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Brady touches on Amendola, new receiver group at charity event

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 31, 2013 09:01 PM

Tom Brady and the Patriots have been on the field for six organized team activities in the last two weeks, with more coming next week.

He is largely unfamiliar with the receivers he has been working with after New England essentially overturned the position group in the last few months.

But while Brady likely has had to exhibit more patience as the new faces learn the playbook as well as the quarterback's preferences and he their tendencies, he does not feel like he has to coach them.

"I don't feel like, no I don't feel like they need to be coached, so to speak," he said. "I just go out there and try to do the best I can. You know, the more efficient I am, the better I produce, the better it is for the team. My focus has been on making improvements. I felt like it's been a good offseason thus far. I'm hoping to keep it going and get right into [the season]...

"Definitely we're trying to get all those guys up to speed, when you haven't really played with anybody for a significant amount of time. We're in a pressurized situation. There's definitely a learning curve and we're gonna try and work through that learning curve as much as we can. So practice is going to be competitive."

Brady chatted with reporters during halftime of the touch football game at Harvard that serves as the opening event of the annual Best Buddies Hyannis Port challenge. As usual, he received a great deal of support from current and former teammates, including Vince Wilfork, Zoltan Mesko, Ryan Mallett, Ryan Wendell, Jerod Mayo, Dan Koppen and Joe Andruzzi.

Danny Amendola, one of those new receivers, was also a participant, and Julian Edelman was on the sideline - Edelman's injured right foot is still being protected by a walking boot, and he also had a

Of Amendola, Brady said: "He comes in and he works really hard. He wants to do everything right. He's very competitive. It's been a lot of fun. He's out here today. We're having fun together."

Brady was of course asked about the health of Rob Gronkowski - the tight end underwent a fourth arm surgery on May 20 and will have back surgery in mid-June - but gave a very Patriot answer.

"I really don't know. I haven't inquired too much about what's going on," he said. "It's all the medical stuff; it always sorts itself out. So I've been working hard with the guys that have been out there and I look forward to him getting back on the field."

Patriots release rookie WR Moe, OL Green

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 31, 2013 05:19 PM
The Patriots have announced the release of rookie free agent receiver T.J. Moe as well as veteran offensive lineman Tyronne Green.

A Missouri product, Moe was a priority free agent signing for New England. Yahoo! reported that he received an $8,000 signing bonus as well as $22,000 in guaranteed base salary for the 2013 season.

Moe, like Danny Amendola, has drawn comparisons to Wes Welker. During rookie mini-camp, he called it an honor to be compared to Welker, and said his goal was to show the coaching staff that he was more into football than any other player.

The Patriots used the waived/injured designation on Moe, so if he clears waivers, he could revert to the team's injured reserve and in essence get a redshirt year.

Green, who started 13 games at left guard for the Chargers last season, was signed on May 13. He was a fourth-round pick out of Auburn in 2009.

With Gronk destined to miss time, the Patriots have a few options

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 31, 2013 07:00 AM

If Rob Gronkowski is going to miss some time for back surgery – quite possibly the first six games of the season depending on how the Patriots play their cards – there has to be some consensus on who does what in his stead.

Luckily, there's plenty of game tape from 2012 to give us an idea of how the Patriots will handle the loss of their all-pro tight end. There are plenty of new bodies to consider who can be useful substitutes.

Gronkowski led the Patriots last year with 750 snaps as the team's primary tight end, or "Y." Aaron Hernandez was right behind him with 723 snaps as the team's flex tight end. Michael Hoomanawanui (363) and Daniel Fells (338) trailed afterward. Hoomanawanui worked as both a primary and flex tight end. Fells' role appeared to be solidly as a Y, used mainly in blocking situations.

While all are still on the roster, the group has swelled. Throw Jake Ballard into the mix after he sat out 2012 with an ACL tear. He started 13 of 14 games he played for the New York Giants in 2011. During organized team activities, he's been working as the first team Y. Then there's rookie free agent signee Zach Sudfeld. The Central California native has a bit of a scary health history too, receiving a medical redshirt to play a sixth season at Nevada after going through shoulder, leg, knee, and wrist surgeries while in college. At 6-7, 225 pounds, he's also deemed to be a Y tight end. Then there's Clemson product Brandon Ford, who also signed as a rookie free agent. He's 6-3, 240 pounds and comes with an impressive resume (40 catches for 480 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2012).

FULL ENTRY

Drew Rosenhaus downplays significance of Rob Gronkowski's 'lingering' back injury

Posted by Ben Volin May 30, 2013 11:26 AM
With word emerging yesterday that Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski now needs back surgery on top of the four surgeries he’s had on his left forearm in the past six months, his agent Drew Rosenhaus took to the airwaves Thursday morning to downplay the significance of Gronkowski’s injury.

Rosenhaus said that Gronkowski has been suffering from a “lingering” back injury – a herniated disk – that he played through for all of the 2012 season. Gronkowski played the first 11 games of the regular season before breaking his left forearm, catching 55 passes for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Rosenhaus also confirmed that the injury is not on the same disk that Gronkowski herniated in 2009 at Arizona, which forced him to miss the entire season. He has not missed any time in the NFL due to that previous injury.

“It’s not a serious back surgery,” Rosenhaus told WQAM 560-AM in South Florida. “This is a new injury, and it’s minor, it’s not as significant. … I don’t think it’s a big deal, I think it’s more preventative maintenance than anything else. It’s something that, although he needs it, he’s had it for awhile and he’s been able to function.”

Gronkowski is likely to have a “microdiscectomy” in mid-June to repair the disk, and the typical recovery time is approximately 12 weeks. Gronkowski might miss time in the regular season -- potentially the first six games if the Patriots place him on the physically unable to perform list -- but Rosenhaus said it made sense for Gronkowski to have back surgery now while he’s also recovering from his latest forearm surgery last week, which could take 10 weeks or more.

“The recovery will be very comparable to the amount of time he would’ve missed for the arm surgery, so why not get it done now so that when he is healthy, he’s 100 percent and he doesn’t have to address the back down the road?” Rosenhaus said. “The bottom line is Rob had a successful forearm operation last Monday. I was there in Boston with him, everything went very well, and he’s doing so well now that he can afford to get back surgery.”

“I use the cliché, 'We're killing two birds with one stone' by getting the back done while he's out and recovering with his arm, because he really can’t do much right now anyway.”

Watch: Reviewing the Patriots second open practice

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 29, 2013 06:35 PM

Ben Volin and I go over the Patriots practice during OTAs Wednesday with an eye on who was missing, why they were missing, and who stuck out.

Source: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski to have back surgery, too

Posted by Ben Volin May 29, 2013 04:28 PM


Most of the attention paid to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski this offseason has been in relation to his twice-broken left forearm that has required four surgeries. But a back injury that has hampered him over the last year-plus could affect his availability for the start of the season.

A league source confirmed to the Globe Wednesday afternoon that Gronkowski, 24, will undergo surgery in mid-June to repair a disk in his back.

The injured disk is not the same one that forced Gronkowski to miss the entire 2009 college season at Arizona, but the surgery almost certainly will keep him off the field for the start of training camp in late July.

That means he could start the season on the physically unable to perform list. And it is unclear at this point whether Gronkowski will be ready to play in the season opener Sept. 8 at Buffalo.

If Gronkowski can't play against the Bills, the Patriots will lean on Aaron Hernandez, who is recovering from his own shoulder surgery, plus tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui, Jake Ballard, and Daniel Fells.

As for the forearm, all indications after the fourth surgery (which was done May 20) are that the infection has cleared, and the bone should be healed by the time training camp begins.

Tommy Kelly brings durability to defensive line

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 29, 2013 02:03 PM

Though he was signed by New England April 10, Wednesday was the first time defensive lineman Tommy Kelly met with reporters.

The longtime Raider is clearly happy to be with the Patriots, particularly after being part of an organization that went 45-99 in his nine seasons there.

But even though he received a two-year deal worth $5 million, Kelly isn't taking anything for granted.

Asked if the potential to be in the playoffs was part of the allure in coming to New England, Kelly said, "Yeah. But you know, I have to make the team first. Bill [Belichick] doesn't guarantee anybody anything. I have to make the team before I start thinking about that."

Kelly chuckled as he said that, but he already has seen players sent packing.

"You see how many people they get rid of around here?" he said, his eyes widening. "Make the team first, then worry about all that."

Listed at 6 feet 6 inches and around 300 pounds, Kelly has started 90 consecutive games; the last time he missed a game was in 2007. He prides himself on that durability.

"It's big when you play D-tackle," he said. "You have to be reliable. It's a physically draining and mentally draining position. So when you've got a guy you know you can depend on, that's what I pride myself on, is being dependable.

"And I'm going to give my teammates all I've got. If you're out there with someone you can rely on, it makes your job much easier."

Kelly projects to play alongside Vince Wilfork, and with Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick gone, he could see his role expand.

The Mississippi native has a healthy amount of respect for his new teammate.

"Oh, I love Vince," Kelly said. "He makes my job much easier. He makes most of the line calls. It's easy to play with somebody who's got experience and can really, really play."

Kelly said Wilfork is a lunch-pail kind of player: reliable, consistent, a guy who will be out there every Sunday.

Though he didn't want to say much about his time with the Raiders, Kelly did shed some light on how he endured so many losing seasons (Oakland was 8-8 in 2010 and '11, the closest it came to a winning record in his time there).

"At the end of the day, your film is your résumé," he said. "So, you know, I don't care what's going on with the record. You've got to handle your business personally, or you won't have a job in this league.

"NFL stands for 'not for long.' If you're not handling your business, they'll get rid of you real quick."

Six missing from Patriots OTAs

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 29, 2013 01:10 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots continued their offseason workout program on a misty day in Foxborough, the team's second week of organized team activities.

Missing from practice again were tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm), wide receiver Julian Edelman (right foot), linebacker Brandon Spikes, and running back Brandon Bolden (ankle). Also missing were offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Will Svitek.

While working on the basics of the playbook each week, the Patriots focused on kickoff returns last week. This week, the special teams focus shifted to punt returns. Leon Washington, Danny Amendola, Lavelle Hawkins, and T.J. Moe all took turns back deep.

Ryan Allen, a rookie free agent out of Louisiana Tech, competed with veteran punter Zoltan Mesko during the day. Both are left-footed.

In seven-on-seven drills, rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson came down with an amazing grab over two defenders. And Amendola, during full-team drills, came down with a highlight reel catch over Alfonzo Dennard to highlight the day's competitive battles.

Hawkins, who was cut by the Tennessee Titans May 1, had a bad drop -- a ball that hit him in his hands on a curl route.

Steve Gregory worked with the first-team defense as Devin McCourty (shoulder) sat out. He was joined by new safety Adrian Wilson and cornerbacks Dennard and Aqib Talib.

Newly signed defensive lineman Tommy Kelly joined Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, and Rob Ninkovich on the defensive line.

Patriots sign seventh-round pick Michael Buchanan

Posted by Ben Volin May 28, 2013 06:57 PM
Seventh-round pick Michael Buchanan became the sixth Patriots rookie to sign his contract. Buchanan, a 6-foor-6-inch, 255-pound defensive end, signed a four-year deal Tuesday with an expected signing bonus of $53,612 and a 2013 salary cap number of $418,403.

The Patriots are now just one player away from having their entire rookie class under contract before the end of the offseason program. Second-round receiver Aaron Dobson is the lone holdout, and his contract is likely to be completed soon.

Buchanan started 32 games at Illinois and had 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons, including a team-high 4.5 in 2012. He will compete with Jermaine Cunningham, Justin Francis, Jake Bequette, Marcus Benard, and Jason Vega for the backup pass-rusher spots.

The Patriots held the first of three days of OTA practice Tuesday, and Wednesday's session will be open to the media.

Source: Patriots LB Brandon Spikes to sit out OTAs, will return for minicamp

Posted by Ben Volin May 28, 2013 12:36 PM
Inside linebacker Brandon Spikes was the only player not in attendance last week when the Patriots hit the field for the first week of voluntary Organized Team Activities, otherwise known as "practices in shorts." And that's not going to change this week.

But when attendance is mandatory, Spikes will be in Foxborough with his teammates.

A league source tells the Globe today that Spikes, set to make $630,000 this year in the final year of his rookie contract, will continue to work out on his own and will not be at the Patriots' OTAs this week (it runs from today through Thursday, with Wednesday's practice open to the media).

But Spikes will be there when the Patriots hold their mandatory minicamp on June 11-13.

Of course, the Patriots have no recourse against Spikes if he skips an OTA, but they can fine him up to $60,000 if he skips the minicamp, per the CBA – $10,000 for missing the first day, $20,000 for the second day and $30,000 for the third day.

Spikes had 92 tackles, one sack, five forced fumbles and seven passes defended last year in 15 games at inside linebacker (14 starts). Overall he has started 28 games in three seasons since the Patriots drafted him in the second round in 2010.

Patriots games to be broadcast on ESPN Radio; NFL Draft set for May 2014

Posted by Ben Volin May 28, 2013 11:57 AM
A couple of Patriots/NFL tidbits to help you get through that post-Memorial Day hangover:

1. ESPN Radio to broadcast Patriots games nationally.

If Patriots fans not in the New England area want to hear Bob Socci and Scott Zolak call Pats games on the radio this fall, they can still tune in to the team's official website.

But for fans who might not have access to a computer during a game, or for those who want a more national perspective, they can now tune in to their local ESPN Radio affiliate.

ESPN announced this morning that it has signed individual multi-year agreements with the Patriots Giants, Jets, Steelers, and Dolphins for out-of-market Sunday afternoon syndication rights beginning with the 2013 season, the first time ESPN Radio will broadcast NFL games nationally on its network.

The ESPN broadcasts will utilize the network's own announcers. Thus far the only announcers named are Herm Edwards, Bill Polian and former Pats center Damien Woody, but additional announcers will be named at a later date.

2. 2014 NFL Draft pushed back two weeks, but not the rest of the offseason calendar.

We're only a few weeks into the 2013 season, but the NFL league office is already looking forward to the 2014 offseason.

The NFL announced today that the 2014 NFL Draft will be held May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City – two weeks later than usual.

But the later date isn't part of a sinister plot by the NFL to stretch out its offseason calendar and dominate the news cycle for 12 months (not yet, at least). The Draft is usually held over the final weekend in April, but that weekend coincides with Easter next year, and Radio City is already booked for some Easter shows.

To wit, the league also announced that the NFL Scouting Combine and start of the new League Year will be held at their usual times next year – Feb. 18-25, and March 11, respectively.

The NFL has not committed to a date for the 2015 draft.

Boyce signs contract with Patriots

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 24, 2013 02:32 PM


Receiver Josh Boyce has signed his contract with the Patriots. Boyce, out of Texas Christian, was taken in the fourth round, the 102d overall pick.

Like all draft picks, Boyce receives a four-year contract; under the slotting system, his deal is worth a total of $2.64 million, including a $477,000 signing bonus.

Listed at 5 feet 11 inches, 206 pounds, Boyce had 66 catches for 891 yards and seven touchdowns for TCU last fall.

He is the fifth of New England's seven draft picks to sign.

Film Study: NFL Films' Greg Cosell breaks down Patriots' draft class

Posted by Ben Volin May 24, 2013 11:15 AM
When it comes to evaluating football players with an unbiased guy, there’s one guy we always trust – Greg Cosell, the senior producer at NFL Films who spends his days locked away in the film vaults in New Jersey.

“I’m not right on every player, believe me,” he said with humility.

But Cosell, also the executive producer of ESPN’s “NFL Matchup” show, is one of the few people on the planet with access to coaches tape on all 32 teams and the hundreds of college prospects. The man puts in the time, and evaluates players with no agenda other than pinpointing strengths and weaknesses.

We caught up with Cosell on Friday morning to discuss the Patriots’ rookie class. We didn’t discuss every single player, but here after the jump is Cosell’s take on the big-name players:

FULL ENTRY

Tom Brady dispels notion his contract included a Welker agreement

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff May 23, 2013 08:31 AM
When Patriots quarterback Tom Brady signed a new contract in February that gave the team more money to work with in the free agency market, many speculated it included a gentleman's agreement that the Patriots would use some of the money to re-sign receiver Wes Welker, Brady's most reliable target.

Brady dispelled that notion on Thursday in an interview on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan program.

"Those aren't my demands. I want us to field as competitive a team as we possibly can and I have all the trust in the world that Mr. Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft] and coach Belichick do that. I'm not general manager, I can't say 'I do this, you do this,'" Brady said. "I think we are going to field a competitive team."

However, when Welker left in March to join the Broncos and the Patriots signed Danny Amendola to replace him at slot receiver, comparisons between the two became inevitable. Brady thinks those comparisons are unfair.

"They are similar positions, they're about the same height, they've both got very good ability. Wes was so productive for so long, I think it's unfair to compare anyone to Wes and what he was able to accomplish in his time here," Brady said. "Danny has been fun to work with. He's come in with an open mind and an understanding of the way we need to play."

Brady also said he was not surprised to find out Welker would be leaving the Patriots. After six seasons in New England, Welker signed a two-year deal to join the Broncos in March.

"I don't think anything surprises me anymore in the NFL," Brady said. "I've been around long enough to see different things happen at different times with the greatest players of all, whether that's Wes, or Randy Moss being traded from the Raiders, or Brett Favre playing for the Jets and Vikings. That's what happens."

Brady remains close friends with Welker, but wouldn't say if he was angry the Patriots let Welker leave as a free agent.

"Of course I have feelings, but those feelings are very personal to me. I used to get caught up in anger and frustration and disappointment, but I don't make the decisions. These things aren't up to me," Brady said.

Brady has spent his offseason working with throwing coach Tom House and has been seen at several high-profile events, including the Kentucky Derby. A now-famous video shows Brady and friends gleefully celebrating a victory by Orb. He explained why he was so pleased with the race's outcome.

"We went down with a friend of ours who was an owner of the horse, so we kind of had a rooting interest, and we had a rooting interest for several months. So it's kind of like we were very much a fan, and I haven't had that experience in a very long time where you're just very happy that someone else won. I was, I would say, overjoyed," Brady said.

Patriots swap tackles

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 22, 2013 06:17 PM


According to Wednesday's NFL transaction wire, the Patriots have claimed offensive tackle Kevin Haslam off waivers from the Chargers.

Not surprisingly, Haslam played at Rutgers.

Haslam is listed at 6 feet 5 inches, 304 pounds. He played in five games with San Diego last season. He entered the league in 2010 as an undrafted rookie, signing with Jacksonville. He played five games with the Jaguars but missed the entire 2011 season with a knee injury.

To make room for Haslam, the Patriots waived tackle R.J. Mattes.

Saints' Payton replaces Belichick atop highest-paid list

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 22, 2013 02:28 PM


Forbes magazine has published its annual list of the highest-earning coaches in US professional sports, and after spending the last two years at the top of the pack, the Patriots' Bill Belichick is now second to Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Payton's five-year contract signed earlier this year pays him an estimated $8 million per year. Belichick earns $7.5 million annually, which was tops in the NFL for the previous three years.

After being fired by the Eagles, Andy Reid was hired by the Chiefs and got a raise to boot: He was to make $6 million in 2013 if he had remained in Philadelphia, but Forbes wrote that Reid's deal in Kansas City will pay him "at least" $7.5 million a year.

Chip Kelly, Reid's successor with the Eagles, received a five-year, $32.5 million contract and has yet to coach an NFL game.

Eight of the 10 coaches on the list are in charge of NFL teams, interesting given that of the four major sports, football players have the lowest average salary.

The Celtics' Doc Rivers is one of four coaches making $7 million.

Here's the list:

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints, $8 million per year
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, $7.5 million
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs, $7.5 million
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks, $7 million
Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams, $7 million
Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics, $7 million
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins, $7 million
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants, $6.67 million
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles, $6.5 million
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs, $6 million

Watch: Takeaways from Patriots OTAs

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 21, 2013 07:09 PM

Shalise Manza Young and Zuri Berry give an overview after the second day of Patriots OTAs. Also, an interview with Danny Amendola.

Danny Amendola working to build rapport with Tom Brady

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 21, 2013 04:36 PM
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FOXBOROUGH -- The new face of the Patriots receiving corps has his hands full with the team's playbook -- a complex system by NFL standards of shifting routes, adjustments, and an ever-changing vocabulary.

But Danny Amendola, signed as a free agent in mid-March from the St. Louis Rams, is doing his best to get a jump on the difficulties of playing in New England by joining Tom Brady at the hip.

The new receiver got some extra one-on-one work with Brady in the team's second practice during organized team activities Tuesday. He had previously spent time with Brady working out together at Southern Cal.

"He's a really good quarterback, everybody knows that," Amendola said. "You know, just trying to get on the same page. So far, so good."

Amendola got one of those "welcome to New England" moments Tuesday when Brady fired a pass right into his chest. That's when he knew he was playing with a top-notch quarterback.

"Just inside my head, I was just like, 'Wow, this guy can really bring it.' That's why he's Tom Brady."

The more work, the better. The Patriots are banking on Amendola to replace the venerable and durable Wes Welker, who departed for Denver the same day the Patriots signed Amendola.

"Any time you get a jump, you get to work with each other, it's good," he said. "We're getting a lot of good work in now, it's good."

Amendola is still getting used to Gillette Stadium, admitting that he's gotten lost in the building a few times. But he's happy he's here and he has a bit of a leg up on the other new receivers because of his time with Brady and his time with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in St. Louis.

"When Josh was in St. Louis, I got to know [the plays] pretty good," Amendola said. "It's a little more intricate out here, and it's something to grasp. I'm learning every day."

He points to the vocabulary as the most important part of his learning process.

"It's the verbiage," he said. "It's everything. That's the most important thing, you know, the vocabulary of the offense. I'm learning day in, day out. And studying at night and everything. It's a process. It's the second day, so I'm looking forward to the next practice and getting ready for that."

Talib talks about coming back to Patriots, getting down the basics

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 21, 2013 03:46 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib spoke to the media after practice Tuesday for the first time since re-signing with the team in March on a one-year deal for a reported $4.8 million.

But talking about where he might have ended up through the free agency process, whether it was back in New England or elsewhere, was something he did not want to do.

"Man, I just let it play how it play," Talib said. "I just let it play how it play. I wanted to be back, I'm back. I'm happy I'm here. I'm ready to get to work."

Why did he want to come back?

"It's a great organization, you know," he said. "Great team, great teammates."

Talib wore double shirts under his practice jersey to soak up the heat on a sizzling day in Foxborough, trying to get a good sweat going. That's what OTAs are for, he said.

"We get in good shape, you get the basics of the defense down," Talib said. "Before you start game planning for anybody, you gotta have the basics of your defense down, and that's what we're doing right now.

"It's just a time right now, in uh, what's this month, May? June? Or May … May. It's the time to get in shape. That's all we worried about right now, that's all I'm worried right now. Getting in good shape, the best shape I can be in."

Wilfork: 'In decent enough shape'

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 21, 2013 02:55 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots defensive captain Vince Wilfork spoke to the media Tuesday after practice, remarking on the team's second day of organized team activities.

Wilfork noted that this was the time of the year for the Patriots to get to know each other and, more pointedly, to get in shape.

"That's why you have these days," Wilfork said. "Get in, get acquainted with one other. Prepare as a team. I think that's the most important thing, to prepare as a team. And individually, do what you can do to help this team. That's where I'm at.

"Like I said, I'm very excited. Every year it seems like the more and more you play, the more excited you get to come back."

Wilfork was asked about his own condition.

"Hey, I'm in decent shape," Wilfork said, to laughs. "In decent enough shape. But that's why you have these practices, you have OTAs, you have offseason workouts, you have training camps, just to get in shape and get a chance to get acquainted with one another and that's where we at."

Kraft optimistic on Gronkowski after surgery

Posted by Ben Volin May 21, 2013 01:38 PM

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is cautiously optimistic that the infection in Rob Gronkowski’s left forearm has finally cleared and that Monday’s surgery (his fourth) will be the last on the big tight end's arm.

But Gronkowski also may need surgery to repair a disk in his back. Will he be ready for the start of the regular season? Kraft can’t say for certain.

“I hope we have him for the full season," Kraft said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings taking place at the Hyatt Harborside in East Boston. "I know all the fans want that, and I as an owner surely do. We think long-term he still should be great, and we’ll see.”

Gronkowski had surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital Monday to replace a metal plate in the left forearm he broke last November and again on Jan. 13. The area had become infected, and Gronkowski wasn't able to proceed with his rehab.

“I’m not a medical person, and things change day to day, but we were told it was as good a report as we could’ve hoped for," said Kraft. "That made me feel good. I’ve learned in the medical area you can’t always predict everything, but it came out positive, and he’s so positive.”

The Patriots are hopeful that the infection has been eradicated and that Gronkowski can soon begin his eight- to 10-week rehab. Kraft last saw Gronkowski Saturday, when the two were joined by 30 past and current players at a football clinic in Newtown, Conn. Gronkowski was active Saturday, running around and throwing passes with the kids, but he was not present at the Patriots offseason workout Tuesday in Foxborough.

Brady gets one-on-one work with Amendola

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 21, 2013 12:51 PM
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FOXBOROUGH – Don't expect to glean any knowledge from the Patriots' second day of organized team activities – the first one that was open to the media for observation.

Tom Brady spent a majority of his first-team reps with Danny Amendola as his slot receiver, as expected, but continued the day with a rotating cast as his other options, including free agent signees Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins, as well as rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce.

Brady worked one-on-one with Amendola and Jenkins while the rest of the team was focused on special teams drills.

Of the notable players, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman were missing from the OTA practice, as expected. Veterans Brandon Spikes and Brandon Bolden were also missing from the voluntary practice.

Pictures: Patriots hold OTAs Bolden's absence was precautionary, a source told the Globe's Shalise Manza Young. He suffered an ankle sprain while training and is expected to return to the field next week.

Adrian Wilson and Lavelle Hawkins were not spotted on the field, although players were not wearing numbers on their practice shirts.

Others took turns riding a stationary bicycle. Tight end Jake Ballard, who missed all of 2012 after tearing his ACL in Super Bowl XLVI as a member of the Giants, needed to be stretched out after cramping up during the drills.

The highlight of the practice was second-year linebacker Dont'a Hightower picking off backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. Mallett appeared to be rusty through the day's drills.

Rookie Aaron Dobson snatched a Brady pass out of the air between two defenders, making his mark on the field. He followed up with another dazzling sliding catch later on.

We'll have quotes from Vince Wilfork, Aqib Talib and Danny Amendola on the blog shortly.

Giants owner John Mara on changing NFL calendar: 'I don't think it's a big deal'

Posted by Ben Volin May 21, 2013 09:56 AM
The NFL offseason calendar might drastically change next offseason after going largely unchanged over the last two decades.

But Giants owner John Mara has a message for critics of the plan to push back the NFL Draft to May and stretch out the offseason activities over a longer period of time: Chill out.

“It changes the way we’ve been doing things for years, but I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Mara said Tuesday morning at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel in East Boston, where the NFL’s owners are meeting to vote on the sites of Super Bowl 50 and 51. “Every time you change anything, certain coaches and other football people think it’s the end of the world. But you know what? They always manage to adapt.”

FULL ENTRY

Tedy Bruschi elected to Patriots Hall of Fame

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff May 21, 2013 09:06 AM
Tedy Bruschi, a fan-favorite linebacker who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls, was elected to the team's Hall of Fame.

Bruschi was voted in by fans in his first year of eligibility. He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this month.

"It’s a great day for me," Bruschi said. "My family is very excited. Mr. Kraft called me on the phone last night and gave me the news. He told me that he was very proud for me to be in the Patriots Hall of Fame. I am very proud to play for only one organization for my entire career."

Bruschi played 13 seasons, all with in New England, where fans exaggerated his name – "Bruuuuuuuschi!!" – in recognition of a big play or when he was introduced.

“We knew when we drafted him in 1996 that ‘Bruschi’ was going to be a fan favorite in New England,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement released by the team. “But, he was so much more than that. During the most successful era in the history of the franchise, Tedy was the heart and soul of the defense and proved to be a champion, both on and off the field."

Bruschi suffered a stroke in 2005, but returned to the NFL and played three more seasons before retiring in 2009. He appeared in 189 games, including five Super Bowls, and recorded 448 tackles, 30.5 sacks and had 12 interceptions.

"I never felt any different than the people who were cheering on the Patriots," said Bruschi on his connections to the fans. "I always felt that New England Patriots fans did their work and got their work done and when they have free time, they like to cheer on their favorite teams. I feel like that’s who I am also. A good family man cheering on my local team. I think that’s why I related so much to them."

Bruschi recalled his first thoughts when he found out he had been drafted by the Patriots in 1996.

"I wanted to do everything that I could to stay with the Patriots my entire career," Bruschi said. "To be able to look back and say that I stayed with an organization and built something special with them is something I'm very proud of."

Bruschi will be inducted to the Patriots Hall of Fame along with broadcaster Gil Santos at a ceremony Aug. 11 and he will also be honored at halftime of the Patriots' home opener Sept. 12 vs. the Jets.

Rob Gronkowski has forearm surgery Monday

Posted by Ben Volin May 20, 2013 05:20 PM

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had a fourth surgery Monday to help repair the left forearm that he broke twice in the 2012 season, a league source confirmed to the Globe.

The surgery took place Monday afternoon at Massachusetts General Hospital and was performed by Dr. Jesse Jupiter, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand and upper-extremity injuries.

The surgery Monday was to replace the plate in Gronkowski's forearm, after he developed an infection in the area. Assuming the infection has completely cleared -- and that appears to be the case, the source said -- Gronkowski can then begin his 8- to 10-week rehab to repair the break, which could affect his availability for the start of training camp in late July.

A fifth surgery on the arm appears unlikely at this point, according to the source.

Gronkowski originally broke his forearm last Nov. 18, returned to action Dec. 30 in Week 17, and re-broke the bone Jan. 13 against Houston in the divisional playoffs.

And it may not be the last time Gronkowski goes under the knife this offseason. He may also need surgery to repair a disk in his back, but that would likely take place during his recovery from forearm surgery, and likely wouldn't force him to miss much, if any, training camp.

Hi, my name is: Ben

Posted by Ben Volin May 20, 2013 03:47 PM
Howdy!

I'm Ben Volin, the Globe's new national NFL writer and the guy charged with the tough task of having to replace Greg Bedard, who as you know did fantastic work for the Globe the last few years.

I'm new to the Boston area, but maybe not to you folks reading the blog. I come to the Globe after spending the last eight years at the Palm Beach Post, including the last three as their Dolphins writer. I also "red-shirted" on the Dolphins beat in 2007-08, so I've seen plenty of Patriots-Dolphins games over the years – the Patriots' multitude of blowout wins, and the Dolphins' "Wildcat" win at Gillette in 2008.

Quick bio: Grew up in Montgomery County, Md., graduated from Emory University in 2004 and got an MBA from the University of Florida in 2010. I joined the Post in 2005, and from 2008-10 I covered Tim Tebow – er, the Florida Gators. So I know what it's like to cover a championship football team with a transcendent coach/QB combo.

I hope to provide to you what Greg did the last three years: Detailed, unbiased insight and analysis to the Patriots and the NFL at large. Those who read my work at the Post know I like to crunch numbers and break down game film with still photos, and you can expect much of the same now that I'm at the Globe.

Please follow me on Twitter, @BenVolin, and feel free to reach out to me any time via email: Ben.Volin@Globe.com.

Cheers!

Ben

Tom Brady has 'never had more confidence'

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff May 20, 2013 09:55 AM

Tom Brady is entering his 14 season in the NFL, but the 36-year-old Patriots quarterback told SI's Peter King over the weekend that despite his age he's more sure of his abilities than ever.

"Going into my 14th year, I have never had more confidence in how I am throwing the football," Brady said. "I've never felt better throwing the football."

Brady's former throwing coach, Tom Martinez, died 15 months ago, but Brady signed on with former major league baseball pitcher Tom House, who has taken over the job of honing Brady's throwing technique. Here's a passage from the King interview:

"I found Tom House, and really developed a rapport with him quickly. I've learned, and to me, the learning process is fun. The same way Tom Martinez was always there to watch and give me corrections, Tom House has told me why certain corrections need to be made. Look at a baseball swing and a golf swing. It's all mechanics. Look at how Barry Bonds swings. Look at how Floyd Mayweather punches. Mechanics. When you've got to fit it into the tightest windows, mechanics are crucial. And to me, the offseason is crucial. If you make a throw within four feet, that's not going to be good enough. You have to make the throw within four inches of your target. That's good enough. And that's why the mechanics you adjust and learn in the offseason are important. You're going to keep them during the season.

"Tom House, pretty soon after the season, said basically, 'All right, Tommy. Get to work.' That's the one thing that helps me move forward. There's nothing we can do about losing the championship game to the Ravens. It sucks. You move on. But, with Tom, I think I've learned some things this offseason that are really going to help me.''

Asked to specifically identify an area of improvement, Brady said, "Well ... I hate to ... well done is better than well said. I'd rather not say. I want people to watch and see if they notice."

Second-round pick Collins under contract

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 17, 2013 11:31 AM

The Patriots have announced that second-round pick Jamie Collins, who was the first player the team drafted this year after trading out of the first round, has signed his contract.

Under the rookie salary slotting system, as the 52nd overall pick Collins' deal has a total value of around $3.76 million, with a signing bonus of $1.1 million.

The 23-year old Collins, listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, moved from safety to linebacker to 4-3 defensive end during his time at Southern Mississippi, and his play caught teams' eyes even as the Golden Eagles plodded through a winless season last fall.

Collins is the fourth of New England's seven draft picks to sign.

Kyle Love's departure appears to coincide with changing defense

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 17, 2013 07:00 AM

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Former Patriots defensive tackle Kyle Love was claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Matthew J. Lee / Globe file)

The world turned upside down on Kyle Love Wednesday. Within the span of a few weeks, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and then waived by the New England Patriots, his medical status seemingly a prop used to dispose of the veteran defensive tackle.

While Love had a fairly successful run with the Patriots – he was an undrafted free agent who started 25 of 41 games in New England – he was most certainly not in the team's plans going forward. After beginning the 2012 season with 11 straight starts at defensive tackle, he worked as a substitute for the team's remaining seven games partly because of a knee injury.

At the time, Love's injury wasn't considered to be serious despite being labeled as "questionable" for five straight weeks. He was most notably taken out during passing downs and was supplanted by Brandon Deaderick on others. Deaderick, who was cut by the team on Monday, will join him in Jacksonville after both were claimed by the Jaguars.

FULL ENTRY

Seventh-round pick Beauharnais signs

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 16, 2013 06:49 PM

Now there are three. The Patriots and Steve Beauharnais have finalized a contract for the linebacker.

The Patriots' final draft pick (235th overall), the Rutgers product is listed at 6 feet 1 inch, 240 pounds.

New England drafted three Scarlet Knights -- Beauharnais, Logan Ryan, and Duron Harmon -- and all three are now under contract.

Jaguars claim Kyle Love

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 16, 2013 06:35 PM



Kyle Love was not unemployed for long. The former Patriots defensive tackle was claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday.

Love was released by the Patriots Wednesday with a non-football illness designation; he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes within the last two weeks.

Jacksonville also had claimed defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick, who was released by New England Monday.

Another Patriots draft pick signs: CB Logan Ryan

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 16, 2013 12:38 PM



The Patriots have one more draft pick signed: cornerback Logan Ryan.

Ryan was drafted 83d overall, the first of the three Rutgers players New England selected. His signing was announced by his agents on Twitter.

The rookie contracts post-CBA are fairly cut-and-dried, so they should all be done pretty quickly.

In surprise move, Patriots release Kyle Love

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 15, 2013 05:54 PM


The Patriots have released defensive tackle Kyle Love, using the non-football illness designation.

Love was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes within the past two weeks, and as he was dealing with the illness, he was unable to take part in the team's offseason workout program. Love had a $100,000 workout bonus in his contract.

Listed at 6 feet 1 inch, 310 pounds, Love had dropped a significant amount of weight -- it is believed he was down to around 280 -- in a short time, which went unexplained at the time.

"I'm somewhat surprised," agent Richard Kopelman said. "I know the Patriots run a tight ship, but I'm a little surprised. But they were not willing to take any risk.

"Kyle is going to be at 100 percent within a matter of weeks. Barring something out of the ordinary, he should be ready to go for training camp, and he'll continue to be successful."

Kopelman noted that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler plays with Type 1 diabetes, and former Steeler Kendall Simmons played with Type 2.

Love was undrafted out of Mississippi State in 2010 but quickly earned a spot in the defensive line rotation, playing in nine games as a rookie. He played in all 16 games in each of the past two seasons, with 24 combined starts.

He was slowed by a knee injury in the latter weeks of the season but did not miss a game. Love was credited with 40 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one quarterback hit during the regular season.

Patriots sign Duron Harmon

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 14, 2013 05:47 PM

Via the NFL transaction wire, the Patriots have signed third-round pick Duron Harmon. He is the first of the team's seven draft picks to sign.

According to the rookie salary scale instituted in the CBA, Harmon's deal should be in the neighborhood of four years, $2.7 million.

The 91st overall pick out of Rutgers, Harmon is a 6-foot, 200 pound defensive back.

DL Deaderick, WR Holmes released by Patriots; two offensive linemen added

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 13, 2013 06:05 PM

The Patriots announced four roster moves Monday afternoon: fourth-year defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick and receiver Andre Holmes were released; also, rookie free agent OL R.J. Mattes was signed. New England also made the Tyronne Green deal official.

The release of Deaderick is a bit of a surprise. A a 2010 seventh-round pick out of Alabama, Deaderick played in 14 games last season with five starts. He was credited with 18 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, and a pass break-up.

Deaderick had played in 20 games over his first two seasons, starting five games in 2011 and four in '10.

Holmes was signed to the practice squad late last season.

Mattes was a four-year starter at guard and tackle while at North Carolina State. He is listed at 6 feet 6 inch, 313 pounds.

Patriots sign OL Tyronne Green

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 13, 2013 10:22 AM
The Patriots have added veteran guard Tyronne Green, according to his agency, Schwatz & Feinsod.

The 27-year old Green, listed at 6-2, 316 pounds, was a fourth-round pick of the Chargers in 2009.

Last season was the first time he was a full-time starter, appearing in 13 games and starting all of them at left guard. He appeared in 28 games with 15 starts over the first three seasons of his career.

Green became a free agent in March and was not re-signed by San Diego.

What does the receivers depth chart look like?

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 10, 2013 07:00 AM

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What role will Donald Jones have with the Patriots this season? (Matthew J. Lee / Globe Staff)

The Patriots now have 12 wide receivers on their roster after signing free agent Lavelle Hawkins to a 2-year deal. The addition makes for an interesting mix as the group of players competing to make the team swells to a number worthy of the show “Survivor.”

The clarity of the group’s rankings isn’t helped by Julian Edelman’s status, who is back in a walking boot after re-injuring his right foot. He is one player who can not afford to have an unhealthy training camp while the team has plenty of options – both cheaper and younger – to turn to in his stead. Without Edelman, who will possibly miss OTAs because of the injury, the Patriots are looking at a full-blown overhaul in the position group. That will lead to training camp battles as both veterans (Hawkins, Michael Jenkins, Donald Jones) and rookie free agents (T.J. Moe, Kenbrell Thompkins) fight for the remaining spots on the team’s roster.

But as history under Bill Belichick will tell you, the odds do not favor the veterans. For instance, just last season Belichick brought in free agents Brandon Lloyd, Donte’ Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, and Anthony Gonzalez in the offseason. Lloyd was the major free agent grab for the team, replacing Chad Ochocinco/Johnson, so his spot was secure. But Stallworth and Gaffney were returning to the franchise after sputtering out at their last stops. Neither made it through training camp, while Stallworth latched back on after injuries. Gonzalez didn’t even make it into training camp, with his career succumbing to his own injuries. Despite all three having respectable careers, they were no match for a healthy and entrenched group.

FULL ENTRY

Patriots sign WR Lavelle Hawkins

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 9, 2013 12:35 PM
The Patriots have signed free agent wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins to a 2-year deal.

The transaction was first reported by the Tennessean.

Hawkins was released by the Titans last week after five seasons with the team, which drafted him in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He has 71 career catches for 771 yards and one touchdown. He had only 5 catches for 62 yards in 2012.

According to the Tennessean, he was slated to make $1.9 million in 2013 before being released.

Julian Edelman reinjured right foot, will miss OTAs

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 7, 2013 02:21 PM


According to NFL sources, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman is in a walking boot after reinjuring his right foot. It was a break in his right foot that led to the 26-year-old being placed on injured reserve in December.

Edelman will miss the on-field organized team activities New England is holding in the coming weeks; one source said there is an outside chance he will be able to participate in minicamp June 11-13, but it would be on a limited basis.

A seventh-round draft pick in 2009, Edelman was a free agent this year but returned to New England after signing a one-year deal.

He has missed 16 of 64 regular-season games in his four seasons as a Patriot, but when healthy, he is one of the better punt returners in the NFL.

Former Patriots Tedy Bruschi, Rod Shoate named to College Football Hall of Fame

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 7, 2013 12:24 PM

Former Patriots linebackers Ted Bruschi and Rod Shoate were named to the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class by the National Football Foundation, an honor shared by 10 other players and two coaches.

Bruschi, a defensive end at Arizona from 1992-95, played a pivotal role in the "Desert Swarm" defense. He finished his college career with an FBS-record 52 sacks and was a two-time All-American and the 1995 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year before being selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft.

Shoate, who died in 1999, played with the Patriots from 1975-81. He was a two-time first-team All-American at Oklahoma and helped the Sooners to a perfect season and national championship in 1974. He played part of his college career under Chuck Fairbanks, the late former Patriots coach. Shoate was picked by the Patriots in the second round of the 1975 draft.

“We could not be more proud to announce the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Class,” said foundation chairman Archie Manning in a statement. “These players and coaches are some of the greatest to have ever participated in our sport, and we offer our most sincere congratulations to each of them for this incredible achievement."

Here is the full list of honorees:

Players
Ted Brown – TB, North Carolina State (1975-78)
Tedy Bruschi – DE, Arizona (1992-95)
Ron Dayne – RB, Wisconsin (1996-99)
Tommie Frazier – QB, Nebraska (1992-95)
Jerry Gray – DB, Texas (1981-84)
Steve Meilinger – E, Kentucky (1951-53)
Orlando Pace – OT, Ohio State (1994-96)
Rod Shoate (deceased) – LB, Oklahoma (1972-74)
Percy Snow – LB, Michigan State (1986-89)
Vinny Testaverde – QB, Miami, Fla. (1982, 1984-86)
Don Trull – QB, Baylor (1961-63)
Danny Wuerffel – QB, Florida (1993-96)

Coaches
Wayne Hardin – 118-74-5 (61.2%); Navy (1959-64) and Temple (1970-82)
Bill McCartney – 93-55-5 (62.4%); Colorado (1982-94)

The 12 players and two coaches selected came from a national ballot of 77 candidates.

Patriots release two rookie free agents

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 6, 2013 07:48 PM


The Patriots signed 19 rookie free agents before the start of rookie minicamp Friday and Saturday, and two were released Monday: running back Quentin Hines and linebacker Ian Sluss.

Hines spent the 2012 season at Akron, with 35 carries for 194 yards (5.5-yard average) and one touchdown. He began his college career at Cincinnati.

The Patriots designated Hines as waived/injured, meaning he could be claimed by another club, but if not, he reverts to the team's injured reserve. Hines tweeted that he tore his labrum during rookie camp, an announcement that surely will not go over well with Bill Belichick.

Sluss was named Portland State's most valuable player last fall after making 104 tackles, four interceptions, and four fumble recoveries.

Schiano sending Buccaneers staff to Foxborough to learn from Belichick

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff May 3, 2013 03:08 PM



If Bill Belichick's drafting of three of Greg Schiano's former Rutgers players and signing a fourth as an undrafted rookie weren't proof enough of the respect the two have for each other, here's another example:

Members of Schiano's Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff will travel to Gillette Stadium next week to meet with Belichick and members of his staff.

According to Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, the two sides will talk about coaching topics and techniques.

Banks writes of the visit:

Though a Bucs official declined to comment on Schiano and part of his staff visiting New England, a league source characterized the session as one in which the Tampa contingent would learn from Belichick and his staff some scheduling details. The two parties will discuss how the Patriots set up their calendar, how to best approach and organize the preseason, deal with the bye-week schedule and organize various practice schedules. In other words, they're talking about the logistics of running a team, rather than any in-depth discussion of X's and O's.

The meeting is not against NFL rules, but it would seem unorthodox, particularly since the Patriots and Buccaneers will face one another in Week 3 of the regular season and Week 2 of the preseason.

Belichick has done something similar at least one other time in his Patriots tenure, so this is not unprecedented.

Belichick recommended Schiano to the Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, last year when they were searching for a head coach to replace Raheem Morris. Next week's meeting could help Schiano keep the job for as long as possible.


Patriots rookies are 'just happy for the opportunity'

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 3, 2013 01:53 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots rookies and undrafted free agents got their first taste of the Gillette Stadium field Friday, walking out with eyes wide and grins wider. They were greeted by a throng of reporters on their first full day as members of the team.

"I'm just happy for the opportunity," said Armond Armstead, the defensive lineman who last played in the Canadian Football League. "Just glad they gave me the opportunity to play in the NFL. And I'm just going to approach it every day and work hard and take advantage of the opportunities I'm given."

That sentiment was shared by his new teammates.

The Patriots brought in 19 rookie free agents Friday and five more players who were not under contract to join the draft picks for rookie minicamp. For those selected in the draft, even the seventh-rounders, that means the competition will be high.

"It's a great opportunity," said defensive lineman Michael Buchanan, who was drafted 226th overall. "I think it provides a lot of competition and I think it forces everybody to work hard and take every day seriously."

When undrafted cornerback Brandon Jones was signed, he became the fourth rookie from Rutgers on the team. Fellow rookie Duron Harmon, his former teammate at Rutgers, believes Jones can make the team.

"He told me, 'I'm coming up there with ya'll,' " Harmon said. "I was excited. I was like, 'You know what you can do. Basically come up, play hard, and if everything goes right, you're gonna be on the team.' Because he's a good player and he works hard.

"I'm excited for him. I know he has a chance to make the squad. That's why coach [Bill] Belichick brought him up. He didn't bring him up just for a body. He brought him up because he knows he has a chance to make the squad."

Not only are Jones, Harmon, Logan Ryan, and Steve Beauharnais all Rutgers players, they're all Labor Studies majors. It's difficult to stop connecting the four together.

"I mean, you can talk about it," Harmon said. "It is what it is. Man, we're all very close. We're basically like the same people. You could say we're all brothers and we all do the same things. These are really my brothers. I would do anything for these guys. I love 'em to death. I love 'em like they came out of my own mother's womb."

Ryan asserted as much.

"I'm sure you will," Ryan said. "But we're going to keep it real simple with you. I don't think we're here by coincidence. I feel like we're all talented players. And we're just trying to get adjusted. We prepare and work very hard.

"Speaking for myself, I'm just trying to get myself adjusted as quickly as possible and make sure I become a Patriot for a very long time."

Beauharnais, an inside linebacker, will have to focus on classwork after the weekend of rookie activities. He was doing geography work and writing an essay on the culture of New Jersey when he got word he was drafted by the Patriots.He still has finals to take.

"I just focus on the task at hand," Beauharnais said. "Right now I'm here, I'm learning as much as I can, absorbing it like a sponge, just doing the best I can here. When I go back home, I probably have to switch gears to go back to the classroom."

For all of the new players, this weekend marks the shift to becoming a professional.

"The celebration stopped Saturday when I got to see a whole bunch of my friends get an opportunity," Ryan said. "A whole bunch of my friends got an opportunity along with me. And then I sent a text out to those guys and said, 'It's time to work.' And we kind of got over it, and Monday we were back to work."

Belichick has himself an 'eager' group

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 3, 2013 11:01 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- This is the beginning for the 2013 rookie class. And right now, it's all about baby steps.

The Patriots are hosting 28 rookies and first-year players under contract, as well as a handful of other rookies and veterans who are working out for the team as part of rookie minicamp. That group includes Canadian Football League signees Armond Armstead and Jason Vega, who have been at Gillette Stadium the past two weeks. But before the team implements the full breadth of its playbook, let alone discuss concepts, they'll address the logistics of moving to New England and becoming professional athletes.

"Obviously we have a lot of information to give them in every area of football and all of the transitioning it takes to become a professional athlete and most cases for guys moving to this part of the country," Belichick said. "We have a lot of ground to cover but I think it's a group that seems attentive and eager. Like a lot of groups at this time of year, this group of guys is a pretty similar group to ones we've had in the past. So we'll just take it day by day."

The Patriots signed 19 rookie free agents on Friday, giving Belichick 90 bodies to work with in training camp. But the veteran coach noted that other small moves would be made to ensure the team can practice efficiently.

Also of note:

- The new Patriots selected their numbers last night. Second round pick Jamie Collins -- the Patriots' first pick of the 2013 draft -- will wear No. 91. Wide receiver Aaron Dobson will wear No. 17 while Josh Boyce will wear No. 82.

The other numbers for draft picks: Logan Ryan (26), Duron Harmon (30), Michael Buchanan (99), and Steve Beauharnais (45).

Rookie free agent signing T.J. Moe will wear No. 84, Deion Branch's old number. Kenbrell Thompkins, a rookie free agent receiver from Cincinnati, will wear No. 85, Brandon Lloyd's old number.

Patriots announce 19 rookie free agent signings

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 3, 2013 10:06 AM

The Patriots announced the signing of 19 rookie free agents, bringing the team's roster to a full 90 players.

Among the players signed:

Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech
Ben Bartholomew, FB, Tennessee
Dewayne Cherrington, DL, Mississippi St.
Kannorris Davis, S, Troy
Elvis Fisher, OL, Missouri
Brandon Ford, TE, Clemson
Cory Grissom, DL, South Florida
Quentin Hines, RB, Akron
Brandon Jones, CB, Rutgers
Josh Kline, OL, Kent State
Chris McDonald, OL, Michigan St.
TJ Moe, WR, Missouri
Stephon Morris, CB, Penn State
Ian Sluss, LB, Portland State
Matt Stankiewitch, OL, Penn State
Zach Sudfield, TE, Nevada
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Cincinnati
Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland
Mike Zupancic, LS, Eastern Michigan

Now, the fun part for the Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff May 3, 2013 07:59 AM

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Justin Francis, No. 94, was able to help the Patriots as an undrafted rookie last season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

When the NFL draft concludes, the Patriots arguably do some of their best work of the offseason.

After South Carolina tight end Justice Cunningham was selected with the final pick of the 2013 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts -- ergo dubbed Mr. Irrelevant -- the Patriots wasted no time burning up the phones looking to sign rookie free agents and fill out the team’s 90-man roster allotment. The process of signing and securing rookie free agents has been a particularly fruitful endeavor. New England is one of the few teams in the league with a strong track record of identifying those who are talented and yet overlooked -- and then developing them into role players.

Before this class of rookie free agents was added to the pool, the Patriots roster included 10 players who came to the team undrafted or as first-year free agents. That includes quality contributors in the last two years like defensive lineman Justin Francis and running back Brandon Bolden, and more seasoned veterans like offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, linebacker Dane Fletcher and defensive tackle Kyle Love. But there’s been plenty more that have worked out well for the team in spurts (Sterling Moore) and have moved on. And there are others (i.e. Kyle Arrington) who somehow made their way to the Patriots and have found themselves to be a valuable addition.

“I think that’s been an important part of our team through the years,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said last week. “Once again, last year we had several players either make our team or make our practice squad or in a couple cases, some combination of both. Maybe they were on one or the other for part of the year, but other guys came in that weren’t drafted and contributed to our team, like [Marcus] Forston, like [Brandon] Bolden, Justin Francis and other guys like that in the past – the Brian Hoyers and the Mike Wrights, you can go right on down the list. So that’s still an important time in the team building process.”

FULL ENTRY

Robert Kraft, Patriots welcome first draft pick Jamie Collins

Posted by Staff May 2, 2013 04:50 PM

FOXBOROUGH – Growing up in Mississippi, Jamie Collins had a rather generalized view of the people in New England.

As Patriots owner Robert Kraft tells it, “Coming from Southern Mississippi, he said, ‘I know those people up in New England are bankers.' "

On Thursday at Gillette Stadium, the big defensive end donned what Kraft deemed "his best banker's suit" and was presented with a No. 1 Patriots jersey as the team’s first pick in the NFL draft.

“It’s our pleasure to introduce Jamie Collins,” Kraft said. “We want to welcome him to New England and we’re excited to start off the season.”

Last Thursday, the Patriots traded their first-round pick (29th overall) to the Minnesota Vikings for four later picks, one of which was the 52d overall pick (the 20th in the second round), which they used on Collins.

“For us, this was a nondescript draft class,” Kraft said. “There were no big names, no big schools, no career records. But we hope it parallels a couple past successful drafts, where we had two tight ends in 2010 [Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez], and in 2011 we had two halfbacks with [Stevan] Ridley and [Shane] Vereen.

“It’s a pretty exciting time for us because doing this today really means the start of the new season.”

Kraft said the Patriots were particularly drawn to Collins because of his mental toughness and character.

“Here’s a young man who lost both his parents by the time he was 6,” Kraft said of the 23-year-old Collins. “He’s just a very wonderful and charming young man to talk to.

"He’s had a certain resiliency a lot of young people don’t have and see, and I think he’s really appreciative of the opportunity he has to be here.”

Just a year ago, another defensive end, Chandler Jones, was standing where Collins stood. The Patriots selected the 6-5 Jones out of Syracuse with the 21st overall pick.

Jones, who had 45 tackles and six sacks in his rookie campaign, is excited to work with Collins.

“I just met Jamie two seconds ago and said, ‘Good luck.’ He’s a cool guy,” Jones said. “Every question that he has, or whatever difficulty I had, I’m going to definitely share it with him.

“After we picked him, I looked him up on YouTube, and he looks like a very phenomenal player. I’m excited to be out here with him and we’ll see him in August.”

Jones said his advice to Collins will be to maintain consistency.

“That’s one thing I had to adapt to coming from college,” Jones said. “There’ll be times when you have a good day at practice, and you’ll be blah the next day.

"So just being consistent, coming out and doing your job every time, just to prove to those coaches that you can play in the NFL, so put me on the field.”

Jones is looking forward to working with Collins and is eager to get back on the field after last season’s 28-13 loss in the AFC Championship game to the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

“I’m getting excited,” Jones said. “There really isn’t an offseason.

"Even though you try to unplug from the game and get your mind off of it, you’re always thinking about what you could’ve done that play or that game.

"Physically, there’s definitely a resting factor but mentally, you’re always thinking about football.”

Collins, who will be made available to the media Friday with the rest of the draft picks, got started Thursday at the Patriots rookie-camp, which runs through the weekend. According to Kraft, he will have his work cut out for him, with many starters returning.

“Of course, everyone thinks they had a great draft and improved their team," said Kraft. "None of us know for a few years.

“But when you think about our team, I think we have more returning starters – 22 of our 24 starters are returning -- It’s going to be tough for young people to make this team.

"So I think there will be good spirit, good competition, and it’s such a fun time.”

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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