For all of the changes the Patriots made from last season to this, only one position was rebuilt from scratch: tight end. Veteran Alge Crumpler was the first brick in the reconstruction, with the former Pro Bowler signed as a free agent in March; a month later, New England drafted two other players, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and thus far the rebuild appears to be a success.
In the locker room, Crumpler — his given first name, Algernon, is from his father’s favorite book, “Flowers for Algernon” — has his stall right between the two rookies, so he can keep an eye on them as much as possible, and they in turn can ask him questions as needed. The 32-year old North Carolina native has been praised by Bill Belichick and his former coach in Tennessee, Jeff Fisher, for his professionalism off the field, and on the field he’s a standout run blocker (Fred Taylor calls him “a mauler”) but still has the hands that helped him average 51 catches a year from 2003-07 with the Falcons.
First car: It was a Toyota Tercel…that’s what my mom gave me. That was all we had left. I don’t know what the problem was, but every time I stopped I had to pull the emergency brake and switch back and forth between the gas and clutch so it wouldn’t shut off.
Game-day ritual: I don’t have one as much anymore, like I did in high school. I just like to get to the stadium early, listen to some music, all kinds.
Favorite meal: North Carolina barbecue, something I’m not going to get anytime soon.
First job: Working at the snack bar at the Boys & Girls Club. But my first real job – I cut grass for way too cheap. They took advantage of a youngster! I made enough to get candy and gas to put in the mower. But it taught me hard work.
Last concert I attended: Alicia Keys and John Legend…that was a while ago, maybe three years ago in Atlanta. That was a good concert. I expected her to just sit there are at the piano, but she brings a lot of energy.
Favorite TV show: Entourage. Nothing else is close. I’m sure that will make [executive producer Mark Wahlberg] happy, as he’s a Boston guy.
Place I’d like to visit but haven’t yet: I do want to go to Europe. My wife would love to see the old-world cities. I’ve been to a lot of places – been to Japan, went to the Middle East on a USO tour – and (Europe) is next.
Favorite non-football athlete: (World-record holding sprinter) Usain Bolt. And (Oklahoma City’s) Kevin Durant – he’s a young up-and-coming star. He’s mature beyond his years; he’s a good player.