Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

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 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 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 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.”

Patriots Announce 2014 Training Camp Dates

Fans will finally be able to get a closer look at this year’s Patriots team next month at Gillette Stadium. (USA TODAY Images)

Some exciting news on this Monday as the team announced the first four dates of the team’s training camp workouts next month at Gillette Stadium.

Workouts will reportedly begin on Thursday July 24th, and then run Friday July 25th, Saturday July 26th, and Sunday July 27th.

No times have been announced at this point, but it’s a terrific opportunity for fans to visit the stadium and be able to get a good look at the players.  There’s also no charge for admission or parking.

We’ll post the times for each session as soon as the team makes them available.

The Patriots are reportedly in talks w/safety Devin McCourty on an extension. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty has had an interesting start to his career.

After having a terrific rookie season where he was essentially a shut down cornerback in New England’s defense, picking off a team high seven passes during his rookie year, it’s been quite a journey to where he is now.

He followed that up with a rough sophomore effort, struggling in coverage and having quite a frustrating year.

But since then after Bill Belichick elected to move McCourty to safety, he’s quietly become one of the best in the NFL.  Now it appears he’s about to potentially be paid like one.

McCourty is entering into the final year of his rookie deal and according to the NFL Network’s Albert Breer, the team has reached out to the now-veteran defensive back about a contract extension.  However, local beat writer Nick Underhill reports that nothing substantial has emerged from those talks just yet. He’s scheduled to make $3.97M in the final year of his rookie deal, with most feeling his new contract could come in around the neighborhood of the Saints Darius Byrd, who signed a six year contract worth $56 million with $26 million in guarantees this offseason.

He played well in 2013, finishing as the top ranked safety by and also number one in passes defensed by his fellow peers at that position.  He’s been a guy who has received consistent praise from head coach Bill Belichick.  However, even in practice he’s made his presence known, with Tom Brady even noting McCourty’s performances force him to work harder selling play fakes and making the offense more effective.

“Devin is a great player.  The play that was made the other day with he and [now released DB Marquice Cole], that was an amazing play,” Brady told the Boston Globe last November. “Devin was basically on the other side of the field and took off running. To be able to cover that much ground and have that kind of range as a post safety is remarkable.

“I see that every day in practice. You really have to look Devin off. He’s really smart, he sees combinations and sometimes you try to look him off, and he knows you’re trying to look him off so he doesn’t take it. There are other times he gets great jumps on the ball. He knocks balls away, covers guys in man coverage, and then has that range in the deep part of the field where he truly plays like a safety.”

Now he’s emerged as one of the best in the league.  Hopefully having him back in their secondary with newly acquired cornerback Darrelle Revis will also make New England’s offense better working against them in practice.

If all goes well should they can get a deal done with McCourty to keep him for the foreseeable future and extend Revis beyond this year, it’s hard not to like how this unit may look in the years to come.

Patriots Sign 2nd Round Pick Jimmy Garoppolo

The Patriots locked up one of their final two remaining rookies on Monday, with rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo agreeing to a four year deal with the team.

According to Shalize Manza Young of the Boston Globe the deal is worth $3.3 million, with a signing bonus of $853,744.  Garoppolo was the 62nd overall pick out of Eastern Illinois, and his signing now leaves New England with just one remaining draft choice unsigned in first round pick Dominique Easley.

REPORT: Patriots Hit ‘Snag’ With Dominique Easley’s Contract

The Patriots have yet to get a deal done with 1st round pick Dominique Easley. (USA TODAY Images)

After things seemed like they were moving along with Dominique Easley’s contract, it appears something may have happened that has the rookie as one of only two remaining players without a deal.

According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, the two sides have hit a “snag” in the negotations, and for now it sounds like a deal may not be imminent at this point to get an agreement done.

Howe had reported last week that a deal on a four year deal was close, but apparently that’s no longer the case.

That reportedly won’t stop Easley from being able to practice this week, but for now it appears the negotiations will continue.  Easley and second-round quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are the only two players still unsigned, which will hopefully be resolved in the weeks to come.

Law joins last year’s inductee Tedy Bruschi into the Patriots Hall of Fame. (USA TODAY Images)

Keeping with the tradition of past players, former Patriots cornerback Ty Law is headed to the Patriots Hall of fame, marking the fourth straight year in which an inductee has earned the honor in their first year of eligibility.

Law joins other prestigious names who accomplished that same honor, including Drew Bledsoe (2011), Troy Brown (2012), and last year’s inductee Tedy Bruschi.

“Ty Law was one of the greatest players in franchise history and one of the premier corners in the NFL during his Patriots career,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “The fans have helped validate that with this year’s hall of fame selection. We have had an incredible run of success and the building blocks started with players like Ty. He was an important part of three Super Bowl championship teams. It will be an honor to bring Ty back to celebrate his career as he takes his rightful place in our team’s hall of fame. I am sure he will deliver another memorable moment during his hall of fame ceremony, too.”

His ceremony will be held on August 1st at 4:30pm, which is just before the team holds their annual in-stadium practice for season ticket holders.  It’s also free and open to the public.

Patriots QB Garoppolo Already Hard at Work

Coming into a team like the Patriots, rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo obviously knew he’d have some big shoes to potentially someday fill while sitting behind Tom Brady on the depth chart.

His day in the sun is likely years away, but that doesn’t appear to be stopping him from doing all he can to start the process to ready himself for the day when the ball might eventually be placed in his hands.

According to NESN’s Doug Kyed, Garoppolo has spent his time burying his head in the playbook and doing his best to make sure the guys around him are just as up to speed with New England’s offensive system, with the rookie quarterback apparently already carving out a leadership role with his new team.

“He’ll be walking around, and he’ll just walk up to me and shout me out a play and ask me to tell him what is that I’ve got, my responsibilities,” undrafted tight end Justin Jones told Kyed Thursday at Gillette Stadium. “And I think that’s one of the key components of being a great quarterback.”

It’s likely going to be a pretty interesting transition for Garoppolo. After all, the former Walter Payton Award winner out of Eastern Illinois has gone from being a record-breaking passer for his college team, to being just a clipboard holder with his current one.

In the months ahead he’ll get to see what it’s like during practice while watching his favorite player and now teammate, Tom Brady, call the shots and show him what it takes to succeed at the NFL level.  Brady has preached about hard work and desire during his tenure as the team’s quarterback, which is what allowed him to achieve greatness despite being just a sixth round pick out of Michigan.  That hunger and desire is what got him to where he is now, and so far he hasn’t shown any signs of letting up.

Watching film is also something Brady has been known for over the years and it appears that Garoppolo is already following that example.  The rookie told the media earlier this week that studying is what separates the great players, and it’s something that may one day prepare him for when the moment finally arrives where he’s potentially asked to carry on the tradition that Brady has built here in New England.

“Film and playbook, that’s what makes a quarterback great,” he told ESPN Boston this week. “You have to have the physical tools obviously, but when you get into the film room, get with the coaches and talk about the playbook, that’s what really separates you.”

Studying film and becoming a leader. It may be a while before his day will come, but it sounds like he’s already doing the right things to potentially be ready when it does. He spoke about the opportunity he’s been given after he was drafted, and he’s glad to be a part of it.

“It’s crazy being able to go to Boston and learn from Tom, learn from Coach [Bill] Belichick and all the coaches and all the players,” said Garoppolo. “It’s a great opportunity for a guy like me, a young player. I still have a lot to learn and I know that and I’m excited about it.”