Ellis returns to practice, eager for more reps

191543.jpg

Ellis returns to practice, eager for more reps

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO When you look at the New England Patriots defensive line, the talent is undeniable. But can the players making up the D-line stay healthy enough for us to find out how good it can be?

Shaun Ellis, among the banged-up Patriots this preseason, returned to practice on Monday after nursing a hip injury. And Ellis, a two-time Pro Bowler, understands both the benefit and the burden that comes with being part of a defensive front with such proven depth.

"Definitely a plus," Ellis said. "We have a lot of guys who are playmakers."

You can count Ellis among them, although injuries and the need to evaluate the team's unproven talent has limited his reps thus far.

With the third preseason game on Saturday at Detroit, Ellis is hopeful that he'll see some action.

"It's very important," Ellis said when asked about preseason reps. "With the offseason, lockout, the preseason is very important for us."

It's especially valuable for a player like Ellis, who finds himself suiting up for a team other than the Jets for the first time ever.

Camp thus far has been about "refining things" for Ellis.

He said, "I've played in a lot of systems over the years. For me, it's just going out there, being ready."

Ellis' biggest hurdle thus far has been his health, which he says is now as good as it's been since he signed with New England earlier this month.

And now it's all about doing what he wasn't able to do with the Jets -- contribute to a Super Bowl-winning team.

"It's all about winning," Ellis said. "I've been on the other side of this thing for a while. I had a couple chances at it; didn't come through. Still pushing, trying to get to the ultimate goal."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

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. 

Gronkowski doesn't think Goodell can visit Gillette: 'The fans are nuts'

Gronkowski doesn't think Goodell can visit Gillette: 'The fans are nuts'

At this point, there may be no getting out of it.

Roger Goodell chose to visit Atlanta twice in as many weeks during its run to a Super Bowl, and in the process he opted not to check in at Gillette Stadium for either the Divisional Round or the AFC title game. But once the Patriots won Super Bowl LI, many felt as though Goodell would simply have no choice but to attend the 2017 regular-season opener in Foxboro. 

There are those who are itching to have him visit. There are those who hope he stays away. In an interview with ESPN, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't put himself in either camp, but he seemed to suggest that it might not be the best idea for the commissioner to show his face in New England.

"To tell you the truth, I really don’t think so," Gronkowski said when asked if Goodell could come back to Foxboro any time soon. "The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what. They have Tom’s back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Goodell hasn't been to Gillette Stadium since Deflategate, but he said during Super Bowl week that he'd be happy to visit if he was invited.