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Michael Hoomanawanui ecstatic to be back: ‘No place I wanted to be more than here’ 05.22.14 at 11:56 am ET
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Michael Hoomanawanui speaks with reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

Michael Hoomanawanui speaks with reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — These are exciting and extraordinarily busy times for Michael Hoomanawanui. The Patriots tight end avoided a harrowing trial in free agency by re-signing with the Patriots in March for two years and $2.4 million, with $500,000 guaranteed. He fulfilled a long-time ambition and goal by flying with the Blue Angels on a 45-minute mission. He’s become a leader in the Patriots locker room.

And he’s been going back and forth to Hawaii to prepare for his summer wedding.

Busy times indeed.

But Hoomanawanui said Thursday morning, taking time from his workout program at Gillette Stadium that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Everything is going good. Getting ready for a wedding July 12. It’s kind of nice to be back here, get away from the planning a little bit. But it’s definitely exciting. Going to get back home this weekend, do some more planning for it. We’re almost finished and it’s a real exciting time for us,” Hoomanawanui said.

“My finance is from Hawaii and lot of my family is there, too. It should be a pretty big one, should be fun.”

But before the fun could be had, there was the business of signing back with a team that has shown faith in his skills and his underrated reliability. Was he happy to get that call from Bill Belichick in early March that the team would be bringing him back?

“Absolutely,” he said. “There’s no place I wanted to be more than here. Going into my fourth year in this offense. It definitely helps spring me into this offseason, helping the other guys and taking on a leadership role now. Going into my fifth year, sounds crazy just to say that but it’s definitely been a blessing and looking forward to an offseason of working with the younger guys and getting this thing going.

“It means the world to me for them to have the trust in me, come back re-sign me, Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick, definitely means the world to me. When I got that phone call that they wanted me back it really meant a lot and I’m just glad to be back.”

Hoomanawanui has proved to be much more than just a serviceable tight end in the Patriots’ complicated offensive scheme. He caught 12 passes in 13 games (10 starts) for 136 yards and a touchdown last season. This came after just five catches in 2012, as he learned the Patriots’ system in his first season in New England.

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Read More: Gronk, Hooman, Michael Hoomanawanui, New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski undergoes ACL surgery that Dr. James Andrews says ‘went very well’ 01.09.14 at 10:24 pm ET
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Cleveland safety T.J. Ward (43) takes out Rob Gronkowski (87) with a hit to his lower right leg. (AP)

Cleveland safety T.J. Ward (43) takes out Rob Gronkowski (87) with a hit to his lower right leg. (AP)

Rob Gronkowski took his first step Thursday toward a return to the playing field in 2014 with reconstructive surgery on his right ACL.

The procedure was performed by renown orthopedic surgery Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. On site with Gronkowski were his father Gordy Gronkowski and Gronkowski’s super agent Drew Rosenhaus, who tweeted after the procedure that Andrews said the surgery “went very well.”

Gronkowski tore his ACL and injured his MCL on Dec. 8 in a win over the Browns when T.J. Ward went low and took out his knees on a 21-yard seam route.

Gronkowski is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the 2014 regular season.

Later in the evening, after Gronkowski was in recovery, the tight end tweeted his thanks to all the well-wishes from fans.

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Gordy Gronkowski, Gronk, james andrews
Reports: Rob Gronkowski should be ready for 2014 season 12.17.13 at 11:41 am ET
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Rob Gronkowski should be ready to rejoin his Patriots teammates in time for the 2014 season. (AP)

Rob Gronkowski should be ready to rejoin his Patriots teammates in time for the 2014 season. (AP)

With knee surgery expected by the end of the year, Rob Gronkowski should be ready to go when the 2014 season opens next September, according to multiple media outlets.

The Boston Herald Tuesday morning confirmed the story first reported by the NFL Network that the Patriots star tight end should be ready after reconstruction of his right ACL and MCL, injured on Dec. 8 when Cleveland’s T.J. Ward went low and upended him, ending his season.

The Herald reports the surgery is expected to be performed by Dr. James Andrews in two weeks. It was Andrews who consulted with Gronkowski and the Patriots as he worked to clear hurdles in a recovery from forearm and back surgeries.

This will mark at least the eighth surgery of Gronkowski’s career, with seven of them coming within the last two years. He has had four on his forearm, two on his back and one on his ankle.

The latest significant injury came when Ward drilled Gronkowski in the side of the right knee following a 21-yard completion from Tom Brady. Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve the next day.

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Gronk, james andrews, New England Patriots
T.J. Ward not fined for season-ending hit on Rob Gronkowski 12.13.13 at 5:07 pm ET
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Cleveland safety T.J. Ward (43) takes out Rob Gronkowski (87) with a hit to his lower right leg. (AP)

Cleveland safety T.J. Ward (43) takes out Rob Gronkowski (87) with a hit to his lower right leg. (AP)

There will be no financial penalty or other discipline levied against Browns safety T.J. Ward for his season-ending hit on the right knee of Rob Gronkowski.

The key, in the eyes of the NFL’s disciplinary panel, was that Gronkowski was not a defenseless receiver. He had the ball following a seam pass from Tom Brady so the hit was technically legal. Ward, at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, dove into Gronkowski’s right leg as his foot was planting, which forced his knee to bend while simultaneously lifting the tight end into the air. Gronkowski, at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, somersaulted sideways and suffered a torn ACL and MCL.

He was placed on injured reserve Monday, ending his season.

After Sunday’s game, Ward, who has been fined multiple times in his career for high hits, lamented that he has to go low to avoid another more serious fine.

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl
D.J. Williams: Picking up Patriots offense is like picking up an attractive woman 12.11.13 at 2:53 pm ET
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D.J. Williams, shown here earlier in the season with Jacksonville, was  back with the Patriots Wednesday. (AP)

D.J. Williams, shown here earlier in the season with Jacksonville, was back with the Patriots Wednesday. (AP)

FOXBORO — If things don’t work out for him as Rob Gronkowski‘s replacement, Patriots tight end D.J. Williams might want to try the stand-up circuit.

He was en fuego Wednesday as he compared picking up the Patriots offense to charming an attractive woman of Hispanic descent.

“It’s just the terminology,” Williams said. “The concepts are pretty much the same. It’s just called different. It’s like trying to pick up Spanish. This offense is very attractive and if you found a very attractive Hispanic lady, you’d pick it up pretty quick.

“I’ll get in trouble for that. Just have a good time. That’s all it is.”

The good time for Williams in New England began on Nov. 27 when the Patriots signed him as insurance when Michael Hoomanawanui went down with a knee injury. When Hooman came back from injury, Williams was released. Then Gronkowski went down for the season on Sunday with a right knee injury and the Patriots went back to Williams.

“It’s huge. Being here before, getting a little head start, now I’m able to break the huddle and know if I need to go right or left,” Williams said tongue-in-cheek. “So, that’s a big start. I’m glad I’ve got that down. I guess I could go back down and mess that up but no where but up from here.”

Williams, 25, played in seven games with one start for Jacksonville this season before being released by the Jaguars on Nov. 4. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (101st overall) by Green Bay out of Arkansas in 2011. Williams was waived by Green Bay on Aug. 31, and claimed off waivers and awarded to Jacksonville on Sept. 1. He has played in 34 NFL games with three starts and has nine receptions for 70 yards. Williams has yet to be active for a Patriots game.

“The carryover sometimes hits me,” Williams continued. “Even today [Wednesday] in the meeting room, we were going over one play and I was having a hard time understanding it. Matt Mulligan, he was with me at Green Bay, he said, ‘It’s like so-and-so this play.’ I was like, ‘Oh, makes sense now.’ It’s good having him here too to help me figure out the similarities between two different offenses.”

What really helps Williams is the way Tom Brady approaches all players in the meeting rooms and on the field.

“The way he approaches us in the huddle,” Williams said. “In the meeting rooms, he’ll say, ‘I need you to do this.’ Usually, he’s talking to Rob when he’s doing that. Nothing’s changed and he expects us to be able to step up and play. And we expect it from ourselves, too. So, it’s good to know that our quarterback can have trust in us to get out there and make plays.”

Williams said he gave some thought to hanging around New England the first time he was released on Dec. 4 but decided to spend some time with the family.

“I thought about it just to see what was going to happen,” Williams said. “But I didn’t have my car or anything here and I was going to get bored. So, I figured I’d go home and enjoy the good weather and got caught in an ice storm in Arkansas. I had a lot of time to spend with my mom. She enjoyed it a lot.”

Read More: D.J. Williams, Green Bay Packers, Gronk, Michael Hoomanawanui
Danny Amendola on Rob Gronkowski: ‘We’ve got his back’ 12.08.13 at 7:12 pm ET
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Danny Amendola (80) is mobbed by Logan Mankins and Matthew Mulligan after his game-winning touchdown. (AP)

Danny Amendola (80) is mobbed by Logan Mankins and Matthew Mulligan after his game-winning touchdown. (AP)

FOXBORO — No matter of the result of Monday’s MRI on the right knee of Rob Gronkowski, Patriots receiver Danny Amendola says the team has his back during whatever recovery period is needed.

“We’ve got his back, that’s for sure. Gronk’s a leader on the team. He’s one of the best. We’ve got his back whenever he comes back. It’s frustrating to see him go down. You feel for him.”

The very next play after Gronk’s injury in the third quarter, with the Patriots already trailing 12-0, Tom Brady was strip-sacked and lost the ball. The Patriots, understandably, seemed to have the emotional wind knocked out of them.

“You feel for a guy that gets injured,” Amendola said. “You play the game hard and you fight for four quarters. Unfortunately, it’s a physical game and stuff like that happens but he’ll bounce back and I’m sure he’ll be great again as soon as possible.”

One way to get a teammate’s back is to make plays and pick up the slack. That’s exactly what Amendola did on, getting open for the 1-yard TD pass reception on a Brady rollout to his right.

“It’s a play we work on every day in practice, actually,” Amendola said. “They manned it up, and we did a good job of executing. It was a good play.

“We found ourselves behind, and all we wanted to do was focus on executing the plays at hand, and one play at a time, and that’s all you can do at that time. You try to make as many plays as you can, try to stack them up and put a drive together.”

If nothing else, the Patriots showed – for one game – they have the mental toughness to overcome the loss of one of the best offensive weapons in the game, digging out of a 12-point hole in the final 61 seconds.

“We just tried to execute the plays we work on in practice and tried to make as many plays as we could,” Amendola said. “Situational football, get out of bounds and stop the clock, move the ball, try to get in the end zone.”

Another player who had Gronk’s back was kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who executed the first successful onside kick by the Patriots since 1995, when Bill Parcells‘ Patriots turned the trick against Bill Belichick‘s Browns. The kick with under a minute left set up Amendola’s game-winning touchdown.

“It was fantastic,” Amendola said of Gostkowski’s kick. “Those specialists work so hard on their craft and kicks, and I’m sure Gost [Stephen Gostkowski] was really excited about it. It was a big play – play of the game.”

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Danny Amendola, Gronk, New England Patriots
Report: Rob Gronkowski has torn ACL after getting carted off with injury at 3:15 pm ET
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Cleveland safety T.J. Ward (43) takes out Rob Gronkowski (87) with a hit to his lower right leg. (AP)

Cleveland safety T.J. Ward (43) takes out Rob Gronkowski (87) with a hit to his lower right leg. (AP)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski had to be carted off the field Sunday midway through the third quarter after taking a vicious shot to his lower right leg. Pro Football Talk reports that an MRI is scheduled for Monday but the initial reports are “not looking good” on his right knee. Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports (via twitter) cited a source in claiming that the tight end “suffered what’s believed to be a torn ACL.”

Gronkowski caught a 21-yard seam route pass to the Cleveland 34. Cleveland strong safety T.J. Ward came in low and drilled him in the right knee area and Gronkowski went down immediately and did not move.

Patriots training staff raced onto the field to examine the knee before a cart was called onto the field after a delay of several minutes.

Gronkowski, who had two catches for 32 yards on five targets, left the game on the cart, accompanied by team medical director Tom Gill. Since coming back from his back and forearm surgeries against the Jets on Oct. 13, Gronkowski has 39 catches for 592 yards and four touchdowns.

The Patriots announced several minutes later that Gronkowski had suffered a leg injury and would not return.


Read More: Cleveland Browns, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl
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