Notes: Physicality picking up in training camp


Notes: Physicality picking up in training camp

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Rain forced the Patriots inside their practice bubble on Monday afternoon. The urgency imposed this week by head coach Bill Belichick and his staff forced the aggression to escalate. There were several solid hits in the nearly three-hour practice but the best action centered --- as it has for most of this training cam -- around the second-year tight ends. Rob Gronkowski delivered two crunching blocks during practice, rag-dolling linebacker Gary Guyton on one and leveling safety Sergio Brown on the other. Meanwhile, tight end Aaron Hernandez got absolutely leveled by safety Patrick Chung. "I wasn't expecting it but it was still a good little pop and it got me aggravated," Hernandez admitted. "He plays hard and you gotta be ready at all times."On Saturday, Bill Belichick spoke about how important this week of preparation was to the team. The intensity seems to have been ratcheted up accordingly. Hernandez said a hit like Chung's is necessary to prepare a player for the season. He added,"you need to learn how to hold onto the ball which we learned last week."
Hernandez put the ball on theground twice in the preseason opener. Wes Welker confirmed personnel man Nick Caserio's contention that Welker's moving well in this camp.
"I feel great," Welker said. "I feel like I've gained a step from two years ago. This is the best I've felt in a long time and I just want to continue to play well and get better." Asked which aspect seems different, Welker said, "The main thing is getting off the ball and that's something I lacked a little bit before but that was last year."As for an appraisal of Chad Ochocinco, Welkerempathized with the transition, saying, "You can't ask any more of a guy coming in here and trying to learn the offense. It's frustrating at times as it was for me whenI first got here. There's always that learning curve."Specifically, what's difficult?
"There's just so much," he said. "So much language, so many signals, so many route conversions. It's all the way around it's not one thing it's so many things."Welker deftly eluded a question about entering the final year of his contract saying he's "concentrating on the here and now." Ochocinco seemed perturbed when a sideline throw from Tom Brady wasn't where Ocho wanted. Ocho blurted out a loud, "Come on, man!" The two players had a running dialogue over the next few minutes. Defensive end Andre Carter was outstanding in 1-on-1 drills against linemen. Fellow DEs Eric Moore and Mark Anderson toiled after practice for several minutes working on their 1-on-1 moves as well. Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, James Sanders and Mike Wright all worked out separate from the team on Monday.
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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.”