Patriots rookies schooled before bye week

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Patriots rookies schooled before bye week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots rookies are well into the team routine by now. Theyre six weeks into the NFL season. Practice, training, game prep -- its all part of the grind.

Taking a break? Thats something new.

Its the first bye week for first-year players. There are seven listed on New England's active roster, including Nate Solder, Stevan Ridley and Ras-I Dowling. Youd think five days away from the practice field might be the easiest thing these guys have done in months, but head coach Bill Belichick disagrees.

I actually met with the rookies this morning for about 40 minutes, he said Wednesday. It's just different for them, it's a different experience . . . what they did in college, what happens in college, relative to an NFL season is just different. It's the kind of thing you can't really prepare for, you just have to go through it and experience it.

But I just try to talk to the players about some of the things that they could expect, some of the things they might experience in the future weeks. We've had players talk to them along those same lines, players that have been through it: 'Here's what the coaches are telling you and here's what a couple of my experiences were.' It might be helpful for them to hear those or let them ask questions.

Devin McCourty is one such touchstone.

Though only in his second season, the cornerback earned Pro Bowl honors in his first. More importantly, McCourtys leadership skills won him the respect of his teammates and one of the shared captaincy titles. The role means more responsibility -- even during the bye week. Especially during the bye week.

McCourtys all over it.

"I told guys make sure you don't do anything crazy," McCourty said. "Because it's not a lot that we get a couple of days off. So I just told them to stay focused, think about anything you do, think about your actions, consequences, all of that. A lot of things they've heard before, so I just kind of send a reminder in because it's a little different when it comes from a teammate, coming from a coach. Basically just reiterating what Coach Belichick's telling them."

"You're excited to go back home," he said. "You haven't been home in a while. See your family, see friends. So that's the biggest thing is being able to see familiar faces. Just relax, that's the biggest thing, is sleep."

Rookie guidance isnt limited to first steps. Belichick makes sure the channels of communication are always open and consistently surfed. Adjusting to an elevated level of play and, consequently, a more high-profile life, is an extensive process. The more involved the coaching staff and veterans are the smoother that process should run.

We meet on a pretty regular basis, whether it's start of training camp, regular season, bye week. We spend a lot of time with the rookies, Belichick said. Trying to help them acclimate to a different area, a different working environment, different team structure than whatever structure they were on before . . . ours is what it is and they have to be able to understand it and be able to utilize the opportunities and tools that we give them to try to help them improve themselves on and off the field, in and out of football.

This is one of those big off-field experiences.

For most, this isnt just the first trip home, its the first trip home in a nicer car, with a fatter wallet in that back pocket. And the words said or old haunts visited are suddenly interesting enough to end up as Twitter fodder.

Veteran running back Kevin Faulk isnt worried about this new batch of rookies. The career-Patriot has remained a locker room leader, despite being held to the PUP list until recently. Faulk has relished the teaching opportunities.

Throughout the course of the entire time that they've been here they all ask questions," Faulk said. "They haven't been here long enough; they trying to figure out what they can and can't do.

His biggest bye-week takeaway is simple. In theory.

Understand that people look at you differently, he said. Understand that the people that probably do look at you differently arent your family. It's one of those hard things you have to be able to balance.

Belichick would approve Faulks advice. Being smart, staying out of trouble? Thats common sense no matter how long youve been in the league.

"I think that's a message for any professional athlete pretty much any day, the coach said. The day you become a professional athlete, things change and they carry that with them wherever they go, whether it's the bye week or any other week.

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.