Report: Welker, Pats working toward deal this week

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Report: Welker, Pats working toward deal this week

The clock is ticking on Wes Welker and the Patriots.

July 15 is the deadline for the two sides to come together and come to a long-term deal. After that, if an extension has not been reached, Welker will play under the franchise tag during the 2012 season.

There may be hope for Welker, though, even despite the fact that time is getting short. According to a Boston Globe report, both sides will be "working hard" to get a deal done this week. The Globe had reported over the weekend that the two sides were about 6 million apart in guaranteed money. But now the biggest hang-up in coming to an agreement appears to be Welker's insistence on getting a third year in his new deal.

From PFT:
However, its fair to ask whether any amount of hard work is really going to bridge the 6 million gap between the two sides. Welker may be calculating that anything less than 20.933 million guaranteed in the first two years of the contract is simply not enough, considering that hell get 9.515 million guaranteed this year as the franchise player and would get at least 11.418 million if the Patriots use the franchise tag on him again next year. But the Patriots may have decided that theyre not going to guarantee him that much because they dont know for sure if theyll franchise him again next year if Welker gets hurt this season or starts to show signs that hes on the decline at age 31, the Patriots could decide to let him test free agency.

Should be interesting to see if there's a number -- of both dollars and years -- that both sides can agree to before next week.

Gronkowsk hoping to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon

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Gronkowsk hoping to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowsi had what was, for him, an incredibly quiet game against the Texans on Thursday. He saw 14 snaps and ran just one route. He did see a target from rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett when he ran that route, but it floated high over his head and sailed out of the end zone incomplete. 

In his first game action since suffering a hamstring injury on Aug. 15, the Patriots chose to being their All-Pro tight end along slowly, but he's hoping that he'll be more involved in the very near future. 

"You’ve got to be careful with any injury, but I mean, if you research hamstrings, if you know anything about hamstrings, you’ve definitely got to be careful," he said. "You’ve got to progress. You can’t just hop back in and be full-go 100 percent. I wish it was like that. I can’t wait until I’m going freakin' crazy out there again. So I’m just progressing myself into it and feeling better every single day."

Gronkowski was back on the practice field for his team's workout in full pads on Wednesday. He was spotted running through drills and catching passes from tight ends coach Brian Daboll, and he did not appear to be visibly limited. After running around in a game, albeit briefly, Gronkowski explained that he experienced no setbacks.

"I felt good, definitely," Gronkowski said of playing under the lights. "You’re always sore no matter what after playing a game. No matter if you play 10 plays or 70 plays, [you’re] definitely sore like any other game. But no setbacks. No nothing. Feeling good and just progressing every day."

Regardless of who happens to be playing quarterback for the Patriots against the Bills on Sunday -- whether it's Jimmy Garoppolo or Brissett, both of whom practiced Wednesday -- having Gronkowski on the field and closer to his usual level of participation should help. 

"They’re doing very well, very excellent," Gronkowski said of Garoppolo and Brissett's performances with Tom Brady out. "Every single day, they’re just trying to improve and progress every day. This week, you just see everyone throughout the team, everyone is just trying to progress . . . The coaches do a great job of getting the quarterbacks prepared. If there is something there that we need to get on the same page with the quarterbacks on, we’ll talk, but the coaches do an excellent job of getting the quarterbacks ready."

Patriots re-sign DT Anthony Johnson to practice squad

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Patriots re-sign DT Anthony Johnson to practice squad

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have re-signed defensive tackle Anthony Johnson to their practice squad, the team announced. 

Johnson, 23, made the Patriots out of training camp after putting together an impressive preseason in which he recorded five quarterback pressures and was in on two sacks. In two regular-season games, he played 43 snaps as an interior pass-rusher, registering one quarterback hit and one hurry. He was inactive for New England's Week 2 game against the Dolphins. 

The 6-foot-2, 295-pounder was released earlier this week in order to clear room for free-agent defensive lineman John Hughes to be added to the roster. Hughes checks in at 6-2, 320 pounds and would serve more as a space-eating defensive tackle than Johnson, who was used as more of a penetrating pass-rusher. 

In order to make room for Johnson on the practice squad, the Patriots released offensive lineman Ian Silberman.