|08.02.15 at 1:38 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski can appreciate a great physical specimen on the football field when he sees one.
And when the 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end looks across the line of scrimmage in full pads practice in camp, he most definitely sees one in linebacker Jamie Collins.
The third-year linebacker out of Southern Miss stands 6-foot-3, weighs in at 250 and is as close to a animal as the Patriots have on defense. There have even been comparisons to Lawrence Taylor in the way he can run and turn on his motor as an outside linebacker.
Gronk would be inclined to agree. And he’s happy he’s on the Patriots come game days.
“He’s a freak,” Gronk said after the team’s second straight day in full pads Sunday. “He’s fast, he’s long and he’s strong and he plays the game of football how it should be. He knows how to hit. He knows how to cover. He’s just an overall good player so it’s great going versus guys like him. That definitely makes you compete and makes you better.”
There’s another big player who’s been making a big impact this spring and summer. Only new tight end Scott Chandler has been working with Gronkowski on the same side of the ball.
“It’s great. He’s a great guy and he’s a competitor,” Gronkowski said. “He comes out here and works hard and definitely helps in individual drills and the meetings. And he’s all about football, which is awesome.”
Speaking of competition, Gronkowski was again asked about his starting quarterback and how he’s handling practice with Deflategate swirling around.
“He’s out here every single day with a competitive edge, no matter when it is,” Gronk said of Tom Brady. “Same with everyone on the team, same with myself. Just have to come out and work hard every single day.”
|08.02.15 at 1:02 pm ET|
One day after he was released by the Patriots, cornerback Justin Green announced his retirement via Facebook.
Green signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Illinois on July 21, 2013, and the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, spent the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad with two stints on the 53-man roster. He played in two regular season games in 2013 but did not register any tackles.
Green went to training camp with the Patriots last summer but was traded to Dallas in exchange for DE Ben Bass on Aug. 13, 2014. The Cowboys released Green prior to the start of the season, and was re-signed by New England to the practice squad on Dec. 3, 2014.
|08.02.15 at 12:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots worked out in full pads for a second straight day, and for a second straight day Dont’a Hightower and rookie defensive lineman Xzavier Dickson were in non-contact red jerseys.
For a second day in a row, there was no sighting of running back Tyler Gaffney or rookie tight end A.J. Derby on the field.
The team then progressed to walkthrough with Tom Brady again getting the majority of time with the ones and Jimmy Garoppolo working with the twos. It was interesting to note LeGarrette Blount was working with Garoppolo and the second team.
Second-year corner Malcolm Butler was matched up against Julian Edelman on the outside. Tarell Brown played with the second team, also on the right corner. A funny moment came when Edelman leaped and caught a pass from Brady in red area work. He beat Butler and, as Butler was face down, went over and put the ball at his feet.
Hightower did make his way on the field and was in with the first team, a positive sign that the red jersey is purely precautionary until he is fully cleared from his shoulder procedure of the offseason, a procedure that called for a recovery time of 6-7 months.
Rookie guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson spent another day taking reps with Bryan Stork on the offensive line in front of Brady.
|08.02.15 at 7:15 am ET|
1. Bill Belichick kicked off his 41st season in the NFL this week, and his 21st as a head coach. With 211 career victories in the regular season, he’s sixth overall when it comes to head coaching wins, and will almost certainly pass his coaching idol Paul Brown this year for fifth place on the all-time wins list in 2015. (Brown is fifth overall with 213 victories.) Never say never, but while it’s unlikely he’ll take down Don Shula‘s top mark of 326 career wins, he still has an excellent shot at reaching third place overall before everything is said and done. Curly Lambeau sits fourth overall with 226 (Belichick is 15 wins behind him). Meanwhile Tom Landry is third at 250 wins (39 wins ahead of Belichick) and George Halas sits second with 318 victories. For the record, Belichick has the fewest career years of any coach in the top 10 when it comes to regular-season wins; Marty Schottenheimer, who he passed in wins last year (Schottenheimer finished with 200) was a head coach for 21 years.
2. The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the family of the late Junior Seau deserve some credit for coming to an accord in the case of how things will be handled regarding Seau’s induction next weekend in Canton. Initially, the Hall was simply following established protocol when it mandated that Seau’s family would not be allowed to speak at the ceremony for the late linebacker, with only a video highlight package to be shown in place of a traditional induction speech. (The Hall of Fame established its video-only policy for posthumous inductions to shorten a lengthy ceremony.) However, the Hall has apparently changed course, and it was announced Saturday that Seau’s daughter Sydney will speak in an interview after her father’s bust is unveiled. The former Patriots linebacker, who committed suicide in 2012 reportedly because of CTE, is scheduled to be one of several former players inducted on August 8. However, it was reported last month that the Hall of Fame would not let his daughter Sydney or anyone else speak on his behalf. “It’s frustrating because the induction is for my father and for the other players, but then to not be able to speak, it’s painful,” Sydney told the New York Times. “I just want to give the speech he would have given. It wasn’t going to be about this mess. My speech was solely about him.” On Saturday, David Baker, the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said that Sydney would be allowed to speak in honor of her father. “Our goal is to maintain our policy regarding enshrinement speeches, but also show compassion and understanding,” Baker said in a statement. A positive move for all concerned.
3. One of the youngsters who has managed to stand out over the first three days of Patriots camp is linebacker Eric Martin. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder who spent the last two years with the Browns (where he played in 29 games and registered 14 total tackles), was acquired in December and added to the New England practice squad. He first made his mark in the offseason when he was named one of the offseason award winners. And on Saturday, he surprised some in the one-on-one drills when he went up against the offensive linemen and held his own — on one play, he flashed some nice quickness when he got past left tackle Nate Solder. No one is suggesting that he will unseat either Rob Ninkovich or Chandler Jones for a starters’ job coming off the edge, but through the first few days of camp, he’s earned the right to at least be part of the conversation when it comes to potential backups.
4. Consider this nothing more than a clip-and-save piece looking at some of the future personnel decisions that will face the Patriots. With that in mind, here’s a look at some New England players who have expiring contracts, broken down over the next few years (all info via Rotoworld):
Contracts that currently expire following 2015 season: LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Wendell, Nate Solder.
Contracts that currently expire following 2016 season: Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Ninkovich, Brandon LaFell, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Malcolm Butler.
Contracts that currently expire following 2017 season: Tom Brady, Bryan Stork, Jimmy Garoppolo, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola.
(Other notable contracts that are looming include Rob Gronkowski, who will see his current deal expire following the 2019 season, and Stephen Gostkowski, who has a contract now that will take him through the 2018 campaign.)
5. One of our favorite semi-annual traditions is checking to see how the Patriots are doing when it comes to keeping “New England” in the “New England Patriots.” On the current roster, the Patriots have two players with local ties on the roster in fullback James Develin (who went to Brown) and cornerback Robert McClain (who attended UConn). On the coaching staff, the most notable name with New England roots is offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who attended Boston University, coached at Boston College and UConn and was born in Cambridge.
|08.01.15 at 5:19 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Three days into training camp, the Patriots have begun the process of trimming their roster.
Following the first full pads practice on Saturday, the team announced that they have released defensive backs Derek Cox and Justin Green and linebacker D.J. Lynch. Saturday’s moves drops New England’s roster down to 87 players.
Cox, 28, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on June 8, 2015. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, is a veteran of five NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-12) and the San Diego Chargers (2013). He originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick by Jacksonville in 2009 out of William & Mary.
He has played in 63 NFL games with 56 starts and has accumulated 204 total tackles, 13 interceptions and 39 passes defensed. After being released by San Diego on March 4, 2014, Cox went to training camp with Minnesota after joining the Vikings on March 16, 2014. He was released by Minnesota on Aug. 25, 2014, signed by Baltimore on Aug. 27, 2014 and then released by the Ravens on Aug. 30, 2014.
Green, 24, originally signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Illinois on July 21, 2013. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, spent the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad with two stints on the 53-man roster. He played in two regular season games in 2013 but did not register any tackles.
|08.01.15 at 4:46 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the return of LeGarrette Blount to Patriots training camp on Saturday, the first day of full pads practice for the defending Super Bowl champions.
|08.01.15 at 3:32 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It takes a lot for Bill Belichick to feel comfortable handing over his special teams unit after it’s been coached by one of the best assistants he’s ever had.
But in Joe Judge, Belichick feels as though he has someone who can begin to fill the shoes of Scotty O’Brien, who walked away from his special teams job after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale.
What has the transition been like so far in OTAs and minicamp?
“Smooth,” Belichick said. “Scott was a great coach, as good a coach as anybody I’ve ever been with and around, did a tremendous job. I learned a ton from Scott. I know Joe did, too, or has. But Joe is a great coach in his own right. Each of us have our own style.
“Joe has his own style, but very well prepared, very thorough, has great experience in the kicking game and all of the situations and techniques, both with the specialists and all the other positions on the field. Joe and I spend a lot of time together. I think he’s a great young coach.”
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