It’s Thursday and we’re almost to the end of the week. Here’s this morning’s rundown of today’s top stories:
Knighton Agreed to Weight Stipulations in His Contract – In his first conference call as a Patriot, nose tackle Terrance Knighton discussed a variety of topics on Wednesday, including the fact that within the contract he signed with New England, the massive lineman has certain weight requirements he has to maintain in order to earn an incentive.
Knighton, who is listed at 6’3″ 354-pounds, wouldn’t discuss his highest weight last season because of “contract stuff”, but said that he’s in better shape this year.
“Last year I was obviously heavier than I am right now. I’m in a lot better shape than I was last year,” said Knighton. “Contractually, I have things, weights that I need to hit. Whatever the coaches want me to play at then that’s what I’ll be at.”
“I have a lot of football left and I don’t want anything to hinder me from that. I put last season behind me. I’m happy about being in New England. Like I said, working with a great strength coach and a nutritionist, I had a long talk with him on my visit, looking forward to putting the plan together that they have for me and executing it and having a new start and a refresh on my career.”
The veteran said that he’s still getting acclimated to the conditioning program here in Foxboro, which is likely also a little different for all of the players after the team parted ways with former strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash back in January. The team then gave the position to Moses Cabrera, who had assisted Nash prior to his departure. Knighton is likely a player Cabrera has already spoken with, and the tackle said he doesn’t expect to have any issues in their system.
“I’ve worked really hard this offseason and I’ll continue to work throughout the offseason program and get acclimated to the new strength coaches and the nutritionists and the way things are done in Foxboro,” said Knighton. “I’m looking forward to it and that’s something that obviously it’s been a tag on me my whole career, about my weight, but it’s something that I’ve paid a lot of attention to this offseason. It won’t be a problem.”
Knighton, who was born in Connecticut and has family in the region, said that having so much support locally means a lot since they’ll be able to come and see him play. He joked that he may lead the team in ticket requests, but he’s looking forward to that being a problem.
“It means a lot, not only to me but my family,” Knighton said of signing with New England. “Having family on the East Coast and being able to come to a lot of games this year. The first thought was just sign the contract but now the work starts. I’ll take it a day at a time.”
“I’ll enjoy the grind and hopefully if I’m blessed enough to put on the Patriot jersey on Sunday, then I’ll definitely probably have the most ticket requests out of anyone on the team, so it’ll be fun.”
Knighton Talked to Wilfork Before Signing – Knighton has been a fan of the organization for a long time, as he followed the team growing up and had a lot of respect for a lot of the former players on defense. One thing he said he loved as he got older was watching what great leaders players like Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest and others were and how they conducted themselves.
“Maybe not when I was younger, maybe towards high school and college is when I really started paying attention to players, and obviously being a big fan of guys like Vince Wilfork, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, and just those leaders on defense and guys that won games and won Super Bowls,” Knighton said when asked if there were any players he admired growing up. “The Rodney Harrisons, just the guys that were great leaders on and off the field and were role models for me growing up and guys that I modeled myself after on the field like a Vince Wilfork. Obviously, big shoes to fill and me being a big guy and playing nose tackle, people will look for me to be like a Wilfork replacement but I’m not thinking about that. I’m just going to come in and work hard every day and just try to create my own niche in the organization.”
Speaking of Wilfork, Knighton admitted the former Patriot was among ex-players he reached out to before making the decision to sign here. He’s looking forward to reporting on April 18th and getting the process started.
“I had a long talk with Vince Wilfork obviously before signing, and he was telling me that it’s a grind but at the end of the day it’s football,” said Knighton. “It’s a good environment to be around, it’s a good building to be in, and he had nothing but good things to say about the organization. Like I said, I’m just excited and I’m just looking forward to getting in the building and learning as much football as I can and being around the guys.”
Rob Gronkowski joined Devin McCourty as two great picks of the 2010 Patriots draft class. (USA TODAY Images)
NFL.com Names 2010 Patriots Among Best Big Draft Classes – Gil Brandt took a look at some of the past draft classes and there were two that stood out to him, with the 2010 Patriots and 2006 Packers among the best big draft classes in his mind.
By ‘big draft classes’, he’s referring to the fact that in the past 10 drafts, there have been 11 draft classes of 12-players and that year, the Patriots made 12 selections and he believes it’s the best of the eight he reviewed.
That year saw them draft CB Devin McCourty (Round 1, 27th Overall), TE Rob Gronkowski (Round 2, 42nd Overall), DE Jermaine Cunningham (Round 2, 53rd Overall), LB Brandon Spikes (Round 2, 62nd Overall), WR Taylor Price (Round 3, 90th Overall), TE Aaron Hernandez (Round 4, 113th Overall), P Zoltan Mesko (Round 5, 150th Overall), C Ted Larson (6th Round, 205th Overall), OT Thomas Welch (Round 7, 208th Overall), DE Brandon Deaderick (7th Round, 247th Overall), DT Kade Weston (7th, 248th Overall) and QB Zac Robinson (7th Round, 250th Overall).
Brandt notes that out of the 12 picks, 8 turned out to be contributors in their rookie season as the Patriots went on to finish 14-2 that year and he felt Gronkowski “made” that draft.
Rob Gronkowski (5,555 career receiving yards, 65 career receiving touchdowns) made this draft. It’s rare to get a franchise player like that with the 42nd overall pick. Having all the extra picks no doubt made it easier to trade up in the second round and take a bit of a chance on Gronk, who missed the 2009 season at Arizona with a back injury. Aaron Hernandez’s life obviously went off-track in a major way in the following years, but while he was on the field, he did very well, forming an imposing duo with Gronkowski that played a huge role in the team’s success for the next several seasons, including the 14-2 2010 campaign. Devin McCourty (18 career picks, including seven as a rookie) has been a key defensive figure and top-notch starter throughout his career. Brandon Spikes (286 tackles, five forced fumbles in four Patriots seasons) developed into a starter who had the competitiveness needed to succeed at linebacker — he’s an example of how focusing on key characteristics can help a team draft well.
This was a very good draft that, in combination with the 2009 haul, proved to be pivotal in keeping New England’s dynasty rolling. The Pats had started slipping, missing the playoffs in the Tom Brady-less 2008 season and exiting in the first round in 2009. This class helped the team get back to its Super Bowl-caliber ways.
Also making the list coming in at #4 was the 2009 draft class, which also saw the Patriots make 12 selections. They selected S Patrick Chung (Round 2, 34th Overall), DT Ron Brace (Round 2, 40th Overall), CB Darius Butler (Round 2, 41st Overall), OT Sebastian Vollmer (Round 2, 58th Overall), WR Brandon Tate (Round 3, 83rd Overall), LB Tyrone McKenzie (Round 3, 97th Overall), OG Rich Ohrnberger (Round 4, 123rd Overall), OT George Bussey (Round 5, 170th Overall), C Jake Ingram (Round 6, 198th Overall), DT Myron Pryor (Round 6, 207th Overall), WR Julian Edelman (Round 7, 232nd Overall) and DT Darryl Richard (Round 7, 234th Overall).
Of the 12 players picked, Brandt noted the team ended up with 9 contributors as the Patriots finished 10-6 and felt the way Bill Belichick traded down helped them have a successful draft.
This class is an example of how, if you know what you’re doing, you can trade down for more picks and have a successful draft. Through a succession of trades, the Patriots moved out of the first round, accumulating four second-round picks (one of which came via the trade of former seventh-round pick Matt Cassel to the Chiefs) and basically hitting on three of them (Patrick Chung, Darius Butler and Sebastian Vollmer). Chung and Butler became significant defensive contributors, and while both eventually moved on, Chung returned in 2014 and remains with the team today. Vollmer was a risk, given that the product of Germany had a very limited football background, but New England bet on him as an athlete and it paid off. He proved to be a very valuable member of the offensive line who could play both left and right tackle. And, of course, scooping up Julian Edelman in the seventh round ended up being a major coup: The former college quarterback blossomed into a 1,000-yard receiver in 2013 and has been a key offensive piece since. I’m sure he rated highly in competitiveness.
Gronk Laying Down the Law in Miami – After Gronkowski’s recent addition to Instagram, you sort of knew there were a host of shenanigans that would ensue with the veteran tight end.
He’s a guy who plays hard on the field and enjoys life off of it in a light-hearted way. It makes him a fun guy to support and he’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime type of player.
On Wednesday, the tight end posted a video of himself after hopping on a Miami Police Department motorcycle wearing a helmet and sunglasses.
The caption under the video, “Bad Boyz – Bad Boyz whatcha gonna do when the #Gronk comes for you @miamibeachpd #support #the #police”
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