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Updates on Patriots’ rookie contracts

06.15.12 at 9:56 am ET
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With the news that third-round pick Jake Bequette has agreed to a four-year deal, here are some updates on the Patriots’€™ rookie contract situations:

First round
Chandler Jones: The defensive end out of Syracuse inked a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year. According to Rotoworld, it’€™s a four-year, $8.173 million contract with $7.42 million guaranteed and a $4.384 million signing bonus. NFLPA documents indicate that Jones will have the following base salaries over the course of the deal: $390,000 (2012), $761,522 (2013), $1.133 million (2014) and $1.504 million (2015).

Dont’€™a Hightower: Unsigned. The Alabama linebacker, taken with the 25th overall pick, is represented by Pat Dye, Jr., of SportsTrust Advisors. Around Foxboro, Dye is best known as the guy who took over representation for former first-round pick Ben Watson when talks over a rookie deal between the team and Watson’€™s old agent Tom Condon went south.

Second round
Tavon Wilson: The defensive back out of Illinois was the first to sign, agreeing to a four-year, $4.217 million contract that includes a $1.507 million signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of Scout.com. Wilson reports that the first two years of the deal, $390,000 and $581,722, are fully guaranteed, while the last two years, $773,444 and $965,166, aren’€™t fully guaranteed.

Third round
Jake Bequette: The defensive lineman out of Arkansas agreed to a four-year deal.

Sixth round
Nate Ebner: The defensive back/former rugby star has signed a four-year deal with base salaries of $390,000 (2012), $480,000 (2013), $570,000 (2014) and $660,000 (2015).

Seventh round
Alfonzo Dennard: Dennard signed a four-year, $2.157 million contract that includes $57,848 signing bonus, according to a league source. The former Nebraska cornerback will have base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000.

Jeremy Ebert: The wide receiver out of Northwestern signed a four-year contract worth a total of $2.148 million, according to Wilson.

Devin McCourty: ‘Whatever’s been asked, I’ve done’

06.14.12 at 11:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Devin McCourty is ready to do whatever is asked of him.

Whether it’s playing right cornerback, safety, returning kicks or speaking to rookies, the twin brother of Jason McCourty plans on making the right impression this summer with Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

That much was clear from his exit interview with reporters on the final day of minicamp on Thursday at Gillette Stadium.

After a sophomore slump of a second second season with the Patriots, a season in which he lost his starting right corner job toward the end of the season, McCourty has been seeing a lot of time as a safety in Belichick’s nickel and dime packages, which have become much more than just “sub” packages in the complex Patriots defensive schemes. McCourty still has great ball skills, which also makes him ideal for kick returning, which he’s also done some in OTAs and minicamp.

“I think the biggest thing is whatever has been asked, I’ve done,” McCourty said Thursday. “So, in the past, I’ve done different things so I think it all equals out in the end.”

Belichick hasn’t been the only one to notice McCourty’s willingness to go the extra mile. So, too, has the NFL. They have invited him and his brother Jason to the NFL rookie symposium in Aurora, Ohio from June 25-28.

“I think it’s a great program and I kind of feel honored that they asked us to come back and speak,” McCourty said. “I’m just going to try and share some things I went through and see if I can give some rookies a head start heading into their first year.”

The symposium will also feature NFL players who have been on the wrong side of the law and the NFL in the past, like Adam “PacMan” Jones of the Bengals.

“It was big because you get to hear from people that you saw out there making plays as rookies did a couple of years ago,” McCourty said of his experience in July 2010. “But we also got to hear from veterans like Cris Carter, guys that were able to stay in this league a long time. For them to give us tips, I think that was valuable.

“Just tell them of my experience and a lot of what I’ll tell them is what I’ve learned from being here and being around older guys. When I first got here, I listened to guys like James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather and my last year, with Kevin Faulk being here, a lot of the things I’ll tell them will just be from the different things he shared with me, and how I was able to use what he said and go by that.”

One reason McCourty might find himself with Patrick Chung as a safety in the Patriots secondary is the return of Ras-I Dowling to a corner position in the secondary. Dowling started the 2011 opener in Miami but missed most of the season with a hip injury.

‘€œFirst of all, I’€™m just happy for him. He’€™s a guy that you always can see how eager he is to try to get better and to learn,” McCourty said. “Like you said, last year with him being out, he did a lot of just trying to study film and stay in it that way. I’€™m happy now that he’€™s getting the opportunity to be out here and he’€™s working hard. I think he’€™s doing a good job of just trying to pick up from where he left off last year and improving on that.’€

Read More: 2012 minicamp, Adam Jones, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty

Ras-I Dowling is all about looking forward and not back

06.14.12 at 10:27 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Ras-I Dowling is not here to talk about the past.

The cornerback, who is going into his second season with the Patriots, is trying to put a mostly forgettable rookie year behind him. It began optimistically enough with a start against the Dolphins in the regular-season opener, but ended after just two games with hip surgery that left him on the shelf for the rest of the year.

As minicamp concluded Thursday in Foxboro, the cornerback was asked for an adjective to describe his rookie year.

‘€œLast year is in the past,’€ Dowling said. ‘€œI’€™m not really looking to that right now. I’€™m just looking forward right now. Right now, just looking to go forward toward training camp.

‘€œI’€™m just trying to get better — healthy — every day,’€ he added. ‘€œStriving to get back.’€

A second-round pick out of Virginia (taken 33rd overall with the first selection of the second round) who struggled with injury over the course of his collegiate career, the cornerback has quickly become one of the more polarizing players on the New England roster. His supporters say that, despite being denied access to spring workouts because of the lockout (and a slightly shortened training camp because of his contact situation and an injury), the fact that the coaching staff thought enough of him to give him a starting assignment in his first game in the league is a sign of a young talent.

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Bobby Carpenter on Bill Belichick: ‘I’m not trying to get inside his mind’

06.14.12 at 5:03 pm ET
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FOXBORO — A player new to the Bill Belichick program in Foxboro is well advised to stick close to the “Patriot Way” during minicamp, training camp and whenever he steps inside the walls of Gillette Stadium.

Linebacker Bobby Carpenter has apparently read the manual.

Asked what he thought of Belichick giving the team the day off on the third and final day of minicamp, Carpenter played it pretty safe.

“You’ll have to ask Bill on that. Maybe he was so mad everyone was doing so poorly he wanted to get us out of here,” Carpenter joked. “You’ll have to ask him why he does the things he does. I’m not trying to get inside his mind.”

So, what exactly was in Belichick’s mind in bringing the six-year NFL veteran into Foxboro for a look-see with the Patriots after spending the last two seasons with the Lions?

“It’€™s been good,” Belichick began. “Bobby has been here all spring. He’€™s worked hard. Good athlete, runs well, smart guy, has some experience. He’€™s done some different things in his career ‘€“ played inside, played outside, played in sub, played in the kicking game. He’€™s been a pretty versatile player for a couple of different organizations, three [organizations]. He’€™s fit in well; he’€™s done a nice job. We’€™ve asked him to do some different things and he mentally, physically and experience-wise has looked pretty comfortable doing those. I think he’€™s in good position to go to camp and we’€™ll see what happens in training camp.”

Carpenter was signed by Belichick and the Patriots on April 5 as a free agent. Belichick was clearly impressed with the versatility he showed in the last two years with the Lions.

“Played more in their sub than in the regular defense, although he played some in there too,” Belichick continued. “He’€™s played inside and outside, so he’€™s played both middle linebacker and the Sam and Will, both on and off the line of scrimmage in a 4-3 and 3-4, going back to Dallas and Miami and Detroit was the 4-3 package with the off the line, three linebacker scheme, four man line scheme. He’€™s done a lot of different things. He’€™s a very versatile player and he’€™s smart so learning really hasn’€™t been a problem for him. He’€™s been able to handle multiple responsibilities so far.”

Versatility in the front seven is something already very apparent to Carpenter.

“We’ve got a lot of guys on this team that can do a lot of different things and I think they’re going to try to take advantage of that,” Carpenter said. “They’re moving guys around, doing all kinds of different stuff. whatever the coaches can scheme up and find that fits our talents the best, that’s probably what well do. hopefully it works pretty well.

“It’s been exciting. It’s been great being here with the guys, getting acclimated to everything, offseason program, OTAs and then minicamp. It’s been great just to kind of get a feel for how everyone plays, get to know guys, so when you’re coming into camp you ahve a strong relationship. I think that really helps.”

Carpenter has never really fulfilled the promise he showed at Ohio State, a potential that made him the Cowboys’ first-round pick – 18th overall – in the 2006 NFL Draft. In his four years in “Big D” he failed to establish a regular starting role, racking up 96 tackles. He was also the target of harassment.

During a 2008 episode of “Hard Knocks”, Carpenter was continuously beaten in a pads and shorts practice by Cowboys right tackle Marc Colombo. That was the episode Colombo referred to Carpenter as “Barbie Carpenter” as Colombo made fun of his shoulder length blonde hair (which he still has – see photo above) and his lack of toughness. Carpenter’s highlight came in 2009, when he was the primary nickel linebacker. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 minicamp, Bill Belichick, Bobby Carpenter, Dallas Cowboys

Bill Belichick’s complete Q&A with the media Thursday morning

06.14.12 at 4:26 pm ET
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Here’€™s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick‘€™s Q&A with the media from Thursday morning at Gillette Stadium.

BB: It’€™s another day here, another day of mini-camp; just trying to roll along through it. [We’€™ll] wind things down a little bit here after today. I feel like we’€™ve gotten a lot done but we still have a long way to go. Hopefully we’€™ll be ready to go to training camp, this is really what this is all about, to prepare all of us for the start of training camp in whatever it is five weeks, six weeks, depending on when they report.

Tom Brady was talking a little bit yesterday that he would remind his teammates that the next five weeks are not vacation ‘€“ will you impart the same type of words? ‘€œYeah, we’€™ve already been talking about it; definitely.’€

Why do they not take the playbook with them? Is that a common thing? ‘€œWe’€™ll make some revisions to it based on some of the things that have happened over the weeks. We’€™ll make some modifications to it. The way the playbook is set up, it kind of changes every camp anyway because of the installation schedule.’€

What were your thoughts on getting the AFC Championship rings yesterday? ‘€œBittersweet. Whatever it was last year, it was. It’€™s time to move on.’€

Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt said they are interested in possibly coming up for practice during training camp. What is your interest level? ‘€œI’€™ll talk to Joe, actually Joe and I have talked about it. [I’€™ll] probably follow back up and see how that works out. I don’€™t know. Right now, we’€™re just trying to get through today and get the most we can out of that and then follow back up on the training camp logistics and our teaching schedule and that type of thing. We’€™ll deal with that in the next few days or week or so, if it happens.’€

Did you find that beneficial a couple years ago when you did it? ‘€œWe’€™ll see, maybe. If we think so, then we’€™ll do it. If not, then ‘€“ they play in the Hall of Fame game so it’€™s a little bit of a tight schedule on their end so we’€™ll see how it goes.’€

Have you reached out to the other teams you’€™ll play this preseason about the possibility of doing joint practices? ‘€œThat could be a possibility. Right now, we’€™re really just focused on trying to get through this mini-camp here. We’€™ll deal with training camp and the other scheduling and all that in the next few days here.’€

What are some of your thoughts on Bobby Carpenter and his attributes? ‘€œIt’€™s been good. Bobby has been here all spring. He’€™s worked hard. Good athlete, runs well, smart guy, has some experience. He’€™s done some different things in his career ‘€“ played inside, played outside, played in sub, played in the kicking game. He’€™s been a pretty versatile player for a couple of different organizations, three [organizations]. He’€™s fit in well; he’€™s done a nice job. We’€™ve asked him to do some different things and he mentally, physically and experience-wise has looked pretty comfortable doing those. I think he’€™s in good position to go to camp and we’€™ll see what happens in training camp.’€

What was his role with the Lions last year? ‘€œPlayed more in their sub than in the regular defense, although he played some in there too. He’€™s played, as I said, inside and outside, so he’€™s played both middle linebacker and the Sam and Will, both on and off the line of scrimmage in a 4-3 and 3-4, going back to Dallas and Miami and Detroit was the 4-3 package with the off the line, three linebacker scheme, four man line scheme. He’€™s done a lot of different things. He’€™s a very versatile player and he’€™s smart so learning really hasn’€™t been a problem for him. He’€™s been able to handle multiple responsibilities so far.’€

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Bill Belichick: No updates on Andre Carter’s situation as it pertains to the Patriots

06.14.12 at 2:42 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Thursday there’s no new updates on the status of defensive end Andre Carter, but left open the possibility of his return.

“Nope. We’€™ll see how it goes,” Belichick said when asked about Carter, who remains an unrestricted free agent after spending the 2011 season with New England.

“The players who are here on the roster are on the roster. We’€™re at 90 so if somebody comes on, somebody else will have to go off. Might happen, might not, I don’€™t know. We’€™ll do what we think is best for the football team. We’€™ll evaluate whatever our options are. If we make a move, then there isn’€™t a spot there to make it, so somebody would have to move off if somebody moved on.”

The 33-year-old Carter, who suffered a season-ending injury last December in a win over the Broncos, finished last season with 10 sacks, tying a team-high. He recently spoke with CBSSports.com, and indicated he feels like he’d be ready by training camp, saying “when it comes to rehab there’€™s a certain timetable where you’€™re supposed to be, and I’€™ve surpassed that. I’€™m ahead of the game and headed in the right direction. Even though I know this injury takes a long time, my goal has been to be back for training camp. That’€™s my focus.” And his agent Carl Poston told WEEI.com in February that Carter would welcome a return to New England.

Read More: Andre Carter, Bill Belichick,

Bill Belichick and the coaching staff scrap the final day of minicamp

06.14.12 at 1:10 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots followed the lead of some other NFL teams on Thursday, scrapping their final day of on-field work at minicamp.

Players were taped and ready to go for the start of practice shortly after noon on Thursday, but they found out from the coaches when they were on the field that practice had been called off. There’s still a series of Thursday afternoon meetings, but after that, they are free to leave.

Wide receiver Deion Branch said the move was “a shocker,” but added that he could recall similar situations “way back in the old days.”

“It’s good,” Branch added. “It’s been great. We’ve had a great offseason. We did a lot of good things. There’s a lot of things we have to work on when we come back for training camp. We’re looking forward to it.”

Read More: Deion Branch,
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