|Vince Wilfork: ‘I’m holding no type of grudge’ against Patriots||06.19.14 at 2:43 pm ET|
FOXBORO — All is forgiven, if not forgotten, when it comes to Vince Wilfork and the Patriots.
The perennial Pro Bowl nose tackle spoke Thursday after the conclusion of minicamp for the first time since re-working his contract to return to New England.
Wilfork tore his right Achilles last September in Atlanta and was lost for the rest of the season.
Wilfork returned to Gillette Stadium to be around the team during his rehab but that loyalty didn’t immediately earn him the benefit of the doubt with the organization.
According to multiple reports, he felt slighted by the team and asked to be traded, going as far as removing his nameplate from his locker inside the Patriots locker room.
But after agreeing to a complicated, incentive-laden $23 million, three-year extension ($4 million signing bonus) in late March, Wilfork began the process of moving on. A big step in that process came this week when he stepped on the field for minicamp practices on Tuesday. On Thursday, he spoke for the first time about his return, making it clear that business is business and he’s all about football going forward.
“I’m here. That’s a dead issue,” Wilfork said. “I’m here for a reason. If I didn’t believe in the things that were brought to me, I wouldn’t have signed it. I’m here. There’s a reason that I’m here. I’m not upset. I’m not holding no type of grudge. Business is business. Everybody handles business different ways.
|After a season on the shelf, Tommy Kelly returns to action with Patriots||06.17.14 at 4:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — What’s that saying about the best laid plans?
Veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly went down with what appeared to be a relatively benign knee injury in an October loss to the Bengals. At the time, it appeared Kelly would be able to return to the lineup sooner rather than later, and resume serving as a terrifically disruptive presence up front in his first year for the Patriots’ defense.
“That was my plan,” Kelly said with a laugh following Tuesday’s minicamp session on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. “That’s what I was hoping and praying for, but it just didn’t work out that way.
“Me and the training staff, we worked hard trying to get back to the point where I could get through the game and stuff,” he added. “But it just didn’t work out that way.”
Kelly was out for the rest of the season, a bitter pill considering that the 33-year-old jumped at the chance to sign with New England last offseason for a few reasons — not the least of which is the fact that he had never had the chance to play for a team that finished with a record better than 8-8 in his previous nine seasons in the NFL.
But it wasn’t meant to be, as the 6-foot-6, 310-pounder sat and watched the Patriots finish with a 12-4 mark and a spot in the AFC title game.
“I came here to try and help the team get to the next level, and then (got) hurt,” said Kelly, who ended the year with 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks in five games. “Seeing how far we got and not being out there to help the guys out, that was just the hard part.”
That, combined with the loss of Vince Wilfork the week before Kelly went down (Wilfork’s suffered a season-ending Achilles’ injury) was a blow to the heart of the New England defense.
“I know coming into the process [Vince] was durable, I was durable at that point in my career. So I pretty much thought that’s all that mattered,” the gregarious Kelly said. “But when you both go down in back to back weeks, that was a blow. Me, not even just having him out there, because he was a real good person for me to lean on coming into a new scheme and system. [When] I got confused about stuff, I would just ask him. He just made it real easy for me.”
As he noted, Kelly had been extremely durable over the course of his career — prior to 2013, he had played 16 regular-season games in seven of the previous eight years. However, he suffered a similar knee injury in 2007 that limited him seven games. While he acknowledged that rehab has been a little easier because of what he went through in 2007, it’s still a difficult experience to be on the shelf with an injury but be around team on a regular basis.
“It is,” he said. “You’re part of the team, but you ain’t because you ain’t in the game plan. I don’t care how much good things you’ve got to say, if you ain’t in the game plan or you ain’t in the game, they really don’t care that much. If the guys asked me something, I was there for them, but I just tried to stay out of the way.”
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|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on return of Vince Wilfork, Sebastian Vollmer and end of OTAs||06.12.14 at 5:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price talk about the return of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and the conclusion of Patriots OTAs on Thursday outside Gillette Stadium.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots in rain-soaked OTAs||06.05.14 at 9:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price assess the ups and downs from the second week of Patriots OTAs that concluded in the heavy rain Thursday outside Gillette Stadium. Jimmy Garoppolo made his debut in front of the media on the field while Logan Mankins returned to the field. Rob Gronkowski and Vince Wilfork were also on hand while Aaron Dobson and Alfonzo Dennard were not.
|Veteran DT Kevin Williams: ‘Tell [the Patriots] to look me up’||06.04.14 at 1:05 pm ET|
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is one of several veteran free agents on the market, but sounds like he’d be interested in signing with the Patriots.
Williams was speaking with a reporter from USA Today about the state of many veteran free agents at this time of the year — several of whom are still sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring — when he was asked about the possibility of playing for the Patriots alongside Vince Wilfork.
“Well, give them a call,” Williams said of New England. “Tell them to look me up.”
The six-time Pro Bowler, who will turn 34 next month, has spent 11 years in the NFL, all with the Vikings. The 6-foot-5, 311-pounder has been pretty durable over the course of his career, as he’s only missed five regular-season games since entering the league in 2003. Williams has 60.5 career sacks, including 8.5 in 2008.
“I’ve done well managing my money. I think I’d be fine if I don’t play,” Williams added. “But that’s my hope — I hope to be on somebody’s team before summer’s out.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|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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|Tom Brady going to the Derby, Devin McCourty goes back to Rutgers and Patriots kicking tires on college wide receivers||04.14.14 at 12:29 pm ET|
1. Tom Brady is going back to the Kentucky Derby. According to this report, the quarterback is expected to make the trek to Churchill Downs this year, along with current teammate Vince Wilfork, ex-Patriot Wes Welker and a boatload of celebs. This year’s Derby takes place on May 2 and 3, so expect more of these pictures sooner rather than later.
2. According to our pal Dan Duggan, Devin McCourty was back in New Jersey over the weekend to watch the Rutgers spring game, and it’s clear that he continues to have a major impact on the Scarlet Knights. Some current Rutgers defensive backs talked about the impact that McCourty, as well as several other former Rutgers guys who play for the Patriots
“When I really started getting deep into my recruiting process and really starting to narrow down where I want to go, I started paying attention to what position I wanted to play and I started realizing Rutgers put a lot of defensive guys in the league, especially in the secondary,” current Rutgers DB Nadir Barnwell. “I definitely want to go to the next level, so this is definitely a good place to be. They’ll definitely take my game to the next level.”
“I still don’t get why they don’t get some of the best defensive backs every year, just if you watch what they’ve been able to do and what guys have done throughout the league,” McCourty said. “We definitely take pride in it. We have a lot of guys that play in the secondary in the NFL and hopefully it continues.”
3. More pre-draft receiver buzz around the Patriots: South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington has drawn interest from multiple teams around the league — according to Mike Garafalo of Fox Sports, that includes New England. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, he’s already had a workout with the Patriots. The 5-foot-9, 196-pounder had 49 catches for 775 yards and eight touchdowns last season with the Gamecocks. Ellington, who also started as a point guard with the USC basketball team, projects as a slot receiver with great speed at the next level. (He’s also the cousin of Cardinals running back Andre Ellington.) Here’s some video on him:
In addition, the Patriots have already had a follow-up visit with University of Washington wide receiver Kevin Smith. The 5-foot-11, 214-pound Smith, who suffered a torn ACL in December 2011, became a huge part of the UW offense last season,, finishing with 50 catches for 765 yards and four touchdowns. Known for his sure hands and positive locker room influence, Smith is a former high school basketball standout who also has special teams value as a kick returner.
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