Patriots rookies learning through experience

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Patriots rookies learning through experience

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knew enough to draft Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower in the first round of this year's draft. In Week 1 against the Titans, his decision began to pay dividends.

Jones and Hightower connected on a strip-sack Sunday, with Jones knocking the ball loose, and Hightower recovering it and running it in for a touchdown.

Belichick praised their efforts a day later.

"They're both smart, they've worked hard, and they've both been out there," said Belichick. "They both got a lot of reps on the field, so, that's always a good way to learn, is to experience it, go through it and make a mistake. Correct it, go out there and do it again and get it right. So, there's lot to be said for that.

"A lot of our young players have had the opportunity to do that. They've been on the field, they've practiced, they've made mistakes, they've gone back and corrected them and have gone back out and got it right the next time and have been able to move onto something else. So that's been a positive. Those two guys, they've done a good job."

Tavon Wilson was another young player who saw significant action Sunday. He also forced a turnover in Sunday's win with an interception of Titans quarterback Jake Locker. Belichick described what he's liked about the rookie defensive back so far.

"He's got good size, he's a physical player, and he runs well," said Belichick. "He'll mix it up in the running game and can blitz. He's done a decent job for us at that. He's still learning. It's kind of a new position for him, but he's picked it up OK. So, we'll see how it goes."

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.