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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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)
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.