Belichick pleased with first performance

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Belichick pleased with first performance

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick wouldn't rule out the return of linebacker Dane Fletcher during a conference call Friday.

Belichick did acknowledge that the linebacker, who tore his ACL on a punt, according to a source, is not in good shape.

"The news on Dane doesn't look very good," said Belichick. "He'll be out for a while. It's unfortunate. He worked hard in the offseason. We've got good competition, it will be an opportunity for somebody else to step in but it's unfortunate for Dane."

Belichick remains high on the upside of veteran Bobby Carpenter, who seemed destined to platoon with Fletcher as a coverage linebacker, taking Brandon Spikes off the field on clear passing downs.

"Bobby is a very experienced player," said Belichick. "Hes been with several teams. Hes played inside and outside in the 3-4, hes played the different positions in the 4-3 and nickel defenses, he has a lot of experience in the kicking game. Hes done a lot of different things for Detroit, Miami, Dallas and us. Hes a versatile player with a lot of experience."

Mike Rivera, a second-year player who now movesup the depth chart, is still learning according to Belichick. "Mike is a player that is trying to work his way up from the other end (from Carpenter). He was on our practice squad last year; wasnt in training camp for us but had a good year on the practice squad and did enough things that we re-signed him this season and hes been very competitive in camp. Were trying to give him some opportunities to see what he can do and how effective he can be doing it. But hes certainly well ahead of where he was last year because of the spring practices, the OTAs and being here in training camp, so he knows our system a lot better. Hes a hard working kid that has shown up in the kicking game and on defense. Hes done some good things, but still has a long way to go to establish himself as a veteran NFL player. I think Bobby has done that."

The Patriots don't play again until a week from Monday. The players have the weekend off then will be back for the longest continuous string of practices they have for the rest of the preseason.

Belichick seemed pleased after looking at film of the game.

"Overall the players competed well and we were running without too many bumps in the road so I think that was in the right direction," Belichick pointed out. "Individually there were good plays from a lot of players. Some of the things we worked on in practice showed up on the field in a fundamental and technique standpoint. We had production running the ball. Defensively, we didn't give up many points. We played competitively against both the run and the passing game."

One standout Thursday night was Jerod Mayo. The Patriots' linebacker has played all over the second level, filling different roles. This year, playing as the weak-side linebacker, he seems in a position to utilize his speed and playmaking ability a bit more. He had a nice third-down takedown of Darren Sproles Thursday night and also tipped a pass that was picked off.

"Jerod has a lot of strengths and he does a lot of things well thats why hes such a good player," said Belichick. "He can run, he can tackle, he can take on blockers, he can chase down plays. He can play good zone pass defense, he can cover guys man-to-man, he has the ability to blitz. Hes smart, he calls our defenses, he makes adjustments. Hes a versatile player, but hes also a player that if you just put in one spot that can do a lot of things well and help your defense in a lot of ways."

Mayo's versatility, combined with the versatility of other linebackers like Rob Ninkovich and Dont'a Hightower, makes the defense as a whole better, said Belichick.

"He gives you good flexibility on your team all the way around just because he does so many things well," Belichick explained. "And he has a very good understanding of not only what were trying to do, but what the opponents are trying to do and what things we would or wouldnt want to do against certain looks or certain problems that they try to give us. He does a nice job of getting the defense to something that we would want to be in or something that we would want to play in that situation."

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

From Schefter on Facebook:  

Specific details on Rob Gronkowski's new deal with Patriots, per @RosenhausSports:

1st tier, which gets him to $10.75M either 90 percent play time or 80 catches or 1200 receiving yards or All Pro -- and he's made All Pro four times.

2nd tier to $8.75M: he has to get 80 percent play time or 70 catches or 1000 receiving yards or 12 TDs.

3rd tier takes him to $6.75M is 70 percent playtime, 60 receptions, 800 receiving yards or 10 TDs.

But a big new groundbreaking deal for Gronk.

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.