Boston:

*Go to a Red Sox game at Fenway and listen to the crowd when the Sox are holding a lead. Mostly silence. These people are tortured! They are always looking for and expecting the worst.

* Speaking of Boston fans: really classy how they chanted “wife beater” at Jason Kidd during Game 4 while Kidd’s wife and oldest son sat in the stands. What gives anybody the right to chant personal things like that at an athlete? The price of a ticket does not excuse you from being a human being.

Hey Mike….when a man beats his wife and spits on her, gets arrested and has a public record made of it, he forfeits any right to his “personal” life. It’s fair game. No mention of the fans holding the sign mentioned above in SI, huh?