Kraft: Solder 'a team guy all the way'

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Kraft: Solder 'a team guy all the way'

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; If we didnt learn enough about Nate Solder during Thursdaynights conference call, the Patriots 2011 first-round pick was presented tothe media at Gillette Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Solder walked from the tunnel to an elevated stage at the50-yard line with Robert and Jonathan Kraft. A personalized Patriots jersey wasthen presented to the offensive tackle.

It was then that Robert Kraft told a story that, in a way,summed up what Solder is all about.

Every year, when we come down, I say, Give me a story that I can tell the mediathat we chatted about,' said Kraft. ' Whats special about this connection? AndNate said, Well, in my name, Solder, theres no I. Im a team guy all theway. So that just says it all.

Solder had a 6 a.m. flight this morning, and said that hesbeen living by the minute since he got that phone call from the Patriots onThursday night.

As sleep deprived as he was, Solder wasnt hiding the factthat he was everything a typical New England Patriot stands for. He proclaimedhimself a team guy that leads by example.

By the time everything got wrapped up last night, afterbeing drafted, its been a pretty long day for me, said Solder. I flew outhere, and meeting these coaches, and meeting these owners, has been a realhonor and privilege.

Ive always been rooting for the Patriots, because theyvehad a lot of great years. It hasnt been hard to be a fan of the Patriots.

I think Mr. Kraft was the one that kind of pointed out the impressiverecord that they have here at this stadium, he said. So that was the firstthought that came to mind. They win a lot of games here. They do things righthere.

Solder said he realizes he has a lot of things to improveupon, but wouldnt touch on any specific area, comparing it to adjusting to thecollege game, coming out of high school.

Ive never really paid too much attention to analysts,said Solder. Ive always felt that Im a strong, powerful player, but I alwayshave things to develop and get better at.

Its safe to say that he wont have to improve his huntingskills. Not because hes a great hunter, but because there isnt much huntingin Massachusetts.

Solder had traveled miles and miles while in Colorado, tohunt for elk. But in his hunting career, hes only shot 1 elk, and it happenedto be just a few miles away from his house.

Its funny, because I probably have been hunting for about10 or 15 years, chasing after elk, and Ive only shot one, joked Solder. Sothat tells you how good of a hunter I am, I guess.

And forget football and hunting, Solder nearly playedbasketball in college, at the Dartmouth College. But luckily for him and thePatriots, he choose to stay in Colorado and play football.

I chose football as the route that I would take, saidSolder. And Im so glad that I did, because it was a great five years atColorado, and I love the sport, and Im happy to be here today.

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

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Jimmy Garoppolo can't help but hear trade rumors that involve his name. He heard all about them during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Now his mom's keeping him up to date. 

"My mom loves telling me the news updates," Garoppolo told ESPN's Adam Schefter, "so she’s all over that stuff, but it’s been working really well . . . 

"I’m telling you, she could be your assistant. She’s all over the place. Her and my dad on Twitter and stuff like that. I don’t even think they know how to tweet, but they always have something going on . . .

"They know what to hit me with and what to keep quiet. They know me so well that they know what I’d like to hear and what I don’t need to hear. There’s a couple slip-ups here and there, I’m not going to lie to you, but they’re just so excited about it. It’s an exciting time, and they’re loving it."

Garoppolo tried his best to deflect questions about his future as he prepared for Super Bowl LI, but he could only insulate himself so much from those conversations. After six quarters of well-played football, he's chummed the waters for quarterback-starved franchises. As the draft nears, offers are expected to hit the Gillette Stadium offices, and it will be up to Bill Belichick and his staff to determine whether they should part ways with Tom Brady's backup. 

Schefter asked Garoppolo about one team in particular that could be interested: the Chicago Bears. Their general manager Ryan Pace is an Eastern Illinois alum, like Garoppolo, and Garoppolo is a Chicago-area kid. 

"I get asked about [that possibility] all the time from my friends and family back in Chicago," Garoppolo said. "They’re good reporters, my family. But I keep telling them I really don’t know how it would feel until . . . if it was to happen, I wouldn’t know how I’d feel until it did, you know? So it’s kind of one of those things, it’s hard to say right now."

Garoppolo added: "For the most part I am just trying to stay level-headed, trying not to think about it, over think it too much because at the end of the day I am still under contract. It is not my decision if I get traded or if I don’t, so I am just trying to take it all in stride. At the end of the day, you just have to enjoy it. The NFL, it is a hard place to be, hard place to succeed and when you get an opportunity you have to go and take advantage of it."

The idea of getting an opportunity, though, is an enticing one. Before the 2016 season, Garoppolo was very open about how he looked forward to his opportunity to start with Brady suspended for the first four weeks of the season. And with Schefter, he acknowledged that there are times when it's hard not to be impatient when you're the guy behind the guy.

"There’s times," Garoppolo said. "Obviously the kickoff happens and you are ready to roll. The juices get flowing again. You get the adrenaline, the butterflies. It’s football, you have to love the atmosphere . . . 

"We all play the game. We all want to be out there on the field and get an opportunity to play. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there is probably the best way to put it. We’re competitors at the end of the day. We want to be out there, I want to be out there competing and playing with my teammates.”