Waters: New England's 'as good as it gets'

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Waters: New England's 'as good as it gets'

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - He didn't have to go to a single training camp practice. Didn't have to play in any meaningless preseason games. He's shown up in New England a week before the opener and is ready to be plugged in at right guard and be paid a couple million. No wonder newly acquired Brian Waters said on Monday, "I think this is as good as it gets."Waters, a five-time Pro Bowler with Kansas City met with media in the Patriots locker room Monday. He said the same things that every newly-signed Patriot says. Great organization. Great coaching. Great opportunity. When a guy shows up and says, "I think I made a mistake coming here" then we'll have a story. More relevant than Waters' happiness is whether or not he is A) in good enough condition to step right in and play guard in the heat of South Florida in one week and B) able to easily transition from the left side of the offensive line where he's always played to the right. Asked about his conditioning, Waters said, "You should probably ask me that question tomorrow (after he's gone through a practice)."Does he believe he'll be ready to play in a week? "That's what I'm preparing for," he answered. "That's what everybody in here has been preparing for."They, of course, have been preparing for it since July 28. Waters, at 34, has been idle. The biggest concern has to be his health. Even though he's missed just three games in his career, will Waters be able to go at the necessary level. The signing of Waters was necessitated by injuries to Dan Connolly and Rich Ohrnberger at right guard. Now Waters is preparing to step in on the side he's not familiar with. To some players, like Patriots' left tackle Matt Light, that kind of switch has been difficult. For others, like rookie tackle Nate Solder and third-year man Sebastian Vollmer, it hasn't been. Waters made it sound like it's not a big deal. "You just have to flip everything in your mind when you've been doing something for a long time, but I don't think it'll take me a long time to get it," said Waters. Which is good. Because he doesn't have a long time. Waters will wear Tedy Bruschi's old number, 54. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Gronk 'taking all positives' out of new preseason approach

Gronk 'taking all positives' out of new preseason approach

For the first time since 2012, Rob Gronkowski played in a preseason game. It was uneventful, much like a majority of this training camp for the Patriots tight end. No touches, no seismic collisions, and no problems in 14 snaps. Was it worth it? Gronk says yes.

“I just felt the benefit when I was out there; the speed of the game, live game speed. It’s been a while for me,” he said. “I felt the benefit of getting in sync blocking-wise, the cadence and everything like that. I’m taking all positives out of it.”

But this isn’t even remotely following the plan over these last handful of seasons. The Pats have treated Gronk differently than just about everyone else. He wasn’t required to play in these games in August. Heck, there were times when his presence in practice wasn’t mandatory. Gronk had his own set of rules. This approach surely isn’t that.

“No matter what it is, preseason,” said Gronkowski. “I’ll be ready to play 60 minutes. The past has been the past, but it was great going out there and getting some work.”

Not exactly enlightening, but were you expecting something else?  Unless we’re getting a joint statement from Gronk INC and the Pats brass, that’s usually how these press briefings go, mixed in with the occasionally goofy Gronkowski. Yes, we got that too when Gronk was asked who would win the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight.

“We don’t make predictions,” answered Gronkowski, before backing away from the podium, smiling brightly and commending himself for doing a good Bill Belichick imitation. It wasn’t all that, and maybe it wasn’t that funny, but the big fella is always looking to bring a little levity to just about any situation. 

That trend continued as we tried to delve deeper into his newfound relationship with Tom Brady’s body, Alex Guerrero. So much is made of Guerrero’s belief in muscle pliability and hydration, but there’s also that diet, and a cookbook of Brady’s to boot. The quarterback has proclaimed all of those meals to be delicious. Gronkowski gave it mixed reviews, saying some of the dishes were “kind of hard to eat” although others got the seal of approval: “they’re really, really good.”  Gronk also made sure to clarify that giving up booze in-season is the norm. 

“I don’t do that stuff right now,” he said. “It’s football time. I’ve never really have done that stuff during football time.”

But that he’s approaching the season differently is clearly a nod to Gronk’s football mortality, and the desire to wring out more than just a couple more years from his battered body. He believes Guerrero’s methods are paying dividends, though again, he wouldn’t elaborate how or compare this season to previous ones.

“It’s hard to say because I couldn’t tell you how I felt in the middle of August every single year,” said Gronkowski. “It’s always a new year, and they all blend together, and now going into my eighth season now, it just feels good to be out there practicing every day with the guys.”

Burkhead not spotted at the start of practice for second consecutive day

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Burkhead not spotted at the start of practice for second consecutive day

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady went into detail on Wednesday as to why it's important for him to play with some of his new teammates during the preseason. Even exhibition games are played at a different speed than practice, he explained, and so to be out there mimicking what will happen Week 1 is critical. Brady even went out of his way to mention Rex Burkhead specifically, saying that it was nice to get Burkhead a touchdown against the Texans last weekend. 

Might Burkhead's preseason reps be limited later this week in Detroit? The former Bengals running back has not been spotted at the beginning of Patriots practices on Tuesday or Wednesday. Injury reports are not released during the preseason, so it will be worth watching pregame Friday whether or not Burkhead is on the field and in uniform. 

Burkhead looked healthy by the end of his time playing in Houston -- his final play was a 22-yard catch-and-run touchdown -- and he spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon. 

Also missing from Wednesday's session were Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater, Matt Lengel, Shea McClellin and Tony Garcia. Undrafted rookies Keionta Davis and Andrew Jelks (NFI) were present but not in uniform for the shells-and-shorts session. 

Mitchell played in New England's preseason matchup with Houston but appeared to tweak his knee during one of his first snaps on the field. He stayed in the game, but he has not been seen by reporters at either Patriots practice this week.