Chung, Gregory challenge each other to bolster defense

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Chung, Gregory challenge each other to bolster defense

FOXBORO -- Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory haven't been playing together for long, but they're engaging in friendly competition with one another like old friends.

When Gregory intercepted a Chase Daniel pass in the third quarter of New England's 7-6 win over the Saints on Thursday night, Chung let him know that the next one was his.

"That's just the nature of the beast," Gregory said with a smile. "He had to get one, too. He had to keep up, you know?"

Chung did keep up with a pick of his own in the same quarter. Saints quarterback Sean Canfield made it easy on the Patriots safety when he plugged one into the breastplate of Chung's pads.

Though Gregory's interception seemed to provide more of a challenge -- he bobbled the ball several times before finally securing it -- Chung was happy to snag a turnover of his own.

"I'm taking any interception," Chung said. "Easy, hard, kind of hard -- I'm taking all of them. It felt good."

Keeping the Saints out of the end zone on Thursday felt even better, though, he said.

"We played good," Chung said. "We have to watch some film, obviously. I can't really give you a full explanation on that but for the most part we played good. We held them to six points so that's always good."

Gregory said that this current iteration of the Patriots defense is "taking pride" in trying to erase the stigma of being ranked 31st in the league last season. If they are to get better, the improved play at the back end of the defense will be one of the reasons why.

Both players feel like they're well on their way to getting there because of the strong bond they've already formed this preseason.

"He's been amazing," Gregory said of Chung. "He knows the scheme, knows the system so he's been helping me a lot with that. We've just been communicating, talking a lot, trying to learn each other's ways of playing so it's been great so far."

"We kind of help each other," Chung said. "He's a veteran he knows a lot of things that I don't know and he helps me out. I've been here for a while so I kind of help him out. It's kind of like a relationship. Relationships can only get stronger so we're going to see how that goes. But yeah, I love playing next to him and he helps me out a lot."

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.

"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."

Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition. 

"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.

Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign. 

Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown. 

The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player. 

Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.

Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.