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Patriots show heart, connect with the city

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  April 20, 2013 02:30 PM

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Patriots co-defensive captain Vince Wilfork and some of his teammates have stepped up for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. (Stephan Savoia / AP file photo)

Before the release of the Patriots and NFL schedule, which draws no shortage of hype, and before the NFL Draft, which draws no shortage of hoopla, we have this amazing opportunity in Boston to shower attention upon the elite endurance runners of the world.

As much as the Boston Marathon is an international contest, it's also very much a family event for those in the Greater Boston Area. It's a community gathering, one in which we can recognize the amazing perseverance of our family members and neighbors in the same field as world-class athletes.

The sanctity of this event that we all cherish and enjoy was scarred on Monday with bombs planted at the finish line, killing three and injuring more than 170 others. Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev (killed) and Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev (captured), the suspected perpetrators, were tracked down in a massive manhunt Friday.

But in the aftermath of such a tragic event, one which played out breathlessly for five days, it was heartening to see so many of the Patriots players respond to the bombing with acts of kindness and charity. It started with new wide receiver Danny Amendola, who pledged to donate $100 for every pass he caught and $200 for every pass dropped to "whatever Boston Marathon Relief Fund there is."

He was quickly followed up by Vince Wilfork, who asked fans to text "VINCE" to 50555 for a $10 donation on their phone bill that would help benefit victims through his foundation. As of April 17, at least 1,700 people had donated to Wilfork's foundation.

Defensive back Devin McCourty offered a $100 donation for each tackle he makes in 2013 and $200 for each interception.

It's times like these that professional athletes realize their own potential to have a positive impact in their community and live up to it. These Patriots players should be applauded for their philanthropy. But what's more, their charitable works have endeared them to a region that is still emotionally raw from the past week. There will be plenty of time to dissect their play on the field and process the X's and O's of Patriots football, but right now let's shower them with a little more praise for being good people. They deserve as much.


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Tweet of the week


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5 takeaways from the schedule release

1. The Patriots' 2013 regular season schedule is much tougher than last year. They've got top-tier competition in the Falcons, Broncos, Steelers, and, to a certain degree, the Ravens. With arguably only three top-tier games last year (Ravens, 49ers, Broncos), it's no surprise the team's strength of schedule rating was boosted. But it went up rather dramatically this year to .509 after being dead last in the NFL at .453 in 2012. I think we'll all appreciate the level of competition ahead.

2. The good games are spread out. Falcons in Week 4. Saints in Week 6. Steelers in Week 9. Broncos in Week 12. Ravens in Week 16. Every other week, the competition is going to be mediocre so the Patriots are going to have to stay vigilant. And that's not even mentioning division opponents Miami or New York.

3. With five prime time games – an NFL maximum – the Patriots still represent one of the top draws in the NFL on television. The other teams with five games? 49ers, Broncos, Falcons, Giants, and Redskins.

4. The Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Denver Broncos is already being pitched as one of the best games of the season. There's star quality across the board, of course, but all eyes will be on Wes Welker's return to Foxborough. While I expect fireworks, I think the Falcons will be more of a challenge in Week 4.

5. If I could pick a trap game for the Patriots, it would most certainly be the Buccaneers. After a 7-9 season, Greg Schiano will surely have had the opportunity to upgrade his roster with eight picks in the NFL draft. And the team is littered with weapons on offense. Add to the fact the Patriots face the Bucs early on in Week 3, and I like Tampa Bay's chances for an upset.


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Zuri's Top 5 needs for the Patriots in the draft

1. Wide receiver
2. Cornerback
3. Defensive end
4. Nickel linebacker
5. Safety

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Input this

Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi and linebacker Matt Chatham picked up a woman and escorted her away from danger after the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday. You may have read about it. Our readers certainly disagreed with Andruzzi's characterization of his role, calling him a bona fide hero despite his statement that he was not a hero.

Soxgirl15 wrote:

With all due respect Mr. Andruzzi...you and your family have pulled strangers from bombed buildings and you yourself carried a stranger to safety after your city was attacked.  You sir, are the definition of a hero.  A hero isn't an actor or an actress or a sports star...its men and women like yourself who put others ahead of themselves when tragedy strikes.  Men and women like yourself who carry injured out of battle zones.  You  Joe...are most definitely a Hero.  

I happen to agree with our readers.

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What's coming

- The Patriots pre-draft news conference is now scheduled for noon on Monday. It had been pushed back twice because of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio will be made available to the media for the press conference.

- The NFL draft is now just 5 days away, April 25-27.

- Patriots will have on-field organized team activities (OTAs) May 20-21, 23, 28-30, and June 3-4 as well as June 6-7.

- The team's mandatory mini-camp will be June 11-13.

- While no date has been set, the Patriots will likely begin training camp in the final week of July.

- The NFL season opens Thursday Sept. 5 with the Broncos hosting the Super Bowl champion Ravens. The Patriots will open the season on Sunday Sept. 8 in Buffalo. Only 141 days away.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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