FOXBORO -- Dominique Easley knew the questions were coming.
How's your knee? How good do you feel about your knees? Are you at 100 percent now?
The Patriots took Easley with the No. 29 pick in the first round thanks to his athleticism and power off the line of scrimmage. He's a penetrating defensive tackle who is at his best when he's getting into the backfield, making tackles himself or clearing the way for others to do the hitting.
He's also had two serious knee injuries in the span of 22 months. He tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011. He tore his ACL and MCL in his right knee in September of 2013 after just three regular-season games at Florida.
During his first conference call with Patriots reporters, he was asked several times about his health.
"I’m healthy," he said. "I’m just ready to get up there and do whatever Coach [Bill] Belichick needs me to do."
The questions persisted, and Easley stayed on message.
"I’m just working to get back healthy, and I’m just ready to get up there," he said.
So you’re not 100 percent, he was asked?
"I didn’t say that. I’m just working to get back healthy, that’s all," Easley continued. "I’m just working. I just want to work, just get better, learn a new playbook and learn a new system."
Easley didn't have a chance to work out for teams during the pre-draft process as he recovered. But he did say that he met with the Patriots at the Combine, during his pro day at Florida, and during a private visit.
During those meetings Easley said he got to know Belichick well, calling him a "great guy."
Easley could have taken a medical redshirt and become a fifth-year senior next fall in Gainesville, but he wanted to turn pro to help his family. He has a one-year-old son, Dominique Easley II.
"Every decision I make is not for me," Easley said. "It affects my son in every which way."
When Easley was injured for the second time last fall, he said he quickly started thinking ahead. His first goal was to get healthy. His second was to fulfill his dream of getting a phone call from an NFL team informing him that he'd made it.
Despite his injury setbacks, that call came on Thursday night.
"I was real excited," Easley said, "when I saw the Massachusetts number come up on my phone."