Wilfork: Pats know meaning of one-game season

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Wilfork: Pats know meaning of one-game season

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO --@font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Vince Wilfork has been giving advice to his younger teammates all season. And now he has the biggest piece of advice of all:

Win or go home.

It's now a one-game season, and every tip he's passed along to his youngerdefensive teammates will have to pay off on Sunday against the New York Jets,or New Englands season will end just as quickly as it ended in last yearsplayoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

"You lose this one, you go home," said Wilforkprior to Thursdays practice at Gillette Stadium. "The emphasis has been,all this time, to just remember what we're here for. If we lose this game, wecan't go back and say, 'Next week we have to get ready for this,' because nextweek would be over. I think everybody understands that.

"When Sunday comes, we have to be ready to play. We've got to expect theirbest. We've got to prepare for everything. Like I said, with it being aone-game season, we're likely to see anything, things that we haven't seen,things that we've seen. We kind of know what they like to do, but on top ofthat, like I said, with it being a one-game season, you never know."

Still, the Patriots are approaching it the same way they've approached everygame this season: not too high, and not too low.

"We make sure we know what we're doing out there," said Wilfork."We make sure we know exactly what's going on. That's the key. If we can'tdo that, we're in trouble. I think you get a lot of people pumped up, morejacked, going through the pregame on game day, so as of right now, I thinkwe're even-keel.

"Right now, we're just relaxed, going through our stuff, making our rightpreparations, getting ready for this game. Come Sunday, I'm pretty sureeveryone is going to be jacked up, but we've got to make sure we controlourselves because we've got to play football games. You can get in troublesometimes like that."

Wilfork said he hasnt looked back at what got them introuble last year, when Ray Rice ran one up the middle for 83 yards and anearly seven-point lead. The Ravens took a 24-0 lead after the first quarter,and finished their 33-14 win over the Pats with 234 total rushing yards andfour rushing touchdowns.

New Englands rush defense has significantly improvedthroughout this season, and Wilfork said that came with more studying, morereps, and most importantly, more players understanding their job.

Early on in the year, our run phase was kind of crazy, said Wilfork. Justseeing guys not understand the defense the way it needed to be played. So, astime went on, we got better and better and better. I think now, were sittingback and can say, Okay, weve gotten better, we have to continue to getbetter. We just cant sit back and say, Oh, were good. I think its justeveryone knowing their role, knowing exactly where they need to be and whenthey need to be there and preparation. I think everything we do can revolvearound preparing. If you prepare well, if you do that, youll be okay.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

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 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.