Belichick's Side of the Story

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Belichick's Side of the Story

Not that it's beyond Bill Belichick to stonewall the media, but it's not much of a surprise that he kicked off this afternoon's press conference by addressing what happened last night.

After all, the moment Belichick grabbed that official, we all knew that a fine was on the way. As a result, he knew that he'd have to answer a few questions. So, Belichick did what Belichick does he nipped it in the bud. He began today's meeting with a preemptive explanation. And you better believe that's the last time he'll talk about it.

So, what did you think of Belichick's take?

For one, I'd say it was one of his most candid rants in a while. He obviously knows that he made a big mistake, regardless of his intent. So, in the name of defending his honor, Belichick was forced to open up, turn on the charm and pretty much just act like a normal human being.

I especially enjoyed when he reminisced about Drew Bledsoe in Week 17 of the 2000 season: "In 2000, here in Foxboro, with Johnny Grier as the referee, Drew Bledsoe was trying to throw a pass at the end of the game against Miami, and the ball was ruled a fumble. The clock ran out. The game was over. And then, as I was walking off the field with Johnny at that time, I talked to him how this seems like an incomplete pass, there should be more time on the clock, we should have another play here. But no, that was the ruling, the game was over. We go back into the locker room, and 10 minutes or so later, Johnny comes back and says they're reviewing the play and we may have to go back out and finish the game. Five minutes after that, the players got dressed, we came back out for a final play in that game."

And you can't deny that his explanation makes a lot of sense. All he wanted was an explanation. But at that point, the refs were far more concerned with escaping the stadium alive than they were in breaking down the logistics of a last-second field goal; the logistics of which they probably could explain if they tried. Belichick deserved at least that much, and you can understand why he so desperately wanted the official's attention.

Of course, it doesn't matter. He touched the ref. He was wrong. He'll get fined and he deserves it. At which point, we can hopefully move on and pretend the whole thing never happened.

You know that Belichick will be happy to abide.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

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Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury. 

Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills. 

The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago. 

Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012. 

Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing. 

Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session. 

Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. 

Update: Stork contemplates retirement in wake of trade to Redskins

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Update: Stork contemplates retirement in wake of trade to Redskins

When word leaked this morning that the Patriots would release center Bryan Stork, the first question that popped to many people's minds was: "Couldn't they have traded him?"

Well, hours after the news broke, they apparently did:

And a few minutes later, Ian Rapoport came through with more information:

But now, as reported by CSN Mid-Atlantic's JP Finlay, the deal might not happen:

Stay tuned.