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Laps and lessons for Jimmy Garoppolo in first NFL training camp

07.26.14 at 1:34 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo is getting his first feel of the NFL. (AP)

Jimmy Garoppolo is getting his first feel of the NFL. (AP)

FOXBORO –€” Jimmy Garoppolo can either be frustrated or determined, and he’€™s choosing the latter with a smile.

In his first few days of training camp, the second-round pick has looked like exactly what he is: a rookie quarterback who has a lot to learn.

Garoppolo was intercepted three times during Saturday’€™s practice and a mistake during goal-line work caused him to a run a lap for a second straight day. Yet speaking after Saturday’€™s practice, he spoke of the “next play mentality” that he’€™s learned from Tom Brady. Think less of an I’€™m-struggling mindset and more I’€™ve-got-this.

“€œJust picking up the offense one day at a time, really,”€ he said of the early going of camp. “€œLittle bits and pieces here and there. It’€™s a process. There’€™s going to be bumps along the way, but you’€™ve just got to learn and improve on that.”

Those bumps are common for any young quarterback, but there’€™s a difference between getting to know a new league and system (which would describe Garoppolo’€™s situation) and appearing physically incapable, which also happens (2010 seventh-rounder Zac Robinson come to mind).

It’€™s clear that, despite the misplaced passes and laps run, Garoppolo doesn’€™t feel incapable. It’€™s hard now, but with improvement it will be easier. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett, Tom Brady,

Saturday notes: Danny Nickerson celebrates belated birthday with Patriots

07.26.14 at 12:34 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots held their third training camp session of the summer Saturday, practicing for roughly two and a half hours in pads.

Here are a few notes on the session:

- The highlight of the practice came at the end, with Foxboro resident Danny Nickerson coming onto the field for a belated birthday celebration. Nickerson, who turned six on Friday, has an inoperable brain tumor and received 100,000 birthday cards from around the world.

- Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly was on the field in pads, meaning the veteran was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.

- Saturday appeared to be Julian Edelman appreciation day, as he was thrown several deep balls and received major cheers with each catch. Edelman reeled in four deep passes from various quarterbacks on the day. He also had a diving catch in double coverage later in the practice.

- It wasn’€™t all good for Edelman, however, as he and Tom Brady fell victim to Darrelle Revis multiple times. Revis intercepted Brady on a pair of passes that were intended for Edelman during drills in addition to breaking up passes.

- Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garappolo threw three interceptions and ran the only lap of the session with an unknown flub (it was on the other end of the field; likely a fumble or botched snap) during goal line work. Two of the second-round pick’€™s interceptions were tipped before being snagged, with the other one being a clean pick on a deeper pass. Garappolo got a break from the crowd when he connected on a deep pass with tight end Justin Jones.

- It wasn’t the prettiest day for Kenbrell Thompkins, who had a pair of drops. The second-year receiver dropped a pass over the middle from Brady during 7-on-7 work and later failed to secure a pass along the sidelines during passing drills.

- Defensive back Malcolm Butler was beaten by a pair of receivers in 1-on-1 drills. First he was burned by Josh Boyce on a deep pass from Brady and then he was shaken by Edelman on an intermediate route.

Read More: Julian Edelman, Tom Brady, Tommy Kelly,

Rob Gronkowski on catching passes from Tom Brady: ‘It’s a dream come true again’

07.25.14 at 5:48 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski (87) is ready to be there for Tom Brady again in 2014. (AP)

Rob Gronkowski (87) is ready to be there for Tom Brady again in 2014. (AP)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski has been through a lot of pain and misery over the last three seasons. Bum ankle, back surgery, forearm surgery, ACL surgery.

And those are just the major injuries the most popular target of Tom Brady has endured. That’s why he’s taking his time and being measured about his rehab, working closely with Patriots trainers to make sure that he’s a full go when he returns to game action, either in the preseason or – as he hopes – by the Sept. 7 opener in Miami.

But while he can’t take part in full 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills as training camp opens, he can run individual drills and work on his routes, especially where he’s most dangerous – in the red zone. Gronkowski has been running – and cutting – on the surgically repaired right knee without any noticeable limp, a good sign as he works his way back. He did it again on Friday, catching several red zone passes from Brady, as Bill Belichick looked on.

“It’€™s feeling good out there running routes and getting balls thrown [to me], and it feels great being out there with my teammates again, being in the huddle, catching balls from Tom Brady. It’€™s a dream come true again. It feels like it got taken away, and now it feels like I’€™ve got it back so it’€™s awesome.”

He even stood behind center and lobbed one to Brady.

“Yeah, we were just having fun,” Gronk said. “Maybe we’€™ll put that in after that throw. It wasn’€™t a spiral, but I’€™ve got to work on that.”

Gronkowski not only is sporting a black sleeve/brace on his right knee, he is still wearing a protective sleeve on his left forearm.

“I’€™m used to the arm brace,” Gronkowski said. “It’€™s been a year now wearing that, so it’€™s secondhand having that on. The knee brace just started, but it’€™s the second day out there, and I’€™m already getting comfortable with everything.”

After what’s he went through with the forearm going into the 2013 season, it’s natural to think Gronkowski will be more cautious. There have even been suggestions that the team (i.e. Bill Belichick) is sending a loud message that by being cleared for practice, they expect him ready once the season starts in South Florida. Does Gronk sense this?

“No, I don’€™t feel any pressure at all about that,” Gronkowski said. “I worked my butt off the last six months to even be here right now at training camp, throwing with all of my teammates. I made sure I was in there every single day, rehabbing every single day so I could come out here and be running routes on Day One. So it feels great to be out here on that note.

“If I’€™m just working hard every single day, improving every single day, giving it all I’€™ve got, listening to the trainers, listening to the coaches to get myself prepared, to get myself ready ‘€“ that’€™s all I can ask for. I’€™m putting pressure on myself to improve every single day and work hard every single day.”

Gronkowski said it’s a realistic goal to be ready for Week 1 against the Dolphins.

“I’€™m preparing myself to my max ability right now for the first regular game,” he said. “I can’€™t say anything from here on out because it’€™s far away. So, every single day I’€™m just giving it all I’€™ve got in the rehab room, out here on the field, improve my knee, strengthen it all around, prepare myself, listen to my trainers what they have for me so I’€™m ready to go when it comes down to it. And hopefully I am.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2014 training camp, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl

Darrelle Revis: I’m in the ‘best shape of my career’

07.25.14 at 5:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — In his first meeting with the media this summer, Darrelle Revis pronounced himself to be in the “best shape of my career.”

Talking with reporters shortly after the end of Friday’s practice session, the Patriots cornerback said that even after coming back from a devastating knee injury that sidelined him for all but two games in 2012, he wasn’t where he wanted to be physically as a player.

But now, he’s feeling good about his health again.

‘€œI finished all 16 games last year but I still wasn’€™t where I wanted to be physically as a player,’€ Revis said. ‘€œThis is my first offseason where I could really focus on working out. They say it takes a year and a half, or two (to get back to full strength). I think I’€™m at a point now, I’€™m there.

‘€œI’€™m back to where I can move around a little better. Last year was really tough coming off the injury — I wasn’€™t where I needed to be. Now, I’€™m a little bit more excited. I feel the butterflies a little bit more, and I’€™m just ready to play and get ready for the season.’€

Revis was quizzed as to whether or not he feels the need to reclaim the mantle of best cornerback in the league.

‘€œI don’€™t need to prove nothing to anybody. W’s is what matters — more wins than losses. That’€™s what we want to do as a team,’€ he said.

“Everybody is great. Everybody performs well at the professional level. Those are for you guys to rate who’€™s this and that. It really doesn’€™t matter to me.’€

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Darrelle Revis,

Patriots release TE Nate Byham

07.25.14 at 5:01 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Friday they have released veteran tight end Nate Byham.

Byham, 26, was signed by New England on July 21 and is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2010-11) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13). The 6-foot-4, 264-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by San Francisco out of Pittsburgh in 2010. He was signed by Tampa Bay on Oct. 2, 2012 after being released by San Francisco on Aug. 16, 2012. In his four NFL seasons, Byham has played 29 games with 11 starts and has totaled 11 receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. Last season in Tampa Bay, Byham was limited to four games and finished with three receptions for 38 yards.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Nate Byham,

Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on the ‘fearless’ Rob Gronkowski and potential greatness of Patriots secondary

07.25.14 at 4:56 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the news of the day from Day 2 of Patriots training camp 2014, including Rob Gronkowski speaking to reporters for the first time since being cleared for training camp practice. Gronkowski acknowledged that he is not 100 percent but promises to be fearless, adopting a “smashing and dashing” attitude when he is cleared for game action. Petraglia and Price also discuss the potential of the current Patriots’ secondary to rank among the best in team history and those coached by Bill Belichick.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Bill Belichick, Chris Price, Gronk

Rob Gronkowski says he’s ready to make a fearless return: ‘I’m going to keep smashing and dashing’

07.25.14 at 1:17 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski is pumped to be back on the practice field for training camp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Rob Gronkowski is pumped to be back on the practice field for training camp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — The Gronk was back in rare form Friday.

Rob Gronkowski held court on a sunny Friday morning after his second practice of training camp, announcing that he plans to make a fearless return to the field this season and put a string of injuries behind him. The most recent, of course, came on Dec. 8, 2013 when T.J. Ward drilled him in the right knee, causing a tear of his ACL and a subsequent knee reconstruction.

Gronkowski said that, while he won’t likely participate fully when he puts on pads with the rest of his teammates Saturday, he will be prepared mentally for the first game, whenever that comes.

“I’m pretty sure I won’t have any fear at that moment because that’s what we’re working here for, getting myself right, getting my knee right, getting everything strengthened around it so when I do hit the field, when I do start hitting, when I do start getting tackled, I’m out there ready to go [and] I’m not thinking about that in the back of my head,” Gronkowski said. “It’s a slow progression. I’m just working every single week to get to that progression, and hopefully and it comes down to where I’m ready and I’m ready to roll and I’m good to go and I’m out there for my teammates. I want to be out there for my teammates and give it all I got and make some plays for them.”

As for being at full strength, Gronkowski cautioned that there is still plenty of work remaining before that hurdle is cleared.

“If it were 100 percent, I’d be doing every single thing so no, I’m not 100 percent right now, obviously not,” Gronkowski said. “I’m working my way to get to that and I’m working every single day to get to that and improving every single day.

“I’m preparing myself to my max ability right now for the first regular game. I can’t really say anything from here on out because it’s far away. Every single day, I’m just giving it everything I’ve got in the rehab room and out here on the field. I’m preparing myself and listening to my trainers, what they have for me so that I’m ready to go when it comes down to it. Hopefully, I am.

“No timetable at all. Just keep improving every single day and we’ll see what the trainers want me to do. They’ve been through plenty of knee injuries throughout their years here.”

If you think he plans to change his style in light of ankle, back, forearm and knee injuries that have knocked him out of 17 of his last 26 games since 2012, think again.

“Nah, I ain’t changing that one bit,” Gronkowski said. “I’m going to go full speed when I’m out there and I’m going to keep smashing and dashing in everything I do. Maybe if it’s not necessary one single bit I’ll go down [to the ground]. But if I can make some plays and make some extra yards and get in the end zone, I’m definitely going to go full speed and do everything I can.”

Read More: 2014 training camp, Cleveland Browns, Gronk, New England Patriots
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