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.

Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones


Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

PHOENIX - The Arizona Cardinals, in an anticipated move, have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The non-exclusive tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

It's unlikely that any team would express interest in Jones, however, given what it would cost.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

The Cardinals' move came two days before the NFL deadline for making franchise designations.

It also came on Jones' 27th birthday, prompting teammate David Johnson to tweet "Happy BDay to `The Man,' `Mr. Franchise' himself.....The one and only."

The franchise tag move came as no surprise.

Club President Michael Bidwill has stated all along that Jones would not be going anywhere, that the team didn't make the trade - sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to New England - to keep him just for one season.

"We're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said in a recent interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him, and his people know that."

Jones immediately upgraded what had been an average Cardinals pass rush at best. His fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden had 12 1-2 sacks and seven tackles for loss. Together they form one of the better outside pass rush combinations in the NFL.

By all accounts, the contract talks with Jones have been cordial and Jones has said he wants to stay in Arizona.

"I love it here," he said near the end of last season. "I love the vibe that the people give off and I can see myself being here for a long time."

Chandler heads a long list of free agents that the Cardinals must either re-sign or let go. That group includes starters defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.

Mayock: If I'm Cleveland, I'd be 'stoked' to land Garoppolo for No. 12 pick

Mayock: If I'm Cleveland, I'd be 'stoked' to land Garoppolo for No. 12 pick

NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock quarterbacked a marathon conference call with reporters from around the country on Monday in order to shed some light on the prospects who will compete at the combine later this week. One thing that stood out? He's not ready to crown anyone in this year's crop of draftable signal-callers.

As a result of the dearth of pro-ready talent at quarterback, Mayock recognized Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo as perhaps the top target for any quarterback-needy team. Garoppolo might interest the Cleveland Browns in particular, Mayock noted, because of the number of picks they have near the top of the draft.

"In my opinion," Mayock said, "if I'm the Cleveland Browns and I've got No. 1 and No. 12, if I came away with either [defensive end Myles] Garrett or [defensive tackle] Jonathan Allen at No. 1, and gave up the 12th pick in the draft to get Garoppolo? I would be stoked.

"I would feel like I had a difference-maker on defense and we had a quarterback on offense. Now let's get to work. We got five in the first 65 picks. Let's get to work. From my perspective, especially looking at the quarterbacks this year, if they gave up No. 12 and could get Garoppolo, I'd be all over that."