Tom Curran mentioned in his notebook this morning that the Patriots were close to re-signing both Troy Brown and Stephen Neal. Michael Holley on WEEI today reports that Troy Brown will re-sign with the Patriots.

A few afternoon links, Dale and Holley referred to a couple of online articles. Here is the article from Cold Hard Football Facts that looks at why the Patriots were right to move on from Adam Vinatieri and not give him the contract he wanted. They also referred to the section on the Football Outsiders website which makes the same case. It was written prior to free agency and the section regarding Vinatieri is down in the Patriots section. Tom King says that the departure of Vinatieri marks the end of an era for the Patriots.

Mike Reiss has some of Vinatieri’s comments from his introductory press conference in Indianapolis. Update: Reiss reports that Tom Ashworth has signed with the Seahawks.

Apparently I missed out on Mike Barnicle, Dan Shaughnessy and Ron Borges talking about Bill Belichick’s many “character flaws” on the 96.9 FM airwaves this morning. Quite a topic for that esteemed trio to be talking about. I’m told that it was also brought up by Borges that “People don’t realize that limited short term success, just like limited failure, is sometimes based on luck”. Good stuff if true.

Rob Bradford says that there is hope on the Celtics horizon. Mike Fine looks at how the Celtics have suffered with the injury to Al Jefferson. Win Bates looks at the Celtics win over the Raptors last night. Fine also looks at active offense of the Celtics leading them to the win. Bradford also talks to Ryan Gomes and Charlie Villanueva about the pro prospects of Boston College’s Craig Smith.

SI.com has a Q&A session with Bill Simmons.

Boston Radio Watch reports that ESPN Boston is bringing in a new program director, Len Weiner:

Weiner replaces Doug Tribou who was with the new sports talker since its launch last July. Weiner arrives from Chicago where he had been program director for WGN-AM since June 2005, and, prior to that, ESPN Radio-owned ESPN 1000 (2003-2005).

In Chicago, Weiner helped ESPN 1000 grow into the city's top rated sports radio station, overseeing a 41% ratings increase in the key men 25-54 demo during his tenure.

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