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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.”

Patriots Pre-Training Camp Player Spotlight: Dont’a Hightower


Dont’a Hightower was taken out of his comfort zone in 2013, but still played well. (USA TODAY Images)

(This is the ninth in a series of individual player spotlights over the next few weeks leading up to training camp. So check back frequently as we go down the roster.  This edition focuses on Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower:)

2013 Summary: 

Like fellow teammate Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower came out of 2012 having had a season where he had some good moments and seemed poised for a solid sophomore season.

Instead, he saw his world turned upside down after teammate Jerod Mayo was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle in their dramatic week six victory over the Saints.

It changed Hightower’s role on the team, which shows how smart Bill Belichick is in terms of preparing players to adjust to those situations.  Prior to the start of the season, Hightower, like several other players, spent some time wearing the “green dot” designation given to the player in charge of calling out the defense.  That ended up being a key experience for Hightower, who took over that duty after Mayo went down.

From there they picked up and moved on after Mayo ended up on injured reserve and Hightower seemingly got more comfortable as the season went on. It’s obvious that it required a bit of an adjustment, and the downside for Hightower is it limited some of his abilities to make plays. That lead to some whispers about his play by critics who questioned his production without fully understanding his responsibilities.

Down the stretch, for the most part Hightower handled it well and by season’s end looked like a different player as he settled in.  He even finished the season with three passes defensed, which came in week nine against Pittsburgh, week thirteen against the Texans and in week 16 against the Ravens.

Overall, it’s an experience that took Hightower out of his comfort zone, but it’s safe to say that it also likely made him a better player.

Best game of 2013:

Hightower’s best overall performance came against the Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff round, with the linebacker having a great outing both against the run and in the passing game.  He finished with eight tackles, along with a key interception with just over a minute left in the first half as the Colts were driving and were in Patriots’ territory.  It came thanks to a terrific heads-up play on a throw by Andrew Luck that was thrown behind fullback Stanley Havili.  The ball bounced off his shoulder pad and Hightower, who was in coverage and right there with him, alertly plucked it away, making the interception and ending the scoring threat.

Notable Stat of 2013:

Hightower finished with a team-leading 55 solo tackles in 2013, and combined for 97 tackles overall, eight more than Rob Ninkovich.  During their two postseason games he also lead the way, finishing with 10 solo tackles while combining for 16 and also had one of the team’s four interceptions.

What to Watch For in 2014: 

With Mayo healthy, Hightower should be able to move back over and hopefully be able to use his speed a little more in 2014 now that he’ll have the freedom to get back to what he’s good at, which is using his speed and instincts.  He’s deceptively fast, and with his size, 6’3″ 270lbs, it’s surprising how quick and athletic he is.  It’s worth noting that he was seen during OTA’s playing up on the line of scrimmage, including occasionally rushing from the edge.  How he’s used and whatever additional responsibilities he’s given should be an interesting thing to watch during camp.

The linebacker position is a strength for this team heading into the preseason and Hightower is one of the biggest reasons why.  He’s already proven that the decision by the Patriots to move up and grab him in the first round in 2012 so far has been the right one, and 2014 should hopefully be a good season for him.

Patriots Huddle: Tuesday’s News, Notes & Links


Bill Belichick and Aaron Hernandez communicated quite a bit prior to his arrest last year. (USA TODAY Images)

Another quiet morning on this Tuesday, but here are some Patriots related news and notes for this morning:

33 PAGES OF TEXTS BETWEEN HERNANDEZ AND BELICHICK OBTAINED:

Very little has been mentioned in this space regarding Aaron Hernandez since his arrest and subsequent release last year and that’s primarily because there was no further relevance to him from a football or Patriots standpoint.  However, the recent report that 33 pages of texts have been obtained regarding texts between Bill Belichick and the former tight end was something that was somewhat of a surprise.

Outside the walls of Gillette Stadium not many people know much about the relationship between the coach and his players, but this latest report by the Hartford Courant shows that off the field, he’s actively involved in the lives of his players.

According to the report, the evidence in the Lloyd case includes 33 pages of text messages between Belichick and Hernandez, from February 2013 to May 2013.  The report also states that for several weeks during that time, Hernandez was staying in Hermosa Beach, California., for offseason training and injury rehabilitation. The court filings do not include the content of the text messages.

It’s hard to say what was in those messages, but it also creates some credence to the Rolling Stone article which indicated that over that span Belichick had advised Hernandez to “lay low” due to concerns that the gangsters Hernandez had befriended “were actually trying to kill him.”  According to that article, those conversations took place between February and May after Hernandez reportedly started confiding in Belichick about his situation.

While Belichick may not have known all the details, it appears he tried to help Hernandez.  Unfortunately, it seems he was too far gone and now will remain a disappointing story in Patriots history in a case that likely will only become more disturbing before it finally comes to a close.

BELICHICK HONORED IN NANTUCKET:

According to the Boston Globe Belichick and actress Sharon Stone were on Nantucket over the weekend being honored by The Nantucket Dreamland Foundation at its annual gala. They were both interviewed about their careers and what led them to pursue their professions.

This was the second year of the annual event, with last year’s honoring Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro.

The event benefited the Nantucket Dreamland Foundation, and tickets for the event started at $500 each.  They also held an online auction of unique experiences and items from the Indy 500 to Paris Fashion Shows to the 50-yd line tickets for the Patriots.

Belichick was also part of a Q&A, and director Melissa McCarthy said he was very “warm and open” during the event.

“Bill was warm and open with the audience. His very genuine character came through as he spoke to the audience about his influences, his challenges and, very humbly, about his successes as a coach,” Dreamland Foundation executive director Melissa McCarthy told the Boston Herald.

TICKETS GO ON SALE THIS MORNING:

The Patriots will release a limited number of single game tickets this morning, which will be available beginning at 10am through Ticketmaster or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can’t be purchased in person at Gillette Stadium. Call 508-384-9191 for seating that is wheelchair-accessible.   Also be aware that Visa is the only method of purchase for NFL tickets.

The team currently has a streak of 216-games in a row having sold-out, a streak that began back in 1994 and includes preseason, regular-season, and playoff games.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

ESPN Boston has a bit from a recent radio appearance by Mike Reiss on WEEI – READ MORE

Nick O’Malley looks at some of the longshot players heading into training camp – READ MORE

O’Malley also looks at the position battles and feels the quarterback one is simple – READ MORE

Nick Underhill of MASSLIVE says good bye as he moves on to cover the Saints down in New Orleans – READ MORE

Glen Farley ponders whether or not the Patriots tough schedule will weaken them this season – READ MORE

James Christensen looks at some of the top position battles heading into training camp – READ MORE

Yahoo! Sports has their camp preview for the Patriots from the Sports Xchange – READ MORE

Kate Lemasters of Football.com looks at the fact the Patriots have quite a few receivers heading into training camp – READ MORE

Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN has comments from Ron Jaworski who ranked former Patriots QB Matt Cassel as one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL – READ MORE

Patriots Pre-Training Camp Player Spotlight: FB James Develin


James Develin performed well in his first season in NEw England. (USA TODAY Images)

(This is the eighth in a series of individual player spotlights over the next few weeks leading up to training camp. We’ll have several each day, so check back frequently as we go down the roster.  This edition focuses on Patriots fullback James Develin:) 

2013 Summary: 

Patriots fullback James Develin was one of the more pleasant surprises on New England’s roster in 2013, quietly carving out a nice niche that should potentially set him up for an opportunity to build on his first season when training camp opens in a few weeks.

Develin saw increased duties down the stretch last season, mostly being used as a blocker in both the running game and the passing game. He had limited carries in 2013, carrying just four times for ten yards, but he’ll forever live on with one of the most memorable touchdown runs fans have ever witnessed after bouncing off defensive players repeatedly in the Patriots win over Houston.

The former defensive end at the University of Brown finished his collegiate career with a sack and an interception before moving to fullback when he played in the UFL for the Florida Tuskers. He had previously spent time with the Bengals, but in his first full season with New England, Develin appeared in all 16 regular season games and became a stalwart at the fullback position.

Best game of 2013:

The touchdown run against the Texans was obviously his most memorable plays of the year, but his best performance was arguably his blocking performance during the Divisional playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. In that game the Patriots racked up 234 yards rushing the football, including a 166 yard, four touchdown performance by LeGarrette Blount. Develin was responsible for opening up many of those runs, which doesn’t exactly show up on the stat sheet but can’t be overlooked.

Notable Stat of 2013:

Develin saw some action catching the ball out of the backfield last season, and finished with a perfect four receptions on four targets, the only player on the roster who – albeit on limited attempts – caught everything thrown his way during the regular season. He wasn’t targeted at all during the postseason.

What to Watch For in 2014: 

The above stat may be one of the reasons why James Develin got some work in at the tight end position during this offseason, which could set him up to be in the mix there by the time the regular season begins. Michael Hoomanawanui is expected to be the number two tight end behind Rob Gronkowski heading into camp, and adding Develin in the mix of the remaining group of tight ends should make for a competitive camp a that position.

Develin previously talked about being a versatile player and so far he’s done a good job in taking advantage of the opportunities he’s been given. His transition should certainly be something to keep an eye on during training camp, as well as how he’s used during the preseason. Not to mention the fact that being able to move him around both out of the backfield as a receiver and what he does with his blocking ability has already made him quite an asset for this football team.

He’s a hard worker with the right attitude and his personality has made him a great fit here in New England so far. If all goes well, he should be another player to expect great things from in 2014.

Patriots Huddle: Monday’s News, Notes and Links


Julian Edelman was part of a NASCAR event on Sunday. (USA TODAY Images)

Another quiet Monday, but here are a couple of quick notes and some links:

EDELMAN MAKES NASCAR DEBUT:

While he wasn’t driving one of the race cars on Sunday, Patriots wide receiver got a feel for what it was like to be out on the track and part of the NASCAR’s Camping World RV Sales 301 Sprint Cup race in Loudon New Hampshire.

Edelman drove the pace car for the event, and he said after that after seeing the crowd and the energy he may become more than just a casual fan.

“After coming here today and seeing this and the excitement and energy of the crowd and the people, it’s pretty insane,” Edelman told the Boston Globe. “It was a fun experience, but I’ll definitely be watching a lot more now, because I’m vested.”

Edelman was reportedly told three rules, which was to stay at 47 miles per hour, stay away from the walls and to remain in the middle of the track.  Edelman admitted that he was allowed to “open it up” and drove 90-100 miles per hour at one point.  To the veteran receiver that seemed fast enough, and the thought of each of these drivers going twice as fast for three hours gave him a new appreciation for what they do and felt they deserved to be called athletes.

“They’re, for sure, athletes,” said Edelman, who was introduced at the drivers’ meeting along with Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “It’s an endurance thing and they’re sitting in the car for three hours, going 200 miles per hour, you’ve got to be focused.”

FORMER PATRIOTS HOYER NOT FOCUSED ON MANZIEL’S ANTICS:

Lost in the Manziel Mania going on out in Cleveland is former Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer, who is going to be facing a lot of critics who will likely be looking for any reason for Johnny Manziel to see game action at some point this season.

Hoyer, for now, is considered the starter for the Browns heading into 2014, but he’s still keeping the same mindset that he’s always had and a Tweet over the weekend was one that caught the attention of many after it was retweeted over 4,000 times.

After reading the article published about LeBron James in Sports Illustrated, Hoyer appreciated the fact that James noted that “in Northeast Ohio, nothing is given, everything is earned.”

That will likely remain the case as he tries to keep Manziel behind him on the depth chart, and having spent time in New England he’s handling the questions about his teammate quite well.  When asked recently about if he’s been paying attention to the news surrounding Manziel that keeps appearing, Hoyer said he’s only focused on getting ready for training camp.

“Not really,” Hoyer said. “I’m not really focused on my teammates, what they do in their off life so that’s none of my business.  They can make those decisions on their own. All that matters is that we come back ready to go for the season.”

Hoyer said when asked if he should pull Manziel aside, he said he feels the best way for him to be a leader is to do it by example.

” Like I’ve always said, the best way for me to be a mentor and a leader is to go about my business and lead by example,” said Hoyer.  “We’ll go from there and it’s going to be a fun time and it’s going to be fun so [fans] come out to training camp because it’s going to be a fun time.”

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Nick Underhill of MASSLIVE.com finishes up his “Ranking the Patriots” series, with Tom Brady topping the list. READ MORE

Oliver Thomas of NEPatriotsDraft.com has a good article as he revisits Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins’ rookie seasons. READ MORE

Christopher Price has his “countdown to camp” series, and looks at the reciever position in today’s edition. – READ MORE

James Christensen has a good read on five players he believes will surprise people during training camp – READ MORE

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston goes through some of the developments that happened while he was away on vacation, including some news around the division. – READ MORE

Erik Frenz of Boston.com continues going through the positional groupings and takes a closer look at the offensive line in today’s entry. – READ MORE

Frenz also has a good read on how the addition of Will Smith adds a missing veteran presence to the team heading into training camp. – READ MORE

Patriots Huddle: Friday’s News and Notes 7/11


Bill Belichick making a move for receiver Andre Johnson seems unlikely. (USA TODAY Images)

Another quiet morning, but here are some news and notes on this Friday:

DON’T COUNT ON ANDRE JOHNSON IN NEW ENGLAND:

There are plenty of fans who would love to see Andre Johnson catching passes from Tom Brady, but as it currently stands, the Patriots would have to be considered a long shot to acquire him.

Johnson has told the Texans that he no longer wants to be there and wants to be traded, which reportedly stemmed from an earlier situation where the star receiver missed the early portion of the offseason workouts and cost him a $1 million bonus.  According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Johnson requested the opportunity to workout extra to make up for the time he missed, but the team told him no.

That sets up where he is now, which has the two sides in a standoff and Johnson at the center of trade rumors.

Looking at the implications of him coming to New England, the numbers don’t really work out too well.  As our colleague Miguel Benzan points out, Per the CBA, the Patriots would have to be under the cap by $10,580,000 in order to take on Andre Johnson’s 10 million salary and 1 million roster bonus.  According to Benzan, the team is currently below the salary cap by $6.4 million, which would require a series of moves to squeeze Johnson under and he goes over a series of moves to shave off the additional $4.2 million that might make it work.  Some of those moves would involve extensions for Devin McCourty along releasing Dan Connolly or even Logan Mankins, among other necessary transactions.

That’s a lot of work for one player and doesn’t exactly fit how the Patriots have previously done business.  Not to mention the fact that it leaves them without any breathing room or the ability to adjust in the event of disaster from an injury standpoint, and puts them in tough shape cap-wise heading into 2015 unless Johnson would be willing to take a pay-cut in order to make it work.  Rapoport reports that Johnson is willing to restructure, but it doesn’t sound like lowering his salary is something he’s willing to do.

Needless to say it seems unlikely that he may end up in a Patriots uniform.  Granted stranger things have happened, but the numbers don’t add up and that’s one of the bigger reasons why he’ll probably end up elsewhere if Johnson and the Texans can’t work out their issues.

CHUNG HOLDING A PEP RALLY:

According to the Boston Herald, Patrick Chung and his wife Cecelia recently threw a pep rally with JAM’N 94.5’s Maverik, crooner Louie Bello, and hip-hop dancers Phunk Phenomenon and Fame or Juliet to kick off his free summer music academy, SMART, at the Josiah Quincy School.

“We’re excited to welcome music students from all levels and backgrounds to join us once again for SMART,” Patrick Chung said in a recent press release. “Both of my parents were music professionals – my mother a singer and my father a producer. Because they followed their passions, they were able to give me the opportunities I’ve had to succeed. I’m thrilled we can offer the same opportunity for music students to follow their passions.”

The academy is designed for music students between the ages of 12-15 and from the Greater Boston area.  The program is currently taking place from July 7 through August 15th, but the application process is closed.

GRONK SPENDS TIME AT THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL:

It’s probably only a matter of time before photos appear of Rob Gronkowski at a recent Katy Perry concert, but for now it’s nice to see him giving back to the community, which is something he’s spent a lot of time this offseason doing and those things don’t tend to get enough press.

Gronk recently visited the Boston Children’s Hospital and brought some ice cream to some of the patients there, and the Hospital tweeted a photo of him:

Good stuff.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Our friend James Christensen has a good article on how the Patriots defense will be better without Brandon Spikes – READ MORE

Nick Underhill of MassLive continues his series of ranking the Patriots, will Darrelle Revis coming in at number two – READ MORE

Erik Frenz of Boston.com looks at the battle potentially looming between Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce for the final roster spot at the receiver position heading into training camp - READ MORE

Frenz has another article on the back-up tight end position and the upcoming competition heading into training camp. – READ MORE

Have to love this title of an article on Gisele in the Daily Mail “Gisele Bundchen shows lean legs in skin-tight faded skinny jeans while shooting commercial for Falabella in Miami”.  Purely for clicks, but it obviously worked – READ MORE