Patriots Weekly: News, notes, and mandatory minicamp

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Patriots Weekly
Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) reacts after a play during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to once again revive our Patriots Weekly column, a weekly look at the happenings surrounding the defending Super Bowl champions. It’s been an active offseason for the Patriots as we inch closer and closer to the start of the 2017 season.


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Mandatory minicamp kicked off Tuesday

It was another rainy day in Foxboro as the Patriots returned to the practice field for the start of mandatory minicamp. First and foremost, the only two absences were Nate Solder and undrafted rookie, Andrew Jelks. The inclement weather caused some sloppy play from the entire offense, including the quarterbacks.

Jimmy Garappolo went 4-for-11 during 11-on-11 drills. Tom Brady was 13-of-17 and Jacoby Brissett was 8-of-13.

Despite the rough day on the field, Garappolo did speak to reporters afterward and said he is happy in New England and would be open to an extension. Tom Brady did not speak to the media. However, on the field, we caught a small glimpse of the Brady to Brandin Cooks connection. Albeit against no defenders.

Rob Gronkowski looks ready to go

Gronkowski is now a perfect six-for-six in offseason workouts this season as he makes his way back from an injury that limited him to just eight games last year. Just a couple weeks ago the Patriots and Gronkowski agreed to a contract restructure that could escalate his 2017 salary. Now, he says he feels ‘100 percent’, ready to go and thankful to be back out on the football field.

“Just being able to compete, conditioning-wise, strength-wise, in the weight room, being out on the field with teammates, being able to play football, it’s great,” he said via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “It’s always important to me, whenever I get a little setback like that, to get back to where I need to be. I feel like I am — doing everything out here, competing. It’s fun.”

When Gronkowski is on the field and healthy, he is the most unstoppable force in the NFL. He will look to contribute for all 19 games next year, completing his first full season since his second year.

 

Jonathon Jones and the cornerbacks look good

The defense on a whole looked good, but the cornerbacks, most notably Jonathon Jones, had a strong day. Jones saw a lot of snaps as the third corner behind Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore according to Kevin Duffy of MassLive. The Auburn alum had consecutive pass breakups against Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola in 11-on-11 drills.

Stephon Gilmore was able to get his hands on several balls. Most notably on a play against Chris Hogan. It’s early, but the cornerback group looks like one of the strongest units on this Patriots team. That is saying something when the team is as deep as the Patriots are currently constituted.

Bill Belichick speaks to the media

Bill Belichick relished the sloppy weather as the Patriots opened day one-of-three in the rain.

“Well, we’re kind of working our way through the spring here,” said Belichick via Patriots.com. “This is our sixth practice, first one of minicamp but sixth one counting OTAs. Just trying to move things along in the right direction. I think the players have worked hard. We have a long way to go. We’ve got a lot to work on, so today will give us another step there in that preparation. Dealing with a little bit of weather, which is good. We can always use that, so I’m looking forward to having a good day out here today. I hope you all enjoy it. It’s nice.

When asked about the progress of the first-year players, he was happy with what he saw.

“Yeah, this group has worked hard, similar to last year’s group,” said Belichick via Patriots.com. “Yep, they’ve been good. They’ve worked hard. They’re trying. They’ve got a long way to go, but they’re getting better every day and they’re making progress. But they’ve got a long way to go, so we’ll see. Just keep trudging along.”

Inevitably, Belichick was also asked about Gisele Bundchen’s claim that Tom Brady suffered a concussion last season.

“Well, I’m sure you know, Mike [Reiss], we file injury reports every week,” said Belichick. “So I’m not sure when the next one’s due, probably sometime in September, but we’ll have one for you then.”

“You know, our medical staff really handles the injury situation with players. Players don’t come to me and I don’t treat them for injuries. That’s not really my job. That’s what we have medical staff for.”

Random thoughts

The Patriots should sign recently released, former Jet linebacker David Harris. Harris is a 10-year veteran and consummate professional. He played in 15 games for the Jets last year and would add depth to one of the few groups that need it. With plenty of cap room remaining, and a presumed desire from Harris to win a championship should make this a no-brainer for both sides. Think, Chris Long.

What’s next?

The Patriots have two more practices, Wednesday and Thursday before they conclude minicamp. Although the sessions are closed to the public, the media has open access to the entire three-day camp. Head coach Bill Belichick will once again speak at 11 am on Wednesday and Thursday.

– Ian Glendon is the Managing Editor for cover32/Patriots and covers the NFL and New England Patriots. Like and follow on and Facebook.

 

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