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Tim Wright on Rob Gronkowski: ‘I definitely think we can work off each other’ 09.01.14 at 9:00 pm ET
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Tim Wright looks to complement Rob Gronkowski this year in the Patriots offense. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Tim Wright looks to complement Rob Gronkowski this year in the Patriots offense. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Among those most excited about the declaration of Rob Gronkowski on Monday was the newest tight end on the team. Tim Wright was acquired by the Patriots to give Tom Brady something he hasn’t had since the heyday of Aaron Hernandez, a legitimate speed threat at tight end opposite Gronkowski.

After watching Gronkowski from afar for so many seasons, Wright said Monday that he thinks he can compliment the star tight end with his speed and catching skills.

“I definitely think we can work off each other and I’m going to learn a lot of things from him and learn a lot from the receivers they have and just overall, from Coach Belichick and all those in the Patriots organization,” Wright said.

Wright caught four passes for 43 yards on six targets from Jimmy Garoppolo in Thursday night’s preseason finale, without any formal practices with Gronkowski or Tom Brady.

“Every thing wasn’t done right,” Wright said. “I was just playing fast and just going out there and doing my job, catching balls, blocking, doing whatever coaches ask.”

Now comes the fun part for Wright. Catching passes from Brady and running routes in practice opposite Gronkowski.

“I feel like I could be used in all types of ways,” Wright said. “It’s up to the coaches to determine that and see what fits best for me and best for all my other teammates. Football is football at the end of the day. It’s a ball and whatever that description may entail, that’s what I’ll try to go out and do.

“It’s going good,” Wright said. “The coaches are doing a great job translating it for me and trying to catch me up to speed.”

Wright has played at Gillette Stadium before, practicing against the Patriots with the Buccaneers in Aug. 2013 and catching his first NFL pass last season in a 23-3 Patriots win over Wright’s Tampa Bay team last September. Wright’s caught one pass for six yards.

“First catch here,” Wright recalled Monday. “There’s a few things I did here that marked my journey from last year and things that happened in the past. I’m excited about the future.”

Now, Wright begins anew again. This is his second offensive coordinator in as many NFL seasons, after catching 54 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns last season with Tampa Bay. Wright had three offensive coordinators in as many seasons in his final three years at Rutgers.

“In college, I went through four different offenses, last two years I’ve been through two different ones,” Wright said. “It’s all a learning experience and it’s something I’ve been doing and I’m able to adapt to it. It’s Xs and Os. The coaches do a great job of pointing out where you need to be and the job you need to do for that specific play.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for me to be part of a great organization and play alongside of some great guys.”

Read More: New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Rutgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sealver Siliga says he’s ‘ready to play on Sunday’ at 8:27 pm ET
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Sealver Siliga addresses reporters at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Sealver Siliga addresses reporters at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski wasn’t the only Patriots player Monday making a declaration of readiness to play this Sunday in the season opener.

After coming out of joint practices with the Redskins in early August with an injured left wrist, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga pronounced himself ready to play against the Dolphins in the 2014 opener. The addition of the 6-foot-2, 325-pound tackle to the defensive line adds some valuable depth behind Vince Wilfork and Joe Vellano.

“I feel good. I feel great, ready to get this going, ready to play on Sunday. It’s been a while. It’s been about a month since I’ve taken my last snap. That’s what [Monday] is for and the next few days, to get back out there and start running around with the fellas and see what I can pick up.”

The Patriots spent much of August taking a serious look at the interior of their defensive line, bringing in players like Jerel Worthy (released on Saturday) and Ben Bass (released) to compete with Vellano and Siliga. That didn’t stop with roster cuts as they picked up rookie Bruce Gaston from Arizona and Kelcy Quarles from the Giants on Sunday.

“This is the team that we’re going to go along with. I’m excited about the team the coaches have put together. I’m just going to go out there and work hard and wherever coach puts me out there, I’m going to do what I have to for the team.”

Siliga, who showed his value as a fixture in the middle of the defensive line last year, is a 24-year-old tackle trying to stick in New England after stops with the 49ers, Broncos and Seahawks early in his career.

“It’s a situation where I came from, I never want to feel comfortable,” Siliga said. “The last few years how they’ve turned out for me has helped me understand that every day I have in the NFL is a blessing so I don’t look at it as being comfortable.”

Siliga has been in Foxboro long enough to know there’s no shortage of leadership on defense.

“Definitely we have leaders in Vince and Mayo and Revis on the outside,” Siliga said. “If we all just stick together and everybody does their job, we should be OK.”

Will Siliga’s conditioning be up to snuff and ready for game action after sitting out the entire preseason?

“I was just making sure that I was staying in condition, and that my conditioning was up there and my strength stays up there and I make sure I hit the playbook and know all my stuff 100 percent,” he said. “I ran a lot, do extra stuff today and get ready.”

Read More: New England Patriots, Sealver Siliga, Vince Wilfork,
Mike Petraglia breaks down the Rob Gronkowski announcement that he’s ‘good to go’ for Sunday at 5:17 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia reports that Rob Gronkowski announced publicly Monday that he’s been cleared for NFL games. Gronkowski joked that he was happy to “break the news” himself, a bit of a rarity for a player to announce his readiness for game action for the 2014 season opener Sunday in Miami.

Read More: Gronk, Miami Dolphins, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots
Rob Ninkovich on long snapping: ‘It’s something that I’ve always worked on’ at 2:55 pm ET
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Rob Ninkovich could be an option at long-snapper if Danny Aiken doesn't return. (Getty Images)

Rob Ninkovich could be an option at long-snapper if Danny Aiken doesn’t return. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Sometimes the hidden skills of an NFL player are forgotten.

Take Rob Ninkovich. Long before he became one of the better edge rushers in football and a perfect fit in the Patriots defense, he found his way onto an NFL roster through his special teams skills. Namely, Ninkovich perfected his long snapping skills.

With Joliet Junior College and Purdue University and then in the NFL with the Saints and Dolphins, Ninkovich proved his worth by not only rushing the passer but perfecting his long snapping skills, working on punt, extra point and field goal units.

“Snapping? I’ve been doing it for a long time now,” Ninkovich said. “That’s something that I’ve always worked on, constantly worked at and been able to use that, have that in my back pocket whenever there’s an issue [like] if a snapper hurts his hand or something, I can go out there and get the job done. Again, that just comes with doing it [in high school], doing it [in college] and it’s just another one of those things that can help the team.

“You can’t just expect to snap a football and not have done it or practiced it. I work on it all the time. Again [it's about], the more things you can do, and the more things you can help your team out with.”

Ninkovich was spotted before the third preseason game with the Panthers working on his long snapping, though unlike Tom Brady, he did not make a special teams appearance during the preseason.

As Bill Belichick conceded Sunday in a conference call with reporters, Ninkovich could definitely be ‘an option’ for the Patriots as long snapper after the release of Danny Aiken as part of the cuts over the weekend.

“Whatever it is I’m doing, we all have multiple roles,” Ninkovich said. “I’m going to focus in on playing defense. Special teams, I’ve done it in the past. It’s something where if ever there’s opportunity for me to go out there and do it, I could do it. I’ve done it before.”

The Patriots did sign long snapper Charley Hughlett on Monday but that was to the practice squad. So, for right now, the active player on the roster with long snapping experience is Ninkovich.

“I don’t want to get into what I am doing and what I won’t be doing,” Ninkovich said. “Whatever I am doing and whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do it to the best of my abilities.

“I’ve been in that position before. It’s one thing about this league, you never know what’s going to happen. I understand the anxiety that comes with that day. You just feel for those guys that weren’t able to stick around because there are a lot of good football players that don’t have a job. You just hope that they get another opportunity and go somewhere else and make the best of it.”

Read More: Charley Hughlett, Danny Aiken, New England Patriots, Rob Ninkovich
Patriots confirm addition of QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, nine others to practice squad at 1:46 pm ET
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McLeod Bethel-Thompson

McLeod Bethel-Thompson

FOXBORO — The replacement for Ryan Mallett is officially on the practice squad.

The Patriots announced Monday that they have signed the full compliment of practice squad players as allowed under the new rules in the collective bargaining agreement. Among them is 26-year-old McLeod Bethel-Thompson, a third-year quarterback out of UCLA and Sacramento State.

The Patriots kept three quarterbacks – Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo – throughout OTAs, minicamp, training camp and preseason, before trading Mallett to the Texans on Sunday for a future late-round draft pick.

Professionally, Bethel-Thompson has been with Miami (2011), Minnesota (2012-2013) and San Francisco (2013). The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder, was originally signed by San Francisco on July 28, 2011, as a rookie free agent. He was released by San Francisco at the end of training camp and joined the Miami practice squad in late December.

Bethel-Thompson spent the entire 2011 season as the third-string quarterback for Minnesota. He was released by Minnesota in October of 2013 and was claimed and awarded to San Francisco, where he spent time on both the 53-man roster and the practice squad.

Additionally, the Patriots announced that they have signed nine others to the practice squad. They include DL Jake Bequette, QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, WR Josh Boyce, LB Ja’€™Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, RB Jonas Gray, DL Charley Hughlett, OL Chris Martin, DL Deonate Skinner and DB Daxton Swanson.

Bequette, Boyce, Ja’€™Gared Davis, Kanorris Davis, Gray, Martin, Skinner and Swanson all were in camp with the Patriots this season. Hughlett spent part of the offseason with the Patriots this year.

Hughlett, 23, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Dallas Cowboys out of Central Florida on April 30, 2012. He is a long-snapper by trade and took snaps Monday with the punting team. The 6-foot-4, 251-pounder was released by Dallas on Aug. 27, 2012. He was re-signed by Dallas on Jan. 7, 2013 and released for a second time on May 29, 2013. After being released by New England in May, Hughlett was signed by Jacksonville on June 19, 2014 before being released on Aug. 25, 2014. He handled all long snapping duties for four seasons at Central Florida.

Read More: Charley Hughlett, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, New England Patriots, practice squad
Patriots practice Monday: All accounted for as 10 practice squaders join ranks at 1:26 pm ET
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Jake Bequette

Jake Bequette

FOXBORO — All eligible players were accounted for at Patriots practice in shorts and shells on Monday on the upper grass fields as the team got a head start on the season opener this Sunday in Miami.

The only players not on hand were receiver Brian Tyms and defensive back Brandon Browner, both of whom are serving league-mandated four-game suspensions for violation of the NFL PED policy. Beginning Monday, neither player are permitted to practice with the team or use team facilities during the suspension.

The practice also featured the debut of several players signed to the practice squad, including quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, WR Josh Boyce, LB Ja’€™Gared Davis, DE Jake Bequette, S Kanorris Davis, RB Jonas Gray, DL/LS Charley Hughlett, OL Chris Martin, DL Deonate Skinner and DB Daxton Swanson.

Bequette, Boyce, Ja’€™Gared Davis, Kanorris Davis, Gray, Martin, Skinner and Swanson all were in camp with the Patriots this season. Hughlett spent part of the offseason with the Patriots this year.

During the media portion of practice, long snapper Charley Hughlett was working with the punt team and Bethel-Thompson was working with the secondary on throwing deep balls.

There was one uniform number change of note as linebacker Darius Fleming went from No. 44 to No. 58.

Read More: New England Patriots,
Rob Gronkowski announces: ‘I’m good to go. I’ll be playing [Sunday]‘ at 12:36 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s not often that a player gets to break news, but Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski broke some big news Monday before practice.

“Yep, I am [excited]. I’m good to go. I’ll be playing,” Gronkowski announced as he declared himself ready for Sunday’s season opener against the Dolphins in Miami.

This will mark the first game action of any kind since he tore his right ACL against Cleveland last December. Still, Gronkowski feels he’s fit enough to play a regular-season game.

“Super excited,” Gronkowski said. “Just seeing my teammates grind all week. Go back out there with them, get in the huddle, break the huddle with them. It’s going to be an honor to be out there with my teammates. Super pumped, super excited and just preparing for the game.

“I feel mentally and physically ready, for sure. No doubt about it.”

The news marks a stark contrast to 2013 when he and the team used a great deal of caution, protecting against a broken left forearm that would not heal properly. Gronkowski spent most of the first half of the season wondering exactly when he would feel comfortable enough taking hits in a game.

He eventually made his ’13 debut on Oct. 20 against the Jets. His season lasted just seven games when he was hit on his right knee by Cleveland’s T.J. Ward on Dec. 8, tearing his ACL. He had surgery on Jan. 9 and returned to full-team drills for the first time Aug. 18, did not play in the preseason.

Despite all of that, Gronk insisted Monday that he’d be ready to suit up and play Sunday against the Dolphins, a bit of an unusual declaration in an organization that usually guards the status of injured players like Fort Knox.

“Super excited, super pumped. I feel mentally and physically ready, for sure. No doubt about it,” Gronkowski said. “My mentality now is I’m ready to go, I’m ready to be out there, I’m ready to hit, I’m ready to start going.”

It should be noted that it wasn’t until his fifth game that Gronkowski played every snap. Likewise this time around, he doesn’t anticipate a full workload Sunday in Miami.

“Definitely not [playing] every single snap, but just get out there, get my feet wet, whatever coaches have, whatever we game-plan this week will be good,” Gronkowski said.

Gronkowski also insisted he will not be changing his reckless, physical style when he’s on the field.

“It feels good to be out here now this week, preparing for the Dolphins, knowing that I put myself in the best situation the last few weeks and few months to get back out here,” he added. “That was my plan the whole time, to work as hard as I could so I’d be ready for this week.”

Read More: Gronk, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski,
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