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Training Camp Daily Briefing: Wednesday, July 31

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff July 31, 2013 11:49 AM

The Patriots are taking the day off after holding five straight days of practice, and by all accounts, the team could use it. Little injuries are starting to pop up -- rookie WR Aaron Dobson missed Tuesday’s practice with a right leg injury, but a source said he simply took a cleat to the ankle and is expected to return to Thursday’s practice -- and tempers started to flare on Tuesday, with Stevan Ridley and Kyle Arrington getting in a little dust-up at the end of practice. Wednesday is about positional meetings, film study and rehab with the trainers and therapists.

With that, here’s today’s Patriots Daily Briefing:


Shalise Manza Young: WR Matthew Slater is the Godfather of Patriots special teams

Michael Vega and Young: Patriots Notebook: Tempers flare at practice; Aaron Dobson OK; notes on Ryan Wendell, running back group

Ben Volin: Tuesday’s practice report

Chad Finn: Patriots make format changes, new broadcast team for preseason games official





2 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

2:20-4:30 p.m.: Practice (open to public)

4:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Down the Road…

Friday: Practice 2:20 p.m. (open to public)

Saturday: Practice 9 a.m. (open to public)

Sunday: TBD

Monday: TBD

Tuesday-Wednesday: Joint practices with Eagles in Philadelphia


Not practicing Tuesday:

WR Aaron Dobson (leg bruise, should be back Thursday)

G Dan Connolly (shoulder)

DL Cory Grissom (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Julian Edelman (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

G Nick McDonald (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)


Bengals CB Adam “Pacman” Jones could be returning punts this year

Plans to build a new stadium for the Falcons have hit a bit of a snag

Chargers counting on Danny Woodhead to fill the “Darren Sproles” role

Seahawks WR Percy Harvin, who needs hip surgery, has a significant injury history

The Colts have a West Point grad in camp

QB Kevin Kolb is struggling in Bills camp (can you say “EJ Manuel Time?”)

Training camp Day 5 practice report

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 30, 2013 07:20 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots held their fifth straight day of practice Tuesday, and will now get a much-needed day off. Rookie receiver Aaron Dobson, who has been playing with the first unit, did not practice and appeared to be favoring his right leg when watching from the sidelines. And tempers started to run a little hot at the end of practice with Stevan Ridley and Kyle Arrington getting into a little skirmish. Arrington popped Ridley at the end of a run, Ridley threw the ball at Arrington, and the two had to be separated.

Tuesday’s practice was limited contact, with a lot of work in the red zone and at the goal line. Still haven’t seen much OL-DL work.

With that, let’s get to the practice report:


Physically unable to perform: Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Julian Edelman (foot); WR Mark Harrison (foot); OL Nick McDonald (undisclosed); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Missing: Dobson watched in street clothes, though the injury doesn’t appear major. RB Brandon Bolden (undisclosed) was nowhere to be found for the second straight day. DL Cory Grissom (undisclosed) has been missing all camp. The team said Armstead had surgery to clear out an unspecified infection and his return is unknown. G Dan Connolly sat out practice for the third straight day.


Undrafted rookie CB Stephon Morris came up lame in a 1-on-1 drill, appearing to injure his right hamstring.




■ Rookie TE Zach Sudfeld made the play of the day with a diving one-handed catch of a Tom Brady pass in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Against double coverage, too.

■ In 1-on-1 drills, Danny Amendola made a great diving catch over the middle with Alfonzo Dennard in coverage, drawing big cheers from the crowd.

■ Really nice catch by rookie WR Quentin Sims on a jump ball from Brady, snatching it for a touchdown over rookie CB Logan Ryan.

■ Another nice play by Sudfeld, knocking the ball away from S Kanorris Davis to prevent an interception.

■ Rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins made a beautiful diving catch on a deep pass from Brady in the corner of the end zone over Ryan and Devin McCourty.

■ In positional drills, Morris and DB Justin Green each made ridiculous leaping one-handed catches of lob passes.


WR Josh Boyce: With Dobson out, the fourth-round pick stepped up into the rotation and played with the starting unit, alongside Thompkins and Amendola.

OL Tyronne Green: Took most of the first-team reps at right guard, instead of Marcus Cannon. Connolly is still not practicing.

CB Ras-I Dowling: Took more snaps with the first unit than he has all camp, often replacing Dennard. He had two really nice pass breakups in 1-on-1 drills.


WR Michael Jenkins: Not to keep harping on him, but the 10-year veteran hasn’t shown much in camp and appears to be getting surpassed by several youngsters.

Dennard: With Dowling getting more reps Tuesday, Dennard took more of a back seat, although he has looked good in camp.

RB LeGarrette Blount: In an 11-on-11 drill, he went the wrong way for a handoff, forcing Brady to tuck the ball and take a knee.


Tim Tebow ran the third-team offense in team drills again. Amendola bailed him out on one throw by making a nice sliding catch on an out pass that was too low. Tebow also had a pretty terrible back-shoulder throw to Boyce that fell several feet out of reach. Tebow didn’t work in any pass-catching or special teams drills, but spent a good 25 minutes after practice working with a coach on throwing.


■ Interesting to see Green work at right guard for most of the day and Cannon get some reps at right tackle, where he played a bit last year. Looks like the Patriots are putting several players at multiple positions in case of injury. Will Svitek has also been getting looks at right tackle.

■ The Patriots only practiced with nine wide receivers, with Dobson, Edelman and Harrison on the sideline.

■ Much better day for Thompkins, who had a couple of bad drops Monday night. He showed impressive shake getting off the line of scrimmage to avoid Arrington and catch a slant pass. Thompkins ran with Amendola and Boyce for most of the day.

■ Ryan Mallett is showing better touch on his red zone passes, but was upset with himself after missing a wide-open Kamar Aiken on a deep pass. Ryan got burned in coverage, which is starting to become a theme of camp.

■ S Steve Gregory, DT Marcus Forston, and DE Jermaine Cunningham continue to get work with the first unit. Forston could end up being a significant rotational player this year.


Wednesday: Off.

Thursday: Practice 2:20 p.m. (open to public)

Friday: Practice 2:20 p.m. (open to public)

Saturday: Practice 9 a.m. (open to public)

Wendell looking to improve on first season as starter

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff July 30, 2013 05:30 PM

FOXBOROUGH - For a man whose job is to yell out instructions to his teammates on the offensive line, Ryan Wendell is generally a man of few words off the field.

The 27-year old became a starter for the first time last season after Brian Waters' disappearing act forced the Patriots to shuffle the offensive line. Dan Connolly, who was the presumed starter at center heading into 2012, was bumped to right guard with Waters gone, and career reserve Wendell became the top center.

Wendell had essentially been groomed for the job since being signed by New England as an undrafted rookie out of Fresno State in 2008, and played very well when he got his chance -- the football metrics website ProFootballFocus graded Wendell as the fourth-best center in the league last season.

Asked if he's approaching this season any differently, Wendell said simply, "I’ve tried to do the same things that I’ve always done, which is go out there, listen to the coaching, try to get better every day."

He acknowledged that there are "several" things he's focused on improving for 2013, though he won't offer any specifics. Allowing quarterback hurries could be one area, as he gave up 18 on the season.

"There's always room for improvement," Wendell said. "Nobody's pitched a perfect game in football."

If the first handful of practices are an indication, Wendell could have a different face to his right when the season starts: 2011 fifth-round pick Marcus Cannon has been taking the reps at right guard with Wendell, Nate Solder, Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer. Connolly did undergo shoulder surgery in the offseason.

"So far so good," Wendell said of working with Cannon. "I’ve got a lot of confidence in the guys that are coming in, you know, even the new guys. Tyronne Green stepped up today and played a little in there, Will Svitek has played some at guard. You know how it is, we always got moving parts in there trying to get as much flexibility as we can, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in the guys playing around me."

Familiarity breeds contempt on the fifth day of Pats training camp

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff July 30, 2013 01:58 PM

FOXBOROUGH --- After banging into each other for five consecutive days, it was not entirely unexpected that there would be a dust-up at some point during the Patriots' training camp.

On Tuesday, tempers flared between cornerback Kyle Arrington and running back Stevan Ridley when Arrington leveled the 5-foot-11-inch, 220-pound Ridley after the third-year back out of Louisiana State came running out of the backfield on the right side during a goal line drill at the end of practice.

Ridley, who proved fumble-prone when he committed a pair of turnovers on the first day of full pads Sunday, held onto the ball after he got hit, got to his feet and flung the ball at Arrington, who retaliated by shoving Ridley back.

It never got any further than that. With ESPN's cameras on hand, and a remote studio set up in a nearby corner of the upper practice field, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did not allow it to escalate when he quickly nipped it in the bud by blowing his whistle and signaling an end to practice.

"It's just camp, man,'' said Ridley, when asked about the altercation with Arrington. "That's all I can say about it. We're competitors out here and we're working hard out here and the days are getting long and that's part of it.''

As he walked off the field, though Ridley was spotted arguing with Aqib Talib over the necessity of Arrington's hit, especially at the tail end of Tuesday afternoon's practice before an estimated crowd of about 7,000 at the upper practice field behind Gillette Stadium.

Arrington, though, said he didn't think there would be any lingering issues with Ridley.

The Patriots will be off Wednesday before resuming full contact workouts on Thursday afternoon.

"It's all love, you know,'' Arrington said. "Whatever happens on the field, stays on the field. It's an emotional game that’s played between emotional people and it’s all good. It’s all love, though, it’s all love at the end of the day.''

Asked if he felt the need to address the matter with Ridley, Arrington replied, "At this point of camp, you’re tired of going up against the same guys in camp every day. So tempers flare, but like I said, it stays on the field.''

Training Camp Daily Briefing: Tuesday, July 30

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff July 30, 2013 10:43 AM

The Patriots will hold their fifth consecutive day of practice on Tuesday afternoon, their last session until their first off-day of camp on Wednesday. Tuesday’s practice will mark the third straight day the Patriots are in full pads, and the first time they will practice in the heat of the day. The first three practices were early in the morning, and Monday’s was under the lights at Gillette Stadium.

With that, let’s get on with the Patriots Daily Briefing for July 30:


Ben Volin: On Football: Tom Brady’s extra offseason work more necessary than ever with young WR group

Shalise Manza Young: RB coach Ivan Fears likes what he sees from his group

Young: DT Armond Armstead has surgery to clear infection

Emily Kaplan: Patriots have a logjam at safety

Volin: Talking Points: Sorry to burst your bubble, but Tebow is here to play QB, as Josh McDaniels explains



Foxborough Weather: High of 80, chance of rain 0 percent

2 p.m.: Practice

4:15 p.m.: Player interviews


Off Day


Practice TBD


Practice TBD


Not practicing Monday:

RB Brandon Bolden (undisclosed)

OL Dan Connolly (shoulder surgery)

DL Cory Grissom (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Julian Edelman (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

G Nick McDonald (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness -- recent surgery to clear out infection)


Potentially the biggest impediment to Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense? The officials.

A familiar name is helping coach Steelers DBs: Rod Woodson

Update on the forgotten man of the rookie QB class of 2012: Denver’s Brock Osweiler

Oakland QB Terrelle Pryor: “I never really knew how to throw a football before.”

Raiders P Chris Kluwe is wearing Google Glass during practice and posting videos to YouTube.

DE Mario Williams left Bills camp to get his foot examined.

Patriots say DL Armstead had surgery for infection

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff July 29, 2013 09:59 PM

FOXBOROUGH – On Monday night, the Patriots shed a little light on the health status of defensive lineman Armond Armstead, who is currently on the non-football illness list.

The team released a statement that said, “Armond Armstead had surgery to treat an infection. Armond is in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery. A timetable has not been set for his return.”

Coach Bill Belichick was asked Sunday if Armstead’s absence is related to his previous health problems – he suffered a heart attack while a player at Southern California which he has blamed on injections of the pain medication Toradol that he did not ask for – and Belichick said he believed it to be a different situation and “if we have anything, we’ll talk about it, but not at this time.”

Once projected as a first- to second-round pick, Armstead’s heart attack in March 2011 changed his status with NFL teams. When he was not allowed to return to the field at USC, he entered the 2012 draft but was not selected or signed as a free agent.

Instead, he played last fall in the CFL, for Toronto, was named a league All-Star and was one of the top defensive players on an Argonauts team that won the Grey Cup. He signed a three-year deal with the Patriots in January.

Armstead is suing the USC team physician, University Park Health Center, and an unnamed pharmaceutical company for unspecified damages, claiming the improperly administered Toradol injections caused the heart attack and affected his NFL career.

Bruschi, Santos inducted into Patriots Hall of Fame

Posted by Staff July 29, 2013 08:20 PM


FOXBOROUGH – Monday was a special day at Gillette Stadium as the Patriots welcomed their two newest members to the team's Hall of Fame: linebacker Tedy Bruschi and longtime radio play-by-play announcer Gil Santos.

Bruschi and Santos were officially inducted in a ceremony outside The Hall at Patriot Place. Gillette Stadium PA announcer John Rooke was the master of ceremonies, and welcomed everyone in attendance with the presentation of the Patriots’ three Super Bowl trophies and a parade of Patriots alumni and Hall of Fame members, including Gino Cappelletti, Steve Nelson, Andre Tippett, and Troy Brown.

Santos was honored for his 36 seasons as the “Voice of the Patriots,” calling 745 Patriots games over his broadcast career, missing just one game, a preseason game in 1971 to attend the funeral of his father. He called all three Super Bowl championships won by New England in 2001, 2003, and 2004.

“When I was a little boy, my mother used to tell my brothers and I that we had to get up at 7 o clock for school,” said Patriots president Jonathan Kraft. “But I used to set my alarm, starting when I was 8 when I got a clock radio for 6:44 a.m., and the reason I set my clock for 6:44 a.m. was… I used to get my sports news from Gil Santos at quarter of the hour and at 7:15 on WBZ AM.”

“Gil wasn’t just the voice of sports for me, he was the voice of my favorite team, the New England Patriots, and when my dad started bringing myself and my brother Danny to the games, we all used to have transistor radios,” Jonathan added. “We used to sit in the stands and listen to Gil’s voice, that amazing voice of power and authority, but also warmth. He welcomed you in, you felt like you were listening to a member of your family, and he knew the game of football and with his amazing partner Gino, they told the story of the Patriots for many, many, many years.”

After being introduced by Jonathan Kraft, Santos was given his red Patriots Hall of Fame jacket, then thanked everyone who helped him reach this point, as well as sharing some of his favorite memories in his life and as broadcaster of the Patriots for so many years.

“Today, quite frankly, is the high point of my broadcast career of more than 50 years, to be elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame,” said Santos. “Let me assure you, it was never a job; it was an honor, it was a privilege, and I am delighted to have been able to do it for all of that time.”

“No one gets into any hall of fame anywhere by himself,” he said. “You have to be part of something, and we were part of a broadcast team, and we had a lot of fun describing a lot of games that came up with three Super Bowl championships.”

Santos also shared a story that many fans might not know about him: how he was a first-generation American and did not learn how to speak English until he was in grade school.

“When I was a kid, I didn’t learn how to speak English until just before I went to the first grade, because my grandfather lived with us and he didn’t speak English, so in the house we spoke Portuguese,” he said. “I find it ironic, that 60-some-odd-years later I am going into the Patriots Hall of Fame for my ability to speak English.”

Closing his speech, Santos left the crowd with a final statement about how he sums up his career, and life.

“A couple of years ago I was reading an article about life in general … the gentleman who wrote the article posed the question 'Can you sum up your life in six words?' he said. “I thought about that for about 10 seconds and I said absolutely, I can sum up my life in six words: ‘I am a very lucky man.’”

After Santos, it was time for one of the most popular players in Patriots history to receive his red Hall of Fame jacket, as owner Robert Kraft introduced Bruschi to fanatical applause and the loud “BRRUUUUUUU” chants from the fans.

“Our next honoree played a significant role on some of our greatest teams,” said Robert Kraft. “With a name like ‘Bruschi,’ I knew that the day we drafted him, he was going to become an instant fan favorite in New England … but what I didn’t know was through his own hard work, guided determination, and remarkable resiliency, he would become one of the most iconic players in franchise history.”

“For more than a decade, he was the heart and soul of the Patriots defense,” Kraft added. “It’s no coincidence that during that decade the Patriots enjoying the most successful era of any team in NFL history.”

In his 13 seasons with the Patriots, Bruschi was a seven-time team captain, a two-time All-Pro linebacker, and helped the Patriots win eight division titles, make five Super Bowl appearances, and win three Super Bowls.

“On the teams that I played [on]… the Red Jackets were never the goal, free hats and T-shirts were,” said Bruschi. “The free hats and T-shirts that said you did something: that said you won an AFC East divisional championship, or a conference championship, and hopefully you got that third set, that free hat and T-shirt that said world champion, and we got to do that three times.”

Bruschi attributes a large amount of his success to what he was taught by Bill Belichick, who coached the linebacker from 2000 through the end of his career.

“Coach Belichick had this easy way of making the complex very simple,” said Bruschi. “When it came down to coaching a player individually, he would make it like it was black and white I think that was a part of his genius, a part of why he succeeded so well; teaching football to players in a way that they could learn it.”

“When you play under Bill Belichick, you hear 'Do your job, do your job.’ I think what we did was we took 'doing your job' to the next level, because I always believed it was this … do your job first, do your job first and once you got that down help someone else do their job better.”

Bruschi feels his biggest accomplishment was in 2005, when he came back from suffering a stroke to get back to the game that he loved.

“I remember the comeback game, right here in [Gillette Stadium], if only you knew what was going on in my helmet in my head at that time,” he said. “I ended up playing four more years. I am not a stat guy … but one number sticks out in my mind; its 366. 366 tackles that I made as a stroke survivor. You [the fans] helped me feel the way that it took me a long time to feel and to say this: that I am proud to be a stroke survivor.”

Bruschi ended with a story about a game in his rookie year in 1996, when he dropped a pass on a punt fake that cost the Patriots a victory in Denver, which was headlined in a local newspaper the next day, and how he used that game as motivation to succeed for the rest of his career.

“I saw that article for the next 10 years,” he said. “I looked at it occasionally, and I told myself I would never be that guy again; I would never be that guy that caused this team to lose, and I never was again.”

Brady, Wilfork reflect on Bruschi

Posted by Staff July 29, 2013 08:16 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Although he retired in 2008, linebacker Tedy Bruschi continues to have an effect on the Patriots, as two former teammates praised him Monday afternoon shortly before Bruschi was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Quarterback Tom Brady and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork talked about what Bruschi meant to them and their careers.

“Tedy is a great player; he brought so much enthusiasm to our locker room, to our team, he had a very unique personality,” said Brady. “[He is a] very highly motivated person, had a great work ethic, was a great leader, especially to the young players. He was a great mentor to so many guys, including myself.”

Brady played with Bruschi from 2000-08, which included three Super Bowl championships. Brady is excited to see so many of his former teammates in the franchise's Hall of Fame.

“It’s pretty cool to see [them go in] and you remember the contribution they made,” said Brady. “Coach Belichick always talks to the younger players [about] guys like Troy Brown and Tedy Bruschi and Rodney [Harrison] … the exposure that I had to those great players when I was a young player was huge in my development.”

“I learned a lot from him; there's not too many guys here who played with him, but we have pictures of all our greats, and he’s one of them up there on the walls,” said Wilfork. “Just to go by and see some of the plays and some of the photos they took of him … in the snow, whatever it may be, interceptions, touchdowns, even if Bill one day showed a highlight of something that we haven’t done in a long time and all of a sudden … you’ll see him, he’s out there making plays, you see guys out there making plays.”

Wilfork played with Bruschi from 2004-08, including one Super Bowl championship in 2005, and the 2007 16-0 regular season that led to another Super Bowl appearance. Wilfork, even more than Brady, directly benefited from Bruschi being on the field with him and other Patriots’ defensive greats during his younger years in the NFL.

“For me it’s easy, because you know I have learned from the best, they were the best,” Wilfork said. “They just led the way, and it was everything I’ve learned: how to be a professional, how to be off the field, how to come to work. I learned from guys like them, you can never take that away.”

Wilfork fondly remembers the time Bruschi led the Patriot defense, remarking on the “confidence [Bruschi] had in everyone.”

“Every time he gave a play call you can tell how confident he was in his voice, how confident he was in the call, how confident he was in the play, just being alert on the field and knowing the situation that we were in,” said Wilfork. “Just a very, very smart person and I always just remember I was the guy in the middle, I'd call the huddle in and just to hear his voice, you always knew you had someone who had your back. He helped build this organization for what it is, he helped bring some championships here, and [we] learned [a lot] from him.”

Training Camp Daily Briefing: Monday, July 29

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 29, 2013 09:49 AM

After three straight days of early-morning practices thanks to Taylor Swift, the Patriots are mixing up their schedule Monday and hosting a couple of fan events at Gillette Stadium.

First at 5 p.m., Tedy Bruschi and Gil Santos will be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, an event that is free and open to the public. Then the team will practice inside the stadium from 6:30-9, and it will only be open to season ticket holders as well as Foxborough and Walpole residents. The team will once again strap on the pads for a full-contact practice, their second in a row.

Here’s today’s Patriots Daily Briefing for July 29:


Ben Volin: Sunday’s practice report

Shalise Manza Young: WR Kamar Aiken hopes to be a regular with Patriots

Emily Kaplan: CB Kyle Arrington, with a fresh new contract, looks to improve

Michael Vega: Patriots notebook: First practice in pads is a little rusty



Foxborough weather (Monday night): Low 70s, chance of rain 10 percent

Interviews with Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, position coaches, 3:30 p.m.

Tedy Bruschi and Gil Santos Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 5 p.m.

Annual in-stadium practice for season ticket holders, 6:30 p.m.


Practice, 2-4:15 p.m.

Player interviews, 4:15 p.m.


Off day


Practice TBD


Not practicing Sunday:

OL Dan Connolly (coming off shoulder surgery)

DL Cory Grissom (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Julian Edelman (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

G Nick McDonald (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)


Titans rookie G Chance Warmack remains last unsigned draft pick after Jets sign CB Dee Milliner

Two more season-ending injuries on Sunday: Broncos C Dan Koppen (the former Patriot) and Dolphins WR Armon Binns

The new-look Bills opened training camp last night by throwing deep nine straight times

Get to know the name Riley Cooper, who will get the chance to replace Jeremy Maclin in Philly

The Lions’ secondary is already banged up

Jaguars G Drew Nowak practiced Sunday just hours after totalling his car

Training camp Day 3 practice report

Posted by Robert Burgess July 28, 2013 02:34 PM

FOXBOROUGH — The intensity of practice definitely picked up a notch on Sunday as the Patriots went full pads and full contact for the first time since last January. Offensive and defensive linemen finally went through 1-on-1 drills, cornerbacks finally were able to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and running backs finally slammed into defenders as they attempted to stuff the ball over the goal line.

A couple of special visitors were present at camp – former Patriots WR Troy Brown and actor Robert Duvall, in the area to shoot a movie. After practice, Tim Tebow and Ryan Mallett signed autographs for about 25 minutes, long after the rest of the team headed to the locker room, which was pretty neat.

With that, let’s get to Sunday’s practice report:


Physically unable to perform: Gronkowski (back); WR Julian Edelman (foot); WR Mark Harrison (foot); OL Nick McDonald (undisclosed); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Missing: DL Cory Grissom.


G Dan Connolly, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, sat out the second half of practice. He has been running behind Marcus Cannon at right guard.


Full pads (including knee and thigh pads).


■ CB Aqib Talib made a beautiful one-handed deflection of a deep fade pass intended for Matthew Slater.

■ QB Ryan Mallett threw a nice deep out pass to Kenbrell Thompson in 1-on-1 drills.

■ WR Aaron Dobson absolutely faked Ras-I Dowling out of his cleats in 1-on-1 drills.

■ WR Josh Boyce made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch on a fade pass from Tom Brady with CB Logan Ryan in coverage.

■ Tim Tebow threw a perfect 50-yard bomb to Kenbrell Thompkins over CB Stephon Morris for a touchdown to end practice.

■ CB Kyle Arrington intercepted Tom Brady in the end zone on a badly underthrown deep pass. Brady was not happy with himself.


WR Kenbrell Thompkins: Undrafted rookie sat out the first day but has been impressive the last two practices, earning repetitions with the starting unit and catching everything that comes his way.

OT Will Svitek: Valuable swing tackle took a few reps at left tackle today, likely in case Nate Solder ever goes down.

CB Kyle Arrington: Intercepted Tom Brady on a deep pass and has looked strong playing both the outside and slot cornerback.


G Dan Connolly: Hard to make the team when you can’t practice, and Connolly appears to be clearly running behind Marcus Cannon now.

CB Ras-I Dowling: Never made a play on the ball in any of the 1-on-1 drills, and overall had a pretty brutal day in coverage working mostly with the second team.

WR Michael Jenkins: Had a bad drop in team drills, and appears to be running behind Thompkins, Kamar Aiken and rookies Dobson and Josh Boyce.


Another up-and-down day for Tebow throwing the ball. While the deep ball to Thompkins was nice, he again struggled to pull the trigger in the pocket, often waiting 5-7 seconds before finally dumping the ball off. He also threw a bad pass over the middle in 7-on-7 drills that should have been picked off by Steve Beauharnais, but was dropped.

Tebow once again participated briefly as a receiver in the catch-and-run drills, and fans got on him a little bit when he overthrew Boyce on a throw in the flat. It was interesting to see offensive assistant Brian Daboll, who had been working mostly with the offensive line, working personally with Tebow during some drills. Daboll got a lot out of Colt McCoy in Cleveland and Matt Moore in Miami.

At the end of practice, Tebow and Ryan Mallett stayed after to sign autographs for about 25 minutes. And every time Tebow tried to escape to the locker room, someone would ask him for a picture, and he would always oblige.


We finally were able to watch the offensive and defensive linemen engage in 1-on-1 drills. Here are our observations:

■ Jermaine Cunningham made a nice speed rush move around Will Svitek and blew right past Marcus Zusevics, but got dominated by OT Elvis Fisher. Fisher also did a nice job slowing down Justin Francis.

■ Logan Mankins stoned Vince Wilfork on one attempt, but Wilfork got the better of Mankins throughout the rest of practice. One of the more fun 1-on-1 battles we’ve ever watched.

■ OT Kevin Haslam absolutely stoned Jake Bequette, hardly giving up an inch. Haslam also stonewalled Marcus Forston.

■ OT Nate Solder completely whiffed on Chandler Jones, who blew right past him.

■ LB Dont’a Hightower participated in the pass rush drills, and got completely stuffed by Sebastian Vollmer.

■ TE Zach Sudfeld did a nice job slowing down Rob Ninkovich.

■ Dobson is really great at getting off the line of scrimmage, and was wide open throughout the practice. He completely schooled DB Justin Green on one play, was able to shake free from Alfonzo Dennard and badly faked out Ras-I Dowling. Thompkins showed good shake while eluding Talib on a bubble screen. Arrington did a nice job jamming Danny Amendola at the line of scrimmage.

■ Based on three days of camp, the top four performers at wide receiver have been Amendola, Dobson, Thompkins and Kamar Aiken. Josh Boyce is starting to come on. Michael Jenkins falling behind. Rookie Quintin Sims also shows some flashes and could be a candidate for practice squad. Amendola, meanwhile, has shown impressive technique as a route-runner and is clearly the most polished receiver on the field.

■ RB Stevan Ridley fumbled four times last year, and had a bad case of the butterfingers on Sunday. He fumbled twice in practice, including once in a goal line drill in which he was stripped by Wilfork. Each time, he was forced to run the length of the field as punishment. LeGarrette Blount was the only other running back to participate in the goal line drill, and scored a touchdown with a nice second effort.

■ Pretty horrible day for Dowling, who is competing with Arrington and Dennard for a spot opposite Talib. Right now Dowling is clearly third in that group, and may also be behind Ryan as well, although the rookie third-rounder hasn’t looked great so far.

■ S Steve Gregory continues to take a few reps with the top unit, although Adrian Wilson is the favorite to start. DE Chandler Jones took some snaps as a stand-up rusher, which he didn’t do last year. Francis, Forston and Cunningham took some snaps with the first unit, although it may just be so the coaching staff can take a better look at them against the top competition.


Monday’s practice (in stadium, season ticket-holders only): 6:30-9 p.m.

Tuesday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.

Wednesday: Off.

Thursday: Practice TBD

Healthy Logan Mankins checks in

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff July 28, 2013 01:30 PM

FOXBOROUGH - When he's healthy, Logan Mankins is the Patriots' best offensive lineman and one of the best guards in the NFL. So opposing defensive linemen take note: right now, Mankins is doing well physically.

"I feel good. I feel really good so far, so hopefully that continues," Mankins said Sunday. "Way better than last year. Last year I was still running on one leg, so this year it’s nice to be healthy."

Mankins played Super Bowl XLVI on two bad knees, and underwent reconstructive surgery for a torn ACL not long after the game, so he was technically still rehabbing when camp began last year.

A team captain now in his ninth season, Mankins prefers practicing in full pads, particularly when it comes to heading up against his defensive line teammates.

"(I'm) pretty tired right now, but always nice to start playing real football, see where you’re at and where you need to go," he said. "It’s pretty hard to stop power rushers and stuff in just T-shirts and helmets, so the pads, it makes it a little more equal. We actually have something to hit now and grab on to at times so it makes it a lot better for us."

With pads came one-on-ones for the offensive and defensive linemen, and for Mankins that means a fresh round of battles with Vince Wilfork; they opposed one another three times on Sunday.

Mankins has a great deal of respect for Wilfork.

"It makes you a ton better – to win against Vince you have to do everything right in one-on-ones, because he’s all go, straightforward, and he’s a big, strong man," he said. "If you don’t do it right he’s going to push you back, or if you don’t get your hands in the right spot it’s over for you. Makes you really focus on your technique."

Mankins also spoke highly of new defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, signed as a free agent after spending the first eight seasons of his career in Oakland.

"He’s been impressive so far. I like his work ethic so far, he’s been working really hard and giving great effort, and if he gives us that kind of effort all season he’ll have a good season I think," Mankins said. "He's very athletic for his size, he can move good, he’s quick for an inside guy that big."

A season of new beginnings for Kyle Arrington

Posted by Staff July 28, 2013 12:57 PM

First-time father Kyle Arrington could see the resemblance right away.

Junior, now four months old, looked just like him.

“I knew that was my boy,” Arrington said. “But the changes you see day-to-day? It’s amazing. Now he’s talking like his mother. Every parent probably goes through that, but it’s very new to me.”

A lot of things are new for the Patriots cornerback this season.

Arrington also has a new house (“Needed a bigger space for when the grandparents visit from Maryland,” he said) and new contract (four years, $16 million).

But on the field, two things have remained constant: Arrington’s expectations (get better every day) and the Patriots’ premium on versatility.

“Playing on this team, wherever the coaches are comfortable and confident enough to put you, you need to have confidence in yourself to play it,” he said.

Through three practices, Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard split time as the starting right corner.

Arrington shifted inside as the slot corner in passing situations.

It’s the same as it was last year, when New England’s secondary constantly shuffled because of injuries and acquisitions. The Patriots added Aqib Talib in November.

Next season is a bit more uncertain. Dennard, arrested on July 11 for suspicion of DUI, faces a probation hearing on Aug. 27.

That could determine whether the NFL suspends the second-year cornerback under the personal conduct policy.

For now, Arrington isn’t thinking about that.

“The goal I try to take is just to maximize the most out of each day,” Arrington said. “Work on techniques and try to get better.”

Patriots ramp up camp intensity on first day of pads

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff July 28, 2013 12:36 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots donned full pads and conducted their first workout in full gear Sunday morning before a crowd of about 7,000 people at the upper fields behind Gillette Stadium.

While physical players such as linebacker Brandon Spikes relished the opportunity to create a little clatter on the field, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the first day of pads was the first look the coaching staff would get at their personnel under game-type speed and conditions.

"Today is the start of where we're able to see the contact,'' Belichick said before the start of Sunday's 9 a.m. practice, which was graced by the presence of actor Robert Duvall, who was escorted onto the field by owner Robert Kraft about an hour into the practice.

"Certainly [it] will help us in our evaluations of some of the bigger linemen and people like that, feel the play and working those positions,'' Belichick said. "We'll see how some of our guys, with their work in the offseason whether it's gain strength and explosion and power and all that, how that all transfers onto the football field in a functional matter or evaluating our younger players to see what their capacity is for that.

"We're at the start of that long evaluation period.''

Though he was excited to be back in full pads for the first time since the end of the 2012 season in the AFC Championship, Spikes said he had a bit of rust to knock off his game.

"I'm a physical player and I just want to get back out and try to get back into it,'' he said. "I think it was a good transition, but we've got a long way to go, though.''

Spikes said he looked forward in one drill in particular on the first day of pads.

"It was just the inside [run], doing 9-0n-7, it was all run and that's one of my strengths,'' Spikes said. "But, personally, I don't think I had a great day today. Got to get better tomorrow, definitely.''

Asked why that was the case, Spikes replied, "It was just a few false steps, a few bad reads, stuff like that. It's just practice. Thank God, it's just practice. I can correct that, the next day.''

On the inside run, the Patriots defense did force a pair of turnovers, both of which were committed by running back Stevan Ridley, who paid the price when he was forced to run the length of the field as pennance for his fumbles.

"We've been getting coached on that, trying to separate the player from the ball,'' Spikes said. "We got a few today, so hopefully we can continue to keep doing that, get turnovers, make plays and get the ball over to Tom [Brady]."

Asked the difference in the intensity level once the team dons the full pads, Spikes said, "Oh, man, it's like night and day to me. The OTAs and guys running around in shorts and t-shirts, you know, that's fun and it's football. But, then again, when you put the pads on, that's when you see the real guys come out and compete.''

In first day with pads, the Patriots look for development

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 28, 2013 09:04 AM

FOXBOROUGH – In the third day of Patriots training camp, the team will be in full pads for contact drills. This will allow the team to see how players have developed from the offseason program, coach Bill Belichick said.

But what's more, it will help to assess the team's linemen.

"Certainly it will help us in our evaluations in some of the bigger linemen, people like that," Belichick said. "People who play and work in those positions. We'll see how some of our guys, their work in the offseason, whether they've gained strength and explosion and power and all that, and how that all transfers onto the football field in a functional manner.

"We're evaluating our younger players to see what their capacity is for that."

– – –

Patriots quarterbacks were wearing small cameras on the side of their helmets in practice Saturday. Belichick said the Patriots have been utilizing the cameras for about a week, in what is apparently a test run.

"It's something we haven't done before," he said. "So we'll take a look at that and see how effective it is or what we'll get out of that. I'm not sure how effective that will or won't be. But we're trying something a little bit new so we'll see how it goes.

"Anything that we can do to help coach and instruct our players, that's part of our job."

– – –

The wide receiver competition is heating up and it appears Kamar Aiken is right in the thick of it. The second-year player was mostly on the practice squad last season.

"I think he's in a good competition with a lot of other players at his position," Belichick said. "He had some experience last year from the practice squad and at the end of the season.

"It's his first training camp with the team, we'll see how it all goes. He's got a little bit of edge experience-wise but I don't think that's overly significant."

– – –

Defensive tackle Armond Armstead, who is expected to compete with Tommy Kelly for a starting position in the team's base 4-3 defense, has missed the first three practices while being designated on the list for non-football illness. Belichick wouldn't say whether or not it was a long-term issue, but did say it was a different situation than Armstead's notable health history. The former Southern California and CFL lineman had a heart attack in college.

Training Camp Daily Briefing: Sunday, July 28

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 28, 2013 07:17 AM

Two days of Patriots training camp practices are in the books, and now the real fun begins. The players will finally strap on the full pads (which includes knee and thigh pads) this morning for the first full-contact practice of the season. While the first two days were glorified 7-on-7 situations, now we can finally watch the offensive and defensive linemen engage in 1-on-1 combat, as well as cornerbacks and wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.

With that, let’s get on with the Patriots Daily Briefing for July 28:


Ben Volin: Sunday NFL Notes: Breaking down the decision to extend Matt Ryan’s contract early (and not Joe Flacco’s)

Shalise Manza Young: Unheralded group of five tight ends vying to replace Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez

Michael Whitmer: DE Chandler Jones doesn’t want to think about successful rookie season

Emily Kaplan: S Steve Gregory once again fighting for a roster spot

Zuri Berry: Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly battling for right guard spot

Whitmer and Young: Notebook: DT Tommy Kelly happy to play for a winner

Volin: Saturday’s practice report



Foxborough Weather: High of 79, sunny in the morning, 30 percent chance of thunderstorms at 1 p.m.

8:40 a.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

9-11:30 a.m.: Practice (full pads)

11:30 a.m.: Player interviews


5-6:30 p.m.: Patriots 2013 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies to honor Tedy Bruschi and Gil Santos (The Hall at Patriot Place. Free and open to the public)

6:30-9 p.m.: Patriots annual in-stadium practice for season ticket holders

Down the Road…

Tuesday: Practice, 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Off day

Thursday: Practice TDB


Not practicing Saturday:

DL Cory Grissom (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Julian Edelman (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

G Nick McDonald (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)


Flurry of season-ending injuries around the league, including Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin and Ravens TE Dennis Pitta

LB Rob Jackson becomes 8th Redskin suspended for PEDs since 2011, most in the NFL

Titans S Michael Griffin and WR Michael Preston sparked a 20-player brawl at practice

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier chastises WR Greg Jennings for stirring it up with the Packers

Chargers LB Manti Te’o helps fellow rookie D.J. Fluker overcome fear of swimming

One more position battle to watch: Right guard

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 27, 2013 07:22 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Dan Connolly has started at left guard, center, and most recently, right guard for the Patriots.

In 2012, he started 16 games at right guard, including both postseason tilts. Just a year prior, he started at center for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. And in 2010, he started his first seven games at left guard, filling in for Logan Mankins during his contract squabble, before shifting to right guard and starting six more games.

This year, Connolly doesn't have a job locked up.

Having the starting offensive line back was certainly tabbed as one of the team's strengths coming into the 2013 season, but that doesn't mean the Patriots aren't trying to improve. In two training camp practices, it's clear the 30-year-old interior lineman is in competition with Marcus Cannon, who has shifted from tackle to guard in the offseason. Cannon has taken a majority of the snaps with the team's first group, including Nate Solder, Mankins, Ryan Wendell, and Sebastian Vollmer.

Connolly understands what's at stake. But he still expresses the confidence of a man who has fought for and won every job he's gotten in the NFL as an undrafted player out of Southwest Missouri State.

"Well it's the start of training camp, it's a new season," he said. "And we're starting from scratch like we do every year. I've got to perform like I always would. And I'm working just to keep my position. So that's my goal."

The pressure, Connolly said, is not more or less than it has been any other year.

"No, just like every year," he said. "I just want to build on last year and get better and better. So every day I come out here, if I can improve on something, then I'm moving in the right direction."

His contract might not be playing in his favor. Connolly is set to make $2.25 million in base salary this season, the second year of a three-year deal worth $9.75 million. Cannon, the Patriots' fifth-round draft pick in 2011, is in the third year of his rookie contract (4 years, $2.4 million). His base salary for 2013 is $587,562.

Neither are oblivious of the dynamic. Both are fighting for their jobs.

"I worked pretty hard this offseason," Cannon said. "And you know, right now, where I'm at, I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team. Wherever they think I fit in, wherever they think I can help, whatever they think I can do, that's what I'm going to do to help."

Cannon doesn't think he has a position locked up either, let alone a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Every year you've got to make it. You gotta make the team every year and that's how I feel. I'm just trying to get on this team. Trying to get on the team [and] trying to play."

For Cannon, much like Connolly, his versatility is a boon to the team. And while Connolly's versatility has helped in the past (he still works on snapping the ball), it's no guarantee of anything now.

"It's like every year, we want to have as many guys as we can and as much versatility as we can, working guys in different positions," Connolly said. "The more we can get guys to move around on the line, the better off we'll be in the end."

Tommy Kelly thrilled with opportunity

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff July 27, 2013 02:50 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- For defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, he’s seemingly gone from one extreme to the other. In his first nine seasons in the NFL, all with Oakland, he was never on a team that made the postseason. Now he’s with the Patriots, who have been in the playoffs nine times over the past 10 seasons.

“Me personally, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity,” Kelly said. “I played nine long years out in Oakland. Enjoyed it, we didn’t win enough, but I still enjoyed my time out there. I’m late in my career, I want to have a chance to play for [a championship], so this was the best opportunity for me.”

Kelly also didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to play next to Vince Wilfork. Not only because of the physical presence the veteran defensive lineman provides, but the experience and knowledge of the system he can share.

“He makes it real easy. He’s been in the defense for so long, he knows it like [Jerod] Mayo, or Bill [Belichick], or Matty [Patricia] knows it, so it’s real easy playing next to the guy,” Kelly said. “Makes me real comfortable.”

Kelly has the reputation of being a durable defensive tackle (he hasn’t missed a game the last five seasons, starting all of them) who can get to the quarterback. He has 34 career sacks, and had his best two-year total in 2010-11, when he combined for 14 ½. Last season, Kelly only had one sack.

Even before signing with the Patriots, Kelly had an idea of what the team was like, courtesy of former Raiders teammate Richard Seymour, who played in New England before that. It’s helped with the transition.

“There’s really no surprise to it because I talked to big Rich while we were out there and he always told me how it was run,” Kelly said. “So I had a certain expectation level of how they do things up here.”

And how, exactly, is that?

“Either you get the job done, or [Belichick is] going to get rid of you and get somebody else in here to do it,” Kelly said. “I have no problem with how they run their program. It’s strictly business, you know where you stand with them. He laid out what he needed from me when he brought me in.”

Someone spending his first training camp learning a different system with a new team might not feel entirely comfortable. But Kelly appears completely at ease, and seems to know exactly where he can make a difference.

“Just do my job, whatever he asks me to do, whether it’s playing the run or crushing the pocket,” Kelly said. “Just do my job and don’t try to do more than what he asks me to do.”

Fells feeling more comfortable in Year 2 with Patriots

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff July 27, 2013 02:26 PM

FOXBOROUGH - When he arrived in New England as a free agent last year with four NFL seasons under his belt, Daniel Fells was already the oldest guy in the tight end room.

But now, with Aaron Hernandez gone and Rob Gronkowski on the shelf for an unknown amount of time, Fells is the most experienced Patriots tight end in his position group despite being here for just 16 months.

"You know, it’s nice being in a system for a little bit of time, especially a system as complicated as this," Fells said Saturday. "It’s nice to come out and [feel at ease]. It’s always forever changing, so it’s always nice to have a little bit of a background to fall back on."

Fells played in 13 games last season with four starts, after missing nearly all of training camp with what the Patriots termed a leg injury. His playing time varied game-to-game - his season high of 57 (of 70) snaps came against the Jets in November - but a week earlier he'd played just three (of 73) snaps against Buffalo.

He is healthy now, and there is an opportunity for him to have a larger impact this season.

"Anytime you can participate with the team, that’s the best way for you to get on the field, so being out here every single day during training camp is my goal, and so far we’re off to a good start. Only two days in, but…," he trailed off, smiling.

Both his injury situation and his lack of playing time once he felt he was healthy enough to contribute were frustrating, Fells admitted.

"You know what, I’m a competitor, so I wanted to go out there and compete and I wish I could have participated a little more but ultimately they’re going to put whoever on the field that they see fit so I’ve got to show them that I’m fit to do it," he said.

Though the 6-foot-4 California native had just four catches (for 85 yards) last year, he has shown before that he can be a reliable option as a pass-catcher, with 41 receptions for 391 yards and two touchdowns for the Rams in 2010.

Until Gronkowski is healthy, it will be up to some combination of Fells, Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui and rookies Zach Sudfeld and Brandon Ford to make the tight end group productive.

Bill Belichick noted during his Friday press conference that Fells had a good spring, which the player was happy to hear. He's looking to build on that work now.

"Like I said, after being in the system for a year I feel a little bit more comfortable, just hearing the plays and being able to fly without thinking, it’s a lot more reacting this year," he said. "I have a year off my injury and I’m able to come out and run around with a little bit more confidence. I’m hoping it reflects as I go out there every single day, because I have to get better every single day. That was spring and we’re in training camp now."

Training camp Day 2 practice report

Posted by Robert Burgess July 27, 2013 01:39 PM

FOXBOROUGH — The weather was much more cooperative for the Patriots’ second day of Patriots training camp, with the players practicing under clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. Not coincidentally, the second day of practice was much sharper than the first, which was held through driving rainstorms. Rob Gronkowski made a a guest appearance, watching practice from the sideline, and Tim Tebow spent a good 20 minutes after practice working on his throws with a coach and wide receiver.

With that, let’s get right to the daily practice report:


Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Julian Edelman (foot); WR Mark Harrison (foot); OL Nick McDonald (undisclosed); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Returning to action: WR Kenbrell Thompkins.

Missing: DL Cory Grissom.


The Patriots appeared to emerge with none from the second day of practice with no new injuries.


Shells. Sunday’s practice will be the first one in full pads.


■ WR Michael Jenkins made a beautiful leaping catch over the middle against S Adrian Wilson on a pass from Ryan Mallett.

■ Mallett threw a deep pass that bounced off S Tavon Wilson’s hands, and WR Josh Boyce snatched the deflection for an 80-yard touchdown.

■ TE Daniel Fells made a beautiful fingertip grab on a square-in pass over the middle from Tom Brady.

■ Rookie WR Aaron Dobson drew big cheers from the crowd after making a leaping sideline catch over Aqib Talib and tapping his toes inbounds. in-bounds.

■ Rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins also made a beautiful catch in traffic over CB Logan Ryan on a deep pass up the left sideline from Tom Brady.


WR Aaron Dobson: The rookie second-rounder caught pretty much everything thrown his way, on Saturday, including a few impressive catches in traffic.

DL Justin Francis: The second-year player got a little work with the first team defense on Saturday.

CB Alfonzo Dennard: Still in the starting lineup despite his recent DUI arrest, Dennard made several impressive plays on Saturday, including an interception of Mallett on a deep ball.


G Dan Connolly: Three-year starter appears to have fallen behind Marcus Cannon on the depth chart, at least initially.

S Tavon Wilson: Got toasted deep a few times.

Tim Tebow: Pretty horrible day throwing the ball. See below.


It’s no secret that Tebow isn’t the best practice player or seven-on-seven passer, and his deficiencies were on full display Saturday.

In one drill, two of his three passes were swatted down by the racquets used at the line of scrimmage. He badly skipped a few throws in the dirt in other drills and at one point drew drawing sarcastic cheers from the crowd. In 11-on-11 drills, he held on to the ball for literally 10-12 seconds before finally scrambling out of the pocket.

To his credit, Tebow threw a really nice deep ball to Lavelle Hawkins deep down the left sideline. Tebow spent 20 minutes working with a coach after practice, then snuck out of the back entrance away from media and straggling fans.


■ Thompkins, an undrafted rookie, took some reps with the first unit alongside Danny Amendola and Dobson. Kamar Aiken, who played mostly with the first unit on Friday, played mostly with the second unit on Saturday alongside Michael Jenkins, Josh Boyce, and others.

■ Tom Brady, ever the perfectionist, emitted a primal scream after overthrowing a wide-open Matthew Slater on a deep pass.

■ Steve Gregory continued to take a few repetitions with the first unit at safety alongside Devin McCourty, while Dennard, Aqib Talib, and Kyle Arrington mostly worked with the first team at cornerback.

■ Rookie second-rounder Jamie Collins is being thrown right into the fire, getting work with the first unit at several positions, but mostly linebacker. Collins, who arrived at Southern Mississippi Miss as a safety, could end up being the Patriots’ nickel Nickel linebacker used in pass coverage, even though he finished his college career as a pass rusher.

■ Marcus Cannon appears to have supplanted Dan Connolly at right guard, at least for now. The rest of the offensive line is what you’d expect (L to R): Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, and Sebastian Vollmer.

■ Punt returners: Leon Washington, Josh Boyce, Lavelle Hawkins, Danny Amendola.

■ DT Tommy Kelly worked at several positions across the defensive line.


Sunday’s practice: 9-11:30 a.m. (full pads).

Monday’s practice (in stadium, season ticket-holders only): 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Tuesday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.

Wednesday: Off.

Chandler Jones looks forward, not back

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff July 27, 2013 01:07 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- If he wanted to, there would be plenty to look back proudly on during his rookie season. But defensive end Chandler Jones sounds like he’s only interested in looking straight ahead, at his second year with the Patriots.

“In the situation that I’m in right now, my biggest thing is just to focus on this year, to be honest with you, just win football games,” Jones said on Saturday, after the team’s morning practice behind Gillette Stadium. “I’m excited to tackle my second year, I’m excited to go into this next year with a year of experience, I can be more comfortable doing what I’m doing. I’m ready to go.”

Jones hit the ground running as a rookie after being selected by the Patriots with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. He was the AFC rookie of the month in September, forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the opener at Tennessee, and had a two-sack game at Seattle in October, part of the six he had on the season.

Despite missing parts of three games with an injury, Jones finished second on the team in sacks, behind Rob Ninkovich’s eight. He’ll be expected to lead the pass-rushing effort again this season. He also vows to be an even better teammate.

“Now that I have a year under my belt in the NFL, my biggest thing is trying to help everyone, try to be that player that helps everyone, make sure everyone’s on the same page, make sure everyone’s got it, just to be that helpful player,” Jones said. “That’s who I want to be.”

There can be a learning curve in the NFL for first-year players, but Jones started from the first week and played at a high level, finishing with 48 tackles and a team-high 12 quarterback hurries. He didn’t have any interceptions, but picked off Tim Tebow on Friday in the opening practice of training camp.

If Jones learned one thing as a rookie, it’s focusing on his job and not paying attention to anyone else.

“Life in the NFL is as I thought it would be, to be honest with you,” Jones said. “I just try to stay level-headed. You’ll go through weeks and you’ll be playing different games. If you play bad, if you play good, you’re never doing as good as people say you’re doing, and you’re never doing as bad as people say you’re doing. So I try to stay level-headed.”

Steve Gregory, as always, fighting for a spot

Posted by Staff July 27, 2013 12:33 PM

FOXBOROUGH --- He wasn’t invited to the NFL combine. He wasn’t drafted. And when the San Diego Chargers signed him as a free agent 2006, they assigned him to the practice squad.

Steve Gregory -- son of a retired NYPD police officer -- always embraced the role of underdog.

“When you’re a guy like me, you have to earn your way,” Gregory said. “You have to prove yourself every single training camp.”

Even this training camp.

Gregory, now a seven-year veteran, started 12 games for the Patriots last year at safety.

Yet in a position group that includes Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson and Tavon Wilson, Gregory is seemingly on the bubble for a roster spot in 2013.

“If you look at the depth chart, maybe it seems like that,” Gregory said. “But I approach it that way every year. Every year you just fight in training camp prove that you should be there. And that’s the way it should be.”

Gregory played out of position for most of last season at strong safety. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, the Syracuse graduate is much more suited to play free safety.

But ever since McCourty switched from defensive back to free safety midway through last season, it's been his position.

The Patriots signed four-time All-Pro Adrian Wilson, a natural strong safety, this offseason. Tavon Wilson, a promising second-year pro from the University of Illinois, plays there too.

Rookie Kanorris Davis, an undersized linebacker at Troy, is in the mix as well.

That leaves Gregory as McCourty's backup. Or at any position the Patriots need him.

Gregory shifted between several defensive back positions in drills on Friday and Saturday at training camp.

That's the way it's been for Gregory his entire NFL career. He made the Chargers roster as a special teams player. Since then, he said he has played "just about any defensive position."

"He knows it all," Adrian Wilson said. "He knows every position. We can lean on him as well as Devin. It’s very important. It brings a lot of versatility to the group. And a lot of veteran presence as well.

Said Gregory: "We pride ourselves in being a secondary that’s interchangeable. And I am ready to play wherever the team needs me."

Bill Belichick says Day 2 goal is to keep building process going

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff July 27, 2013 09:33 AM
FOXBOROUGH – Patriots coach Bill Belichick, looking slightly scruffier than the first day of training camp, said the goal on Saturday was to build on what the team started during Friday’s soggy opener. The Patriots will spend one more day in shorts and light gear before putting full pads on for the time Sunday.

“We’re really in the mindset now of just trying to string them together, take the things we did yesterday, correct them, go back over them, add new things to put in today, go out and work on those, just grind it day by day,” Belichick said, prior to the team’s second camp practice. “No magic wand, no special formula, just hard work, putting the pieces in place one at a time, day by day, period by period. Each guy has a lot of things they all need to work on, we all need to work on, coaches included, this time of year.”

With the offseason turmoil at tight end – Rob Gronkowski is injured and Aaron Hernandez no longer with the team – Belichick was asked about the available players at that position, and what kind of opportunity they’ll have in training camp to make an impression.

Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard were with the team last year, but neither made a big impact. Ballard spent the season on injured reserve, and Fells, despite playing, had just four catches.

“[Fells] had a good spring, looks like he’s in good condition,” Belichick said. “I’m sure that he’s looking to build on his spring here in fall training camp, and I feel the same way.”

Discussing Ballard, who was signed after being released by the Giants: “I think he has good, solid, physical characteristics. Works hard, smart kid, has a good attitude, works hard on his preparation, has worked very hard on his rehab. It’s great for him to be able to make that kind of progress to get back out onto the field and attain that goal of getting back out and playing competitively. We’ll see see how it goes from here.”

Another pair of tight ends, Michael Hoomanawanui and Zach Sudfeld, were also brought up.

"As always, unfortunately, when players that are on your team can't perform, it gives more opportunities to somebody else, whoever that is," Belichick said. "Mike and Zach have done that, they've worked hard, they've certainly taken advantage of the reps that they've gotten, and they've definitely gotten more because some of the players that would normally play that position weren't participating, so that's good for them. I'd say this is Wally Pipp-Lou Gehrig, that's the classic story."

Belichick was also asked about the mostly new crop of receivers (six rookies), if Leon Washington can become a suitable solution at kick returner, and his thoughts on Monday’s induction of Gil Santos and Tedy Bruschi into the team’s hall of fame.

“The success that we’ve had during [Bruschi’s] time here has been remarkable, and he’s played a huge, huge part in it all the way through,” Belichick said. “The energy, enthusiasm, and competitiveness he brought to this organization … there’s no way that can be understated. He’s one of the all-time greats that’s ever played here.”

Training Camp Daily Briefing: Saturday, July 27

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 27, 2013 07:50 AM
The Patriots get right back at it for Day 2 of training camp this morning with another practice session from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Gillette Stadium practice fields. Today’s forecast calls for a bright and sunny day after Friday’s driving rainstorm.

All 90 players were accounted for Friday, and the only real surprise was undrafted rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins sitting out of practice for an undisclosed reason.

With that, let’s get on with the Patriots Daily Briefing for Day 2:


Ben Volin: Friday Practice Report

Shalise Manza Young: Patriots get back to business

Ben Volin: Patriots camp begins with dark clouds

Chris Gasper: Patriots need Stevan Ridley this year

Michael Whitmer: Danny Amendola headlines Patriots’ new-look receiver corps

Shalise Manza Young: Alfonzo Dennard won’t talk about DUI arrest

Emily Kaplan: Tim Tebow plays a split role in practice

Michael Whitmer: Training camp brings relief to Brandon Spikes



Foxborough weather: High of 82, chance of rain in the morning 0 percent

8:40 a.m.: Bill Belichick news conference

9-11:30 a.m.: Practice (no pads)

11:30 a.m.: Player interviews


8:40 a.m.: Bill Belichick news conference

9-11:30 a.m.: Practice (no pads)

11:30 a.m.: Player interviews

Down the road…

Monday: Tedy Bruschi and Gil Santos Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 5 p.m.; annual in-stadium practice for season ticket holders, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Practice, 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Off day


Not practicing Friday:

WR Kenbrell Thompkins (undisclosed)

DL Cory Grissom (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Julian Edelman (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

G Nick McDonald (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)


Jets lose CB Aaron Berry for season with torn ACL

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger feeling “discomfort” in his knee, and Maurkice Pouncey apologizes again for “Free Hernandez” hat

Chargers ILB James Mouton suffers second season-ending preseason injury in three years

Former Patriots TE Visanthe Shiancoe could end up with the Ravens

Cardinals, first-round pick G Jonathan Cooper are in a stalemate over offset language

Training camp Day 1 practice report

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 26, 2013 03:15 PM
FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots opened their 2013 training camp with a 2-? hour practice in a driving rainstorm on Friday morning, and the session was predictably sloppy, with several drops by the inexperienced receiver group and a handful of interceptions from the backup quarterbacks, Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow.

It’s nothing to panic over yet – the defense is almost always ahead of the offense early in training camp. Friday was about establishing a baseline for the rest of camp, and establishing a rapport between Tom Brady and his new receivers.

There were no surprises in terms of players who weren’t available to practice, and CB Alfonzo Dennard seemingly isn’t being punished for his recent DUI arrest, at least as it pertains to the depth chart.

Here’s a rundown of what went on at Patriots’ practice this afternoon:


Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Julian Edelman (foot); WR Mark Harrison (foot); OL Nick McDonald (undisclosed); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness)

Red jerseys: S Devin McCourty

Not participating: WR Kenbrell Thompkins (unknown)

Tom Brady and the Patriots held their first workout of the season on Friday.

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Tom Brady and the Patriots held their first workout of the season on Friday.


The Patriots appeared to emerge from the first day of practice with no new injuries.




- DE Chandler Jones made an acrobatic diving interception of a screen pass from QB Tim Tebow.

- QB Ryan Mallett perfectly finessed a pass to TE Zac Sudfeld deep down the left seam over two defenders.

- WR Kamar Aiken made a beautiful diving catch over Alfonzo Dennard down the right sideline on a pass from Brady. He also made a great catch over Logan Ryan deep down the right sideline in 11-on-11 drills.

- LB Jamie Collins had an athletic break-up of a pass from Ryan Mallett to Michael Hoomanawanui.

- Danny Amendola brought the crowd to its feet with a great diving catch on a Brady pass during 11-on-11 drills.


WR Kamar Aiken: Worked with the starting unit most of the day and made several acrobatic catches.

LB Jamie Collins: Second-round pick already is getting acclimated quickly and taking reps with the first-team defense at linebacker.

CB Kyle Arrington: Got a lot of work with the starting defense and the nickel package as the team prepares to lose Alfonzo Dennard to an early-season suspension.


QB Ryan Mallett: Inconsistent day for the backup, who mixed some nice throws in with a few really baffling ones. Was heard yelling at himself after a couple of poor throws.

WR Michael Jenkins: Didn’t get much work with the top unit and appears to be behind Aiken and Aaron Dobson on the depth chart.

CB Logan Ryan: Allowed several acrobatic catches to be completed over him, including a really nice diving grab by Aiken.


Our daily Tim Tebow report from Globe intern Emily Kaplan (@EmilyMKaplan):

Tebow was the clear third string quarterback on Friday. He was third to take repetitions in drills -- behind Tom Brady and Mallett -- and often took less repetitions than both.

In 11-on-11 drills, Tebow finished the day 6-for-10 on 14 reps, including two interceptions (by safety Nate Ebner and Jones). The Jones pickoff came on a screen pass.

Tebow also lined up as a receiver for two separate drills, going 3-for-3 with no drops.


•Quarterback stats in team drills:

Brady – 11-for-14 overall with no touchdowns. Should’ve had an interception on a throw to Dobson, but it was dropped by Arrington and McCourty.

Mallett – 6-for-7 overall with no touchdowns and a couple scrambles. Threw a nice deep post to Dobson.

Tebow – 6-for-10 overall with a scramble, a batted pass and two interceptions. Four of his completions were check-downs.

•Hard not to notice that Brady took a ton of reps with Amendola, Dobson and Aiken, who appear to be the top receiver unit to start camp. Michael Jenkins and Matthew Slater appear to be in the next group. Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, who impressed during the offseason program, was in uniform on Friday but did not appear to participate in practice.

•The tight ends appear to be split into two groups – Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui (H-back) in the first group, and rookies Zac Sudfeld and Daniel Ford in the second group. The Patriots still ran some two tight-end sets despite not having Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez.

•Both Dennard and Arrington worked inside and outside with the first unit, opposite Aqib Talib. Marquice Cole, Ryan and Ras-I Dowling worked with the second unit. McCourty was strictly a safety on Friday, and Steve Gregory subbed in a few times for Adrian Wilson.

• Collins may be labeled as a pass-rusher, but he worked as a linebacker on Friday and will likely be used in a variety of roles this season. He also played on the kickoff unit.

• Kickoff returners: Leon Washington, Slater, LeGarrette Blount, Josh Boyce, Stevan Ridley, Lavelle Hawkins.

• Marcus Cannon worked with the first offensive line unit a bit at right guard (L to R): Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer. Dan Connolly also worked with the first team. The second unit was (L to R): Elvis Fisher, Tyronne Green, Josh Kline, Markus Zusevics, Kevin Haslam.


- Saturday’s practice: 9-11:30

- Sunday’s practice: 9-11:30 a.m.

- Monday’s practice (in stadium, season ticket holders only): 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Takeaways from the Patriots first practice

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 26, 2013 02:50 PM

FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots’ first practice of 2013 did a great service to providing insight, confirming what we believed to be true while helping clear up what was otherwise fuzzy.

Here’s my quick takeaways on the practice:

1. Ups and downs – Observers of the Patriots wide receiver competition were high on Michael Jenkins after OTAs and minicamp. He appeared to be rising on the depth chart. But at the same time Jenkins was spending so much time catching passes from Tom Brady, many of his peers were unavailable to practice because of one ailment or another. In training camp Friday, we saw Jenkins’ reps decrease while the bulk of Brady’s throws went to rookie Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, and third-receiver Kamar Aiken. Aiken’s prominence certainly surprised.

2. Tight end mumbo jumbo – A number of the many questions entering training camp centered around what the Patriots will do at tight end, with Rob Gronkowski (back) unable to participate and Aaron Hernandez gone. While the team continues to evaluate the position, there were certainly hints dropped about which mix of players the team has in mind. The trio of Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, and Zach Sudfeld appear to be in direct competition with each other as Gronkowski’s primary backup, while Michael Hoomanawanui is seeing competition, although to a lesser degree, from rookie Brandon Ford. This confirms what we already had come to believe exiting minicamp.

3. Tebow can catch – We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but it’s not often that the team’s third-string quarterback is taking part in drills that require him to catch the ball. He caught three balls in some receiver-like drills that were geared toward defenders. But it was significant because he was not asked to help throw those very same passes. Tom Brady did. Ryan Mallett did. It really shouldn’t surprise us that Tebow is catching passes in practice because he has done it before in New York. However, his day was not nearly as great passing the ball, completing 6 of 10 passes in 11-on-11 drills with two interceptions. Both interceptions were poor throws, one over the middle of the field that was uncatchable for its intended target and the other on a screen pass. He has to improve.

4. They are who we thought they were – The Patriots secondary and linebacker corps is starting to develop just as suspected. Cornerback Kyle Arrington is key here, working as the team’s starting right corner and shifting inside to the team’s “star,” or slot corner, in passing situations. This is the same as it was last year, except Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling are essentially competing to back him up. Also in the secondary, free agent pickup Adrian Wilson has slid into the first-team group opposite Devin McCourty at safety. Patriots top draft choice Jamie Collins subbed in as an outside linebacker in passing situations for starter Brandon Spikes. Spikes was joined by Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower again in the first team.

Of course, as the team continues to practice and evaluate each position, players will continue to move up and down out of their respective groups. Friday just so happened to confirm a lot of suspicions on which way the team was leaning in key areas.

Danny Amendola: 'I'm excited to be here'

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff July 26, 2013 02:11 PM

With the Patriots starting the season with almost an entirely new receiving corps, getting those players on the field in training camp and catching passes from Tom Brady couldn’t come early enough.

Leading the incoming group of pass-catchers is Danny Amendola, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Rams. Amendola signed a five year, $31 million contract with the Patriots in March, not long after veteran receiver Wes Welker had decided to join the Broncos.

Welker was one of the smallest offensive players for the Patriots, but he left possibly the biggest shoes to fill.

Enter Amendola.

“Welker’s a great player, done a lot of great things,” said Amendola, who also played at Texas Tech, the same school as Welker. “I’m excited to get the opportunity to play here, and show my teammates and whoever that I’ll try to be the best I can be.”

Amendola cautioned, though, that it’ll take time for he and Brady to click.

“It’s going to be a while,” he said. “We’ll work out the kinks from here on out until the end of the season. We’ll try to improve every day, that’s just the way football goes.

“We’re all just trying to get on the same page. He’s been here for a long time doing a lot of great things, I’m trying to adapt and trying to learn the best I can to get ready to play for him and for our team.”

Joining the Patriots reunites Amendola with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who held a similar position with the Rams. Slighter taller than Welker, and five years younger, Amendola is hoping to become Brady’s go-to option as the slot receiver.

He’s spent time studying his new quarterback – “He’s very demanding” – and has also watched game tape of when other receivers, such as Welker and Deion Branch, were catching passes from Brady.

Now, barring something unexpected, Amendola will become one of those receivers targeted by Brady.

“I watch a lot of game film, I’ve seen every game, last year, year before,” Amendola said. “I knew what to expect coming in here, it’s why I wanted to come here; I’m excited to be here, excited to work.”

Patriots looking very different at tight end

Posted by Staff July 26, 2013 01:26 PM

FOXBOROUGH – With Rob Gronkowski injured and the release of Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots’ tight end corps looked very different on Friday morning, the first official day of training camp for the 2013 NFL season.

After addressing the Hernandez situation on Wednesday, coach Bill Belichick turned to the tight ends he has on the roster, starting with the timetable for Gronkowski’s return, in which he told reporters he did not know when his franchise tight end would be ready to go.

“I can’t predict what is going to happen with rehabilitations or injuries of any sort,” Belichick said before practice. “Players are day-to-day. As we know, sometimes that’s a steady line, sometimes that’s slow progress and then a big jump … There’s no way to predict what’s exactly going to happen. We’ll just take everybody day by day, see how they do, and treat them the next day based on what their performance and how they feel from the day before.”

The Patriots have five tight ends on the training camp roster besides Gronkowski: Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells, Brandon Ford, and Zach Sudfeld. Hoomanawanui and Fells are returning from last year’s team, while Ballard and Sudfeld are new additions: Ballard previously played with the New York Giants, and Sudfeld signed as an undrafted rookie.

The fact that the two healthy returning tight ends New England has this season combined for just nine catches, 194 yards, and no touchdowns in 2012 hasn’t fazed how Belichick or the receivers plan to approach this season.

“There’s turnover on every team, every year. That’s just the way it is in the National Football League,” said Belichick. “We have it this year, so does every other team in the league. That’s part of putting together a football team. Whatever the positions, whatever the circumstances are, all 32 teams are going through the same thing.”

“Every year in training camp all the teams are going through this, there’s new guys all over the place,” Ballard said. “It’s just something that comes along with football and you gotta get used to it and move on or you’re not going to do anything special.”

The tight ends on the field Friday were happy to get back out there, and looked strong and were moving well, especially Ballard, who tore his ACL in Super Bowl XLVI and missed the entire 2012 season.

“I definitely feel better; I just need to keep doing the little things, icing after practice and all that good stuff, stretching, staying loose and getting warmed up, and making sure I’m not getting tight,” said Ballard. “We’ve all been away for this whole summer; putting all this work in, we’re all happy to get back to football and be out here and working hard… I feel like I have a good opportunity on this team.”

Heading into this season, Hoomanawanui is looking to build off a successful 2012, where he helped fill in for Rob Gronkowski when Gronkowski broke his arm in Week 11 and played just one full game the rest of the season.

“I have the same mindset and mentality going into every year,” said Hoomanawanui. “No matter where they put me or what they label me as, I’m here to do whatever they need, whatever they want me to do to help this team win. I came in here and kind of knew that, I was moved around here and there, and that’s the same agenda as this year, then that’s fine with me, I just want to be out there helping the team win.”

With no timetable for Gronkowski’s return, the tight ends on the Patriots roster will have to be prepared to play substantial time this season.

“We have the same mentality no matter what the situation, injury or whatever else may happen,” said Hoomanawanui. “Everyone is just waiting for their number to be called and it only takes one instant where that happens, with an injury or whatever it may be, so we have to prepare just like we are going to play the whole game. If you’re going to play half a game or if you’re going to play one snap you have to prepare the same, and I think we have a good group of guys that are doing just that: getting ready and having that mindset.”

“It’s cool [out], it was wet, that was my first thought, but it’s great to get back out here for sure,” he added. “With all the guys, all the new faces as there are every year in this business, in the NFL, so I’m getting out here, getting some time with them, getting the camaraderie going, all great things. You know it’s the first day, I thought we did pretty good, but we still have a long way to go.”

Rookies Collins, Dobson, Boyce debut for Patriots

Posted by Staff July 26, 2013 01:22 PM

FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots officially kicked off the 2013 season Friday morning with their first official practice of training camp, and the surprisingly cold air and rain in the middle of summer made it feel like football is in the air.

Coming into the year, the Patriots have a lot of new faces to work with, including players signed in free agency, players acquired in trades, and others who are brand new to the NFL and are getting their first taste of pro football.

Three of the Patriots rookies this season, linebacker Jamie Collins and receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, were on full display for the first time and gave Patriots fans a look at the future of the team.

Collins, taken with the Patriots’ first pick in the draft at 52d overall, practiced subbing in and out of the first team defense. He was looked at from all different linebacker positions, and extensively worked dropping back into coverage for most of practice, not spending as much time working on the pass rush.

He looked strong on defending the passes that came his way, including a pass deflection at the end of practice on a throw intended for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. He also practiced on special teams Friday, blocking up front on the kickoff receiving side.

Dobson, the Patriots’ second pick of the draft just seven picks behind Collins, projects to possibly be a starting wide receiver for quarterback Tom Brady. Dobson worked with the first team offense along with Danny Amendola and Kamar Aiken, seeing time both on the outside and in the slot.

He made catches off throws from all three quarterbacks, but looked especially comfortable with Brady throwing to him. Dobson had a deep catch on the outside from Brady late in practice, as well as a one over the middle from Ryan Mallett. Dobson also saw time working on special teams, running as a gunner on the outside during kickoffs.

Boyce, taken in the fourth round with the 102d overall pick, saw more time learning the ropes of a pro offense. He played more on the outside, and was seen working with the second team offense directed by Mallett. He had a catch over the middle from Tim Tebow, but also had a few drops as well. Boyce did not see time on the special teams, and looks to be fighting for a spot as the fourth or fifth wide receiver.

Start of camp excites Brandon Spikes

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff July 26, 2013 12:43 PM
Like many of his teammates, Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes offered little on the first day of training camp when asked about former tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is facing a first-degree murder charge.

“I can’t really comment on that, guys,” said Spikes, who was teammates with Hernandez in college (at Florida) and also the NFL.

How about his initial reaction to the news?

“Can’t comment on that.”

When it came to football, though, Spikes was enthusiastically chatty. The fourth-year pro was the only healthy Patriots player under contract who skipped the team’s voluntary offseason workouts – he opted to remain in Florida, where he adhered to his own personal offseason program – and seemed thrilled to be back on the field.

“I feel great, the guys are running around again, smelling pads, it feels good to be back, so I’m looking forward to these young guys learning the defense, trying to make some plays for us,” Spikes said. “Hopefully we have a great season.”

Last season ended with a home loss to the Ravens in the AFC Championship, and the offseason has been anything but tranquil. The start of camp, at least to Spikes, comes as a relief.

“I think so, definitely,” he said. “Last year we came up short, obviously this year we get to rebuild, fix some things we struggled in last year, hopefully we can just come out, execute the D, and do the things we did good last year.”

What’s he most looking forward to doing with the opening of camp? Hitting, of course.

“I look forward to putting the pads on, hit a couple guys, welcome to the NFL, that’s what I look forward to,” Spikes said. “Monday, I think we put the pads on, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Dennard won't discuss pending DUI case

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff July 26, 2013 12:17 PM

After talking briefly with Patriots' head of media relations Stacey James and Bill Belichick consigliere Berj Najarian, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard chatted briefly with reporters after Friday's training camp practice.

However, Dennard refused to discuss his pending court case. He was pulled over on suspicion of DUI earlier this month in Lincoln, Neb., just three months after he was sentenced in the same city for hitting a Lincoln police officer in April 2012.

"I’m not going to talk about that right now. It’s football right now," he said when asked about his case. "I’m just here to play football. I’m not going to talk about it, I’m not going to get into it, I’m just here to play football. Stay focused on what’s important right now, is football."

Dennard was in court on Wednesday for arraignment on an allegation that he violated the terms of his probation because of the July 11 incident. The judge said Dennard was able to travel out of state, thus allowing him to return to Massachusetts for training camp with New England. He must return to court Aug. 27 for a hearing on whether his probation will be revoked.

At his April sentencing, Judge Stephanie Stacy was given a letter from Bill Belichick, who gave his support to Dennard and told the court that he had been a good citizen and teammate in his first season with the Patriots.

Does Dennard feel as though he let Belichick down because of his most recent incident?

"I’m still on the team right now, so that’s what I’m worried about right now," he said.

On the field, Dennard got snaps with both the first- and second-string defense. He played in 10 regular-season games as a rookie, with seven starts.

Tebow has an up and down day in first training camp practice

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 26, 2013 12:15 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots' most heralded backup quarterback, Tim Tebow, surprised observers by taking part in some of the team's receiving drills during its first training camp practice.

The former New York Jet caught three passes, with no drops, exciting the crowd of fans at Gillette Stadium's practice fields who could be heard cheering his name.

But when he was working at quarterback, he had a much more modest outing in practice. He finished the day going 6 for 10 with two interceptions in 11-on-11 drills. He was picked off by safety Nate Ebner and defensive end Chandler Jones.

Since Tebow's arrival, he's faced wild speculation on how the multi-skilled quarterback would be used.

"I'm just doing what I'm asked," Tebow said. "But so far I've been strictly in the QB room."

The former Florida Gator also addressed the topic of his former college teammate Aaron Hernandez, who is charged with the murder of a Dorchester man and is implicated in two other shootings.

"Well, it was heartbreaking and it was sad," he said. "And me being advised, I'm sure you guys have heard it a bunch of times, I'm not to comment on an ongoing legal investigation. So I'm not going to comment further. But all my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that were involved.

"I understand why you have to ask all the questions, that's part of your job. Part of mine is listening to instruction and not commenting."

Tebow did defend his college coach Urban Meyer, who has come under scrutiny for his handling of Florida's football team discipline.

"I feel like coach Meyer is a great man, one of the best I've had the privilege of being around," Tebow said. "He is someone that not only tries to win football games, he is someone that tries to invest in young men's lives and help young men grow. He cares very deeply about that. And that's one of the reasons I'm so close to him and why I'm proud of him."

Beyond that, Tebow said he was focused on improving.

Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.

Belichick: Our long term goals are for the next 12 hours

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 26, 2013 09:08 AM

FOXBOROUGH – On the first day of training camp, Patriots coach Bill Belichick would not address how the team plans to fill the various roles former tight end Aaron Hernandez played, choosing instead to say the team would evaluate the roster.

"We're starting training camp today," Belichick said. "So we'll go out there and start evaluating our team and players and see how it comes together."

All 90 players are present and participating, according to the coach, as the team took to the practice fields in a rainy Foxborough on Friday morning. The first couple of practices, Belichick said, were going to be geared toward a continuation of the team's spring practices.

It's a part of the Patriots' training camp goals.

"Get off to a good start and build on what we did in the spring," Belichick said. "Add to it. First two practices are similar to our minicamp practices. On Sunday we'll put on the pads, where we'll work more on our running game and pass protection. ... But for these first two days, it'll be a continuation of the spring. But building onto that."

But the coach said the team isn't looking too far ahead.

"Right now our goal is really just today. Go out there and take what we put in last night, what we talked about this morning. Go out there and execute it. Start the base, start the process, start laying the foundation brick by brick. Back in this afternoon, make the corrections from this morning and then move on and start preparing for tomorrow. Our long term goals right now are, say, within the next 12 hours."

Daily Training Camp briefing: Friday, July 26

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 26, 2013 07:21 AM
Good morning Patriots fans and welcome to the 2013 NFL season! The Patriots’ training camp officially begins today with the first practice of the season at 9 a.m. at Gillette Stadium. Despite the rain, today's practice will be held outdoors and will be open to the public.

During training camp, you can expect two regular features here on the Extra Points blog: A daily training camp briefing that will be posted first thing in the morning and will both preview the day ahead and recap the previous day; then after practice I will post my daily practice report, summing up everything that happened on the field.

With that, let’s get right to it on Day 1!


Shalise Manza Young: Tom Brady wants Patriots to move on from Hernandez case

Chris Gasper: Tom Brady should have said more about Hernandez

Ben Volin: Everything you need to know about Tim Tebow

Michael Vega: Vince Wilfork: Hard to start training camp like this

Craig Forde: Devin McCourty: It’s up to the Patriots to stop the distractions

Brian Ballou: Hernandez appears to be holding gun in surveillance images



Foxborough Weather: High of 72, chance of rain 70 percent

8:40 a.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

9-11:30 a.m.: Practice (no pads)

11:30 a.m.: Team-selected players available to the media


8:40 a.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

9-11:30 a.m.: Practice (no pads)

11:30 a.m.: Team-selected players available to the media

Down the Road…

Sunday: Practice 9 a.m.

Monday: Tedy Bruschi and Gil Santos Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 5 p.m.; annual in-stadium practice for season ticket holders, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Practice, 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Off day


Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Julian Edelman (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

G Nick McDonald (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

Roster move:

Patriots sign OL Tyrone Green, waive OL Matt Stankiewitch


49ers CB Tarrell Brown fires agent after forfeiting $2 million in salary

Cardinals rookie WR Ryan Swope retires because of concussion issues (and Darnell Dockett buys a pet tiger)

Falcons sign QB Matt Ryan to five-year, $103.75 million deal

Jets CB Dee Milliner is one of four first-round picks still unsigned

Seahawks WR Percy Harvin may need hip surgery

Patriots release offensive lineman Matt Stankiewitch, sign Tyronne Green

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 25, 2013 04:49 PM

The Patriots did some shuffling on the back end of their offensive line prior to the team's first practice at training camp, releasing one offensive lineman and signing another.

The team dropped rookie center Matt Stankiewitch and picked up veteran offensive guard Tyronne Green.

Stankiewitch, who was undrafted out of Penn State, had been a long shot to make the team's 53-man roster.

Green spent time with the Patriots before, signing as a free agent this offseason May 13 before being released May 31. The four-year player started 13 games last season at left guard for the Chargers. He's 6-2, 305 pounds.

Boston Sports Live replay: Patriots open training camp

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 25, 2013 01:30 PM

Video streaming by Ustream

The Boston Sports Live crew was in Foxborough Thursday as the Patriots kicked off training camp. Christopher L. Gasper and Globe NFL writer Ben Volin discussed Bill Belichick's comments on Aaron Hernandez and delved into some deeper football topics.

University of Florida scrubs Aaron Hernandez's name from facilities

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 25, 2013 09:14 AM

The University of Florida is in the final steps of scrubbing the name and likeness of Aaron Hernandez from its facilities.

On Thursday, the university removed a brick with Hernandez's name on it, stemming from his All-America status in 2009 when he was the nation's top college tight end. Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow has a brick at the university, as does linebacker Brandon Spikes and several current NFL stars.

Here's what's left of the Aaron Hernandez brick- contractor was told to take it back to their plant in Lake City. pic.twitter.com/UZvvMdjoE7

— Julie Quittner (@JQuittner) July 25, 2013

In a statement, the university said it will completely cleanse itself of Hernandez's name by the end of July.

Here is the full statement:

"We didn't feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez. We put together an immediate plan after the initial news broke to remove his likeness and name in various private and public areas in the facility, such as the South Endzone team area, locker room, football offices, Heavener Complex Kornblau Lobby and the brick display entrance to the football facility.

"We were able to implement some of the changes immediately and this (brick removal) was a more complex process to complete with our vendors.

"The plan was to have everything completed before the end of July."

For Belichick, openness and thoughtfulness rule the day

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 24, 2013 04:40 PM


Bill Belichick appeared to be contrite when discussing former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. (John Tlumacki / Globe Staff)

FOXBOROUGH -- Bill Belichick has likely conducted his most forthcoming press conference in his career. And it comes at a time when the Patriots have come under intense scrutiny following the arrest of former tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is charged with murder.

Because of the seriousness and enormity of the situation (there were reportedly more than 100 members of the media on hand for his remarks), there are a few things I wanted to highlight that were particularly significant.

1. What was known and what was not known -- Belichick said the organization did not know of Hernandez's possible involvement in a 2012 shooting in which two Boston men were slain. He also said the organization didn't know about the February shooting in Florida Hernandez is tied to. But he did say that the team was looking into which players on the team have possibly visited Hernandez's flop house in Franklin.

"We have absolutely done as much work as we can on finding out things like that and we’ll try to get all the information that we can as that would apply to any current situation, which I can’t talk about," Belichick said. "But we absolutely are trying to do that, yes."

Belichick also said he was out of the country when he received news of Hernandez's ties to Odin Lloyd's murder.

2. Belichick was contrite -- As the league's longest tenured coach, Belichick is known for his oftentimes dry, biting comments to the press. There was none of that on Wednesday. He rose to the occasion, acknowledging the loss of life, his disappointment, and was expansive on his views for evaluating players, which is tricky business.

For those who have followed Belichick in his 14 years with the Patriots, Wednesday's press conference was him in his most uninhibited state, talkative and remorseful, yet still guarded. There's no doubt that his comments will be his last on the matter, so in being open and thoughtful he has given the team and himself the ability to fully let go of the matter.

Belichick said Hernandez's name once in 23 minutes. He never said it again. And we're sure if it's up to him, he never will.

3. Evaluating players is tough -- Without any nudging, Belichick dove in head-first when he brought up how the team evaluates players who become members of the team. He was being frank when he said that the process had failed in this particular instance and when he said that the same process that had been in place for his entire tenure would be modified. But what's more, he pointed to how difficult it might be with some of the sources on players, particularly when it comes to character.

"Well, nobody knows better than you guys that all sources are not equal," Belichick said. "You guys know that better than I do. When you get information, you take the information, you evaluate it, and you do the best you can with it. So, there’s a variance in the quality and the amount of the information. It’s a case-by-case basis. Each one’s different. There’s no set formulas. I don’t think it works that way."

"But again, of the hundreds of players we’ve had through this program in the last 14 years, there’s been a lot of good ones, a lot of real good ones, and we’ll try to do a good job in bringing people into this organization in the future and try to learn from the mistakes that we’ve made along the way, of which there have been plenty. But we’re always trying to do a better job on that and that’s what we’ll continue to do."

4. No comment on Alfonzo Dennard -- With Dennard headed back to court Aug. 27, the Patriots coach decided that was one topic he didn't want to address.

Overall, the press conference was a preemptive strike by Belichick with an opening statement that should all but finalize the matter in Foxborough. From here on out, it'll be all about football for the Patriots. Just the way he likes it.

Belichick says he was shocked, disappointed in Hernandez

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 24, 2013 02:19 PM
Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.

In his first and likely last comments on Aaron Hernandez, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he was shocked and disappointed that a player involved with a murder investigation was associated with his team.

After introducing the topic, Belichick did not say Hernandez's name again in a 22-minute press conference in which he expressed remorse for Odin Lloyd and his family, the victim of Hernandez's alleged crime, and appeared genuinely contrite.

It was a stark contrast from Belichick's past press conferences held in response to controversy.

"It's a sad day. It's really a sad day on so many levels," Belichick said in his opening statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family with the victim. I express my sympathy with everyone that's been impacted.

"A young man has lost his life, a family has suffered a tragic loss."

Belichick was out of the country when he learned of the investigation.

"I and other members of our organization were shocked and disappointed in what we'd learned, having someone in the organization that is involved in a murder investigation," he said. "And after consultation with ownership we acted swiftly and decisively."

The team cut Hernandez on June 26, the day he was arrested.

Belichick also said the organization did not know of Hernandez's possible connection to a double homicide in 2012 that involved two Boston men, or a shooting in Florida in which the team's former tight end is accused by an acquaintance.

"This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot," Belichick said. "We certainly do not condone unacceptable behavior. And this does not in any way represent the way that the New England Patriots want to do things.

"As the coach of the team, I'm primarily responsible for people we bring into the football operations," Belichick continued. "Our players are generally highly motivated and gifted athletes. They come from very different backgrounds [with] many challenges along the way. And they've done things to get here. Sometimes they've made bad and immature decisions. But we try to look at every single situation on a case-by-case basis and we try to do what's best for the football team and what's best for the franchise.

"Most of those decisions have worked out. Some don't. Overall I'm proud of the hundreds of players that have come through this program. I'm personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this."

The fallout from Hernandez’s arrest will affect the way the team evaluates players going forward, a process that is likely to be tweaked but not changed wholesale, Belichick said.

”We’ve talked about that,” he said. “The draft is nine months away. We have a process in place. It’s going to be improved. It’s going to be modified.”

Belichick made sure to explain the nuts and bolts that go into looking into a player’s background.

“I can tell you that we look at every player’s history from the moment we start discussing them,” he said. “Going back to his family, where he grew up, what his lifestyle was like, high school, [and] college experiences. We evaluate his performance, his intelligence, his work ethic, his motivation, his maturity, his improvement, and we try to project that into our organization going forward.

“It combines a player’s personal history, but again it also has to project to what we think, how we think he’ll be in our environment. Obviously the process is far from perfect. But it’s one that we’ve used since 2000 until today.

“Unfortunately, this most recent situation, with the charges that are involved, it is not a good one on our record.”

The Patriots coach said he has been advised by counsel not to discuss the case because it is ongoing, and said he would instruct his players to do the same.

Said Belichick: “It’s time for the New England Patriots to move on.”

Bill Belichick will be speaking today, will likely address Aaron Hernandez

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 24, 2013 09:04 AM

Patriots coach Bill Belichick will address the media Wednesday for the first time since the team's minicamp in June and the first time since former Patriot Aaron Hernandez's arrest in connection with the death of a Dorchester man.

Belichick is expected to address the topic of Hernandez, whom the Patriots cut ties with after the tight end was arrested and charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player.

Hernandez has since been connected with two other separate shootings, including the 2012 double homicide of two men in Boston. He's expected to appear in court today for a hearing.

Belichick's news conference begins at 1:45 p.m. Patriots.com is planning to live-stream the event at this link.

Chat with Shalise Manza Young at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 23, 2013 06:19 PM

Globe Patriots reporter Shalise Manza Young will join us at 12:30 on Wednesday to discuss anything and everything surrounding the team as it prepares to open training camp on Friday.

Set a reminder in the chat window below and get your football questions ready.

Patriots chat with Shalise Manza Young

Report: Jake Ballard passes physical, removed from PUP list

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 23, 2013 05:47 PM

Patriots tight end Jake Ballard was removed from the Patriots' active but physically unable to perform list after passing a physical Tuesday, according to reports.

Ballard, who is coming off a year-long layoff after suffering an ACL tear, had been added to the active/PUP list along with starting tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman. His ability to practice bolsters the team's depth at the position, which is thin after cutting ties with Aaron Hernandez, who is tied to a murder investigation, and while Gronkowski rehabs from his fifth surgical procedure in the last year.

Rookie safety Kanorris Davis also passed his physical, according to reports. He was also removed from the non-football injury list.

Brady: 'I have moved on' from Aaron Hernandez situation

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 23, 2013 03:41 PM

In what were Tom Brady's first comments on Aaron Hernandez since the tight end's arrest for allegedly murdering Odin Lloyd, the face of the Patriots franchise opted to say as little as possible about his now former teammate.

Speaking with Sports Illustrated's Peter King on his new website, Brady said he had moved on from the entire episode.

"I’ve seen a lot of things over 13 years, and what I have learned is that mental toughness and putting aside personal agendas for what’s in the best interest of the team matters most," Brady said. "My job is to play quarterback, and I’m going to do that the best way I know how, because I owe that to my teammates regardless of who is out there on the field with me. I have moved on.

"I’m focusing on the great teammates I have who are committed to helping us win games. The only thing I care about is winning. Nothing is going to ever get in the way of that goal. I’m just excited to report to camp and see what we can accomplish as a team.

"The fate of our season will be determined by the players in our locker room—nothing else."

Patriots place Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Jake Ballard on physically unable to perform list

Posted by Ben Volin July 23, 2013 07:41 AM

The Patriots have several players who won't be ready to practice when training camp begins on Friday. They are:

  • Rob Gronkowski (TE) Declared physically unable to perform
  • Julian Edelman (WR) Declared physically unable to perform
  • Jake Ballard (TE) Declared physically unable to perform
  • Mark Harrison (WR) Declared non-football injury
  • Armond Armstead (DE) Declared non-football illness
  • Matt Stankiewitch (C) Declared non-football injury
  • Nick McDonald (G) Declared physically unable to perform
  • Kanorris Davis (DB) Declared non-football injury

By being placed on the PUP or non-football injury/illness lists, the players cannot practice with their teammates but can work out with the team's trainers at camp. They can be removed from the lists at any time during training camp.

Seeing Gronkowski and Edelman on the PUP list isn't a surprise. Gronkowski is five weeks removed from back surgery to repair a herniated disk, which generally takes 12 or more weeks to rehab. The bigger decision will come before Week 1, when the team must decide whether to keep Gronkkowski on the PUP list. If they do, it will keep him out for the first six games of the regular season.

Edelman, who will need to take a bigger role in the offense this season, is coming back from a broken foot suffered in December. The Patriots are likely just being cautious with Edelman by placing him on the PUP list to start the season.

The most interesting name on this list is Ballard, who is still struggling to come back from a torn ACL suffered in the Super Bowl in February 2012. Even after missing the entire 2012 season, Ballard still is hobbled by the knee injury and looked a bit stiff during the team's offseason workouts. Many people assume that Ballard will help replace Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez early in the season, but he must prove to the coaches that he still has good mobility and his knee can hold up.

Harrison, an undrafted free agent from Rutgers, is recovering from a broken foot suffered early this spring.

Patriots sign rookie nose tackle White

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff July 22, 2013 05:52 PM

Via the NFL transaction wire, the Patriots signed NT Anthony Rashad White on Monday.

A rookie free agent out of Michigan State, White was initially signed by the Steelers on May 3, but was waived/injured by the team after its rookie mini-camp, reverted to Pittsburgh's injured reserve, and then was released from IR a week later.

White is listed at 6-foot-2, 320 pounds on his NFL.com draft page, but reportedly appeared out of shape during Steelers' rookie camp.

With the Patriots possessing so few defensive tackles at the moment, Smith has a real chance to compete at the position, provided he is in shape.

A former Michigan high school state champion in powerlifting, White is the 90th player on the Patriots roster, which is always in flux at this time of year.

Brady: 'I still have plenty of chances' to win a Super Bowl

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 22, 2013 10:12 AM

Tom Brady says he still has the opportunity to win another Super Bowl with the Patriots, telling Sports Illustrated's Peter King that he's had more than a few chances already.

“We’ve had our chances. Twice. More than twice, actually. I still have plenty of chances to do it," Brady said. "What I’ve learned is it’s really, really hard to win the Super Bowl. I didn’t get that perspective early, winning three out of the first four years I played.

"What I like about this franchise is we’ve got a shot every year. I love the fact we were in the AFC title game last year, the Super Bowl the year before that, and 14-2 the year before that. Can we win this year? It’ll be determined by our level of commitment, the mental toughness. We’ll find it out before the season. How committed are we?”

Brady is at Gillette Stadium today, his first day in Foxborough since the close of minicamp in late June, a source told the Globe's Shalise Manza Young. Veterans are expected to report to training camp Thursday.

Rookies reported on Friday.

The Patriots also signed rookie defensive tackle John Drew Monday morning, according to reports.

Drew is 6-2, 330 pounds and recorded 18 tackles (five tackles for a loss) in eight games last season for North Carolina Central before suffering a season-ending toe injury. He was projected to be selected in the fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL Draft.

Patriots sign rookie free agent

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 21, 2013 04:04 PM
The Patriots have signed rookie free agent defensive back Justin Green, who played college football at Illinois, the team announced Sunday.

Green began his college career as a running back but switched to defense as a sophomore. He had 29 starts in Illinois's secondary his final three seasons and had 76 total tackles, 13 passes defensed, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.

Green is 5 feet 11 inches, 195 pounds.

Patriots release WR Donald Jones, sign two others

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 19, 2013 03:51 PM

The Patriots released wide receiver Donald Jones and signed two rookie free agent receivers, Perez Ashford and Quentin Sims.

Jones, a four-year veteran, signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent from Buffalo March 15. His release frees up precious practice repetitions for rookie receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. The move also bolsters Michael Jenkins' chance at making the team's 53-man roster and gives young receivers Kamar Aiken and Kenbrell Thompkins a decent shot at contributing.

Jones signed a three-year, $3.41 million contract with the Patriots after three mildly successful seasons for the Bills, catching 82 passes for 887 yards and six touchdowns in his career. But the deal did not include any guaranteed money, and the Patriots avoided paying Jones a $200,000 reporting bonus by cutting him before the start of training camp.

Ashford, 5-11 and 182 pounds, was originally signed by the Cleveland Browns out of Northern Illinois before being released May 30. In 48 college games, he recorded 110 receptions for 1,192 yards.

Sims, 6-3 and 202 pounds, caught 86 passes for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns last season at Tennessee-Martin.

Source: Patriots not planning to cut CB Alfonzo Dennard

Posted by Ben Volin July 19, 2013 10:39 AM
Patriots second-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard has not had the best offseason, first earning a deferred 30-day jail sentence for assaulting a police officer and then getting arrested last Thursday in Lincoln, Neb., under suspicion of DUI.

But despite the two arrests, and despite the negative publicity generated recently by the Aaron Hernandez situation, the Patriots do not plan on cutting Dennard, a league source told the Globe.

The team is, however, prepared for Dennard to be suspended by the NFL under the player conduct policy. As a reference point, Lions cornerback Aaron Berry was suspended for three games in 2012 after getting arrested twice in the offseason. An NFL spokesman said only that Dennard's case is "under review."

The morning after his arrest, the Patriots said in a statement that they "are extremely disappointed to learn of Alfonzo Dennard’s arrest. We take this matter very seriously and are working to get more information on the incident."

Dennard and his camp are disputing the facts of last week's DUI arrest, claiming that Dennard blew into a breathalyzer twice and registered below the legal limit, and that he passed a field sobriety test. The police officer said Dennard didn't blow hard enough into the tube.

He is on probation after his April conviction of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, stemming from an altercation on April 21, 2012, also in Lincoln. Dennard was allowed to wait until March 2014 to serve his 30-day jail sentence, but was also given two years probation.

Nebraska prosecutors are now moving to have Dennard's probation revoked, and he is due in court on July 31, five days after the Patriots begin training camp,

Dennard, 23, started seven games last year as a rookie, finishing the season with 35 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a touchdown. Expected to start opposite Aqib Talib this year, Dennard is a talented player who fell to the seventh-round of last year's draft because of his arrest.

Dennard also has a favorable contract – salary cap numbers of $494,462, $584,462 and $674,462 over the next three seasons.

10 questions heading into training camp

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 19, 2013 08:00 AM


Tom Brady is going to have to trust a lot of new people if this Patriots offense is going to click. (Charles Krupa / AP photo)

This Patriots offseason isn’t all about the misdeeds of Aaron Hernandez, Alfonzo Dennard, and the recovery of Rob Gronkowski. Although those three have dominated the headlines, and deservedly so, their stories are only pieces of what the 2013 season has in store.

With the team’s training camp just a week away, here’s a look at 10 burning questions we have about the team right now.

1. Is the circus over yet? – Can Patriots fans expect the dialogue to be only about football going into training camp? No, and they shouldn’t want as much. Bill Belichick has yet to speak out about any of the issues involving Hernandez or Dennard. His comments on these issues will help clarify what he understands of each situation and hopefully bring closure to this never-ending story. Belichick will be asked about both players in training camp and he’ll have the opportunity to either keep the conversation going, or end it once and for all. But it’s not just about him. The players, most notably Gronkowski, have all declined to talk about these off-field issues. They’ll be approached about it as well. Whether or not anyone says anything of substance is another matter entirely. All you need to know is that the circus is not over yet. There’s at least two more acts.

2. What will the Patriots do with Tim Tebow? – He’ll have his opportunity to get an extensive showing in camp and through the preseason. We’ll be able to see if he plays in a Wildcat role, which will indicate a willingness on the team’s behalf to cater to his unique skill set. We could also see him play another position. Who knows. How he plays will certainly affect teammate Ryan Mallett as well.

3. Can Shane Vereen step up? – Vereen has the opportunity to step into a pivotal role as the team’s third down and no-huddle running back. With all his talent and speed, the potential excitement he could bring to the game would be without limit. But he has to stay healthy and consistent. We’ll see if he can do that.


Patriots announce first set of practices open to the public

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 18, 2013 01:19 PM

The Patriots announced their initial training camp schedule, and the team's first four practices will be open to the public.

The Patriots will open camp on Thursday, July 25 as players report to Foxborough, followed by the team's first public practice at 9 a.m. Friday at the lower practice fields of Gillette Stadium's complex.

Fans can also watch the Patriots practice at 9 a.m. on July 27 and 28. On July 29, the Patriots will hold an in-stadium practice for season ticket holders at 7 p.m. following the team's hall of fame ceremony at the NRG Plaza outside The Hall at Patriot Place. More open practice dates have yet to be released.

Admission and parking is free.

The lower practice field has bleachers that seat up to 3,000 fans with room for another 2,000 people on the hillside.

Alfonzo Dennard faces probation hearing

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 13, 2013 12:26 PM
Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard will be in court July 31 for a hearing to determine whether his latest arrest is grounds for revoking his probation, according to Omaha.com.

Dennard is on two years probation from his conviction in February on an assault charge, and must serve 30 days in jail next March. He was arrested early Thursday morning in Lincoln, Neb., and cited for DUI, refusal of a chemical test, and straddling lane lines, and released with an Aug. 12 court date.

Dennard must appear at the July 31 hearing, which comes less than a week after the Patriots begin training camp July 26.

Meanwhile, a source with knowledge of Dennard's version of his recent arrest says Dennard did not fail field sobriety tests, according to an NFL.com report.

The NFL.com report also says Dennard attempted to perform a Breathalyzer test "at least twice," and that he was not asked to take a blood test. The breath tests didn't register, according to Lincoln, Neb., police, who also told NFL.com that officers had probable cause to believe Dennard was driving under the influence of alcohol early Thursday morning.

Full text of letter Aaron Hernandez sent New England Patriots before 2010 NFL Draft

Posted by Ben Volin July 8, 2013 02:01 PM

Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was flagged by many NFL teams for "character concerns" before the 2010 draft, mostly because he smoked marijuana while at the University of Florida and was viewed as a high risk for a potential suspension once he reached the NFL.

Hernandez, viewed by many teams as a first-round talent, took a unique tactic to try to assuage teams' concerns: He wrote a letter to Patriots personnel executive Nick Caserio in which he admitted past mistakes and offered to take up to eight drug tests during the 2010 season if the Patriots were willing to draft him.

It is unclear if Hernandez also sent the letter to other teams. Here is the full text of the letter, which was written with help from Hernandez's agents at Athletes First:

Dear Mr. Caserio,

I am writing in regards to some of the feedback I am receiving from my agents, Florida coaches, and other personnel. These sources have indicated that NFL teams have questions about my alleged use of marijuana. I personally answered these questions during the pre-draft process, but understand that NFL teams want to conduct thorough due diligence before making the significant financial investment inherent in a high draft pick. I have no issue with these questions being asked, but thought that it made the most sense to communicate with you directly regarding this issue so you would not have to rely upon second-hand information.

Any information I volunteer to you about my past will be looked at with great skepticism as I am trying to get drafted as high as possible by an NFL team. As such, I thought that the best way to answer your questions and your concerns was to make a very simple proposition. If you draft me as a member of the New England Patriots, I will willfully submit to a bi-weekly drug test throughout my rookie season (8 drug tests during the 2010 regular season). In addition, I will tie any guaranteed portion of my 2010 compensation to these drug tests and reimburse the team a pro-rata amount for any failed drug test. My agents have explained that a direct forfeiture provision in my contract along these lines would violate the CBA rules. However, I have instructed them to be creative in finding a contract structure that would work on in the worst case scenario, I would donate the pro-rata portion of any guaranteed money to the team's choice of charities. My point is simple -- if I fail a drug test, I do not deserve that portion of the money.

I realize that this offer is somewhat unorthodox, but it is also the only way I could think of to let you know how serious I am about reaching my potential in the NFL. My coaches have told you that nobody on our Florida team worked harder than me in terms of workouts, practices or games. You have your own evaluation as to the type of impact I can have on your offense. The only X-factor, according to the reports I have heard, is concerns about my use of recreational drugs. To address that concern, I am literally putting my money where my mouth is and taking the financial risk away from the team and putting it directly on my back where it belongs.

In closing, I ask you to trust me when I say you have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to me and the use of recreational drugs. I have set very high goals for myself in the NFL and am focused 100% on achieving those goals. So, test me all you want during my rookie year ... all of the results will be negative while I am having an overwhelmingly positive impact on the field.

Good luck with your preparations for the NFL Draft and feel free to contact me or my agency (Athletes First/David Dunn) with any questions.


Aaron Hernandez
University of Florida

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, speaking publicly Monday for the first time since Hernandez was arrested, said the Patriots felt comfortable drafting Hernandez after receiving this letter, and didn't believe he had any other major off-field issues.

"The only thing I ever heard on Aaron Hernandez was he was very young, immature and potentially had problems presented in this letter," Kraft said. "Never saw signs of anything else."

Patriots game tickets on sale July 16

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 8, 2013 11:06 AM
A limited number of tickets for individual Patriots games next season will go on sale on Tuesday, July 16 at 10 a.m., the team announced Monday.

Tickets will only be sold through Ticketmaster online or by phone at 800-745-3000. There is a limit of four tickets per game, and Visa is the only form of payment accepted.

In recent years, individual game tickets have sold out within minutes of the sale beginning.

Miami Dolphins LB Dannell Ellerbe: Patriots are vulnerable this year

Posted by Ben Volin July 8, 2013 09:59 AM

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was the Patriots’ nemesis when he was a member of the Ravens last year, finishing with nine tackles and 1.5 sacks in their 31-30 win in September and securing a fourth-quarter interception to seal their 28-13 win the AFC Championship Game.

Ellerbe isn’t a Raven anymore, but he’s still one of the Patriots’ biggest rivals after the Dolphins swooped in and stole him away in free agency for $14 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. And when asked by CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman if the Patriots are vulnerable this year – they lost Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski is injured – Ellerbe wasn’t afraid to say yes.

“I think they are, but you have to prove it, you can't just talk about it,” Ellerbe told Freeman. “I don't think you can say the Patriots are the same as before, after what happened to Hernandez.”

The Patriots, of course, have won 10 of the last 12 AFC East titles, including the last four in a row. And they have beaten the Dolphins six games in a row, and in eight of the last nine matchups.

But the Dolphins, entering Year 2 under quarterback Ryan Tannehill, believe they finally may be able overtake the Patriots this year after spending more than $98 million guaranteed in free agency.

Ellerbe, 27, is one of the big reasons for the optimism. The Dolphins view Ellerbe as a younger and much more aggressive upgrade to former middle linebacker Karlos Dansby who can attack Tom Brady and help slow down the Patriots’ running game.

Ellerbe had 92 tackles and 4.5 sacks at inside linebacker for Baltimore last season, and was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the third-best pass rusher among 53 inside linebackers in 2013, one spot ahead of Brandon Spikes.

“I was brought here to help knock them off,” said Ellerbe. “That doesn't mean we will, but we feel like we can. Like I said, we just have to prove it. You have to actually go do it.”

Ellerbe, entering his fifth NFL season after going undrafted out of Georgia in 2009, did show a lot of respect for the Patriots’ offense, however.

“Our mentality whenever we played them was to keep fighting,” Ellerbe said. “They were so good offensively that they would score and try to get up big on you. We felt like if we just kept fighting, eventually we could get inside their heads.”

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

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