|Why is someone like wide receiver Mark Harrison available to Patriots?||05.20.13 at 6:54 pm ET|
At first glance, the numbers jump off the page.
Wide receiver Mark Harrison was a three-year starter at Rutgers who finished his college career with 107 receptions for 1,769 yards and 18 touchdowns. A starter as a sophomore, he had 44 receptions for 829 yards and led the Big East with nine touchdowns. After struggling a bit as a junior, in 2012, Harrison played in 13 games with 11 starts, and he finished with 44 receptions for 583 yards and six touchdowns.
Physically, he appears to have the tools to succeed: The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder doesn’t necessarily possess elite speed, but he’s a big target with a sizable wingspan who can overmatch undersized defensive backs. In addition, he was one of the best receivers at the combine when it came to his vertical jump and broad jump.
So why was a physical specimen like Harrison available to the Patriots in mid-May, almost a full month after the draft? Two possible reasons.
One, fair or not, there are some questions about his background. According to one report, Harrison was one of the players at the combine this past February who had a trashed hotel room. Regarded as mid-round pick, that may or may not have played a role in the fact that he wasn’t drafted.
(For what it’s worth, Rutgers coach Kyle Flood went out of his way to defend Harrison, telling ESPN, “I’ve been on a lot of road trips and we’ve never had a single disciplinary issue with [Harrison]. He’s a model of the type of person we want here at Rutgers. It would be so out of character to be involved in this that I just cannot imagine under any circumstance that it would happen and involve him.”)
And two, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Harrison failed his physical with the Bears because of a foot injury. (Just prior to Rutgers Pro Day, he apparently broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot.) However, it was believed that Chicago was interested in re-visiting the possibility of re-signing Harrison when the injury was cleared.
As for how he projects at the NFL level, his size and skill set suggest an oversized receiver, perhaps bordering on tight end. He certainly compares to the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Aaron Hernandez, another big wide receiver who masquerades as a tight end in the New England passing game. As a collegian, Hernandez ran a 4.64 40, displayed a 33-inch vertical leap and a 9-foot, 3-inch broad jump. By way of comparison, Harrison posted a 4.46 40-yard dash, a 38.5-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump.
|Rob Gronkowski reportedly undergoes successful surgery||05.20.13 at 5:40 pm ET|
Rob Gronkowski underwent another procedure on his left forearm on Monday afternoon, and according to multiple reports, the surgery was a success.
Pro Football Talk reported that the infection that had been lingering in the wake of the initial surgery was “gone,” and that the tight end had a “new plate installed” in the arm to provide support. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network also indicated that the surgery was a success, adding “no fifth surgery on the forearm” is needed, according to a source, a point that was echoed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Gronkowski suffered the initial break in a Week 11 win over the Colts, and broke his arm again in the postseason against the Texans. The 24-year-old caught 55 passes for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012.
Gronkowski will still be faced with one more medical issue this offseason, as he’s scheduled for back surgery soon for a disk problem that reportedly bothered him last year.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Pats sign WR Mark Harrison, K David Ruffer||05.20.13 at 5:16 pm ET|
The Patriots added a pair of players to their roster on Monday, signing wide receiver Mark Harrison and kicker David Ruffer, according to the league transaction wire.
Harrison is a 6-foot-3, 231-pounder from Rutgers who had an up-and-down career as a collegian. In 2010, Harrison had 44 catches for 829 yards and nine touchdowns, which included a game against Cincinnati where he finished with 10 catches for 240 yards and four touchdowns.
Those numbers dropped way off in 2011 — perhaps due to a head injury — all the way to 14 catches for 274 yards. Those numbers went back up again last year when he had 44 receptions for 583 yards and six touchdowns. He becomes the fourth former Rutgers player to be picked up this offseason by the Patriots.
As for Ruffer, he is a 6-foot-1, 193-pounder from Notre Dame who converted 18 of his 19 field-goal attempts in 2010, including a 7-for-7 stretch from beyond 40 yards. A 2010 Lou Groza Award finalist, he connected on his first 23 career field goal attempts as a collegian — an Irish record.
Ruffer, 24, transferred from to Notre Dame from William & Mary in 2008, and after appearing in seven games in 2009 as an injury replacement, he was the full-time kicker in 2010 and 2011. Ruffer finished his college career making 33-of-44 field goals and 93-of-97 extra point attempts.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Eight things we’re going to be looking for at Patriots OTAs||05.20.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
The Patriots opened organized team activities Monday — NFL-speak for full-squad, low-intensity get-togethers that will give us an opportunity to see the rookies and (many of the) veterans on the field together for the first time. (The media will have access to Tuesday’s workout.)
With the understanding that it will be impossible to make any wide, sweeping judgments of substance on any player because of the slow-speed nature of things (and with the knowledge that, at least according to reports, linebacker Brandon Spikes isn’t there), here are eight things we’re going to be keeping an eye on when we hit Foxboro Tuesday morning.
Tom Brady: The whole thing begins and ends with the quarterback, and while we don’t expect to necessarily be surprised by anything he might be doing, it’s always interesting to see where he is, both physically and mentally. One thing to watch will be how he does when it comes to working with the new faces, particularly at wide receiver. Another will be to keep an eye on his mechanics and any sport of tinkering he’s done with his delivery, something he discussed at great length with Peter King.
The rookies, specifically, Jamie Collins and Josh Boyce: We want to get a look at both of these guys because they’re both such athletic freaks, but Collins intrigues because he may end up playing more of a role in coverage, at least right out of the gate. As for Boyce, he missed rookie minicamp because of a foot issue, and as a result, this should mark his first time on the field with the rest of his teammates in an organized setting.
The tight ends, specifically, Jake Ballard: With Rob Gronkowski expected to be on the shelf at least through the spring, Ballard should certainly get plenty of reps at Gronkowski’s spot in the next month as he works his way back from spending the 2012 season on the sidelines because of a knee issue. It’s important to have a set of realistic expectations for Ballard — he not only spent the entire year on the shelf because of a knee injury he sustained in Super Bowl XLVI, he’s also joining a new system. Regardless, he’ll be interesting to watch. (In that same vein, we’ll also be watching linebacker Dane Fletcher and cornerback Ras-I Dowling, two other players who ended their season on injured reserve.)
|Ex-Patriot Chad Johnson surrenders to police in Florida||05.20.13 at 1:22 pm ET|
Former Patriots wide receiver Chad Johnson turned himself in to police and was arrested Monday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on charges that he violated probation. His bail was set at $1,000.
An arrest warrant was issued earlier this month after Johnson failed to meet with his probation officer and did not show proof of enrollment in a domestic violence education class. He has another hearing set for June 3.
Johnson, 35, is serving a year of probation following an altercation with his now ex-wife, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada. Johnson, who was known as Chad Ochocinco during his brief and unsuccessful tenure in New England, allegedly head-butted Lozada during an argument last August, one month after they were married. Lozada filed for divorce shortly thereafter.
Johnson was released by the Dolphins after the incident and has not played since.
|ESPN’s John Clayton talks about Patriots’ level of concern for Rob Gronkowski||05.20.13 at 12:47 pm ET|
ESPN’s John Clayton talks about the fact that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is scheduled to have more surgery on his forearm Monday — his fifth surgery since 2012.
|Tom Brady: ‘I’ve never felt better throwing the football’||05.20.13 at 1:05 am ET|
Tom Brady told Peter King of SI.com that, “Going into my 14th year, I have never had more confidence in how I am throwing the football. I’ve never felt better throwing the football.”
Speaking with King for this week’s edition of Monday Morning Quarterback, the Patriots quarterback talked about a wide range of topics, including his work with Best Buddies, his feelings in the wake of the loss to the Ravens in the AFC title game and his overall evolution as a signal-caller while working with Tom House. Brady, who previously had worked with Bay Area throwing guru Tom Martinez until Martinez’s death 15 months ago, said that he and the former major league pitcher have quickly developed a great working relationship.
“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,” Brady said. “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.”
King asked Brady for one or two of those things.
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