Smooth move for Ellis
Ex-Jet reportedly getting $4 million
FOXBOROUGH - After 11 years with the Jets, Shaun Ellis expected it may feel a little different to change teams.
Yesterday he learned it wasn’t that hard.
The defensive end officially joined the Patriots after signing a one-year contract with a team he always considered a rival.
“Guys change teams all the time,’’ Ellis said. “I’ve just been fortunate enough to play 11 years with the Jets. I had a great time, a great experience. It’s just one of those things when it’s time to move on, you have to move on. I’ve found a new home here and guys have welcomed me in. I was kind of a little hesitant at first, a little weird feelings, but once I got in here they made me feel like a weapon.
“Is it easy? Yeah it is.’’
The Jets drafted Ellis in the first round in 2000 and he has performed well against the Patriots.
A two-time Pro Bowler, Ellis had 36 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks last year.
Ellis holds a value the Patriots were willing to pay. The Jets offered Ellis a one-year deal worth $910,000, the veteran minimum. The Patriots offered $4 million plus another $1 million in incentives, according to multiple reports.
When asked how much disappointment he felt with how things ended with the Jets, he explained the two sides.
“When you look at it that way from an emotional standpoint, yeah, it was [disappointing],’’ Ellis said. “But you have to look at it as a business as well. They have a choice of going after the guys they feel like they need or they want to surround their team around and I just wasn’t in their plan. I’m a Patriot now, I’m part of this plan and I’m going to go out there and play my best.’’
When Jets coach Rex Ryan was asked about Ellis this weekend, he offered a little praise and a little warning.
“The fact that he chose them and all that, there’s no way I’m going to wish him well,’’ Ryan said. “There’s no chance of that. I wish him to be healthy but I don’t want him to play that well.’’
But, Ryan added, “I will say this, I’ll warn some of their guys. Be careful, you don’t want to fight Shaun. He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around. He is a tough guy and he’s going to be missed.’’
Ellis was asked about the comments and said, “It’s Rex. I’d like to say I wish him well and I wish him all the success. It’s just how it is . . . I have a lot of respect for the guy, obviously it seems like it’s not mutual, but I respect him.’’
Ellis said he is getting an understanding of his new team.
“After 11 years, it’s a team that was always the top of the division, still is today,’’ he said. “Me playing against them for 11 years, of course you built up a little kind of hatred toward the Patriots. I understand what it takes to be champion and they’ve been doing it and I have been wanting to feel that feeling for however long so hopefully the time has come.’’
Connolly stays focused Offensive lineman Dan Connolly didn’t have to rely on old practice footage to analyze ways to improve during the offseason; he had actual game film.
Connolly took over the starting job at right guard when Stephen Neal suffered a shoulder injury. Connolly played a career-high 14 games last season and returns as the probable starter now that Neal has retired. Connolly is expecting more out of himself this year.
“I have more experience but one thing that is different is I have much higher expectations for myself,’’ Connolly said. “I started last year so I have to improve on where I was from last year.’’
While Connolly has focused on right guard, he prides himself on his versatility.
“I still try and prepare myself for anything because going into a game we’re limited on the number of guys we’re playing with and if somebody gets hurt, we got to move around, so I try to keep myself ready to play any position,’’ he said.
Connolly injured his right arm at yesterday’s practice and had ice wrapped near his elbow. When asked if the injury would keep him out of today’s practice, he said, “It’s too soon to tell, but I’ll get as much treatment as possible and get back out here as soon as I can.’’
Gronkowski ailing Tight end Rob Gronkowski left practice early, walking off the field with two members of the training staff. He dropped a couple of passes in drills and was slow coming out of breaks. He didn’t walk with a limp or seem to be hampered in any way . . . Offensive lineman Chris Morris appeared to injure his left leg during one-on-one drills and didn’t participate after the injury . . . Linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive linemen Mike Wright and Albert Haynesworth missed their third consecutive practice . . . Ellis did not participate; he had not taken the conditioning test as of yesterday afternoon. Others who did not participate were receiver Brandon Tate; rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling; safeties James Sanders, Josh Barrett, and Ross Ventrone; running backs Shane Vereen and Eric Kettani, and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell.
McGowan cut loose The Patriots released safety Brandon McGowan. The former Maine Black Bear missed last season because of a torn pectoral muscle . . . The Patriots will hold a public practice today from 1:30-4 p.m. on the fields behind Gillette Stadium . . . The team will practice tomorrow in Gillette Stadium from 10-11:15 a.m. It also will be open to the public, and fans are asked to enter the stadium through the gate on the west side.