Wright to serve as a caution for teammates

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Wright to serve as a caution for teammates

FOXBORO -- Mike Wright had no idea how serious his concussion was when a Dolphins offensive lineman hit him in the side of the head in Week 1.

He came out of the game and felt a little off. Felt dizzy. He'd had concussions before, and this one wasn't debilitating. But he told team doctors anyway, and they decided to keep him out for the rest of the game. It was the last time he would play this year.

The Patriots defensive lineman was placed on injured reserve Thursday, ending his season.

"Something that minor, guys can go back in all the time," Wright said of the hit he took in Miami. "I'm very fortunate to have team doctors and trainers like that looking out for me."

Wright spoke with the media Friday to address his symptoms, his feelings now that he definitely won't return this season, and his future.

He had hoped to return to action in the next few weeks and even practiced last week before the Jets game, but his post-concussion syndrome didn't go away as steadily as he thought it might.

"I don't think it was anything with practice (last week) that made us come to this decision," Wright said. "It was after, and moving forward, kind of thinking I'll be back at this time and it wasn't getting better. It's probably just right to give it the amount of time it needs to fully heal as opposed to rushing back and making a mistake, taking a blow that I don't need to take."

Wright missed the final seven games of last season with a concussion, and he said the symptoms he's experienced this year are similar to what he felt last year, though not as severe. Watching television gave him a "motion sickness" type of feeling. Using his computer made him feel the same way.

"I have had some troubles," Wright said, "and that's why we are where we are."

Wright's loss is a blow to the Patriots. As a versatile, hard-working defensive lineman on a line that has undergone a lot of change since last season, his presence would have been welcome.

"He always wanted to do the right thing," said Bill Belichick. "Whether is was technique or defense or a special teams assignment that he had. He's very team oriented. Very professional. A good teammate. I just feel badly for him. The way these last two seasons have gone, he just hasn't had an opportunity to do the things he's worked so hard to do.

"It's really a medical decision," Belichick added. "We have to do what's right for him."

His teammates will miss him, too. Vince Wilfork, who played with Wright since Wright's rookie year in 2005, expressed his concern on Friday.

"Mike Wright is a great player, a great person," Wilfork said. "Health is always the number one question. You play this game, you have to be smart about it. Sometimes you can fight through pain, sometimes you can't. Only Mike knows what he can do.

"I'll definitely miss him on the field," Wilfork continued. "He's a guy that's been around here for a while, he played with me for a while. I always miss guys who I played with for a long time. He knows how I play, I know how he plays. But he'll still be with us. I just wish luck with everything that he's doing. Hopefully he can get back out there soon."

Wright said going on IR was the last thing he wanted to do, but now that he's there, he won't decide on his future in football until he confers with doctors after the season. In the meantime, he plans to be around the team as much as he can.

"I've got a of friends in the locker room, a lot of relationships that I'm not ready to move away from right now so I will be here in support," Wright said.

He'll also be a reminder to his peers to come clean about their concussions. In a culture that still sometimes encourages players to "shake it off," despite all the science that's emerged about concussions and all the emphasis the NFL has put on eliminating them from the game, Wright's presence will allow players to see what can happen if you have a history of head injuries.

"I hope they can listen," Wright said. "I'll be in the locker room. A lot of guys I know are coming up to me, and I'm definitely going to spread the word. Hopefully they can learn from my situation, and kind of hopefully help them move forward in their careers, and help them protect themselves."

You can follow Phil on Twitter at @PhilAPerry.

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Jimmy Garoppolo can't help but hear trade rumors that involve his name. He heard all about them during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Now his mom's keeping him up to date. 

"My mom loves telling me the news updates," Garoppolo told ESPN's Adam Schefter, "so she’s all over that stuff, but it’s been working really well . . . 

"I’m telling you, she could be your assistant. She’s all over the place. Her and my dad on Twitter and stuff like that. I don’t even think they know how to tweet, but they always have something going on . . .

"They know what to hit me with and what to keep quiet. They know me so well that they know what I’d like to hear and what I don’t need to hear. There’s a couple slip-ups here and there, I’m not going to lie to you, but they’re just so excited about it. It’s an exciting time, and they’re loving it."

Garoppolo tried his best to deflect questions about his future as he prepared for Super Bowl LI, but he could only insulate himself so much from those conversations. After six quarters of well-played football, he's chummed the waters for quarterback-starved franchises. As the draft nears, offers are expected to hit the Gillette Stadium offices, and it will be up to Bill Belichick and his staff to determine whether they should part ways with Tom Brady's backup. 

Schefter asked Garoppolo about one team in particular that could be interested: the Chicago Bears. Their general manager Ryan Pace is an Eastern Illinois alum, like Garoppolo, and Garoppolo is a Chicago-area kid. 

"I get asked about [that possibility] all the time from my friends and family back in Chicago," Garoppolo said. "They’re good reporters, my family. But I keep telling them I really don’t know how it would feel until . . . if it was to happen, I wouldn’t know how I’d feel until it did, you know? So it’s kind of one of those things, it’s hard to say right now."

Garoppolo added: "For the most part I am just trying to stay level-headed, trying not to think about it, over think it too much because at the end of the day I am still under contract. It is not my decision if I get traded or if I don’t, so I am just trying to take it all in stride. At the end of the day, you just have to enjoy it. The NFL, it is a hard place to be, hard place to succeed and when you get an opportunity you have to go and take advantage of it."

The idea of getting an opportunity, though, is an enticing one. Before the 2016 season, Garoppolo was very open about how he looked forward to his opportunity to start with Brady suspended for the first four weeks of the season. And with Schefter, he acknowledged that there are times when it's hard not to be impatient when you're the guy behind the guy.

"There’s times," Garoppolo said. "Obviously the kickoff happens and you are ready to roll. The juices get flowing again. You get the adrenaline, the butterflies. It’s football, you have to love the atmosphere . . . 

"We all play the game. We all want to be out there on the field and get an opportunity to play. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there is probably the best way to put it. We’re competitors at the end of the day. We want to be out there, I want to be out there competing and playing with my teammates.”