|Report: Patriots add Dominique Easley to NFI list, while Alfonzo Dennard and Aaron Dobson will start camp on PUP||07.21.14 at 5:27 pm ET|
With camp looming later this week, the Patriots reportedly made some procedural roster moves Monday designed to allow some of players who are injured or coming off offseason surgery more time to rehab before they get on the field.
According to Field Yates of ESPN, defensive lineman Dominique Easley, running back Roy Finch, linebacker Deontae Skinner and tackle Chris Martin have been placed on the non-football injury list.
Meanwhile, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard; wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Jeremy Gallon; defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and special teamer Matt Slater were placed on the physically unable to perform list. Most of the players in this grouping were either limited (working with a rehab group) or not present during the media portion of the spring workouts.
In both cases — the active/physically unable to perform list as well as the active/non-football injury list — they can come off the list and return to practice at any time after they have been cleared by the team’s medical staff.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots sign first-round pick Dominique Easley||06.23.14 at 2:44 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Monday that they have signed their first-round draft pick, Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley.
The 22-year-old was selected with the 29th overall pick after playing just three games as a senior for the Gators due to a knee injury. The 6-foot-2, 288-pound Martin finished his Florida career with 81 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks and one fumble recovery in 32 games (26 starts).
The Patriots also announced the signing of rookie free agent Chris Martin, an offensive lineman from Central Florida.
Martin, 24, signed with Texans on May 16 but was released 11 days later. A 6-foot-5, 305-pounder, Martin was named to the All-American Athletic Conference second team as a senior after starting 11 games at right tackle and two at left tackle.
|Heading into his third season, DE Chandler Jones not willing to call himself a veteran quite yet||05.21.14 at 8:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Over the dozen years, there’s been a very clear pecking order when it comes to the Patriots defensive line.
More often than not, the position has been stocked with an intriguing combination of feisty youngsters in the nascent stages of their NFL careers and cagey vets who are on the back nine.
There have been a few exceptions — Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour were two defensive linemen who were part of the Patriots while in their late-20s, while Rob Ninkovich has played both linebacker and defensive linemen as a similarly aged twentysomething.
But for the most part, it’s been young guys, many of whom have been mentored by veterans. This season, that group includes Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Will Smith and Ninkovich among the vets, all of whom are 30 or older. Meanwhile, the youngsters include rookie Dominique Easley, as well as Chris Jones, Joe Vellano and Sealver Siliga, all of whom are heading into their second season.
One guy who is kind of caught in between is defensive end Chandler Jones. The 24-year-old Syracuse product is preparing for his third season in the NFL, and following a season where he finished with 11.5 sacks — fourth-most in team history — he figures to play a sizable role in New England’s defensive game plan in 2014.
After two full years in the system, he holds seniority on most of the defensive linemen. But right now, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Jones wants no part of being a veteran, at least not yet.
“I wouldn’t call myself a vet yet. Not yet,” Jones said Tuesday during a break from offseason workouts at Gillette Stadium. “We still have Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly and Will Smith. We still have a lot of vets on that defensive line. I’m still a young guy, I’d say.
“I always try to lead – especially in drills. I try to lead from example. I’m not a huge vocal leader. That’s what the older guys are for, but I always try to do my best so the guys next to me or the guy behind me will say, ‘Hey, he’s going 100 percent so let me go too.’”
Despite the fact that he shuns the veterans’ label, it doesn’t mean Jones is above offering advice to youngsters like first-round pick Easley.
“I just got done speaking with Easley — he’s doing good. He looks good,” Jones said. “He looks like a great player. I’ve been watching his highlights and I’ve been talking to him. I’m excited.
“It is early. The game is a lot different playing in the NCAA than the NFL. But I’ve definitely watched highlights and am very impressed with his game. Very impressed,” he added. “I saw he was getting a lot of penetration when I was watching his highlights, and that’s definitely a key in the offensive line.”
Here are a few more highlights of Jones’ Tuesday afternoon Q&A with the media:
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|With later draft and less transition time, Patriots rookies have to hit ground running||05.14.14 at 7:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — It’s hard enough for rookies to jump right on the treadmill as they make the transition from college to the NFL every spring, but that move is even tougher this year.
With the draft two weeks later than it has been in year’s past, the 2014 rookie class has even less time to get up to speed when it comes to getting adjusted to life in the league. That means no more traditional rookie camp, a process that saw the rookies come to Foxboro, work out with their fellow first-year players and then return home before coming back again in June for mandatory minicamps.
Instead, the first-year players were at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday with the vets. And while they didn’t get a chance to mix much with the veterans — other than a few introductions — they know there’s some pressure as they work to grasp every little thing about life in the NFL at a quicker than usual pace.
‘Now the draft’s so late, we’ll just bring them in and keep them here,’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick shortly after the draft was completed on Sunday. ‘They’re going to have to come in and get oriented to living in a new area, getting transportation, finding their way around, becoming acclimated to New England. Along with the pro football part of it and all that, that’ll just be part of the whole next five or six weeks, or whatever it is.’
In many ways, this draft class can draw some inspiration to the 2011 group, which had its own offseason program cut short because of the lockout. While many of them have enjoyed success over the last two seasons, as a group, some of those players struggled initially as rookies for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that they didn’t have a traditional offseason program.
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|Dominique Easley: ‘I can’t wait’ to get into Patriots program||05.12.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
In what has become a tradition for the Patriots’ top draft picks, defensive lineman Dominique Easley arrived at Gillette Stadium on Monday and had the chance to meet with team owner Robert Kraft.
“I understand he’s a great dancer,” Kraft told the media when asked about Easley. “Not that we’re looking after sacks to have dances, but you never know. We’ll leave that to him.”
Easley said he welcomed the opportunity to play for a “family-oriented” program like the Patriots.
“I’ve been watching them for years. So it’s a blessing and an honor,” Easley said of the Patriots. “I’m going to do everything they ask me to do, and do it to the best ability I can.”
With ACL injuries in both knees the last few years, Easley has a checkered injury history. But on a conference call with the media on Thursday shortly after the pick was made, he declared himself good to go. And on Monday, he sounded optimistic about putting his recent health issues behind him and getting on the field.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I haven’t played a game since September.”
With the draft being pushed back two weeks this spring, Easley and the rest of the Patriots rookies are behind where the first-year players usually stand at this time of the calendar. As a result, they’ll have to get up to speed quickly. That was part of the message that coach Bill Belichick imparted to them shortly after they arrived at Gillette Stadium for meetings and physicals.
“Everyone wants to be great, so we’ve got work to do,” Easley said.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ selections in the NFL draft and the Michael Sam situation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Patriots turned some heads when they used their second-round pick, No. 62 overall, on Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garappolo despite having Tom Brady as their starter.
“I go back to the combine,” Schefter said. “I remember sitting with [ESPN analyst and former Bills, Panthers and Colts executive] Bill Polian, and Bill Polian saying at the combine that he thought Jimmy Garappolo would be a first-round draft pick. First round. So if Bill Polian, who was a six-time Executive of the Year, says at the combine that he thinks Garappolo is going to go in Round 1, that tells you that people like him. And there are people who believe the Houston Texans were poised to take Garappolo at the top of Round , and the Patriots got him right before the Texans did.
“Here’s the bottom line on that: If Jimmy Garappolo pans out — we won’t know that for a few years, period — if he pans out, then he is going to be the best pick in spades. And if he doesn’t, then people will question it and wonder about it. For a team that’s close to being a perennial Super Bowl contender each year, a lot of people, I guess, might wonder why you’re taking a quarterback that may not even impact the team this year. But if that guy is a huge component of the Patriots organization for the next 10, 12 years, nobody’s going to wonder about it.”
Added Schefter: “I had a chance to speak to the majority of the teams before the draft. I would think by and large, making a general assessment, I think teams like [Johnny] Manziel, [Blake] Bortles, [Derek] Carr and Garoppolo the best. The best of all the teams that I spoke to.”
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said the Patriots would have considered taking Manziel at No. 29 overall if the controversial Texas A&M star was available (he went at No. 22 to the Browns).
“It wouldn’t have surprised me,” Schefter said. “I know New England liked him, and I know New England is usually going to go by its board. So let’s just say Johnny Manziel slides down to New England’s turn. Would I have been surprised if they took him there? Not at all. Not at all.”
|3 early thoughts on Dominique Easley||05.09.14 at 12:05 am ET|
Three early thoughts on Dominique Easley:
1. Easley has an interesting injury history. He suffered a ruptured right ACL and medial meniscus tear in 2013, and he also tore the ACL in his left knee in a game against Florida State in 2011. He said in April that his knee is about 80-85 percent healed, but it will have to hold up against some elite-level competition if he wants to succeed on a consistent basis in the NFL. At the same time, there’s a serious belief that if Easley had two completely healthy knees, he’d be a top of the first round talent.
2. We wrote several times over the course of the pre-draft process that the Patriots need to start thinking about life after Vince Wilfork, and while Easley doesn’t have the same sort of body type as Wilfork, the pick was made with an eye toward the post-Wilfork era. A big body who can fill multiple spots up front, Easley is the sort of player who can step in and learn from veterans like Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. History tells us that whenever the Patriots have invested a first-round pick in a defensive linemen, they’ve come away happy, and they certainly hope that there’s a similar reason for optimism around Easley.
3. He’s another Gator. With Brandon Spikes‘ decision to depart as a free agent this offseason, it appeared that New England’s streak of drafting and/or acquiring former Florida players might have come to an end. But Easley allows the Patriots to keep that string alive. “You want him in your locker room. He is a really good player but I think is his competitive edge is a huge talent that he has, probably his No. 1 talent,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said of Easley in April. “I think he’s got a great ceiling. He’s a guy that hasn’t played his best football yet. I think that’s all in front of him. He loves competing and he loves playing.”
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