Patriots finally hit field en masse


Patriots finally hit field en masse

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - The 2011 offseason has finally, mercifully ended. NFL players ratified their collective bargaining agreement Thursday afternoon. But the uncertainty continued right to the bitter end as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick strode to the microphone around 4:25 p.m. not knowing whether all his newly signed free agents and franchise players could take the field. Among them, rookie Nate Solder who earlier in the afternoon agreed to a four-year deal with the team. The first three years are guaranteed in the Solder's contract, according to Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network. The fourth year is partially guaranteed. One interesting note on Solder; Bill Belichick indicated he may have Solder learn the right side as well. That, despite saying during the draft that Solder was strictly a left tackle. "I guess the answer to(whether Solder can play the right side)is 'Well see.' Does he have the skill set to play right tackle? Well see. We thought Matt (Light) had the skill set to do that. That lasted about two weeks." Light and Logan Mankins, who signed his franchise tender, were also on the field Thursday afternoon.

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'


Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."