Bledsoe: It's 'surreal' to be back

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Bledsoe: It's 'surreal' to be back

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- Drew Bledsoe held the Patriots single-game passing recordfor 17 years. That all changed on Monday night, as Tom Bradys 517 passingyards against the Miami Dolphins trumped Bledsoes 426 passing yards againstthe Minnesota Vikings in 1994.

It was a game that Bledsoe recalls to be one of his greatestmoments in a Patriots uniform. There were many great moments in No. 11snine-year career with the Patriots. And as a result, hell be inducted into theteams Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Bledsoe returned to Gillette Stadium on Thursday and wasofficially fitted for his red Patriots Hall of Fame blazer.

Its kind of surreal, said Bledsoe. I live a prettynormal life back in Oregon. Im coaching flag football and playing some golfand making some wine. Then all of a sudden to come back into this world again,when I havent been involved in it in quite a while, its very cool.

Bledsoe was surprised to see Brady break his single-gamepassing record on Monday night, not because he didnt think Brady could do it,but because he thought Brady had already broken them all.

I was quite surprised, honestly, to hear that I still hadone of those records, to be perfectly honest, said Bledsoe. Toms never beena guy that worries about or thinks about numbers, other than wins and losses.It was truly not a big deal to him, and as I said, I was surprised to know thatI still had anything left in that record book anyway.

It was Brady who replaced Bledsoe when he went down with an injuryin 2001. Since then, the Patriots have been Bradys team.

But like it or not, Bledsoes success in a Patriots uniformis a major reason why the Patriots are no longer the laughing stock ofprofessional football.

Some could argue, Gillette Stadium is the house that Drewbuilt.

Its humbling, first of all, said Bledsoe. But its alsosomething that I take great pride in. I take great pride in being a part ofthose teams, and I emphasize being a part of those teams. Being thequarterback, obviously its the same old game where you get more credit thanyou deserve, but being a part of those teams that started to turn thisfranchise in the right direction, is something I take a lot of pride in.

As he took it all in, Bledsoe was asked to recall his greatestPatriots memory. He mentioned his record-setting game against the Vikings atFoxboro Stadium in 1994 (his 70 passing attempts and 45 completions are stillNFL records to this day).

But the first memory that came to his mind was the 2001-02AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh, when Bledsoe came off the bench for aninjured Brady, and went 10-of-21 for 102 yards and a touchdown, leading thePatriots to the Super Bowl.

Maybe coming back into that AFC Championship game againstthe Steelers, said Bledsoe. That was a poignant moment for me for a lot ofreasons. The magnitude of the game, and then having not been able to play forquite a while. And then being able to get back on the field for that game. Thatone stands out.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.