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Belichick: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski ‘Cleared to Play’


Unlike last year, Rob Gronkowski won’t be a specator during the start of training camp. (USA TODAY Images)

So far things are off to a better start for Rob Gronkowski and it appears that unlike last year he’ll be able to get a full training camp under his belt heading into the 2014 season.

During his meeting with media on Wednesday Patriots head coach Bill Belichick revealed that the veteran tight end “has been cleared to play”, which is a great sign as he continues coming back from a torn ACL last season.

“Rob’s always worked hard,” Belichick said via the Boston Globe. “He worked hard as a rookie. When he’s here. I can’t speak to when he’s not here. It’s good to see all the players out there. And the ones that aren’t out there that are working to get back, we’re looking forward to getting them back.”

Gronkowski missed the first six games of 2013 and played in seven games before tearing his ACL against the Browns at home in Week 14, which ended his season.  Overall he finished the year with 39 catches for 592 yards along with four touchdowns.

Patriots Huddle: Wednesday’s News & Links 7/23


Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots report this morning before Thursday’s public practice session. (USA TODAY Images)

As the players report this morning, here are this morning’s links:

BOSTON GLOBE:

Do Patriots finally have a premier secondary? – Shalise Manza Young: Manza Young has an article on the Patriots secondary, which now may be among the NFL’s best.

Patriots training camp — what to watch for – Sean Leahy: Leahy looks at what to keep an eye on as camp begins, including which injured player will be the most important to watch.

Money may dictate Patriots’ roster moves –  Ben Volin: Volin looks at several players who may be in trouble due to their contracts.

BOSTON HERALD:

Bill Belichick, captains meet with media today to open training camp – Jeff Howe: Howe has a quick entry this morning with Bill Belichick set to meet with the media this morning.

For Patriots new season starts now – Jeff Howe: Howe has his article previewing training camp, with some thoughts on several players and positions.

ESPN BOSTON:

Patriots’ evolving D keys Super hopes – Mike Reiss: Reiss has a quick article on the defense, which will likely be the biggest key surrounding their success this season.

Wake-up call: Bill Belichick gets it started – Mike Reiss: Reiss notes this morning’s media schedule, with Belichick set to meet with the media, along with several other players.

USA TODAY:

Patriots report: Will Super Bowl drought end at 10 years? – Lorenzo Reyes: Reyes has a spotlight on the Patriots and wonders if this will be the year they’re finally able to win it all.

NEPATRIOTSDRAFT.COM:

Five Areas to Monitor as Camp Opens – Oliver Thomas: Thomas has his thoughts on what to watch for with the players reporting today, including how the linebacker position comes together with the return of Jerod Mayo.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Offensive Line Preview: Can Stork, Rookies Deliver An Added Boost? – This morning’s position preview focuses on the Patriots’ offensive line, which will hopefully do a better job of keeping Tom Brady upright this season.

CSNNE:

Gasper: Is Gronk’s health the biggest concern? – Christopher Gasper: Gasper appeared on CSNNE and wondered about the overall health of the team, which obviously includes Gronkowski.

Patriots Huddle: Tuesday’s News, Notes & Links 7/22


Aaron Dobson will start training camp on the PUP list. (USA TODAY Images)

Some news and notes for this morning:

DOBSON, EASLEY AMONG PLAYERS TO START ON PUP:

The names of players who will be starting training camp on PUP came to light on Monday, with receiver Aaron Dobson and rookie Dominique Easley among players who will be under that designation to begin training camp on Thursday.

Other players who will be joining them will be cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, receivers Jeremy Gallon and Matthew Slater, along with running back Roy Finch, linebacker Deontae Skinner and tackle Chris Martin.  Each of those players count toward the team’s roster limit of 90 and any of them are eligible to come off at any time during the preseason.

PATRIOTS COME IN AT NO.4 FOR PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS:

One of the more meaningless stats is where the team is ranked heading into the preseason and ProFootballTalk.com’s Josh Alper has New England coming in at number four as camp looms.

Alper writes that the Patriots had a pretty good defense in 2013 without Darrelle Revis and adding him should make them better.  He also cites the return of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, who should both make a big impact.

As for weaknesses, the receiver position is Alper’s biggest question with a host of young players who have yet to manage any significant production, along with the loss of LeGarrette Blount at running back.

Despite the ranking, Alper still feels the Patriots will be in the conference title game again this season.

PATRIOTS SHUFFLE D-LINEMEN:

The Patriots made a couple of roster moves on Monday, releasing defensive lineman Seali’i Epenesa and replacing him by signing Eathyn Manumaleuna, also a defensive lineman.

Manumaleuna is an interesting signing primarily because the former BYU standout, who had previously been signed as an undrafted free agent earlier by the New York Giants before being released, has a couple of family members who have played professional football.  According to the Boston Globe, Manumaleuna’s uncle (Frank Manumaleuga ) and cousin (Brandon Manumaleuna ) both played in the NFL.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

PATSFANS.COM:

Patriots Training Camp Player Spotlight, Darrelle Revis – Steve Balestrieri: Balestrieri has a pre-camp spotlight on Revis, who will likely be in the spotlight with fans when camp opens on Thursday.

ESPN BOSTON:

Keeping tabs on injured Patriots – Mike Reiss: Reiss has notes on some of the injured players, which includes some updates on each.

BOSTON GLOBE:

Notes: Patriots shuffle roster before camp – The Globe has notes on the team’s roster moves on the defensive line on Monday.

10 Questions Headed into Patriots Training Camp - Zuri Berry: Berry has his questions for camp, including whether or not the tight end position is changing for the Patriots.

BOSTON HERALD:

Good news: Gronk not on Pats’ PUP - Jeff Howe: Howe has an article on Gronkowski, who fortunately won’t start this year on PUP.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Tight End Preview: Gronk Determined, But Depth Remains A Concern – Matthew Geagan: Geagan spotlights the tight end position in his preview, with the lack of depth something that remains concerning.

WEEI:

10 things to keep an eye on at Patriots training camp – Christopher Price: Price has his 10 things to watch at camp, which includes how well the relationship continues to develop with the younger receivers.

MASSLIVE: 

New England Patriots Roster Bubble Watch: WRs Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce are in the same boat – Nick O’Malley: O’Malley looks at the two receivers, with both battling for a roster spot when training camp starts.

CSNNE:

Is this Brady’s last chance to win a Super Bowl? - Gary Tanguay: Tanguay has an interesting column this morning pondering whether or not with Revis’ massive option next season if this is their best chance to win it all.

PATRIOTS.COM:

Happy New Year! What to Watch for in Training Camp – John Rooke: Rooke has his column on what to look for in camp this week and wonders if Gronkowski will still be “Gronktastic”.

BLEACHER REPORT:

Patriots Training Camp: 5 Early Storylines to Watch – James Christensen: Christensen has a good column looking at five storylines for camp, including the fact this is a key contract year for several running backs.

BROCKTON ENTERPRISE:

Patriots camp checklist: what to know for your sneak peak in Foxboro – Glen Farley: Farley has some notes on what fans need to know when they arrive in Foxboro Thursday.

WASHINGTON POST:

What you need to know about the AFC East  - Cindy Boren: Boren has a glance at the AFC East which includes a couple of quick thoughts on the Patriots.

Patriots Pre-Training Camp Player Spotlight: WR Danny Amendola


Danny Amendola had a rough first season in New England and will be looking for a better year in 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

2013 Summary:

For Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, he faced a monumental uphill battle from the time he agreed to terms with New England back on March 14, 2013.   The news of his signing came just hours after fans learned Wes Welker had joined Peyton Manning in Denver, which led to expectations that were far higher than Amendola could have ever hoped to live up to given who he was replacing.

To make matters worse, he was essentially battling himself and his own body, which was the one thing that so far had let him down during each of the two seasons prior to becoming a member of the Patriots.  That had the doubters wondering if he could stay healthy for an entire season and unfortunately for Amendola, 2013 didn’t prove to be any better after he suffered a groin injury late during training camp that would ultimately hamper him for most of the campaign.

He put together a memorable outing after re-aggravating it in the first half during their Week 1 battle in Buffalo, but still some how managed to come up with an impressive performance in the final two quarters.  He finished with 10 catches for 104 yrds, including a huge second half where he caught 7-of-8 passes for 64 yards along with six first downs, three of which came on the final drive of the game to help seal the win.

Unfortunately gutting out that contest cost him the next three games and for the most part he never seemed like himself for the rest of the year.  He finished the season with 54 catches for 633 yards and two touchdowns, but was nearly non-existent in the postseason after catching just three passes for 77 yards against the Colts in the Divisional round, followed by none against the Broncos during the AFC Championship Game in Denver.

Best Game of 2013:

Amendola’s best overall performance of the season was his week one showing, although his performance down in Miami in Week 15 was nearly equal after he hauled in 10 passes for 131 yards in a disappointing road loss.  However, the latter ended in frustration after he wasn’t able to come up with what would have been the go-ahead touchdown with just under 30-seconds left in the game.

Against Buffalo, it was his performance on third down that played such a significant role.  He caught 7-of-8 passes thrown his way, all of which moved the chains, including two he caught during their final drive that helped them run out the clock during the win.  That was a game that should have been a springboard for his season but ended up simply being his best all-around outing of 2013.  However, little did Amendola know that had he caught that pass in Miami (pictured above), that might have been the play that could have given the Patriots an opportunity to battle the Broncos in Foxboro instead of in Denver back in January.

Notable Stat of 2013:

It’s interesting to note that down in the red zone, Amendola was targeted just six times in 2013, the second lowest total among all receivers with just Austin Collie trailing him (1 target, 0 receptions. From there, it was Aaron Dobson (9 targets, 4 receptions, 2 TD’s), Rob Gronkowski (8 targets, 5 receptions, 3 TD’s), Shane Vereen (12 targetes, 7 receptions, 3 TD’s), Kenbrell Thompkins (10 targets, 5 receptions, 4 TD’s) and Julian Edelman (23 targets, 15 receptions, 5 TD’s) who lead the way.  Amendola finished with three receptions along with one touchdown.

What to Watch For in 2014:

In a perfect world, Amendola would have been out there with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in 2013, giving him the opportunity to establish himself in what likely would have been a much more prolific offense had things not turned out the way they did.  Gronkowski’s return was delayed and ultimately ended in disaster when he suffered a torn ACL against the Browns and ended up on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Hernandez was released in June after being charged with multiple murders.

Had the offense returned their two key parts of 2012 for the entire season, that may have taken some of the pressure off of Amendola as he got acclimated but obviously things didn’t quite work out that way.  He fought hard and it was obvious he was never able to get back to 100%, which given some of the explosive moments he was able to produce (a 57-yard reception in Week 9 against Pittsburgh) should have most fans looking forward to what will hopefully be a better year from him in 2014.

However, there are a lot of people who have already written Amendola off, which will likely be to their detriment should he come out of training camp healthy.  He’s extremely athletic and he’s been spotted with his offensive teammates numerous times this offseason, so behind the scenes he’s been doing all the right things. After having had a full year in the system, he’s at least had the opportunity to work on the things he potentially may have not been comfortable with in his first year.

At this point it’s just a matter of taking the next step because in the end, Amendola’s got the physical tools and he’s got the talent.  Now if his body can come through for him the Patriots might find themselves with a pretty good weapon that could hopefully make them a little more productive in 2014.

Patriots Huddle: Monday’s News, Notes and Links 7/21


Insert Caption Text Here. (USA TODAY Images)

Here are some news and notes on this Monday morning:

FORMER PATRIOTS RB FAULK SPENDS TIME AT CAMP:

Former Patriots RB Kevin Faulk was a counselor at the seventh annual Pro Football Combine Camp at Nicholls State University last Friday and despite constant rain, Faulk reportedly spent time helping 250 campers who were on hand while trying to pass along some of his football knowledge.

The former LSU standout told NOLA.com that the kids are the reasons why he enjoys coming back to the area.

“It means a whole lot,” said Faulk.  “The kids is one of the reasons why I came back home. To get them more involved, get them the notoriety, get them out there, build their confidence level up in what they doing so they can try to move forward.”

Faulk currently holds LSU’s career rushing record of 4,557 yards, which has stood for the last 15 seasons.  However, with LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette set to come in, Faulk believes that his record may finally fall.  Fournette has reportedly made quite an impression so far and Faulk feels that if anyone has the potential to break his record, Fournette might be that player.

“Not for long, (the record) is not going to be there for long,” said Faulk when asked about it.  “How times are now, kids leaving to go to the NFL, multiple running backs in a system you never know what can happen. But if there’s any person that can do it, he is the guy.”

“I wish him the best of luck. I hope he does it because every record is made to be broken. It’s just a challenge for another kid that’s coming up as a competitor to reach that record. So, I hope he does and good luck doing it.”

RYAN RYAN SAYS PATRIOTS SHOULD BE WORRIED:

The preseason is a time for optimism and it’s the one time during the year where every team shares the same record and the same hope of a promising season.  For those who have endured rough roads in recent years, it’s the only time where most coaches feel their team might have just as good of a chance as anyone else at competing for a successful season.

Unfortunately some coaches handle that better than others and over the weekend Jets coach Rex Ryan felt the need to make New York’s presence in the AFC East known after telling the New York Post that the Patriots should be worried about his team this season.

“Somebody asked me if we focus on New England. Bull—€”-,” Ryan told the New York Post. “We’re focused on us. We’re focused on us and how are we going to be better. I have to be honest, I don’t worry about them. They need to worry about us. I think that’s really where we’re at now.”

Oh and by the way, he also feels he’s a great coach.

“Do I think that I’m a great coach? I absolutely know I’m a great coach,” Ryan said. “But it’s not just about me. What makes a great coach is the people that surround you, the people that are with you every day.”

The joys of preseason.

GOSTKOWSKI TOPS IN C-USA HISTORY:

In an article ranking the top special teams players in Conference USA’s 20-year history, former Memphis kicker Stephen Gostkowski tops the list among the five best special teams players over the last two decades.

The former Madison central standout is C-USA’s all-time leading scoring with 369 points and has been the Patriots’ kicker since 2006 after the team drafted him to replace Adam Vinatieri.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

ESPN BOSTON:

Top Patriots positional battles in camp – Mike Reiss: Reiss looks at some of the potential position battles, which includes several at the offensive line.

Looking ahead to 2015 Patriots foes – Mike Reiss: Reiss takes a quick look at who the Patriots will face off against in 2015, which will include home games against the Jaguars, Titans, Eagles and Redskins.

NESN:

Patriots’ Training Camp Offensive Position Battles Include QB, Receiver – Doug Kyed: Kyed looks at the potential position battles at the quarterback and receiver position.

CSNNE:

Curran: Pats made ‘seismic shift’ drafting Garoppolo – Tom Curran wonders if the move to grab Jimmy Garoppolo in April might affect Brady’s mindset with his contract.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Running Back Preview: How Will Rookie James White Fit In With Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley? – Michael Hurley: Hurley spotlights the running back position, with White poised to battle for playing time among the Patriots’ current group.

WEEI:

Countdown to Camp: Defensive Line – Christopher Price: Price continues his camp position preview seriees and has an article spotlighting the Patriots’ defensive line.

BLEACHER REPORT:

New England Patriots’ Training Camp To-Do List – James Christensen: Christensen looks at the top five things that Belichick needs to check off before everyone watches the preseason unfold.

NFL.COM:

Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski plans to play whole season – Dan Hanzus: Hanzus has an entry on Gronkowski’s hopes of making it through an entire season healthy.

BOSTINNO:

Get Ready For Patriots Training Camp – Hayden Bird: Bird writes that the depressing days of no football are about to come to an end.

Patriots Add Former Buccaneers TE Nate Byham


Nate Byham rounds out a competitive group heading into the start of training camp this week. (USA TODAY Images)

Heading into training camp the Patriots have questions at the tight end position, but they added additional depth on Saturday after adding former Buccaneer Nate Byham.

According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston Byham agreed to terms on a contract with the team and pending a physical, he’ll fill the 90th spot on the roster after the Patriots also added receivers Derrick Johnson and Tyler McDonald on Friday.

Byham’s style of play has him as more of a blocking tight end, although that’s a label that he previously said he was trying to shed.

“That’s my strong suit,” Byham said via the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2012 when he was with the 49ers. “I wouldn’t say that’s all I am. I don’t want to be labeled just a blocker because I feel like I can do a lot more. But that is definitely my strong suit and I think I can fill that role in the offense as a blocking tight end.”

He’ll add to a competitive group behind Rob Gronkowksi and Michael Hoomanawanui that includes D.J. Williams, Justin Jones and Asa Watson. Byham had six receptions for 56 yards in two seasons in Tampa Bay along with a touchdown.

He was originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round out of Pittbsurgh in 2010 and played in 14 games, finishing with 5 receptions for 27 yards.  He tore his ACL just two days into the 2011 training camp with the 49ers and missed the season.  He was waived on August 16, 2012 before later reaching an injury settlement with them.

His bad luck continued after calf and knee injuries ended his season just four games into 2013 in Tampa Bay and he was placed on injured reserve on October 1st.  He became a free agent back on March 11th and also worked out for New Engalnd previously back on May 21.

LAWYER: Belichick and Hernandez Exchanged 34 Individual Texts, not Pages


Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. (USA TODAY Images)

Earlier in the week there was a report released regarding an apparent exchange of text messages leading up to the arrest of Aaron Hernandez between Bill Belichick and the former tight end, which was turned over as part of the evidence in his ongoing trial.

The initial report had said those exchanges totaled 33 pages, however, according to Christopher Price of WEEI.com the Patriots issued a statement Friday night via their lawyer, Andrew Phelan, who set the record straight.  According to Phalen the two exchanged 34 individual texts, which seems a little more realistic given how many exchanges it would have taken to pile up that many individual pages.

“Earlier this week, a report indicated that an exchange of text messages between the team’s head coach and Mr. Hernandez totaled 33 pages. While it is unknown how the texts were printed or displayed, I thought it was important to clarify that during an early investigation conducted by state prosecutors, the team produced a total of 34 text messages (not pages of texts) spanning a period of five months (December 2012 ‘€“ April 2013) between the head coach and Mr. Hernandez.”

Hernandez was arrested last June and has since been charged with three murders.  His trial for the slaying of Odin Lloyd was initially set to begin on October 6th but recent reports suggest his trial may not begin until early 2015.

Patriots Huddle: Friday’s News, Notes and Links 7/18


Patriots owner Robert Kraft claims Bill Belichick wouldn’t mind multiple Thursday night games. (USA TODAY Images)

Here are some news and notes on this Friday:

KRAFT SAYS BELICHICK ENJOYS THURSDAY NIGHT GAMES:

Despite the belief by some that the addition of a Thursday night game is bad for players since they have to play another game only four days after having previously played another, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spent Thursday talking about the fact the league experienced a “slight decrease” in injury rates.

According to Goodell, who was on hand for CBS’s Thursday Night Football event in Beverly Hills, California, many players have praised the scheduling during the most recent negotiations over the league’s collective bargaining agreement and he believes there isn’t an issue.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was also on hand for the event, agreed and even said that Bill Belichick “likes the Thursday night games and would be happy to have more than one in a season,” and argued that short weeks reward the league’s well-prepared teams while giving the players an extended break on the other side.
The team last experienced a Thursday night game in Week 2 of last season at home against the Jets. Coming off their week one win over the Bills, Belichick talked about the fact that they needed to adapt to fit everything in.

“There’s going to have to be some days combined,” Belichick said via the Boston Herald following their opening day victory. “Today is definitely a finish-up-the-Bills day. That’s part of Monday, and skip Tuesday, so you definitely get into Wednesday today. Start our scouting reports, turn the page and get into the Jets. Tuesday and Wednesday will be some combination of Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”

They ended up winning a tough 13-10 win in a game that wasn’t pretty offensively. Quarterback Tom Brady finished 19-of-39 for 185 yards and one touchdown but was just 6-of-15 on third down.

But coming off the long layoff, the Patriots played well in a 23-3 win over the Buccaneers. Brady was 25-of-36 passing for 225 yards and two touchdowns, including a better performance on third down after finishing 7-of-9. The running backs also had a good outing, piling up 156 yards on 33 carries.

They have one game scheduled on Thursday night this season, which will again be against the Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 16th. From there they’ll have 10 days before they follow it up with another home game against the Bears on October 26th.

FOOTBALL IN 3-D NOT COMING TO THE NFL:

With Thursday night football coming to CBS in the fall, the network apparently isn’t interested in offering these games in 3-D.

According to CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, the reception for the technology has been lukewarm and he doesn’t expect anyone to pursue it, although he believes the new 4K, super high-definition is likely the next step networks will focus on and he said CBS is already planning for it.

“All the networks looked really seriously at 3-D
it looked brilliant for about 15 minutes,” said McManus via Entertainment Weekly. “What we found out was, it’s really not a very good way to watch a sporting event, with the camera moving back and forth quickly. The reception that we got was very lukewarm. ESPN made the decision not to pursue it. We made the decision
not to pursue it. I don’t think you’ll see anybody in the near future or perhaps the distant future really pursuing 3-D coverage.”

“What we’re all pursuing now is 4K, which is super high-definition,” said McManus. “The camera
 suspended over the field will indeed be a 4K camera, for the first time ever.”

KRAFT BELIEVES NFL NEEDS TEAMS IN LONDON AND L.A.:

The idea of an NFL Franchise in London continues to be discussed and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was on hand for the Thursday Night Football panel at the Beverly Hilton in California, told NFL.com he believes a team will be there before the decade is out.

“I can see the kind of reception we got there,” said Kraft, referencing New England’s visit to London back in 2012. “… I would not be disappointed, and I would also believe that we should work hard to try and have a franchise in London before the decade was out.”

Kraft also believes that the league needs to make a move to get one or more teams into Los Angeles, as it’s a market he believes is being hurt by the fact that an entire generation of fans aren’t branded to a team.

“In the end, we want young people here branded to a team,” Kraft said. “I know that Roger and I and a number of the owners who care about the long-term health of the NFL feel it’s very important for our future to have at least one — if not two teams — in downtown L.A.”

WR’S JOHNSON AND WIGGINS RELEASED:

The team made a couple of roster moves on Thursday, releasing receivers Jeremy Johnson and Reese Wiggins. That lightens a group that had eleven receivers heading into training camp, which now drops that number down to nine. With the retirement of Armond Armstead this week, the team’s roster went from 90 to 87 players, although in all likelihood they’ll bring in some additional guys before the team hits the field next Thursday.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

BOSTON GLOBE:

Patriots can provide jolt, rescue summer – Christopher Gasper: Gasper writes that the Patriots represent hope on the horizon for Boston fans who have seen the Red Sox fall into last place in the American League East.

Danny Aiken Has Competition For Long-Snapping Duties – Erik Frenz: Frenz takes a closer look at special teams and writes that Aiken could be in a battle with Tyler Ott, who has a lower cap number.

ESPN BOSTON:

Snapshot: 2014 Patriots media guide cover – Mike Reiss: Reiss takes a look at the team’s media guide and highlights some of the features from this year’s edition.

Picked-up Patriots pieces around Web – Mike Reiss: Reiss has some additional Patriots-related links from around the web in this entry.

Weekly Patriots Chat Recap – Mike Reiss: Reiss also held his weekly chat and as usual it contained some interesting bits of information.

Camp Preview: New England Patriots – Mike Reiss: Reiss has a brief entry with some thoughts heading into training camp as part of ESPN’s NFL Nation.

WEEI:

Countdown to Camp: Quarterback – Christopher Price: Price continues his series looking at each position, with today’s entry focusing on the quarterback spot.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Secondary Preview: Darrelle Revis Can Completely Reshape Passing Defense – Michael Hurley: Hurley spotlights the Patriots secondary and writes that the Patriots finally have a game-changer in Darrelle Revis.

PROVIDENCE JOURNAL:

Nearly two dozen Patriots are playing for their next contract – Mark Daniels: Daniels has a good article on the fact there are quite a few players who are counting on a good season to help get their deals extended.

TAUNTON GAZETTE:

FIRST-AND-TEN: Patriots’ hands hope to be helping more than hurting in 2014 – Glen Farley: Farley takes a closer look at the wide receiver position, which was badly riddled with injuries from top to bottom in 2013.

SOUTH COAST TODAY:

Is Brady ready to act his age? – Glen Farley: Farley writes that for years we couldn’t help but wonder if the Patriots were even aware of Tom Brady’s football mortality, while now it’s clear after the drafting of Jimmy Garoppolo they are.

NFL.COM:

Goodell, Kraft talk possibility of teams in L.A., London – Marc Sessler: Sessler has an article on the fact that the NFL feels it’s in their best interest to get teams into both Los Angeles and London,

Patriots Huddle: Thursday’s Media Links 7/17


Michael Hurley of CBS Boston wonders if Ryan Mallett will be on the opening day roster in 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s links:

BOSTON .COM:

Uncertainty Behind Starters at Linebacker in Patriots 2014 Training Camp Battle – Erik Frenz: Frenz  takes a closer look at the linebacker position heading into training camp.

With Release of Patriots Media Guide, Coaching Positions Become Clear – Zuri Berry: Berry notes who replaced defensive coach Pepper Johnson, noticing that Patrick Graham is the one who filled his shoes after Johnson’s departure this offseason.

FORBES:

New England Patriots Tickets Up 31.1% Since Last Season – Jesse Lawrence: Lawrence cites prices from TiqIQ that show the prices for games at Gillette Stadium puts New England as the fifth most expensive in the NFL.

ESPN BOSTON:

Pats promote Ossenfort to scouting director – Mike Reiss: Reiss Reports that the team has filled the void left by the departure of director of college scouting Jon Robinson by promoting his former assistant, Monti Ossenfort.

Resetting the Patriots’ DT personnel – Mike Reiss: Reiss takes another look at the defensive line following Armond Armstead’s retirement on Wednesday.

D-lineman Armond Armstead retires – Mike Reiss: Reiss has his story on Armstead’s retirement, which he writes likely didn’t come as a surprise to the Patriots.

WEEI:

Countdown to camp: Offensive line – Christopher Price: Price continues his series leading up to training camp, and this morning’s edition focuses on the offensive line.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Quarterbacks Preview: Tom Brady To Provide Another Year Of Excellence, But Who’s His Backup? – Michael Hurley: Hurley takes a look at the Patirots’ quarterback situation and wonders whether or not the team will keep three quarterbacks by the time camp comes to an end.

MASSLIVE:

New England Patriots Roster Bubble Watch: The price tag for G Dan Connolly presents a problem – Nick O’Malley: O’Malley writes that the high price tag for Connolly could make him a casualty by the time the season starts.

New England Patriots training camp position previews: Linebackers – Nick O’Malley: O’Malley also has his position preview of the linebackers, and feels this year’s group will be better than the 2013 version.

 

PROVIDENCE JOURNAL:

Donaldson: Defensive depth a concern for the Patriots - Jim Donaldson: Donaldson looks at the team’s depth on defense and feels the team lacks good depth up front behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly.

ATTLEBORO SUN CHRONICLE:

Training Camp Preview: Patriots roster taking shape – Mark Farinella: Farinella has his thoughts on the team heading into camp and goes through each position.

BOSTINNO:

Armond Armstead’s Retirement Is Sad, but Underscores the Patriots Defensive Depth – Hayden Bird: Bird has his thoughts on Armstead’s retirement and feels it’s sad for fans who were looking forward to seeing him get his shot here in New England.

NFL.COM:

AFC East Training Camp Preview: 3 things to watch – Gregg Rosenthal – Rosenthal takes a look at the AFC East, and feels defensive tackle remains the position with the most problems.

Patriots DL Armond Armstead Calls It Quits at Just 23


Armond Armstead announced his retirement on Wednesday. (USA TODAY Images)

Coming off of a solid Canadien Football League season, it appeared that a shot at playing in the NFL was within his grasp after Armond Armstead signed with the New England Patriots last year.

Unfortunately, while the opportunity was close enough for him to taste it, his dream was never realized.

The defensive lineman was never able to get onto the active roster, due to the fact his body wouldn’t allow him to. According to most reports, it started after Armstead reportedly underwent a procedure to treat an infection, which saw him end up on the team’s reserve/non-football injury list in 2013.

There were questions coming in for Armstead regarding his health after he also suffered a heart attack in college at USC and has a pending lawsuit in regards to painkillers he was given in college that are believed to have caused it.  However, it appeared that after playing a season in Canada that his body would potentially be able to hold up to similar rigors in the NFL.

The Patriots were one of several teams who looked at him after he came out of USC, but he went undrafted in 2012.  From there he played in Toronto for the Argonauts and helped the team win the Grey Cup, recording six sacks during the season.

That performance lead to an opportunity here in New England but his infection left him sidelined during his rookie season.  Heading into spring camps earlier this year there seemed to be hope that he’d might finally be able to get out and start participating in the workouts.  A report by Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald back in March suggested that Armstead was on pace to be ready to participate, but something was clearly wrong.

OTA’s came and went, as did the mandatory minicamps, with Armstead still absent, leaving most wondering what his future would hold.

On Wednesday, Armstead finally decided it was time to stop chasing his dream after the 23-year old announced his retirement.

Bill Belichick had positive words for him, saying that throughout his ordeal Armstead remained upbeat and worked hard during the process.

“It has been a pleasure being around Armond, as he gave everything he could to play for us,” said Belichick via a statement released by the team.  “Armond worked extremely hard since joining us last February. He’s had a lot of adversity personally that he’s had to deal with – unusual compared to most other players – but he’s always had a great attitude, worked hard and really did everything we asked him to do.

“While it is unfortunate he will not be able to play football, Armond is an outstanding young man who has a very bright future in whatever path he chooses.”