Larsen thrilled to be back with McDaniels

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Larsen thrilled to be back with McDaniels

FOXBORO -- Spencer Larsen is one of the new kids in town. But, as it happens in this turnstile business, he was greeted by a few familiar faces.

Denver drafted the 6-foot-2, 245-pound fullback -- then a linebacker -- with a sixth round pick in 2008. Larsen played under former Broncos head coach, current Patriots offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels the following season.

The connection could help him find a spot on the roster despite New England's recent apathy for his position.

"I loved playing for McDaniels and I loved all the opportunity that he provided for me. I'm just excited to be back with him," Larsen said.

"I think just being with Josh from the past, I think he just likes to have options. And being with him in Denver . . . he just likes to have different things that he can do from week-to-week, so who knows. I don't think any of us know what can happen at that position. I think you just need to work and get better and let that thing happen naturally."

Larsen always has versatility in his back pocket.

Though he didn't play a snap at linebacker last season, he said he's "100-percent open" to reprising the role for the Patriots if need be. Larsen is, after all, just the fourth guy since 1990 to start a game on both offense and defense (Denver's November 16 game versus Atlanta in 2008).

Yes, he was a rookie. And he also played special teams that day.

"It was just one of those exciting days," Larsen smiled. "I didn't really play a whole lot of offense that day -- as a fullback you kind of come in and out. So it wasn't 100 percent taxing; it was a good days work."

Right.

They must teach toughness at Arizona. Which is where Larsen met Rob Gronkowski.

"I was a senior when he was a freshman, so I used to beat him up in college if you guys believe that," Larsen laughed. "It's just been good seeing him and seeing the success he's had, getting to talk to him again.

"I swear he looked like he does now as a freshman, coming out of high school. I can't imagine what he did in high school. He's one of those guys that come around and you just feel like he's going to be special. So far he's proved that."

The real reuniting begins Monday with practice. If Larsen wants to work again for McDaniels, and with Gronkowski, he needs to be a Patriot -- no easy undertaking.

"Bottom line is, it's a new year and I have to prove that I can play."

Exactly.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: What's going on between Patriots, Butler?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: What's going on between Patriots, Butler?

0:41 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss what’s going on between the Patriots and Malcolm Butler after Bill Belichick praised Jonathan Jones and Eric Rowe but didn’t have much to say on Butler.

5:39 - John Farrell thinks David Price out of the bullpen can be similar to Andrew Miller with the Indians last year in the playoffs. Our panel on BST break it down.

10:35 - Curran, Holley, Smith, and Phil Perry talk about the NFL ratings being down and why that continues to be.

15:15 - Evan Drellich joins BST after the Red Sox win to explain why Drew Pomeranz could be even more threatening, how good the bullpen actually is, and the offense not driving in runs.

Dorsett (knee) hoping to be able to practice this week

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Dorsett (knee) hoping to be able to practice this week

FOXBORO -- The picture at wide receiver wasn't pretty for the Patriots by the time the clock hit zeros in the fourth quarter in New Orleans over the weekend. 

Chris Hogan looked hobbled for much of the second half. Phillip Dorsett left with a knee injury. Danny Amendola was ruled out well in advance of kickoff with a concussion and a knee injury. Matthew Slater was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Brandin Cooks looked like the only Patriots wideout to finish the game feeling spry.

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But as the team prepares for the Texans this week, Dorsett is hoping he'll be back on the field with his teammates for practice. 

"I feel good," Dorsett said in the Patriots locker room Monday. "Just a little sore, but I'm alright."

Not only would it help the Patriots offense to have another body available at receiver, but Dorsett understands how crucial it is for him to practice as much as possible. He was acquired in a trade with the Colts just before the season, and he knows he has work to do to get adjusted to his new offense.

"It's just me going out there and getting the plays in practice," Dorsett said when asked about his confidence level in running New England's system. "I feel like practice builds my confidence. If I get to play in practice, I feel more comfortable when it comes to the game."

Dorsett looked comfortable in Week 2, catching three passes for 68 yards. His first grab in the first quarter went for 23 yards and came on a play when Tom Brady, who was hit as he released, threw a floater down the right sideline. Dorsett alertly saw the pass falling short and worked back toward the line of scrimmage to make the catch. 

"I think he trusts me," Dorsett said of Brady. "We work a lot during practice and after practice. Hopefully we can continue to gain more trust as the season goes on. It's only the second game. We got a long way to go."

More practice time would be helpful in allowing that relationship to continue to grow. We'll see if Dorsett gets any when the Patriots take the fields behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

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