Notes: Lockout rock star Gronk back to business

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Notes: Lockout rock star Gronk back to business

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Gronk took the lockout by the throat and wrung every bit of self-indulgent fun he could out of it. As least that appeared to be the case. Gronk was here dancing, Gronk was there singing, Gronk was shirtless and flipping girls into the air like a flat-topped majorette. Now? RoboGronk. The second-year tight end isn't what you'd call comfortable in front of the media. Great guy but not a gifted orator. For instance, here's the answer he rolled out when asked about wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. "He's a great receiver. It was the coach's decision to bring him in. It is what it is and we're all trying to get better out here and I'm just working on my own aspect of the game just concentrating on my job to go out there and focus what I gotta do, what I gotta do to help do whatever's best for the team."Blink. Blink. Blink. Asked about his lockout domination, Gronkowski said,"That's all in the past now. Really don't matter what it is. Now we're just here concentrating on football. We're in camp and just trying to get better every day now."But he did enjoy it, no? "Cool thing was I got to be with my family a lot," he smiled. "So that was cool."The onequestion Gronkowski did warm to was aboutrecently released tight end AlgeCrumpler. "Alge Crumpler's a great guy anddefinitely gonna be missed," said Gronkowski who would often look at Crumpler before answering questions last year as a rookie."I've already missed his presence. He's a great leader andI'm definitely gonna miss him. I hope thebest for him tooin the future. He wasn't just an awesome player but he was a great guy on and off the field."Despite the high intensity fun Gronk enjoyed before football returned, he looksfresh as a daisy. A brilliant one-handed catch in the seam on a seemingly overthrown ball by quarterback Jonathan Crompton on Saturday was evidence thatRob Gronkowski, tight endlives.Gronk? He's gone for now. Albert Haynesworth will be wearing No. 92. He spent most of the morning walkthrough hearing scheme talk on the field. The Patriots worked defensively on reading the running back in draw and screen situations for a few minutes and did so out of a 4-3 set. Logan Mankins was also on the field butjust observing, not participating. Any player signed to a new dealthis year, whether it be a re-signing or a tender, cannotpractice until August 4. Deion Branch was, as usual, upbeat and informative in his session with reporters. He said that second-year player Taylor Price went through a tough rookie season under the scrutiny of coaches as he transitioned to the NFL but that he expects big things from the player who seems much more at ease. Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said he expects BenJarvus Green-Ellis in camp this week. He's a restricted free agent but will be back with the Patriots unless a team gives him an offer New England declines to match. On Haynesworth, Caserio said, "Alberts been a good football player in this league, hes big, hes strong, hes athletic and hes a disruptive player. I think weve always taken the approach that if the guys a good football player, well find a way to use him. In the end, its up to the player to determine what his role is going to be moving forward." Still unsigned among prominent draft choices are first-rounder Nate Solder, second-rounder Ras-I Dowling and running back Shane Vereen. Caserio was very positive about the physical and mental progress of Marcus Cannon who's coming back from lymphoma."Ithink hes still kind of going through his process. He looks great. Hes done everything hes been asked to do to this point. I think were all optimistic. I dont think were going to rush into anything. I think were going to let that timetable sort of run its course. Hes here. Hell be here. I think there are a few more steps along the way for him that hes going to have to take care of
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

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Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."