FOXBORO — If Aaron Dobson is worried about making the Patriots roster this summer he isn’t showing it.

The third-year receiver out of Marshall has had some highlights in his first two days of full pads practice.

He’s also had some missed assignments and mistakes that have resulted in his offensive unit taking a lap around the practice field.

That has really been Dobson’s career with the Patriots in a nutshell.

On Sunday, he raced down the right sideline on a fly pattern and made a leaping catch over Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and crashed to the ground, still holding onto the ball. On Saturday, he made a leaping, twisting grab over another Marshall product, rookie corner Darryl Roberts.

What is he trying to show in camp?

“That I can play ‘€“ I’€™m here trying to make plays and do what I can do as a receiver,” Dobson said.

As for the pressure of fighting with the likes of Brandon Gibson and Zach D’Orazio for playing time behind Brandon LaFell, Dobson said he can’t worry about what he can’t control.

“I don’€™t feed into any of that,” Dobson said. “I’€™m just out here trying to have fun. I’€™m out here playing football. It’€™s a game, so I’€™m trying to have some fun and make some plays.”

Making any plays was hard for Dobson last year, which was riddled with injuries, including a hamstring that ended his season in Green Bay. He played in just four of the first 12 games as he struggled to come back from a foot injury in his rookie season of 2013.

That year, in a Week 9 win against the Steelers, Dobson had the first 100 yard game of his career. He caught 5 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Then Dobson suffered a foot injury in week 12 against the Broncos and missed the next three weeks. Still, Dobson appeared in 12 games (started 9) with 519 receiving yards and four touchdowns in ’13.

Safe to say Dobson is having fun just being on the practice field again?

“It’€™s always fun. It’€™s always fun,” Dobson said. “Football is always fun for me. It’€™s a game I’€™ve always played since I was little, so it’€™s always fun. Last season was last year. This is a new year, so I’€™m just trying to do my best this year.

“I feel that the longer you’€™re in a system, the more comfortable you’€™re going to get. The more repetitions you get, the more comfortable you get. This is my third year being in the offense so I’€™m just getting more comfortable as time goes on.”

Dobson insisted Sunday that he’s ready to go full speed and that his offseason conditioning (which including working out in Phoenix with Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis) has him ready to compete for a job.

“I’€™ve just got to run. You’€™ve got to run routs,” he said. “You’€™ve got to get yourself in shame. I know what to expect now coming into my third year. You’€™ve got to come in in shape and be on top of it.”

Fans watching Sunday will walk away wondering if that catch over Malcolm Butler might be a sign of bigger and better things for Dobson this season.

“There’€™s always a lot of chatter out here,” Dobson said of his exchanges with Butler. “It’€™s all fun out here. We’€™re all teammates, and we look at this as a competition. I guess it helps some guys. It takes some guys out of their game, but it’€™s all fun. Some guys talk, some guys don’€™t.”

Does Dobson?

“Sometimes,” Dobson said with a smile. “It just depends.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski can appreciate a great physical specimen on the football field when he sees one.

And when the 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end looks across the line of scrimmage in full pads practice in camp, he most definitely sees one in linebacker Jamie Collins.

The third-year linebacker out of Southern Miss stands 6-foot-3, weighs in at 250 and is as close to a animal as the Patriots have on defense. There have even been comparisons to Lawrence Taylor in the way he can run and turn on his motor as an outside linebacker.

Gronk would be inclined to agree. And he’s happy he’s on the Patriots come game days.

“He’s a freak,” Gronk said after the team’s second straight day in full pads Sunday. “He’s fast, he’s long and he’s strong and he plays the game of football how it should be. He knows how to hit. He knows how to cover. He’s just an overall good player so it’s great going versus guys like him. That definitely makes you compete and makes you better.”

There’s another big player who’s been making a big impact this spring and summer. Only new tight end Scott Chandler has been working with Gronkowski on the same side of the ball.

“It’s great. He’s a great guy and he’s a competitor,” Gronkowski said. “He comes out here and works hard and definitely helps in individual drills and the meetings. And he’s all about football, which is awesome.”

Speaking of competition, Gronkowski was again asked about his starting quarterback and how he’s handling practice with Deflategate swirling around.

“He’s out here every single day with a competitive edge, no matter when it is,” Gronk said of Tom Brady. “Same with everyone on the team, same with myself. Just have to come out and work hard every single day.”

Gronkowski was asked if winning a Super Bowl has changed his outlook at all this camp.

“It hasn’t. This is in season now,” he said. “That’s all I’m worried about. We’re in training camp now. We’re just taking one day at a time. Every time we step out on the practice field, we’re trying to get better, get in better football shape and gain more chemistry as a team.

“You definitely have to enjoy it. It’s definitely a grind. You have to come out and work hard and get your mind right or else it’s going to be a long day. The defense is always competitive and they’re always bringing it. As an offensive unit, we’ve got to come out and be ready, too.”

Sunday featured some shouting from Tom Brady as the offense executed in the red zone while Aaron Dobson and Julian Edelman took their turns beating Malcolm Butler in passing drills. But that’s where the chirping pretty much ended, according to Gronkowski.

“Right now, we don’t really have that much time to chirp because we’re trying to get back into football shape,” he said.

The first two days of full pads practice has featured a very fast tempo.

“You’ve got to stay at a fast tempo,” Gronkowski said. “You want to stay at a fast pace out here in camp. You want to get your body back in football shape. Even if you’re tired, you have to push through it. It’s all just part of the grind and you have to keep coming out here and push through it.

“That’s what’s great about being on this team. If you’re feeling down low, feeling tired, guess what, the guy next to you is bringing you back up. He’s working hard. That’s what gives you the motivation to push through, coming out here during this camp. There’s always one teammate or a few just always grinding, making you get through it.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

One day after he was released by the Patriots, cornerback Justin Green announced his retirement via Facebook.

Green signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Illinois on July 21, 2013, and the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, spent the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad with two stints on the 53-man roster. He played in two regular season games in 2013 but did not register any tackles.

Green went to training camp with the Patriots last summer but was traded to Dallas in exchange for DE Ben Bass on Aug. 13, 2014. The Cowboys released Green prior to the start of the season, and was re-signed by New England to the practice squad on Dec. 3, 2014.

Definitely not an easy decision to retire and leave the game today. I enjoyed every minute of playing football and my…

Posted by Justin Green on Saturday, August 1, 2015

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The Patriots worked out in full pads for a second straight day, and for a second straight day Dont’a Hightower and rookie defensive lineman Xzavier Dickson were in non-contact red jerseys.

For a second  day in a row, there was no sighting of running back Tyler Gaffney or rookie tight end A.J. Derby on the field.

Aaron Dobson speaks to reporters  at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Aaron Dobson speaks to reporters at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — The Patriots worked out in full pads for a second straight day, and for a second straight day Dont’a Hightower and rookie defensive lineman Xzavier Dickson were in non-contact red jerseys.

For a second  day in a row, there was no sighting of running back Tyler Gaffney or rookie tight end A.J. Derby on the field.

The team then progressed to walkthrough with Tom Brady again getting the majority of time with the ones and Jimmy Garoppolo working with the twos. It was interesting to note LeGarrette Blount was working with Garoppolo and the second team.

Second-year corner Malcolm Butler was matched up against Julian Edelman on the outside. Tarell Brown played with the second team, also on the right corner. A funny moment came when Edelman leaped and caught a pass from Brady in red area work. He beat Butler and, as Butler was face down, went over and put the ball at his feet.

Hightower did make his way on the field and was in with the first team, a positive sign that the red jersey is purely precautionary until he is fully cleared from his shoulder procedure of the offseason, a procedure that called for a recovery time of 6-7 months.

Rookie guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson spent another day taking reps with Bryan Stork on the offensive line in front of Brady.

One of the big highlights of the 11-on-11 snaps was Brady throwing deep down the right sideline and connecting with a leaping Aaron Dobson, who beat Malcolm Butler on the play. It was the second straight day Dobson made a spectacular grab near the sideline. Dobson also made a boo-boo on Saturday that led to the entire offensive unit taking a lap.

The very next play, Logan Ryan dropped a sure-fire interception over the middle on a pass intended for Brian Tyms.

Julian Edelman was the main man returning punts again.

In one-on-one drills, Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom had impressive inside moves. Chandler Jones bullied Josh Kline and Jabaal Sheard had his way with Cam Fleming. Nate Solder fought to a draw with Rufus Johnson. Dominique Easley appeared to be taking it cautiously with his two knees, as he has just been activated off PUP.

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski received the biggest cheers as they came onto the field. Gronk walked on the field with Blount. Brady turns 38 on Monday.

There was good special teams coaching up on punt units with coach Joe Judge showing the energy early at the line of scrimmage, going over blocking assignments on the interior line.

There was a ball-security drill for roughly 10 minutes. Defensive lineman Joe Vellano left midway through practice and was escorted off the field with a member of the training staff.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Dickerson and Price discuss the RB position and who will get a majority of the workload. They also talk about missing Revis and the CB position. The boys also get into more Deflategate discussions with callers.
Dickerson and Price are live from Fenway today and kick off NFL Sunday discussing some of the events at Pats training camp this week. Then they get into the court battle between Brady and Goodell and where we go from here? The guys give their predictions on just how many games Brady will in fact sit out. They get into the Chris Mortenson situation after he backed out of the D&C interview. Finally, Trags (Mike Petraglia) of WEEI.com joins the boys live from training camp.
Bill Belichick could pass one of his coaching idols this season on the all-time wins list. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick will likely pass one of his coaching idols this season on the all-time wins list. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

1. Bill Belichick kicked off his 41st season in the NFL this week, and his 21st as a head coach. With 211 career victories in the regular season, he’s sixth overall when it comes to head coaching wins, and will almost certainly pass his coaching idol Paul Brown this year for fifth place on the all-time wins list in 2015. (Brown is fifth overall with 213 victories.) Never say never, but while it’s unlikely he’ll take down Don Shula‘s top mark of 326 career wins, he still has an excellent shot at reaching third place overall before everything is said and done. Curly Lambeau sits fourth overall with 226 (Belichick is 15 wins behind him). Meanwhile Tom Landry is third at 250 wins (39 wins ahead of Belichick) and George Halas sits second with 318 victories. For the record, Belichick has the fewest career years of any coach in the top 10 when it comes to regular-season wins; Marty Schottenheimer, who he passed in wins last year (Schottenheimer finished with 200) was a head coach for 21 years.

2. The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the family of the late Junior Seau deserve some credit for coming to an accord in the case of how things will be handled regarding Seau’s induction next weekend in Canton. Initially, the Hall was simply following established protocol when it mandated that Seau’s family would not be allowed to speak at the ceremony for the late linebacker, with only a video highlight package to be shown in place of a traditional induction speech. (The Hall of Fame established its video-only policy for posthumous inductions to shorten a lengthy ceremony.) However, the Hall has apparently changed course, and it was announced Saturday that Seau’s daughter Sydney will speak in an interview after her father’s bust is unveiled. The former Patriots linebacker, who committed suicide in 2012 reportedly because of CTE, is scheduled to be one of several former players inducted on August 8. However, it was reported last month that the Hall of Fame would not let his daughter Sydney or anyone else speak on his behalf. “It’s frustrating because the induction is for my father and for the other players, but then to not be able to speak, it’s painful,” Sydney told the New York Times. “I just want to give the speech he would have given. It wasn’t going to be about this mess. My speech was solely about him.” On Saturday, David Baker, the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said that Sydney would be allowed to speak in honor of her father. “Our goal is to maintain our policy regarding enshrinement speeches, but also show compassion and understanding,” Baker said in a statement. A positive move for all concerned.

3. One of the youngsters who has managed to stand out over the first three days of Patriots camp is linebacker Eric Martin. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder who spent the last two years with the Browns (where he played in 29 games and registered 14 total tackles), was acquired in December and added to the New England practice squad. He first made his mark in the offseason when he was named one of the offseason award winners. And on Saturday, he surprised some in the one-on-one drills when he went up against the offensive linemen and held his own — on one play, he flashed some nice quickness when he got past left tackle Nate Solder. No one is suggesting that he will unseat either Rob Ninkovich or Chandler Jones for a starters’ job coming off the edge, but through the first few days of camp, he’s earned the right to at least be part of the conversation when it comes to potential backups.

4. Consider this nothing more than a clip-and-save piece looking at some of the future personnel decisions that will face the Patriots. With that in mind, here’s a look at some New England players who have expiring contracts, broken down over the next few years (all info via Rotoworld):

Contracts that currently expire following 2015 season: LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Wendell, Nate Solder, Jerod Mayo.
Contracts that currently expire following 2016 season: Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Ninkovich, Brandon LaFell, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Malcolm Butler.
Contracts that currently expire following 2017 season: Tom Brady, Bryan Stork, Jimmy Garoppolo, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola.

(Other notable contracts that are looming include Rob Gronkowski, who will see his current deal expire following the 2019 season, and Stephen Gostkowski, who has a contract now that will take him through the 2018 campaign.)

5. One of our favorite semi-annual traditions is checking to see how the Patriots are doing when it comes to keeping “New England” in the “New England Patriots.” On the current roster, the Patriots have two players with local ties on the roster in fullback James Develin (who went to Brown) and cornerback Robert McClain (who attended UConn). On the coaching staff, the most notable name with New England roots is offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who attended Boston University, coached at Boston College and UConn and was born in Cambridge.

6. We were reminded just how quickly time passes this week when the Titans signed Tebucky Jones Jr. to the roster. A former Fordham star, the son of the ex-New England defensive back is one of the first players to reach the league who had a father who played for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI team. However, there are more like that on the way; an alert Tweeter noted that the son of Asante Samuel was recently offered a scholarship to Clemson. And former Florida State cornerback Mario Edwards — who was taken 19 spots before Brady in the 2000 draft — has a son who was taken 35th overall in the draft this past spring. (Mario Jr. was selected by the Raiders.)

7. Three former Patriots are currently plying their trade in the CFL, and after we got a good response when we wrote about them a month or two ago, we figured it was time to update their status: Wide receiver Austin Collie, who spent a brief stretch with New England in 2013, has 19 catches for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season for British Columbia. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Aaron Lavarias (who was on New England’s roster in 2011 and 2012) was placed on injured reserve with an arm injury by the Montreal Alouettes in June. And wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, who was with the Patriots in 2011 before getting cut on the eve of Super Bowl XLVI, has 10 catches for 111 yards for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this year.

8. One of the more familiar sights over the course of training camp (as well as the preseason) last year was the connection built between Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Tyms. The two hooked up on a memorable touchdown pass in the preseason against the Redskins, and seemed to find each other with regularity over the course of training camp in 2014. While Garoppolo hasn’t turned his back on Tyms to this point in the summer, it’s been hard to miss the fact that this year the QB is focused frequently on new receiver Brandon Gibson. The two made a few nice catch-and-throw plays on Friday and Saturday, and have displayed a good level of cohesiveness throughout the start of camp. There’s still no real clarity surrounding Tom Brady‘s situation to start the season — and Gibson likely remains a bubble candidate at this point — but if Garoppolo has certainly shown a fondness for Gibson. We’ll see if that helps the receiver land a roster spot.

9. Here’s a quick look at some key upcoming dates on the NFL calendar:

Aug. 6-9: Hall of Fame Weekend, Canton, Ohio.

Aug. 9: Hall of Fame Game, Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, in Canton, Ohio.

Aug. 13-17: First preseason weekend.

Aug. 20-24: Second preseason weekend.

Aug. 27-30: Third preseason weekend.

Sept. 1: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 75 players on the active list.

Sept. 3: Final preseason games.

Sept. 5: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List. Simultaneously with the cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.

Sept. 6: Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12 p.m. ET. Upon receipt of the personnel notice at approximately 1 p.m. ET, clubs may establish a practice squad of 10 players. No club, including the player’s prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a practice player contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above personnel notice that such player’s prior NFL player contract has been terminated via the waiver system. After 4 p.m. ET, a club is permitted to place a player on Reserve/Injured as “Designated for Return.”

Sept. 10: Regular-season opens, Pittsburgh at New England.

10. From this viewpoint, we’ve always been big fans of the work of Ben Austro, who runs the Twitter feed (and web site) for Football Zebras. In a world of hyperbole and hot takes, Austro offers smart and rationale analysis of referees and their work on his blog and Twitter feed. We’re happy to announce that he has a book that’s set to come out next month — you can buy it here. We’ve seen an advanced copy, and it’s well worth your time. Two other book-related notes: one, Chris Brown of Smart Football also has a new book out, which is a terrific read. And two, the new edition of the Football Outsiders Almanac will also be released in the next couple of weeks. I was lucky enough to fool Aaron Schatz into thinking I was worthy enough to join his writing crew again this year — you can look for my analysis of the Jets and Dolphins. Hopefully, I didn’t embarrass myself too much.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Three days into training camp, the Patriots have begun the process of trimming their roster.

Following the first full pads practice on Saturday, the team announced that they have released defensive backs Derek Cox and Justin Green and linebacker D.J. Lynch. Saturday’s moves drops New England’s roster down to 87 players.

FOXBORO — Three days into training camp, the Patriots have begun the process of trimming their roster.

Following the first full pads practice on Saturday, the team announced that they have released defensive backs Derek Cox and Justin Green and linebacker DJ Lynch. Saturday’s moves drops New England’s roster down to 87 players.

Cox, 28, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on June 8, 2015. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, is a veteran of five NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-12) and the San Diego Chargers (2013). He originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick by Jacksonville in 2009 out of William & Mary.

He has played in 63 NFL games with 56 starts and has accumulated 204 total tackles, 13 interceptions and 39 passes defensed. After being released by San Diego on March 4, 2014, Cox went to training camp with Minnesota after joining the Vikings on March 16, 2014. He was released by Minnesota on Aug. 25, 2014, signed by Baltimore on Aug. 27, 2014 and then released by the Ravens on Aug. 30, 2014.

Green, 24, originally signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Illinois on July 21, 2013. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, spent the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad with two stints on the 53-man roster. He played in two regular season games in 2013 but did not register any tackles.

Green went to training camp with the Patriots last summer but was traded to Dallas in exchange for DE Ben Bass on Aug. 13, 2014. The Cowboys released Green prior to the start of the season. He was re-signed by New England to the practice squad on Dec. 3, 2014.

Lynch, 22, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Bowling Green on June 11, 2015. The 6-foot, 252-pounder, played in 48 games with 26 starts at Bowling Green and finished with 230 total tackles. He had his best season as a junior in 2013 when he started all 14 games and was named All-MAC after finishing with a team-high of 83 total tackles.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia