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Fans of some teams cheer for 'their' team in the playoffs. Browns fans cheer for the GM and HC selections just about every other year.



Teams showing interest in Pioli and McDaniels


Globe Staff / December 30, 2008



FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots' absence from the playoffs has paved the way for other teams to speed up their pursuit of vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.


Browns owner Randy Lerner told media members in Cleveland yesterday that his team is interested in both Pioli and McDaniels after firing former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel as head coach, one day after axing general manager Phil Savage.


A Browns official confirmed that Cleveland had received permission from the Patriots to interview Pioli for its general manager post, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, citing league sources, reported on its website that Pioli is very interested and could interview soon. Pioli's name also has been linked to the front office opening in Kansas City.


Lerner told Cleveland reporters that McDaniels was on a short list of candidates to succeed Crennel.


A move to Cleveland as pigskin pooh-bah would be a return to roots for the 43-year-old Pioli, who started his NFL career with the Browns in 1992, when Bill Belichick, then Cleveland's head coach, hired him as a pro personnel assistant. Pioli has been with the Patriots since Belichick came aboard as coach in 2000, helping assemble teams that won three Super Bowls. At nine seasons, Pioli and Belichick are the longest-tenured personnel director/head coach tandem in the league.


A move to Cleveland with Pioli could prove intriguing for the 32-year-old McDaniels, considering he is an Ohio native, and played his high school football in Canton and then college football at John Carroll University in suburban Cleveland.


According to ESPN, the Detroit Lions are expected to ask for permission to interview McDaniels for their head coaching vacancy.


Belichick said the Patriots' offseason evaluation process will not be slowed by job opportunities arising for current team employees.


"That's something that we've had in previous years," said Belichick. "Whatever all the things that come up are - if and when they come up - then we will take them as they come. In the meantime, we will integrate that with our process of doing what we need to do to evaluate and improve our football team going into the 2009 season."


Retort to report

Belichick offered little in the way of a response to the NBCsports.com report that Tom Brady was well behind schedule in his rehabilitation from a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee, following surgery in October and a subsequent infection.


"Tom's here on a regular basis," said Belichick. "I see him all the time. I see our doctors and trainers all the time. I don't need to go read a report and see what somebody else has to say. Those people are all here. We do it on a regular basis."Continued...



A source with knowledge of Brady's injury said yesterday that the quarterback will need to undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove scar tissue buildup. But the source said that in cases like Brady's where there is an infection, the odds are between 1 in 3 and 1 in 2 that such a procedure will be required. The source said the arthroscopic surgery would set back Brady's recovery by only two or three weeks.


Full speed ahead


Running back Laurence Maroney said he plans to stay around Foxborough and participate in the team's offseason conditioning program as he attempts to come back from a shoulder injury that limited him to just three games and 28 carries for 93 yards this season.


Next year could be a make-or-break season for Maroney, who will enter the fourth season of his NFL career, and so far has failed to live up to expectations.


Maroney sounded determined to bounce back.


"This is my year," said Maroney. "Mark my words."


Businesslike approach


Running back LaMont Jordan finished the season with a flourish. Jordan, who missed eight games with a right calf injury, returned for the final four games and had 257 yards and all four of his touchdowns on 56 carries in that time.


He had 20 carries for 64 yards and the Patriots' only touchdown in the team's 13-0 win over Buffalo Sunday.


Jordan, a free agent, sounded as if he would welcome a return to the Patriots, who picked him up after he was granted an acrimonious release by the Oakland Raiders in late July.


"I could definitely see myself wearing this uniform again, but it is a business," said Jordan. "Outside of the cameras, outside of everything else, the bottom line is that this is a business.


"This organization is a winning organization and they're going to keep the players and bring back the players that they feel can help this team win. Hopefully I'm part of that.


"If I'm not, I completely understand, but regardless of what happens for me, being here, being with this team, I know what I need to do. With this year, if I wind up playing for another team, I can take with me my learning experiences."


Strong opinion


Linebacker Adalius Thomas, who missed the final seven games of the season after suffering a broken right forearm, said his rehabilitation is going well. Thomas expects to be 100 percent by next season. "Yeah, I'm confident," he said . . . Defensive end Richard Seymour, who missed the season finale with a lower back injury, intimated that the injury isn't serious enough to limit his offseason conditioning work. "I don't see anything holding me back. I'll be ready to go," said Seymour . . . The NFL released a tentative order for the first round of the NFL draft, with the final order contingent upon playoff results, and the Patriots will have the 24th pick.


Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at cgasper@globe.com.

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