By Chris Burke
July 11, 2013

Alfonzo Dennard fell in the 2012 draft due to a pre-draft arrest. (Elise Amendola/AP)Alfonzo Dennard fell in the 2012 draft due to a pre-draft arrest. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web….

• The New England Patriots' rocky offseason took another unfortunate turn Thursday morning, as cornerback Alfonzo Dennard reportedly was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Dennard's latest incident occurred in Lincoln, Neb., where Dennard attended college at Nebraska and where he was arrested last year for punching a cop outside a local bar.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has yet to issue a ruling on that case, for which Dennard recently was sentenced to 30 days in jail and probation. There was some belief that Dennard would escape league punishment, since that arrest technically occurred before Dennard was an NFL player. But this latest misstep, on top of Dennard's pre-draft run-in with the law, could lead to a suspension for New England's cornerback.

The next question will be if New England will even keep Dennard on the roster. Surely, the last thing the franchise needs right now, in the aftermath of releasing Aaron Hernandez, is another legal mess. Dennard started seven games for the Patriots in 2012 and was penciled in for a CB job, opposite Aqib Talib, but he'd be a relatively easy cut, financially, with just a $480,000 contract.

The Patriots did use a third-round pick on Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan and return 2011 second-rounder Ras-I Dowling, in addition to Talib and standout slot corner Kyle Arrington. Either Dowling or Ryan likely would step into the starting lineup, should the Patriots send Dennard packing.

Those decisions will fall secondary to growing concern over the Patriots' vetting process at the draft. Hernandez reportedly had come off of several teams' draft boards due to concerns over his background, and Dennard slipped all the way to Round 7 after that first arrest.

There is never a good time for a player (or anyone) to be hauled in for a DUI. Dennard's timing could not have been much worse, though, given how the rest of New England's summer has unfolded.

• Elsewhere in the AFC East ... the New York Jets will enter training camp with a very public QB competition, as incumbent Mark Sanchez attempts to hold off rookie Geno Smith. Sanchez's "Jets West" -- a player-led camp in California -- opens on Thursday, and the former USC quarterback told ESPNNewYork that he expects to beat out Smith for the starting gig.

"When it's a straight-up competition for the job, let's roll," Sanchez said. "It really doesn't bother me at all. It really doesn't affect my confidence or anything like that. We're competing for something. All right, I'm going to win. That's just how I am."

The calls for Smith from the Jets faithful will be swift, beginning in camp and rolling into the regular season, unless Sanchez can get the Jets off to a hot start. New York has a brutal schedule this season, which includes trips to Tennessee, Atlanta, Baltimore and Carolina, plus home games against New Orleans and Pittsburgh, in addition to the usual AFC East slate.

Embattled coach Rex Ryan may not hesitate to turn the offense over to Smith should Sanchez falter, if only to give the impression that the Jets are building toward a brighter future.

• On a much more positive note, the St. Louis Rams are banking on a breakthrough performance from second-year WR Chris Givens this season. Givens hauled in 42 catches for 698 yards and three touchdowns during a solid rookie season, and he should benefit from the arrival of speedy slot man Tavon Austin.'s Gregg Rosenthal has Givens pegged as a player who will be "Making the Leap" in 2013. "Givens made plenty of (plays) as a rookie," Rosenthal writes. "He absolutely can top 1,000 yards as the Rams' No. 1 receiver in his second season."

• One here for the more hardcore football fans. Eric Stoner of SBNation's Big Cat Country laid out the Xs and Os of "Zone-Blocking Basics," with an emphasis on how that approach might impact the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013. Stoner frequently does yeoman's work picking through game film, and this latest effort is no different.

• Fantasy football drafts are just around the corner (heck, you might have had one or two already, if you're really eager). And with that in mind, Chet Gresham has laid out his QB rankings over at Fanduel.

Joe Flacco

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