Notes: With Gronk missing, Hernandez thrives


Notes: With Gronk missing, Hernandez thrives

By Danny Picard Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- There were five Patriots completely absent from Tuesdayspractice at Gillette Stadium. Albert Haynesworth, Mike Wright, Rob Gronkowski, RyanWendell, and Eric Kettani were nowhere to be found, while linebacker BrandonSpikes was back on the field in a t-shirt and shorts. Offensive lineman DanConnolly was also on the field on Tuesday in a t-shirt and shorts, afterseemingly injuring his arm on Monday.

The rest of the roster remained the same as Monday.

@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"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; For the second straight day, Patriots training camp wasall about second-year tight end Aaron Hernandez.

It seemed like every chance New Englands quarterbacks couldget, they were getting him the ball on Tuesday afternoon, similar to what theywere also doing on Monday.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski left Mondays practice abouthalfway through with a slight limp, forcing him to miss Tuesdays session. Hernandez has benefited greatly from it, as he once again became thePatriots and more specifically, Tom Bradys No. 1 target, which includesevery receiver on the team.

The Patriots were wearing shorts and shells on Tuesday,and the two-hour practice began with Brady hosing down the rookies as they hadto slide through the mud and recover loose balls. Its not the most dangerousway to welcome the newcomers to the organization, but it also cant be toocomfortable practicing while soaking wet and completely muddy.

After that, it was business as usual, with Brady startingthings off by running through offensive sets from the two-yard line, using hisrunning backs and tight ends as his only targets.

Then it was time for the running backs and linebackers togo head-to-head with each other, with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer throwingthe passes. The highlight of this drill was linebacker Jerod Mayo playing roughwith the much smaller Danny Woodhead, knocking him to the ground just as theball got to him. Woodhead got up fine, and both players exchanged a friendlyhandshake.

The Gillette Stadium practice fields were hit with somerain for about 15 minutes, midway through the session, but that didnt stopanything.

Coach Bill Belichick continued to have his team run through11-on-11 drills for the rest of the practice, while mixing in some specialteams work throughout.

And even in the 11-on-11s Hernandez was the main target allday long.

The Patriots announced a roster move, waiving S Ross Ventrone and claiming rookie OL Mark Wetterer off waivers from Cincinnati, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston.

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

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”