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Patriots Notebook

Kraft: Early signings business as usual

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / May 28, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots have two of their 12 draft picks already under contract — and a third may not be far behind — but Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick said yesterday the signings aren’t a sign that anything unusual is afoot.

Appearing at the Patriots Charitable Foundation’s annual Community MVP award luncheon — 22 volunteers were honored for exemplary service with a variety of organizations — Belichick downplayed the quick signings of third-round pick Taylor Price and sixth-round pick Ted Larsen.

“We’ve always contacted the players and the agents after the draft process is over, about this time, when they start coming to camp,’’ Belichick said. “Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t think I’d read too much into it.

“Sometimes it comes together, sometimes it’s a process that takes a little longer and people want to wait and see what everybody else is doing [relative to contract terms].’’

Kraft was asked if the deals had anything to do with the NFL’s labor situation.

“No, we’re just trying to do our business,’’ he said. “We’re doing business as usual. We’re trying to put our team in the best position to compete year in, year out. And with the facts we have, we’re going about our business in a normal manner. I’ll be surprised if we don’t have all our players in here for training camp.’’

Belichick said this week’s organized team activities, which have centered on younger players and veterans new to the team, are “going all right; we have a long way to go.’’

He added that it is exciting to be back on the field teaching, and joked that the good weather has helped him work on his tan.

A joint venture
Asked about the joint practices the Patriots have planned with the Falcons and Saints before exhibition games with those teams, Belichick said, “We talked a little bit about the logistics and how it could benefit us and, of course, them. We just felt like the timing and the scheduling worked out. Playing [exhibition games] on the same day every week is helpful.’’

Kevin Faulk, who was also on hand at the ceremony, expects the sessions to be intense, as they were in 2001, when the Patriots and Giants practiced together during training camp at Bryant University.

“Some guys don’t like some guys and they get into it,’’ Faulk said. “Guys get into it because you’re hot, you’re tired, you’ve been practicing all day and you’re practicing against someone that you really haven’t been practicing against.’’

Belichick believes there are a lot of positives.

“A big plus is to work against different teams, different matchups individually and different schemes,’’ he said. “I think there is more benefit to it in this particular year, and that’s why we elected to do it. They are quality teams, great programs. It will be good competition for us.’’

No worries
On the topic of contract discussions with quarterback Tom Brady and offensive lineman Logan Mankins, Kraft sounded confident that neither will be leaving the team. “They are two young men that will be on this team,’’ he said. “They are important to our future.’’. . . The Patriots re-signed linebacker Derrick Burgess and released receiver Isaiah Stanback and practice squad linebacker Bruce Davis.

College stars honored
Former Patriots running back Sam Cunningham of Southern Cal was among 14 newly elected members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Other players elected were Desmond Howard (Michigan), Pat Tillman (Arizona State), Dennis Byrd (North Carolina State), Ronnie Caveness (Arkansas), Ray Childress (Texas A&M), Randy Cross (UCLA), Mark Herrmann (Purdue), Clarkston Hines (Duke), Chet Moeller (Navy), Jerry Stovall (LSU), and Alfred Williams (Colorado). Coaches Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin) and Gene Stallings (Texas A&M, Alabama) round out the class, which will be inducted in December.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report; Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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