|Patriot Vince Wilfork swims past a tackling dummy at practice last night. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)|
Green-Ellis signs contract
Running back set to join teammates
FOXBOROUGH - It was expected that BenJarvus Green-Ellis would be back with the Patriots this season. After all, the team had tendered the restricted free agent running back at the relatively prohibitive (for other teams) second-round level.
And sure enough, the team announced that Green-Ellis had signed a contract yesterday. Assuming the collective bargaining agreement is ratified today and the new league year begins at 4 p.m., Green-Ellis will be on the field for his first practice of the year this afternoon along with fellow signees Logan Mankins, Matt Light, Kevin Faulk, and Sammy Morris.
“I’m just happy to be back,’’ Green-Ellis said.
Last season, the 26-year-old Louisiana native became the first Patriot since Corey Dillon in 2004 to top 1,000 rushing yards (1,008), averaging 4.4 yards per carry and scoring 13 touchdowns.
“It’s time right now to get ready to play football and get ready for the 2011 season,’’ he said. “I’ll just be happy to get out here tomorrow and practice with the rest of my teammates.’’
New England drafted two running backs in April, Cal’s Shane Vereen in the second round and LSU’s Stevan Ridley in the fourth, so there will be competition for Green-Ellis.
“Coach is going to do whatever he feels will help the team win, and whatever he does, I always support it,’’ Green-Ellis said.
Official visit A small officiating crew arrived in Foxborough yesterday and will be on site through tomorrow to help educate the players and coaches on new rules and points of emphasis.
Media members were shown the same video every player and coach around the league will be shown, and it emphasized player health and safety.
The league tried to clarify what constitutes a defenseless player: quarterbacks in the act of throwing or who have just finished a throw; receivers in the act of making a catch or receivers who have completed a catch but have not yet had time to protect themselves; kickoff and punt returners in the act of receiving a kick; a player on the ground at the end of a play; a runner “in the grasp’’; and a kicker or punter just after the ball is kicked.
Launching into a defenseless player - such as Brandon Meriweather’s hit on Ravens tight end Todd Heap last year, as the video illustrated - is illegal, as well.
But the league has loosened one rule: Hits to the head of a quarterback by a defensive player do not automatically draw a penalty; it must be deemed a “forcible blow.’’
Also, all scoring plays will be reviewed by the replay official in the booth before the conversion is attempted. And kickoffs will now being taken from the 35-yard line as opposed to the 30.
Brock pleased The Patriots hosted former Colts and Seahawks defensive lineman Raheem Brock yesterday, and according to Brock it went well.
“Had a great workout today! . . . decisions, decisions, decisions,’’ he tweeted.
“We bring a lot of players in. We talk to a lot of players this time of year. There’s a lot of information that’s out there. We’re just trying to do our job,’’ said Nick Caserio, the director of player personnel. “The process hasn’t changed. We’re trying to gather as much information as we can on as many players as possible and make a determination if they have a spot and a fit on this team.’’
Caserio was asked if Brock and former Dolphins and Browns linebacker/defensive end Matt Roth, whom the team also hosted for a workout, are similar players, and said they have different skill sets and would be evaluated independently.
Come aboard The Patriots also announced the signings of veteran center Chris Morris, free agent offensive lineman Jonathan Compas, and undrafted rookie running back Richard Medlin. Morris has played in 51 NFL games (11 starts) and spent last season with Carolina after four years in Oakland. Compas has spent time with Oakland and Tampa Bay . . . Running back Thomas Clayton and undrafted rookie offensive lineman Mike Berry were released . . . Today’s practice is from 4:30-7:30 p.m., but that time is contingent on the players’ union ratifying the CBA. The session could start as early as 1:30 p.m.