It Is What It Is
NEED TO KNOW
Follow WEEI.com football writer Christopher Price at twitter.com/cpriceNFL. In addition, get the latest WEEI.com updates at twitter.com/WEEI.
A WEEI.com Patriots Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network

Notes from the Patriots’ Thursday morning OTA session

05.24.12 at 1:26 pm ET
By   |   Comments

FOXBORO — The Patriots just wrapped up an OTA session that ran for almost two hours on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. The practice, which was held in T-shirts, sweats, shorts and helmets, had a crisp, efficient feeling, not unlike a training camp workout, sans pads. Here are a few quick notes on what happened:

‘€¢The following players were not spotted for the duration of the session: tight end Daniel Fells; offensive linemen Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer and Brian Waters; wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez; and linebacker Tracy White. (Rookie offensive lineman Marcus Zusevics didn’t suit up — apparently still battling a torn pectoral muscle he suffered at the combine — but tagged along with the rest of the offensive linemen.) In addition, tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive back Nate Ebner were all spotted emerging from the practice bubble shortly after the workout began. While they suited up, they did not engage in any of the drills along with their teammates. And defensive back Matt Slater appeared to tweak something in the final stages of the practice, as he spent the last 20 minutes or so off to the side working with strength & conditioning coach Harold Nash. However, it didn’t appear too serious.

‘€¢With the understanding that we’re miles away from any real personnel decisions, it was interesting to see some of the combinations that were used. With neither of last year’s starting guards on the field for the session, there was a steady rotation at both spots. Immense newcomer Robert Gallery appeared to get the bulk of the reps at left guard, while a combination of players (Ryan Wendell, Donald Thomas and Jeremiah Warren) all worked at right guard.

‘€¢Chad Ochocinco appeared to have a bit of a rocky session. On one play, the offense broke the huddle and he had to be redirected as to where to line up by veteran wide receiver Deion Branch. In addition, later in practice, he jumped the count and had to run what is believed to be the first (and only) penalty lap of the practice session.
Read the rest of this entry »

Patriots release new numerical roster, with some interesting decisions

05.23.12 at 3:09 pm ET
By   |   Comments

The Patriots have released a numerical roster, and many of the numbers for the new guys match up with what we’€™ve told you already when we met them earlier this offseason. That being said, here’€™s a complete rundown of who will be wearing what, at least for the meantime.

10: Wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. The same number he had when he was in New England from 2006-2008. Tiquan Underwood had it last season.
16: Wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez. Formerly No. 11 with Indianapolis.
19: Wide receiver Donte Stallworth. He wore No. 18 when he was with the Patriots in 2007, but now, that number is taken by Matt Slater.
27: Defensive back Tavon Wilson. Antuwan Molden had it last year, but the player who has worn it with distinction in the past has been Ellis Hobbs.
28: Defensive back Steve Gregory. The number has kicked around in recent years, but one of the last guys to wear No. 28? Corey Dillon, who often told the media, ‘€œDon’€™t come by 28’€™s locker.’€
29: Running back Joseph Addai. Although it appears Addai and defensive back Sterling Moore, who had the number last season, are still figuring out a payment system for Addai to reclaim his old number he had in Indy.
37: Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. The defensive back out of Nebraska has big shoes to fill. The last player to wear No. 37 on a consistent basis in New England? Rodney Harrison.
43: Safety Nate Ebner.
45: Linebacker Dont’€™a Hightower.
59: Linebacker Bobby Carpenter. It’€™s the same number formerly worn the last few seasons by Gary Guyton, who has since moved on to Miami.
66 (blue): Defensive lineman Jake Bequette.
72: Offensive lineman Robert Gallery. Last worn by Matt Light, who retired this offseason.
80: Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert. Although we in the media have made a lot about this being Troy Brown‘€™s old number, the team certainly hasn’€™t been shy about giving out No. 80 over the years.
88: Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. This will mark the first time in Lloyd’€™s career the well-traveled receiver has worn No. 88: He’€™s previously worn 85, 80, 84 and 83.
95: Defensive end Chandler Jones. The rookie loved his college No. 99 so much, he had it as part of his Twitter handle. No word if he’€™s planning on changing things up.
98: Defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene. Gerard ‘€œBig Money’€ Warren had the number last season. By the looks of the roster, Warren will wear No. 92.
99: Defensive end Trevor Scott. Last worn by Mike Wright.
Interesting that there are some numbers still available, most notably 33 (Kevin Faulk) and 93 (Andre Carter). Both players are veteran free agents who might eventually find their way back to Foxboro in 2012.

Citing concussions, Tom Brady’s dad not sure he would let son play football

05.23.12 at 1:58 pm ET
By   |   Comments

If he had to do it all over again, Tom Brady Sr. isn’€™t sure he would allow his son to play football.

In light of the growing body of research linking degenerative brain disease to the type of head trauma common in football, Brady Sr. told Yahoo Sports’€™ Michael Silver: “No, not without hesitation. I would be very hesitant to let him play.”

The comments come in the wake of Kurt Warner‘€™s admission that he would prefer his sons not play football. Warner received a good deal of criticism from fans and former players, including former Steelers running back Merril Hoge and former Giants receiver Amani Toomer.

Brady Sr., who did not let his son play until he was 14 years old, defended Warner’€™s position.

“This head thing is frightening for little kids. There’s the physical part of it and the mental part — it’s becoming very clear there are very serious long-term ramifications. I think Kurt Warner is 100 percent correct. He’s there to protect his children, and these other people who are weighing in are not addressing the issue of whether it’s safe or not for kids. All this stuff about, ‘He made his fame and fortune off of football,’ that’s true — but we didn’t know then what we know now. Apparently, they don’t take their own parenting responsibility very seriously, or they don’t value their children’s health as much as they should.”

Pointing to the similarities in the suicides of Brady’€™s former teammate Junior Seau and former Bears safety Dave Duerson, who shot himself in the chest in order to allow research to be conducted on his brain, Brady Sr. says he still worries about the effects football might have on his son down the road.

“Absolutely,” Brady Sr. said. “That never goes away. The answer is yes, I’m concerned. He claims that he’s only been dinged once or twice, but I don’t know how forthright he’s being. He’s not gonna tell us, as his parents, anything negative that’s going on. I wouldn’t be shocked that he would hide that.”

Ultimately however, Brady Sr. conceded he would likely now arrive at the same decision to let his son play as he did two decades ago.

“If he were 14 now, and he really wanted to play, in all likelihood I would let him,” he said. “But it would not be an easy decision, at all.”

Read More: Concussions, Junior Seau, Kurt Warner, New England Patriots

Matt Light talks Patriots on the NFL Network

05.22.12 at 11:47 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light spent some quality time with the gang from NFL Network’€™s ‘€œTotal Access’€ on Tuesday night, and they touched on a wide variety of topics, including retirement, Wes Welker‘€™s contract situation and what the Patriots might look like in 2012.

On the first few weeks of retirement: ‘€œI’€™m breathing easier. I get out of bed and I feel lighter. It’€™s a new era.’€

On not having to worry about Patriots head coach Bill Belichick yelling at him anymore: ‘€œThey’€™re going through a little bit of that with the OTAs. I’€™ve been grateful for every experience I’€™ve had and sharing a locker room with [Willie McGinest and Heath Evans] and a whole other cast of characters. Really right now my biggest focus is my kids. A lot of soccer games, a lot of hanging out and doing a little bit of nothing.’€

On Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker’€™s value from a football standpoint: ‘€œIt’€™s not hard to see. What you see on the field is what you get, and you have a guy that has a relentless pursuit for perfection. That’€™s not something you can coach; it’€™s just born in him. What he brings to our locker room, what he brings to our workouts in the offseason and what he brings to the field, it’€™s hard to measure that all. It’€™s pretty big.’€
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Matt Light,

Breaking down the contract status of the Patriots’ rookies

05.21.12 at 1:16 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Here’€™s a look at which of the Patriots’€™ rookies have signed:

First round
Chandler Jones: Unsigned. The former Syracuse defensive end, taken 21st overall, is repped by the agency of Lock, Metz, Malinovic and Joe Panos. Panos is a former offensive lineman who some Patriots fans might remember as being in training camp in 2001 for a few days before ultimately deciding to retire.

Dont’€™a Hightower: Unsigned. The Alabama linebacker, taken with the 25th overall pick, is represented by Pat Dye, Jr., of SportsTrust Advisors.

Second round
Tavon Wilson: The defensive back out of Illinois agreed 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: Unsigned. The defensive lineman out of Arkansas is represented by Athletes First, a group that had 13 clients taken in the NFL draft, including four in the first round. Athletes First is an extremely well-known agency around New England, as they represent several current Patriots, including Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Nate Solder, Shane Vereen, Zoltan Mesko, Ryan Mallett and Brian Waters.

Sixth round
Nate Ebner: Unsigned.

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.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, chandler jones, Dont'a Hightower, Jake Bequette

Back to work for many at Gillette Stadium as OTA’s get underway

05.21.12 at 11:39 am ET
By   |   Comments

The offseason starts to rachet up just a bit on Monday at Gillette Stadium with the beginning of Organized Team Activities (OTA).

While the voluntary offseason workouts have been going on for roughly a month at Gillette Stadium, these sessions are the first time that all members of the team get a chance to get on the field with the coaching staff. These events are not mandatory, but there’s usually excellent attendance, as it serves as a good way for player and coach alike to gauge where they stand at this point in the offseason. It’s also a chance for the rookies to get some on-field work in alongside the veterans, and continue their education process as they continue to get up to speed in the system.

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Patriots can engage in three OTA sessions this week, three next week and four during the third week. (The media will have access to one session a week — Thursday — for the next three weeks.)

While the sessions do not have the speed and intensity of a regular-season get-together, the OTA’s serve as a way to start easing back into a football mindset again for everyone.

‘€œIt’€™s always exciting when you can get back out there, put the helmets on,’€ said wide receiver Donte Stallworth. ‘€œWhen you can finally start easing out of the weight room and conditioning part of it, and get back into practicing and football-specific things, then that’€™s always the fun part.

‘€œMonday will be the fun day, and I’€™m sure everyone is looking forward to it.’€

Patriots sign offensive lineman Jon Opperud

05.18.12 at 1:33 pm ET
By   |   Comments

The Patriots announced Friday afternoon they have signed offensive lineman Jon Opperud, a rookie free agent out of Montana. The 22-year-old Opperud was originally signed by Seattle as a rookie free agent on April 29 out of Montana and was released by the Seahawks on May 15.

The 6-foot-7, 300-pounder was a three-year starter for Montana. After seeing action in all 11 games as a true freshman in 2008, he earned a starting position at left guard in 2009. He was moved to left tackle for his junior and season seasons.

According to Pro Football Weekly, Opperud is a “tall, slow-footed, FCS blocker who played tackle and guard as a three-year starter. Relies on positioning and technique to control defenders, as he is not strong enough to generate power on his own. Is intelligent, tough and competitive, though his intangibles outpace his athletic ability.”

Read More: Jon Opperud,
Latest on Twitter
Mercedes-Benz
Player News
Patriots Headlines
NFL Headlines
Tips & Feedback

Verify