Bledsoe: It's 'surreal' to be back


Bledsoe: It's 'surreal' to be back

By Danny Picard Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- Drew Bledsoe held the Patriots single-game passing recordfor 17 years. That all changed on Monday night, as Tom Bradys 517 passingyards against the Miami Dolphins trumped Bledsoes 426 passing yards againstthe Minnesota Vikings in 1994.

It was a game that Bledsoe recalls to be one of his greatestmoments in a Patriots uniform. There were many great moments in No. 11snine-year career with the Patriots. And as a result, hell be inducted into theteams Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Bledsoe returned to Gillette Stadium on Thursday and wasofficially fitted for his red Patriots Hall of Fame blazer.

Its kind of surreal, said Bledsoe. I live a prettynormal life back in Oregon. Im coaching flag football and playing some golfand making some wine. Then all of a sudden to come back into this world again,when I havent been involved in it in quite a while, its very cool.

Bledsoe was surprised to see Brady break his single-gamepassing record on Monday night, not because he didnt think Brady could do it,but because he thought Brady had already broken them all.

I was quite surprised, honestly, to hear that I still hadone of those records, to be perfectly honest, said Bledsoe. Toms never beena guy that worries about or thinks about numbers, other than wins and losses.It was truly not a big deal to him, and as I said, I was surprised to know thatI still had anything left in that record book anyway.

It was Brady who replaced Bledsoe when he went down with an injuryin 2001. Since then, the Patriots have been Bradys team.

But like it or not, Bledsoes success in a Patriots uniformis a major reason why the Patriots are no longer the laughing stock ofprofessional football.

Some could argue, Gillette Stadium is the house that Drewbuilt.

Its humbling, first of all, said Bledsoe. But its alsosomething that I take great pride in. I take great pride in being a part ofthose teams, and I emphasize being a part of those teams. Being thequarterback, obviously its the same old game where you get more credit thanyou deserve, but being a part of those teams that started to turn thisfranchise in the right direction, is something I take a lot of pride in.

As he took it all in, Bledsoe was asked to recall his greatestPatriots memory. He mentioned his record-setting game against the Vikings atFoxboro Stadium in 1994 (his 70 passing attempts and 45 completions are stillNFL records to this day).

But the first memory that came to his mind was the 2001-02AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh, when Bledsoe came off the bench for aninjured Brady, and went 10-of-21 for 102 yards and a touchdown, leading thePatriots to the Super Bowl.

Maybe coming back into that AFC Championship game againstthe Steelers, said Bledsoe. That was a poignant moment for me for a lot ofreasons. The magnitude of the game, and then having not been able to play forquite a while. And then being able to get back on the field for that game. Thatone stands out.

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

Amendola restructures his contract to stick with Patriots


Amendola restructures his contract to stick with Patriots

It's very clear Danny Amendola wants to remain a member of the Patriots. For the second time in two years, the veteran receiver has restructured his deal in order to remain with the team, according to Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran.

Amendola's deal will pay him $7.35 million over the next two years. Amendola's new contract also allows him an opportunity to make $750,000 more in roster and receptions bonuses.

Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1 was the first to report the news.

In 2015, Amendola put together what was his best season in a Patriots uniform, finishing with 65 catches on 87 targets for 648 yards and three touchdowns. He was scheduled to make $5 million in base salary this year and count $6.8 million against the salary cap. In 2017, he was due $6 million in base salary and would have counted $7.86 million against the cap. 

Amendola released a statement to Garafolo that said, "It's an honor to play for this franchise and with this group of guys. We have one goal -- to win another Championship and that's all we care about."

Amendola's original deal with the Patriots was set to pay him $4 million in base salary with a $5.7 million cap hit in 2015, but he re-worked it so that he was paid $1.25 million in base salary and his cap hit was knocked down to $3.11 million last year. 

The Patriots receiver group appears to be solid at the top with Amendola, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan securely in the fold. The team also added a handful of pass-catchers this offseason -- including veteran Nate Washington and rookies Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Lucien -- who will compete for time alongside Keshawn Martin, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper and DeAndre Carter. 

Five things to know about Cyrus Jones on the day of his Patriots introduction


Five things to know about Cyrus Jones on the day of his Patriots introduction

The Patriots will introduce corner Cyrus Jones as their first pick of the 2016 draft on Friday, presenting him with a jersey as he poses for pictures with team owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft. 

Jones was taken with the No. 60 overall selection in the second round of last weekend's draft, providing coach Bill Belichick's cornerback group with some depth. The 5-foot-10, 197-pounder from Alabama is also an accomplished punt returner -- he brought four back for touchdowns last season -- giving him a variety of avenues by which he could contribute as a rookie. 

Here are five things to know about Jones on the day he's introduced . . .

1. He's fairly well prepared for the coaching he'll get in the NFL after playing under Nick Saban at Alabama: "Playing for Coach Saban – he’s a great coach, arguably one of the best, arguably the best in the country – and I’ve heard many things that he’s compared to Coach Belichick and that our program is ran similar to how the Patriots’ is run," Jones said after being drafted. "I feel as though I’m greatly prepared for the next level thanks to Coach Saban and the people I had around me for four years, just getting me ready both on and off the field." Before the draft, Jones had only met Belichick once. It was on the day before the Alabama pro day, and Jones watched film with the future Hall of Fame coach and some of his 'Bama teammates. Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower made the Saban-to-Belichick transition relatively smoothly back in 2012. Now that he's one of the leader's of Belichick's defense, perhaps Hightower can help Jones in that regard if he needs it. 

2. He's ready to play inside, outside and as a punt returner: At his height, some have Jones pegged for a nickel corner role, but he played outside in college against some top-tier receivers in the SEC, and he feels he can do the same as a pro. "I don’t think there’s anywhere I can’t line up and be successful on the football field," he said. "I played outside most of my career at Alabama and I had success. I don’t think there’s any reason why I can’t line up on Sundays and do the same thing, so I feel as though I’m very confident that I can play on the outside." But Jones knows his special teams abilities may give him the best shot at consistent playing time as a rookie. "I returned punts in high school and I was pretty good at it," he said. "I just had that knack for just finding creases and being able to see where to cut at and I had good vision always. That ability just increased in college, and as I got more comfortable I started to have more success over time and I had my best year my senior year. I think, like you said, that’s going to be a big way for me to get on the field early next season."

3. He was a highly-recruited receiver coming out of high school: Jones grew up in Baltimore (yes, he was a Ravens fans) and attended Gilman School where he became a four-star recruit. He actually began his career for the Crimson Tide as a wideout, catching four passes for 51 yards as a true freshman. He transitioned to corner as a sophomore. "Coach Saban, you know, we were losing a couple of defensive backs after my freshman year and coach knew that I could play DB," he said. "He asked me, would I be willing to try it out for the spring time? I bought in and I just wanted to help the team in any way possible and it worked out for me and the team."

4. His nickname on social media is Clam Clampington: If you follow Twitter, you've already seen Jones' handle. It's not an alter ego, exactly, just a nickname given to him by one of his friends after he had a good game. "My best friend actually watched one of my games and I had a good game. I forget which game it was, and he said that I played so well that it looked like my name should be Clamp Clampington, and I just thought it was pretty hilarious at the time and kind of catchy. I ended up changing it on all my social media pages and it just went on from there."

5. He used to be teased by his Alabama coaches for being so into film study: "I love watching film," he said. "I used to get teased a lot at ‘Bama by my coaches saying I should have an office where their offices were because I was in the film room so much and up there almost just as much as they were. I love watching film and think that’s the key to becoming a better player. There are a lot of players in this league that have physical gifts and talent but you know working hard off the field, I think that’s what separates you."