A Polite introduction

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A Polite introduction

FOXBORO -- Lousaka Polite was at home in Miami when he got the phone call from his agent. The 30-year old fullback, then working as a full-time dad to his daughter Anya, was needed in New England.

He hasn't played football since training camp.

You just never know, he said before his new locker Wednesday. As the weeks go by, you just dont know whats going to happen. Theres always a little, tiny bit of doubt because you dont know what to expect. But you just need to stay ready, stay in shape and luckily, I just got the call.

Polite, or "Lou," as he's asked to be called, is a seven-year NFL vet. He spent the last three seasons with the Dolphins where he earned a reputation as a short-yardage specialist.

According to PhinFever.com, Polite had 15 carries on third or fourth-and-1 situations in 2010 and converted 14 to first downs. His 92.3-percent success (12 for 13) on third down lead the league for running backs. Since 2008, Polite has rushed 43 times on third or fourth-and-1 and muscled his way to 41 first downs. 20 of those drives yielded at least six points.

"It takes a lot of studying," Polite said of his success. "You have to treat each situation as a different one, just like a snowflake. You might have had success running through one gap but that's going to change. Things slant, they have different ideas to try and stop you. You can't be stuck in one mindset; you've got to be flexible as far as making adjustments.

"It's a combination of study and instinct. If you do all your work throughout the week studying then your natural ability will take over. "

So why in the heck did Miami let him go?

The team struggled with the overall ground game last season. Polite has also been tapped for poor lead-blocking. But there's something to be said for a general decline of the position. The Patriots haven't really employed a fullback since Heath Evans, instead using different tight end variations, and the trend is common throughout the league.

"The game is always evolving. Things happen and the fullback is kind of a dinosaur position, I guess you could say," he smiled. "But as long as I'm healthy and here I'll do my best to stick around."

In what capacity, well, no one knows.

Bill Belichick was characteristically mum about what the new guy's role will be. Though the Patriots were rumored to be working out fullbacks in Week 4 none were signed. Would New England now change up the offense to accommodate one? Not likely. But Polite does have experience with special teams, which is a well-known plus in the mind of his new coach, and it's possible his short-yardage expertise could be called upon.

Tom Brady had six rushes two weeks ago in Denver. He had nine in last Week 16's win over Miami. A toe injury is hampering BenJarvus Green-Ellis and uncertainty in rookie Stevan Ridley might be what's pushed Brady into the breach. Regardless, the consequences are more than two touchdowns to pad his scoring stats.

Against the Dolphins Brady tried Ridley on a third quarter third-and-1 but the run was stuffed. The quarterback carried the ball himself on fourth down.

Somewhere among his carries came fear Brady separated his shoulder. A post-game X-ray revealed the shoulder is intact, as Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran reports, but the Patriots will want to avoid what put him in that position in the first place. It wouldn't be unwise to call for reinforcements.

The 6-0, 245-pound Polite says he's up for anything.

"Im just learning, learning as much as I can," he said. "Everything is new to me, so Im just trying to learn and well just go from there, he said. Im willing to do anything. Ive played special teams, and Im just willing to do whatever it takes to contribute to the team."

He's not the only one curious to see what exactly that means.

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.