Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories as the Patriots get back to work on this Wednesday.
Gronk Suffered Offseason Injury – Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s early absence in OTAs got people talking about whether or not there might be an issue with his contract, but a report on Tuesday may have offered a little more clarity on the situation.
According to ESPN’s Dianna Marie Russini, Gronkowski reportedly suffered a pectoral injury over the offseason, which had the tight end “worried” but she didn’t elaborate in her report on Twitter.
There was no other report on when or how he suffered the injury, but so far in training camp, he’s not showing any ill-effects. He’s gotten stronger with each practice, making a number of terrific circus-style catches over the weekend which included plenty of smiles and his signature spikes.
Having Gronkowski healthy will be a big key heading into this season, especially given the fact Tom Brady will miss the first four weeks. Considering the difficult situation Jimmy Garoppolo finds himself in, his job is certainly easier when it includes being able to have one of the best tight ends in the game catching the football.
Gronkowski was off with the rest of the team on Tuesday, with the club set to return to action today.
Scarnecchia Says Guard Competition is “Open” – There’s been quite the battle brewing at the left guard position so far during camp, and it’s been under the watchful eye of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Scarnecchia has been watching what is definitely a talented group, with rookies Joe Thuney and Ted Karras joining Shaq Mason, Josh Kline, Tre’ Jackson and Jonathan Cooper at the guard position.
At this point it’s up for grabs, with the coach admitting the bar is high in terms of what their expectations are.
“It is absolutely open,” Scarnecchia said via the Norwich Bulletin. “When you have a guy like Logan Mankins over there on the left side for years and years and (Dan) Connolly on the other side you pretty much knew what was going to be what.
“Now we have some new bodies in there and we’re waiting for some other guys to get healthy. In the meantime, those are the guys we got and I’m glad we got them. So there’s a great amount of competition there and that’s only good.”
It’s hard to pick a favorite at this point but the early leader appears to be Thuney, who from all indications in practice looks like it might be his job to lose, especially given how ferocious of a blocker he’s been and how well he finishes them off. Scarnecchia mentioned Mankins and the former lineman’s attitude and intensity was something guys seemed to feed off of, so it would definitely be great to see someone young come in and fill that void.
Needless to say that will definitely be a position to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead.
Dobson needs a healthy 2016 to remain a Patriot.
On Dobson, Belichick Cites Health as the Key – So far during training camp much has been made about the play of Aaron Dobson, which goes all the way back to some strong performances during the team’s spring practices.
But this time of year has never been Dobson’s problem, it’s been the regular season that has been the issue. An injury at the end of his rookie season has started a string of bad luck for the former Marshall standout, and he’s had two back-to-back seasons full of frustration as other players passed him on the depth chart.
However, so far he’s really come out fighting about as hard as could have been expected, and he’s definitely got the size and speed that has been lacking in this offense. The only question now appears to be how long he’ll be able to last, which is a question Bill Belichick also seems to be wondering.
“Aaron’s had a good spring and a good few days here at training camp. I think we’ve seen that from him before,” coach Bill Belichick said via the Providence Journal. “I’d say Aaron’s just, for whatever reason, hasn’t been able to consistently be on the field and do it. When he’s been out there, he’s looked good a lot, but he hasn’t always been out there for one reason or another. So, hopefully — I know he’s training hard, looks like he’s in good condition this year — hopefully he’ll be able to stay on the field and continue to improve.”
“I think that’s really the key. It’s not just being healthy, but being healthy to practice and improve and Aaron’s worked hard. He’s made some good catches, so hopefully he keeps climbing in that direction.”
Butler Wants Long-Term Love – Malcolm Butler won the hearts and minds of every fan in New England thanks to his heroic last-second interception that sealed the Patriots’ 4th championship, but when it comes to the fans, he wants to be part of their lives even when his football days come to an end.
Watching Kevin Faulk’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Butler got a glimpse of the amount of love and admiration shown for the former player, which also included Ty Law and Mike Haynes, who were among former players at the event.
He got a look at how great careers like those players really established themselves in this region, and Butler admitted it’s something he’d like to experience.
“Ty’s no longer playing, all these other players are no longer playing, and they come back to the stadium and they get mad recognition, a lot of applause,” Butler said via the Enterprise News. “That’s a great feeling to still have fans like that and you’re no longer playing. It for sure makes you want to work hard and try to be the best you can be and get to that level.”
In order for that to happen, part of what needs to take place is for the Patriots to somehow get a long-term deal done with Butler to keep him here for the foreseeable future. Butler’s only due to earn a base salary of $600,000 this season, but for now, he’s focused on the job at hand.
“It is what it is,” Butler said. “I’m just going to come out here and work, contract or not. I’m here for the team.”
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