Andruzzi aided by Gronkowski, Ninkovich at golf tourney

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Andruzzi aided by Gronkowski, Ninkovich at golf tourney

QUINCY, Mass. -- The clouds burned off right in time to let the sun warm those gathered at Joe Andruzzi's charity golf tournament Monday.

The fourth-annual event, to benefit Andruzzi's namesake foundation, was co-hosted by New England's Rob Gronkowski and Rob Ninkovich. Several other past and present Patriots (Tedy Bruschi, Logan Mankins) also came out to raise awareness and funds for cancer patients and their families.

The experience of fighting the disease is all too real for Andruzzi, a survivor of non-Hodgkin's Burkitt's lymphoma.

"Why we're here and what we're about is to help families, those families that are struggling," Andruzzi said. "I was fortunate enough to play in the NFL for 10 years. Other families aren't as fortunate. I know those walls close in when you're at the hospital. Sometimes a caregiver has to leave their job, but the mortgage still needs to be paid; rent still needs to be paid; there are utility bills. That's where our foundation steps in."

The Joe Andruzzi Foundation has donated over 300,000 to brain cancer research since it was founded in May of 2008. Ninkovich and Gronkowski -- who came to New England in 2009 and 2010, respectively -- were easy picks as co-chairs, said the host.

"We had to put a little spin on the golf outing," Andruzzi grinned. "Rob and Rob, since they've come here to the Patriots -- I didn't have a chance to play with either one of them -- but they've been a part of my gala and they've been part of the golf outing for the last few years now. They're really supportive of everything we do and they're great in the community, so to have them come out and attach their name to the golf outing is just an added bonus."

The pair was gracious. Ninkovich politely indulged several one-on-one interviews after the group media availability session ended.

"I'm excited to be here," he said. "I'm happy that Joe asked me to be a part of this. It's something that . . . anything that I can do to help out -- especially with what Joe's doing. I think it's great, what he's doing for families. That's what it's all about. Especially, being able to do this, being a part of something like the NFL where you can actually help someone and make a difference in their life."

Gronkowski had the crowd laughing with his... unique perspective.

"It's a great event. I get to go out, play a free round of golf, so that's a big plus. Get a couple meals out of it," the 23-year old yukked.

He eventually sobered up.

"But we're supporting him. He's been through so much, he and his family. He's raising money for cancer -- that's a great cause. You don't want anybody to deal with it. Whatever we can do to help him achieve something through his foundation."

Funny -- for all the NFL tight end records Gronkowski's broken, he said he's no good on the golf course.

"I'm a hacker," he admitted.

Lucky for Andruzzi's well-meaning friends, the fundraising is less about skill than heart.

Jeff Howe: Good move by Patriots to see what price is on Richard Sherman trade

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Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."