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How does Patriots offensive line stack up to rest of NFL in terms of size?

05.16.16 at 3:32 pm ET
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At an average of 316.4 pounds, the Patriots have the 13th-heaviest starting offensive line. And at an average height of 6-foot-5, New England is tied for the second-tallest starting offensive line.

By way of comparison, four other teams have an average height of 6-foot-6, good enough for tops in the league. (Chargers, Steelers, Chiefs and Saints). The shortest? Nine teams have a starting line that averages 6-foot-4. At an average of 327.2 pounds, the Raiders have the heaviest starting offensive line. San Diego (327), the Niners (322.8), Rams (322.8) and Seahawks (320.2) all round out the top 5 when it comes to highest average weight. At the other end of the scale are the Falcons (304.4 pounds) and Texans (304.8)

The numbers were assembled by the crew over at SB Nation (check out the link for the breakdown for the entire league), and utilize the starting lineup projections at Rotoworld.

Report: Danny Amendola had offseason knee, ankle surgeries

05.16.16 at 1:14 pm ET
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Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola took a beating during the 2015 season.

This is why it’s not much of a surprise that he had offseason surgery on both his knee and ankle, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. The report adds both surgeries occurred after the playoffs and he still is rehabbing. The ankle injury was a bone spur and deemed a “quick fix.”

It is unknown at this time how long the injuries will keep Amendola out. There’s hope he will be ready for training camp, but nothing — even Week 1 — is guaranteed.

Amendola suffered the knee injury against the Bills in Week 11 and missed two games — Week 12 at Denver and Week 16 at the Jets. He finished the season with 65 catches for 648 yards and two touchdowns.

The receiver recently took a pay cut as his contract is now two years worth $7.35 million with $750,000 more in roster bonuses/catch incentives. He was scheduled to have a base salary of $11 million over the next two seasons before he restructured.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Patriots-Bears to have joint practices at Gillette Stadium prior to 2nd preseason game

05.16.16 at 12:32 pm ET
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With the number of trades the Patriots have made with the Bears of late, it’s evident the two organizations have a strong working relationship.

The relationship is strong enough that the two teams will have joint practices at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 15 and 16 prior to the Aug. 18 preseason game. It will be the second preseason game of the season for both teams.

Bill Belichick is a big fan of joint practices, but typically will only have them with teams he has a good relationship with and it appears the Bears and coach John Fox are now in that category.

Joint practices are now an annual occurrence for the Patriots as they’ve partnered up with the Saints the most times, including last year in West Virginia. The Patriots host the Saints in the first preseason game, which may be too early to hold joint practices, but could still happen given the history.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

How does Patriots current roster break down by school, conference?

05.16.16 at 10:50 am ET
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Bill Belichick continues to rely heavily on former Rutgers' players like Devin McCourty. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick continues to rely heavily on former Rutgers’ players like Devin McCourty. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick still has a soft spot for the Scarlet Knights.

The Patriots’ roster is at 90 players, and while it will obviously continue to grow and evolve and change as the regular season draws closer, at this point on the calendar, no school is better represented than Rutgers. Five former Scarlet Knights — Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan, Jonathan Freeny and Kevin Snyder — are currently on the Patriots’ roster, making them the school of choice.

Four different schools have at least three players on the New England roster: Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina State and Stanford. (It’s been a big offseason for the Wolfpack, as three former N.C. State players: defensive lineman Markus Kuhn, offensive lineman Joe Thuney and quarterback Jacoby Brissett were all added within a month or so of each other.) Sixteen different schools are represented with two players, while everyone else is tied with one.

Check out the complete list below:

Rutgers — 5
Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina State, Stanford — 3
Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Eastern Illinois, Florida State, Georgia, Houston, Illinois, Kent State, Marshall, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pitt, Texas Tech, UCLA — 2
Alabama A&M, Arizona, Boise State, Brown, Cal, Colorado, Connecticut, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan State, Missouri State, Monmouth, Navy, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Sacramento State, Southern Miss, Tarleton State, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Christian, Tiffin, Vanderbilt, Virginia, West Alabama, Western Michigan, Wisconsin — 1

When it comes to the roster breakdown by conference, the Patriots are currently led by Big 10 players (17). The SEC is a close second (16), while the Pac 12 (12), ACC (10) and American Athletic Conference (7) round out the Top 5. A complete list is below:

Big 10 — 17
SEC — 16
Pac 12 — 12
ACC — 10
American Athletic Conference — 7
Conference USA, Big 12 — 5
Mountain West — 3
Ohio Valley, Mid-American, Missouri Valley — 2
Southwestern Athletic, Ivy League, Sun Belt, Big Sky, Mid-American, Gulf South, FCS, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic, Lone Star — 1

Read More: 2015 trade deadline, Bill Belichick, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan

Veteran free agent Dwight Freeney: If I ended up with Patriots ‘both sides would win’

05.16.16 at 8:49 am ET
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Veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney was asked about the possibility of signing with the Patriots.  (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney was asked about the possibility of signing with the Patriots. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Veteran pass rushing specialist Dwight Freeney is 35 years old, but he doesn’t sound ready to retire.

The veteran free agent, who had eight sacks last season with Arizona and 119.5 sacks over the course of his illustrious career, is interesting in sticking around as long as possible, and said he would love to return to the Cardinals, even after they swung a deal to obtain Chandler Jones.

Freeney, a New England native who has long been a favorite of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, was also asked about the idea of continuing his career in New England.

“Well, that’s hard to fathom. But I’m not against Bill,” Freeney told Peter King’s MMQB. “I understand the dynamic involved, but at the end of the day, this is a business. My first allegiance right now is to Arizona, if they’re interested. But if it happened that I ended up in New England, I can tell you, both sides would win.”

With the Colts, Freeney was always a handful for the Patriots to deal with — Matt Light said Freeney was the toughest matchup he faced over the course of his career.

“He’€™s a guy that I had a lot of respect for. It’€™s not just the way he plays the game, it’€™s how many different ways he can make you look silly out there, [of] which, there are plenty,” Light said of Freeney in 2012 shortly after New England’s longtime left tackle announced his retirement. “I can go through them all. We can go watch film of he and I, and you’€™ll see it yourself. He’€™s just an all-around great player. And he’€™s not a guy that talks a lot out there, he doesn’€™t have anything to say to you, he’€™s not trying to beat you with his words. He’€™s going to go out there and he’€™s going to put the work in and he’€™s going to show you how bad you can look.”

While Freeney isn’t the overwhelming pass-rushing presence he used to be, as a situational player, he could be an intriguing fit with the Patriots. One thing to remember when it comes to a possible Freeney-in-Foxboro scenario is that New England acquired a veteran pass-rushing end in Chris Long, and also has established players like Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard already in the system. If the Patriots are interested, it’s unclear how they might make it all fit, but Freeney’s response certainly provides some food for thought.

Read More: Bill Belichick, dwight freeney,

Russell Wilson references Super Bowl XLIX interception against Patriots in commencement speech

05.15.16 at 2:54 pm ET
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Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson can poke fun at himself.

Wilson, who was the commencement speaker at the University of Wisconsin on Saturday, passed along some worthwhile advice to the graduates during his speech. At one point, he harkened back to his Super Bowl XLIX defeat to the Patriots, a loss that was sealed when Malcolm Butler picked off a pass on the goal line.

“If you’re playing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, and you got 26 seconds left and you’re down by four and you’re second-and-goal on their 1-yard line, try not to throw an interception,” he said with a smile.

Turns out Wilson is also no fan of former N.C. State and Boston College coach Tom O’Brien. Wilson, recalled his interaction with O’Brien when the two were together at North Carolina State. Wilson said O’Brien — who was the head coach at Boston College from 1997 to 2006 before leaving to take over the Wolfpack program in 2007 — wanted to move him to safety before the start of his freshman season.

“Excuse my country voice here, but he says, ‘Son, I’m switching your position. I’m moving you to safety.’ He’s not asking me. He’s telling me,” Wilson recounted. “I could have just gone along with it, and maybe I should have just gone along with it. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t ready to take no for an answer.”

Wilson also remembered a conversation he had with O’Brien right before he ended up transferring to Wisconsin.

“The summer before my senior year of college, I’m playing minor-league baseball. I called my football coach at NC State and said, ‘Hey coach, I’d like to come back for my senior year.’ He told me I wasn’t coming back,” he said. “He said, ‘Listen son, you’re never going to play in the National Football League. You’re too small. There’s no chance. You’ve got no shot. Give it up.’ Of course, I’m on this side of the phone saying, ‘So you’re telling me I’m not coming back to NC State? I won’t see the field?’ He said, ‘No son, you won’t see the field.’”

Of course, Wilson would go on to become a third-round pick of the Seahawks, and lead Seattle to back-to-back appearances in the Super Bowl.

Read More: Russell Wilson, Super Bowl XLIX, Tom O'Brien,

Sunday NFL Notes: How does birthday boy Rob Gronkowski measure up to other NFL greats at age 27?

05.15.16 at 5:30 am ET
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Rob Gronkowski turned 27 on Saturday. (Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski turned 27 on Saturday. (Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)

1. Rob Gronkowski celebrated his 27th birthday on Saturday. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at where his performance to this stage of his career stacks up with some of the greats of the game at the same age. Gronkowski’s 380 career receptions prior to his 27th birthday is 12th-best in NFL history. (For some perspective, Randy Moss had 525 catches before he turned 27. Larry Fitzgerald’s 523 catches by his 27th birthday are second.) However, it’s worth noting that Gronkowski’s 5,555 career receiving yards are fifth-best on the list, while his 65 receiving touchdowns is second-best all-time for anyone in that same span (he trails only Moss with 77).

2. Offseason workout routines can occasionally make for some intriguing combinations. (There’s one theory that suggests Gronkowski, who was a workout pal of Martellus Bennett this past offseason, helped push through the deal that delivered ultimately Bennett to the Patriots.) With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Jeff Christiansen — who has served as the personal quarterbacking teacher for current Patriots’ backup Jimmy Garoppolo for several seasons — is currently working with Houston’s Brock Osweiler. (Contacted by WEEI.com, Christiansen said Saturday he was in Houston to work with Osweiler this coming week.) Of course, Christiansen also tutors several other quarterbacks at various stages of development, from high school through the NFL. But with Osweiler in Denver backing up Peyton Manning and Garoppolo serving as the No. 2 quarterback behind Tom Brady in New England the last few years, the parallels are certainly worth noting.

3. Smart move on the part of the Patriots to pull No. 51 out of circulation for the time being. Even if they’re not going to retire the digits — with expanding rosters, not sure how practical it is to out-and-out retire numbers any more — it’s an easy way to acknowledge the career of veteran Jerod Mayo and what he meant to the organization. Via Instagram on Saturday, Mayo thanked the Patriots for the move, what he called a “silent paycheck” that was more a sign of respect than anything else. “I retired from the game as my ultimate sign of respect to the best organization, owner, coach, teammates and staff the Mayo family could have ever dreamed of. I gave my all and wanted to leave knowing I was able to always live my end of the bargain. I wanted and needed nothing more in return; the organization did enough. There is a thing in life called a ‘silent paycheck'; and ways to show gratitude. To the classiest organization in all of sports, and maybe even in all of business on behalf of Chantel, our children and I, we say thank you for one of the most humbling and unexpected silent paychecks we have ever received.” No one suggests that the number will be out of action for an extended stretch — only that No. 51 should remain on the shelf this coming season as a way to pay tribute to Mayo.

4. Vince Wilfork isn’t around anymore, but he still has some pull with his old mates, as it appears the veteran defensive tackle has gotten Mayo and Devin McCourty into horse racing. Thanks to an article that was sent along by our pal Mike Mutnansky, we found that Wilfork, Mayo and McCourty are part of a group that owns 3-year-old filly Elysea’s World, a horse that beat Grey Stark by a half-length Wednesday on the turf at Belmont Park and is regarded as a filly to watch. Wilfork is also the sole owner of Great Minds, who won his third straight race in the Texas Mile earlier this month. Wilfork got into racing in 2008 after he “fell in love” with Big Brown, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. “I said, ‘You know what? I want to get involved. I want to own one.’ I played with a couple of claimers and learned the game,” Wilfork told reporters earlier this week. “And when I felt like I was ready to own my own horse, I got introduced to Claiborne Farm. They’ve been nothing but awesome people over the years. For my first yearling to do what he’s doing right now, you can’t put a price on that.”

5. Not sure if first-year tight end Steven Scheu (pronounced SHOY) is going to stick with the Patriots, but it was clear from speaking with the rookie free agent very briefly this week that the Vanderbilt product is a guy with a good head on his shoulders and a solid sense of perspective. Asked if majoring in medicine meant that he’d like to head into that field once his playing career is done, Scheu said yes. “Most of the people in that major are guys that are going to go on and pursue some sort of professional healthcare careers like medical school, optometry, being a dentist; whatever it is,” he said. “So, after football or possibly in the offseason I’d like to pursue my MBA in healthcare management and then after I do that kind of go from there.” The 6-foot-5, 256-pounder, who was named to several All-SEC honors rolls over the course of his college career, ended his tenure at Vandy with 83 catches for 933 yards and seven touchdowns. While he enters a crowded picture at tight end in New England — his ceiling is likely as a practice squadder, at least at this moment — the Patriots do have a fondness for smart and savvy players. One to watch.

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