TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 3 days until Patriots training camp

Big news broke late last night, with Adam Kaplan of FoxSports.com that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reported to Foxboro on Sunday, with both he and the other quarterbacks on hand to work out with the rookies.  That report more or less ended the speculation that Brady was going to hold out due to a lack of a new contract.

Not long after came a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who reported that the Patriots and Brady are making progress toward a new deal, and that things are ‚Äúpositive‚ÄĚ between the two sides.¬† Schefter feels that it’s possible a deal could be finalized by the end of the summer.

Speaking of contracts, the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots got another rookie signed yesterday, with tight end Rob Gronkowski getting a deal.

Gronkowski, one of three second-round draft picks (42d overall) by the Patriots, received a four-year, $4.44 million deal, according to the website ProFootballTalk. Gronkowski received a $1.76 million signing bonus and a one-time, $830,000 minimum-playing time bonus that in effect serves as his option bonus.

Christopher Price reported yesterday that Terry Watson, Brandon Spikes’ agent, said that he’s hopeful that New England¬†will agree to their latest contract offer.

“Regarding the Spikes negotiation, I have put together a contract offer to them that meets past precedent and custom,” said Terry Watson. “I am hopeful they accept it.”

That leaves just Devin McCourty awaiting a contract, with Spikes being the one who is reportedly the closest to being the next rookie to sign.

As for McCourty the two sides haven’t been able to reach an agreement yet, and Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston reports that one reason for the slowdown in negotiations¬†seems to be the lack of other first-round signings, as only the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant (24th overall) has signed a deal.¬† Reiss explains that because of that, agent Andy Simms can’t use other deals as a framework for McCourty’s contract.

Reiss also reports that one source involved in negotiations with a first-round pick from a different team said the NFLPA has advised him to slow negotiations until some other first-round deals are completed, which would provide a better framework to work from.

With Brady back in Foxboro Reiss ponders his impact for this season now that he’s¬†farther removed from his knee¬†injury.¬† With all the new players he’ll have to throw to, one would believe that they’ll be involved after Reiss pointed out that Brady has thrown touchdown passes to 38 different players in the regular season and 14 different players in the playoffs.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com has an article this morning on the Patriots linebackers, who Howe is hoping can generate more of a pass rush this season.

Mark Farinella of the Attleboro Sun Chronicle has five questions for the Patriots when they open training camp on Thursday, including “Who’s going to play linebacker?”, and “Who’s the leader of the defense?”.

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald has five questions of his own, and looks at whether or not Brady will be even better this season after being one year removed from his knee injury, along with what will happen to the Patriots offensive line should Logan Mankins continue to sit out.

Glen Farley of the Metrowest Daily News looks at the competition at the linebacker position, and wonders who will emerge at each spot once Training Camp begins.¬† It’s a pretty good in-depth look, and definitely a solid read.

ProFootballTalk.com has a note from Reiss on Wes Welker, who he feels may be held back by head coach Bill Belichick.¬† It’s likely Belichick will keep Welker out of any drills that “could be taxing” on his surgically repaired knee so that New England has him for week one.

Finally the guys at PatsCast have another episode to download for this week, touching on a variety of topics – including Tom Brady‚Äôs contract, Wes Welker‚Äôs knee, signing the rookies, and the trend away from free agents and towards homegrown talent.¬† So be sure and listen to today’s episode, and if you have an Ipod you can also download it from ITunes¬†and take it with you.

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

ProFootballTalk.com reports that despite speculation that former Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas may reunite with his former coordinator Rex Ryan, the Jets apparently have no interest in him.  Thomas has been on the free agent market since April, and has received very little interest from anyone.

WPRI out of Providence has an article from the Associated Press on wide receiver Dez Bryant, who was the first player on the field for the Cowboys on Sunday.¬† He was on the field two hours early, and did it¬†“on purpose”, to show the fans he¬†is “ready to play.”

But Bryant is apparently not making friends with some of his teammates, with Tulsa World reporting that he scoffed at some of the “rookie rituals”, including not carrying the pads of teammate Roy Williams.¬† Williams’ comments in the piece would lead you to believe that he’s not too impressed with the rookie.

It looks like Terrell Owens may have finally have found a home, with ESPN’s Chris Mortenson reporting that the St. Louis Rams are apparently interested in bringing in the problematic receiver.¬†¬† According to the report the Rams asked Owens through his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, if he would consider a serious contract proposal, even though they are not considered a playoff contender. Mortenson said that Rosenhaus told the team Owens would definitely consider it – citing a source.

That’s it for this morning.¬† We’ll have more updates as they become available, and be sure to register for our messageboard and come talk football as we get ready for camp on Thursday.