Brady says Pats defense doesn't pressure 'O'

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Brady says Pats defense doesn't pressure 'O'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's been a little edgy. There could be myriad reasons for this. Lack of sleep. Financial pressures. His freakin' defense can't stop anyone, which means he's got to lead the offense to 30-or-more points every game despite running an offense without a potent perimeter threat.

On Wednesday, I asked Brady if he ever concerns himself with the performance of the Patriots' defense while the game's ongoing.

"Well, were all pretty cognizant of the (game) situation," Brady began. "If youre up seven in the fourth quarter, you dont want to throw an interception like I did last week (the end-zone pick against Washington in the fourth). Thats not necessarily complementary football right there. A lot of it is just understanding the situation. Look, when you're playing ahead, you have to play smart. When youre behind, sometimes you have to take more chances."

What the defense does, though, is certainly impactful on the offense. They have done some good things -- in the red zone this season, the New England defense has turned touchdowns into field goals time after time.

But the length of opposing drives, both in yards and time elapsed, is a consistent issue.

The Patriots had the ball once in the first quarter against the moribund Colts. The Redskins held the ball for 37 minutes on Sunday; the Patriots for 23.

"I think the big part of it, for the defense, however theyre going to play, it doesnt matter, because we have to do our job," said Brady. "They get the ball to start the game, who cares what happens on the opening drive; when we get the ball, we have to go down and do something with it."

That reference to the start of the game, while innocuous, is another interesting one because while the Patriots used to be incredible starting games, they haven't been over the last two months.

In four of their last seven games, the Patriots have been held without points on their opening drive. They've scored 26 first-quarter points. In the first three games of this season, they scored touchdowns on their first possession.

In 2007, the Patriots scored on their opening drive for the first eight weeks of the season.

What needs to improve with the offense?

"Everything," said Brady. "Everything we need to improve. Everything needs to be better. Our execution of the passing game can be better, our execution of the run game and every position. Its just a matter of us committing ourselves on a daily basis to be more mentally tough than what the drain of the season does to you and to overcome fatigue and being tired and mentally being drained a little bit to putting your best foot forward to still going out there and doing whatever it takes to be healthy and prepare mentally and physically to go out there and play your best game.

"I think thats really been the focus for the guys this week," added Brady. "We have a huge challenge ahead of us and its a very important game for us."

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 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.