Haynesworth happy to be back in mix


Haynesworth happy to be back in mix

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.comFOXBORO -- It was a quiet day on the stat sheet for Albert Haynesworth. All goose eggs except for one quarterback hit. But individual numbers aren't the measure for defensive linemen. You really have to watch the infighting as it unfolds and look at team numbers for the opposing offense. And on Sunday, those numbers came up looking pretty good for the Patriots. Haynesworth, after two weeks off with a back issue, was a welcome re-addition. "It felt great to get back out there and to not hurt," Haynesworth said when asked how he felt after his layoff. Having him on the field for a game against the Jets -- and Haynesworth didn't start; Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork were the defensive tackles -- made an impact at least in reputation. He's one of the best in the business at being big, mean and powerful, even when he's not 100 percent. So the Jets weren't going to bully him with their "ground and pound.""I like that," he said when asked about the Jets' bullish approach. "The run's the easiest thing to play. Rushing the passer is hard. I like (dealing with the run). They want to run at me that's great. I hate the run aways. But run at me, that's great." Haynesworth said it was cramps that caused him to take a knee in the second half and walk slowly to the sidelines. He also said the defense remains a work in progress. "Even though the core of the defense is the same, we still got new pieces," he pointed out. "Me, Andre (Carter), Shaun (Ellis)so we need time to jell. We didn't have a minicamp or an offseason so we just have to let this defense jell and once we do, we'll become a good defense. We know we got the talent, we got all the parts, we just needed to put that together and that's what we did, we had to focus." The Patriots' focus falls next on Dallas.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

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


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.