Sterling Moore settling into NFL career

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Sterling Moore settling into NFL career

FOXBORO -- Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore, like most players, is settling into the NFL in his second season.
"I wouldn't say I'm established yet," he told reporters Friday. "I'm going to go out there every week and try to show I deserve to be out there on the field. But I'm more comfortable being here with the team and in the defense."
As it goes, the best players for the job are the ones on the field. It just so happens Moore's playing time is on the rise.
The 22-year old played just one snap in New England's season opener against Tennessee. Ras-I Dowling got the nod ahead of him, earning 37 snaps (57 percent of the defense's total). In Week 2, not only did Moore play 29 snaps (46 percent of the total), seeing a lot of time in New England's nickel defense, but Dowling was a healthy scratch.
He feels he's ready for the jump, especially after having a full offseason with the team. Last year he didn't sign with the practice squad, let alone join the 53-man roster, until October.
"I'm a lot more comfortable," he said. "It's night and day for me, cause I came in, didn't know the techniques they wanted me to play, didn't really know the defensive schemes, I was just kind of thrown out there. This year I know who I'm out there with, I know where they're going to be, and I know the scheme. It helps slow the game down for me."
Moore is all too happy to put distance between this year and the last. Was he thrilled to play in a Super Bowl his first year in the league? Absolutely. Does it make him sick to recall how the Giants' win almost came down to Lee Evans making the game-winning touchdown catch in his face? Ab-so-lutely.
"I've seen it quite a bit," Moore said of the play, "but most times I try to change the channel every time it comes on."
Yes, even though Evans didn't make the catch. Moore's ball strip that saved that play -- saved the game for at least another moment -- was just a hairsbreadth away from a totally different outcome.
"It kind of reminds me how close I was to kind of losing the game."
So he's moved on. From everything -- last year's harried learning curve, Super Bowl XLVI, even the early insecurity of 2012. Moore isn't willing to dwell.
"I just shrug it off."
And settle in.

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.