Notes from Patriots OTAs: Week 2

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Notes from Patriots OTAs: Week 2

FOXBORO -- Thursday, the Patriots had their second OTA session open to media. Here's a little bit of what went on. The team started with stretching, per usual. Defense was in grey, offense in white. Absent from today's session: Myron Pryor, Daniel Fells, Logan Mankins, Brian Waters, Jeremy Ebert, and Sebastian Vollmer. Ebert is still at Northwestern, awaiting his June 16 graduation. The rest could have shown up after media availability was over, but none of the other four were seen last Thursday, either. One guy I didn't see last week who was around this time: Tracy White. It was reported White has been recovering from hernia surgery and the team is treating the process cautiously. Today, he did some running on a side field, along with Rob Gronkowski, Joseph Addai, and Matthew Slater.
Addai also ran on a harness and ran some cone drills. Something to keep an eye on because he participated in position work last week. Brandon Spikes stretched with the team before retreating to the bubble. The offensive line has been worth keeping an eye on because of the musical chairs being played. Robert Gallery, who stood in for Mankins at left guard last week, took some snaps on the right this time. Marcus Cannon played some right tackle. Ryan Wendell played guard again in Waters' absence. A different look at center? Donald Thomas. I don't believe he saw a minute there last season. The drills check timing of the O-line against different fronts, different looks. OTAs are all about fundamentals and communication. Josh McDaniels got together with Brady, Brian Hoyer, Shane Vereen, and Danny Woodhead to study option routes. McDaniels would move his shoulders, imitating a middle linebacker. It was on the signal callers and backs to read the cues, adjust, and work with what was given. Brady is in mid-season form for screaming. He was at one point angry and pleading for urgency from his running backs. I won't give you his exact words -- and not just because I'm not allowed to. Both Julian Edelman and Danny Woodhead did some receiving on kickoff. Two others: Donte' Stallworth and Devin McCourty. McCourty was a go-to special teams player at Rutgers (14 returns for 356 yards and one touchdown in 2009), but hasn't reprised the role in New England. There was just no reason to risk injury with how well he played corner his rookie year. McCourty had one return for the Pats in 2011 for 24 yards. Stallworth has returned neither kick nor punt since 2005. When Stephen Gostkowski split off with Zoltan Mesko to practice field goals, he went though a routine similar to his pre-game. Kick, move back a few yards. Kick, move back. Kick, move back. Gostkowski had a nice boot from 51 yards out. A try from 56, however -- no good.

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.”