New NFL Ready to Kick Off?

On the newly redesigned Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight on FSN last night, Jonathan Kraft sounded quite certain that a new NFL labor deal would be done by tomorrow. Reading between the lines, he also sounded confident that both Adam Vinatieri and Willie McGinest would be back with the team next season. John Tomase seems to feel that chances are good that McGinest will not take a huge pay cut from the Patriots and might bolt to the Browns or Jets. Eric McHugh notes that Tyrone Poole could follow Duane Starks out of the Patriots secondary and into the open market. Jerome Solomon notes that with the expansion of the Belichick coaching tree, “Patriots type” players are going to be more in demand in the draft and free agency. Lenny Megliola catches up with author James Lavin, who is working on volume three of his series on how the New England Patriots do business. Tomase and Mike Reiss each look at the impending labor deal.

The Indy Star reports that a High School offensive coordinator has accepted a position with the Patriots. His name is DuJuan Daniels and he was the 1997 Indianapolis Star Indiana Mr. Football. He also went to Boston College and played wide receiver for the Eagles. It would appear that he’s getting a chance to start at the ground floor.

The Red Sox continue to make preparations for the season as they move closer to Thursday’s exhibition opener with the Minnesota Twins. Tony Massarotti checks in with Johnny Damon over in Yankees camp, and finds the former Red Sox centerfielder doing just fine, thank you very much. Gordon Edes has a look at Dustan Mohr, who is taking over Damon’s #18 in the Red Sox outfield. Mohr injured himself last season with the Rockies on opening day after trying to vault a short fence to celebrate a walk-off home run by a teammate. The injury set the tone for the rest of the season for Mohr. David Heuschkel says that another Red Sox outfielder, Trot Nixon, has no intentions of slowing down, despite being in the last year of his contract and starting to get up there in age a bit. He’ll be 32 in April, but feels his best years are still in front of him. Steven Krasner looks at Tony Graffanino, who is currently a man without a position or playing time. The Red Sox will attempt to trade him to a team where he can play second base regularly. Jeff Horrigan also reports on Graffanino and the Red Sox attempts to trade him.

Rob Bradford profiles the Red Sox massage therapist and nutritionist, two people who are unrecognizable to the casual fan, but still play big roles with the team. Jeff Horrigan looks at pitcher Edgar Martinez, who started out in the Red Sox organization as a catcher, but has developed into a good prospect since switching ends of the battery. He throws 94-97 mph and reminds some of El Guapo because of his large frame. David Borges introduces us to the Red Sox new third base coach. DeMarlo Hale takes over for Dale Sveum, a welcome move for many Red Sox observers. While in Yankees camp, Massarotti also has Mike Myers wondering why the Red Sox never got around to offering him a new contract.

Dom Amore looks at Effa Manley being the first woman elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Chris Snow’s notebook looks at how Baseball Prospectus has Dustin Pedroia ranked as the 11th best prospect in baseball, while Baseball America ranks him at 77. Krasner’s notebook looks at Manny Delcarmen as he attempts to get his curveball back this spring. Borges’ notebook makes note of the fact that the other Manny, Ramirez, is due into camp tomorrow.

Steve Bulpett has a look at Paul Pierce’s development into a complete player, the type that makes those around him better. Shira Springer notes that the team’s success on the recent road trip has their confidence up and hopes brightened for the future of the club. Bill Reynolds devotes sections to Ryan Gomes, Paul Pierce and Lamar Odom in his column this morning. Bulpett’s notebook has Gomes saying that his success recently is due in part to the fact that he is finding things simpler in the NBA right now as a supporting player than it was as the main guy on a college team.

Jackie MacMullan has a look at African-Americans in the local history of hockey. She goes back to Leon Lewis, who was probably the only African-American playing high school hockey in the 1950′s, and David Yancy, who started playing in the 1960′s. It’s a very interesting article, typical of MacMullan. Rich Thompson has the Bruins getting ready for a stretch run. Mike Loftus checks in with Hall Gill and Mike Sullivan, who are disappointed with how things turned out for their Team USA in the Turin Olympics. Fluto Shinzawa looks at rookie defenseman Milan Jurcina, who returns to the Bruins after playing heavy minutes for Slovakia in the Olympics. Thompson’s notebook has more on Jurcina. Loftus also previews the week ahead for the Bruins.

Michael Vega looks at Boston College setting their sights on getting the #2 seed in the ACC Tournament.

Lenny Megliola reports on WEEI afternoon flash guy Pete Sheppard’s attempt at curling last night.

Check out these two entries from a hockey blog called Japers’ Rink on January 12th and January 18th. Then check out these online columns from SI.com’s Tom Layberger on February 16th and February 2nd. Just a little too close for comfort.

NESN has Wake Forest/Boston College at 7:00. ESPN has LSU/South Carolina at 7:00 and Illinois/Minnesota at 9:00. ESPN2 has Saint Joseph’s/Xavier at 7:30. OLN has Wild/Avalanche at 9:00.