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Picked up pieces from the locker room

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  August 22, 2011 02:30 PM

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It was good to be back in the locker room on a non-game day for the first time since the end of last season. A few notes from inside:

- DE Shaun Ellis said his hip is feeling fine. He has no clue where or how the Patriots will use him.
- LB Jeff Tarpinian quickly walked through. He's been out of action with a right knee injury, but was not limping today, which is an improvement. He doesn't think it's serious, but will let the trainers decide. As the highest paid Patriots practice player, he was pushing for a roster spot before being injured.
- LB Dane Fletcher (thumb) was seen but his right arm was covered.
- TE Garrett Mills, who is in his second tour of duty with the Patriots, talked to the media. He confirmed what we heard talking to a few people last night, that he's not an inline player, he's an off-the-line "move" tight end the Patriots like to have. Here's some of what he talked about.

What are your thoughts on coming back?
This is a first-class organization in my opinion, so when they called obviously I was interested and I’m really excited to be back.

How would you describe the course of your career since leaving here?
How would I describe it? I’ve spent some good time in Minnesota. Obviously grew as a player and then last year in Philadelphia they obviously had a good team and had fun there, but this is where it started so I’m really excited to be here.

Anything changed since you’ve been here?
It’s pretty early to tell right now. I’m just trying to get my nose in the playbook again and kind of get acclimated again.

Has the offense changed?
Somewhat. Offenses evolve over time and it has changed somewhat. But the basis of the offense and the terminology is very similar.

How has your game evolved in the five years since you were here?
Just becoming a smarter player. My skill set, hopefully, has gotten better since I was here last but I’m still a similar-type player but I feel like I’m much more experience and smarter player.

Was it a whirlwind when the Patriots released you, hoping to put you on practice squad, and the Vikings claimed you?
No, not really. They released me and I was claimed and I was on the plane the next day. It’s good to be back, though.

Biggest experience that helped you the most?
Obviously starting off here, spending my rookie year here and playing with some great players, Tom and being able to play with Brett (Favre) in Minnesota and last year with (Michael) Vick. So I’ve been around some good players and tried to learn a lot from them.

Where have you been used in the past?
Well, I’m an undersized tight end, so to speak, so hopefully I’m the kind of guy that can move around a little bit. But as far as my role in this offense, that’s obviously to be determined because I just got here and I’m trying to get acclimated to the offense again, and we’ll see what happens.

Have you played fullback?
A little bit. I try to show versatility. Obviously the coaches and the teams decide where to put me, and I just kind of show what I can do.

The Vikings claiming you?
I really wasn’t caught in the middle of anything in my eyes. I was released and went through the process of waivers and got claimed, so I went to Minnesota. It’s definitely exciting to be back here.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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