Notes: Lockout rock star Gronk back to business

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Notes: Lockout rock star Gronk back to business

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Gronk took the lockout by the throat and wrung every bit of self-indulgent fun he could out of it. As least that appeared to be the case. Gronk was here dancing, Gronk was there singing, Gronk was shirtless and flipping girls into the air like a flat-topped majorette. Now? RoboGronk. The second-year tight end isn't what you'd call comfortable in front of the media. Great guy but not a gifted orator. For instance, here's the answer he rolled out when asked about wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. "He's a great receiver. It was the coach's decision to bring him in. It is what it is and we're all trying to get better out here and I'm just working on my own aspect of the game just concentrating on my job to go out there and focus what I gotta do, what I gotta do to help do whatever's best for the team."Blink. Blink. Blink. Asked about his lockout domination, Gronkowski said,"That's all in the past now. Really don't matter what it is. Now we're just here concentrating on football. We're in camp and just trying to get better every day now."But he did enjoy it, no? "Cool thing was I got to be with my family a lot," he smiled. "So that was cool."The onequestion Gronkowski did warm to was aboutrecently released tight end AlgeCrumpler. "Alge Crumpler's a great guy anddefinitely gonna be missed," said Gronkowski who would often look at Crumpler before answering questions last year as a rookie."I've already missed his presence. He's a great leader andI'm definitely gonna miss him. I hope thebest for him tooin the future. He wasn't just an awesome player but he was a great guy on and off the field."Despite the high intensity fun Gronk enjoyed before football returned, he looksfresh as a daisy. A brilliant one-handed catch in the seam on a seemingly overthrown ball by quarterback Jonathan Crompton on Saturday was evidence thatRob Gronkowski, tight endlives.Gronk? He's gone for now. Albert Haynesworth will be wearing No. 92. He spent most of the morning walkthrough hearing scheme talk on the field. The Patriots worked defensively on reading the running back in draw and screen situations for a few minutes and did so out of a 4-3 set. Logan Mankins was also on the field butjust observing, not participating. Any player signed to a new dealthis year, whether it be a re-signing or a tender, cannotpractice until August 4. Deion Branch was, as usual, upbeat and informative in his session with reporters. He said that second-year player Taylor Price went through a tough rookie season under the scrutiny of coaches as he transitioned to the NFL but that he expects big things from the player who seems much more at ease. Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said he expects BenJarvus Green-Ellis in camp this week. He's a restricted free agent but will be back with the Patriots unless a team gives him an offer New England declines to match. On Haynesworth, Caserio said, "Alberts been a good football player in this league, hes big, hes strong, hes athletic and hes a disruptive player. I think weve always taken the approach that if the guys a good football player, well find a way to use him. In the end, its up to the player to determine what his role is going to be moving forward." Still unsigned among prominent draft choices are first-rounder Nate Solder, second-rounder Ras-I Dowling and running back Shane Vereen. Caserio was very positive about the physical and mental progress of Marcus Cannon who's coming back from lymphoma."Ithink hes still kind of going through his process. He looks great. Hes done everything hes been asked to do to this point. I think were all optimistic. I dont think were going to rush into anything. I think were going to let that timetable sort of run its course. Hes here. Hell be here. I think there are a few more steps along the way for him that hes going to have to take care of
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

Tom E. Curran in the Cumberland Farms lounge joins Sports Tonight to discuss what he thinks it will be like when Roger Goodell attends the Patriots home opener on September 7.

Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

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Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

PHOENIX -- Rex Burkhead was buried on a deep running back depth chart in Cincinnati, but in New England he may finally have a chance to show his offensive value. That's how Burkhead's former running backs coach and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson feels, at least.

Before he was hired as Browns head coach last season, Jackson worked closely with Burkhead for three years and saw the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder's versatile skill set on a daily basis. With the Patriots, under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, Jackson believes Burkhead has a chance to see that skill set maximized. 

"He's very talented," Jackson said during the league meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. "He's a guy that was playing behind some very talented players [with the Bengals], and so he's going to get his opportunity now, and he's going to flourish. He's a really good player. A really good player.

"He's very versatile because he's a good runner, a good pass-catcher. He's a good blocker. He's very bright. He's been a sensational special teams player there so he brings a lot of different elements to that football team."

The Patriots signed Burkhead to a one-year deal earlier this offseason that could pay him more than $3 million -- a sign that they're hoping he'll factor heavily into the offense in 2017. With LeGarrette Blount still on the free-agent market, Burkhead is currently the biggest back on the Patriots roster alongside Dion Lewis, James White and DJ Foster, and he could be in line for a significant amount of work in short-yardage situations and on first and second down.

Burkhead served primarily as a special-teamer during his four-year career in Cincinnati, but in Week 17 of last season, because of injuries to his teammates at the position, he was the Bengals lead back and ran 27 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. We took a closer look at the qualities he put on display that day right here

It was a performance that gave Burkhead's profile a where-did-that-come-from type of boost as he headed toward unrestricted free agency, but his head coach at the time wasn't surprised.

"Not at all. That's why we drafted him," said Bengals sideline boss Marvin Lewis, who went on to explain why Burkhead was an inconsistent offensive contributor leading up to that game.

"A lot of times when Rex got opportunities to play, he wasn't quite 100 percent and so that kind of limited him some. Even in preseason opportunities and so forth like that where you'd go into the game, and it'd be Rex's -- in my mind, Rex's ballgame -- to carry the ball in the first or second quarter and he wasn't able to suit up that day.

"That's one of the things he's battled over his career is just being 100 percent completely healthy. [But] he's just a hard-working guy who always wants to be out there."

And in New England, it looks like he'll have the chance to be out there more.