Gaffney hoping WR competition brings out his best

828201.jpg

Gaffney hoping WR competition brings out his best

FOXBORO -- It seemed everywhere you looked Thursday afternoon, there was a target for Tom Brady.

Aaron Hernandez snatched passes out of the air, Rob Gronkowski lumbered down field as he does, Deion Branch toed the sideline, Wes Welker lit up the seam.

And then there was Donte' Stallworth, who still has bursting speed. Brandon Lloyd was even faster.

Jabar Gaffney? He looked brilliant on the receiving end of a 55-yard bomb from Brady.

"I know the competition that we have definitely at the receiver position there's a lot of guys that can play," said Gaffney. "It'll bring the best out of us each and every day, which is what you need to become a better player and a better team."

There are 10 on the current roster. Bill Belichick likely won't keep more than six. Is this a camp equation that equals desperation for a guy like Gaffney?

"There's just a sense of coming out here and doing my job best that I can and everything else will play out. I'm confident in my abilities."

Two things -- or rather, people -- are on his side.

Tom Brady is the first.

"Hes still the same: full of energy, loves to compete, wants to win on every play," Gaffney said. "That helps us out, when you see a quarterback like that who wants to win every play in practice."

After one dropped pass, the pair recovered their chemistry quickly -- something that could help Gaffney secure a roster spot.

Another ally is offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Gaffney's and McDaniels' careers have overlapped both in New England (2006-2008) and in Denver (2009-2010). That they've returned to the Patriots at the same time is nothing but good news.

"Josh is a great coach. He's a guy that players love to play for. He gets us ready to get onto the field and gets us coached up, puts us in position. In my opinion, hes one of the best offensive coordinators out there. And hes a good person.

Funny how old faces could spark a new fire to the receiving corps.

Did Gaffney ever dream he'd come back to New England? Maybe when the Patriots visited Washington.

"I was talking to Brady about it before the game, 'One more game together'" Gaffney joked. "It never really felt like, during that time, it was going to happen, but things worked out and I'm here."

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.