Sparano: Haynesworth will be a 'handful'


Sparano: Haynesworth will be a 'handful'

By Danny Picard Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO --Dolphins coach Tony Sparano believes Monday nightschallenge with the New England Patriots in Miami will be a "great opportunity"for his team, right out of the gate.

As confident as he sounded about quarterback ChadHennes command of the offense and about running back Reggie Bushs speed out ofthe backfield, in a conference call on Wednesday, even Sparano knows Week 1isnt going to be a cakewalk.

Part of that reason comes from what hes seen of Patriotsdefensive lineman Albert Haynesworth in the past.

Hes a good player, said Sparano, who also added hespreparing his Dolphins offense to see both a Patriots 4-3 and 3-4 defense.Hes an active player, and a big physical guy in there with Vince Wilfork,in that group that they have there. He can give you pass-rush ability, but moreimportantly, I think the guy is really active around the ball in the run game.So we have had several opportunities to play against Albert, and hes been ahandful. Sparano also said he expects to see Patriots wide receiverChad Ochocinco in multiple receiver spots on Monday night.

I would envision that they would use him in some type of arotation there, and probably try to get him in a few different spots that areout there, Sparano said. Im sure thats part of the learning curve, justgetting him in different positions to get him the ball. As for his own offense, Sparano described it as being alittle different this season, with regards to speed, especially with theaddition of Bush in the backfield.

But once again, all eyes in Miami will be on Henne, andSparano believes hes up to the challenge.

I think that Chads really had a productive preseason,Sparano said. Hes got really good command of the offense. If there wasanything good about the lockout, it was that Chad had to be out there and ranall the workouts, and all that stuff, and I think that was really helpful forhim" If you were looking for a scouting report on linebackerA.J. Edds who the Patriots just claimed off waivers then Sparano gave awayas much as he could on the former Dolphin, calling him a smart player who has agood amount of long-snapping experience, if needed.

It just ended up being numbers, really, said Sparano of why the Dolphins cut Edds.Hes a very smart player. We had 10 linebackers on the team at the time, andA.J. obviously missed a lot of time last year with the ACL. So that really wasit.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

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


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.