Jonathan Freeny

Jonathan Freeny

FOXBORO — Patriots linebacker Jonathan Freeny accomplished something not too many NFL players say they’ve done — get a contract extension in back-to-back seasons.

After signing a one-year deal with the Patriots in March of 2015, he was extended through 2016 in late September of last year and then over the weekend he was extended once again, reportedly for two more years.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that hard work is paying off and the coaches appreciate me being here, while I appreciate being here,” Freeny said. “Knowing I [was] able to get extended and play for the same team I’ve known for two years is a blessing and I am thankful for that.”

The 27-year-old played in 13 games last season and finished with 50 tackles and a sack in a backup linebacker role, which he likely will have again in 2016. He spent his first three seasons in the league with the Dolphins and is glad to have found a home in New England.

“I love being here,” Freeny said. “The guys are great. The coaches are great. It’s just a great atmosphere being part of the team, the fans, everything. It’s just a great environment.”

Freeny is just one of the many Rutgers players on the roster, which includes Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Kevin Snyder. The linebacker said having all those former teammates on the roster makes the team even more enjoyable.

“Most definitely,” he said. “All the guys from Rutgers that are here I was pretty close with while I was there, so seeing those guys, still hanging out and doing things together and just being around those guys. All the guys here are pretty cool. It’s a great environment for me.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — What a difference week makes.

Last week linebacker Barkevious Mingo was preparing to play for the Browns, one of the worst teams in the league, but following a trade last Thursday, Mingo is now playing for one of the best in the Patriots.

Barkevious Mingo is excited to get going with the Patriots. (WEEI.com)

Barkevious Mingo is excited to get going with the Patriots. (WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — What a difference week makes.

Last week linebacker Barkevious Mingo was preparing to play for the Browns, one of the worst teams in the league, but following a trade last Thursday, Mingo is now playing for one of the best in the Patriots.

Although he didn’t play in last Friday’s third preseason game, he participated in his first practice with the team on Monday.

“It’s a huge culture shock,” Mingo said. “I felt like the winning spirit was making its way into Cleveland with (new head coach Hue Jackson), but it’s definitely been established here for a long time. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

Mingo, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, said he would be playing linebacker with the Patriots and was happy to reunite with Jabaal Sheard, who he played with in Cleveland. He admitted he’s excited to join a team with a winning culture like the Patriots.

“It’s very exciting,” Mingo said. “This team is stacked at every position. You have guys on the outside that can cover, you have interior guys that are holding gaps and linebackers that are hitting those gaps and making big plays. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

“(Growing) up, if you played Madden, you probably played with the Patriots,” he added.

As for being traded, Mingo admitted it did come as a bit of a surprise, but he’s looking forward to making the most of the opportunity.

“A little bit of shock, but honestly glad to be part of a team like the Patriots and looking forward to every opportunity that I have here,” he said.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — Over the first two weeks of the preseason, no one passed for more yardage in the NFL than Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Patriots projected starter on Sept. 11 in Arizona was 27-of-39 for 349 yards and a touchdown against the Saints and Bears.

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Jimmy Garoppolo speaks in front of his locker Monday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Over the first two weeks of the preseason, no one passed for more yardage in the NFL than Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Patriots projected starter on Sept. 11 in Arizona was 27-of-39 for 349 yards and a touchdown against the Saints and Bears.

Then, last week against the Panthers, he took a step back, completing just 9-of-15 for 57 yards. That, combined with some struggles during joint practices started some wondering whether Garoppolo would be ready to go for the Cardinals in the opener.

But not Garoppolo. The quarterback said Monday in front of his locker that he feels he and the offense are right on track for the season opener.

“It’s been a good training camp so far for sure,” Garoppolo said. “We’ve made a ton of progress as an offense and as a team. We’ve just got to keep moving in the right direction. We’re worried about the Giants right now, we’re not worried about opening day yet, so we’ll get there when it comes.”

Garoppolo, who spoke at the podium last week before Friday’s game in Charlotte, was relegated to his locker on Monday. The reason?

“Not my choice,” he said. “I just do what they tell me.”

There has also been some speculation that Friday’s effort against the Panthers will inspire Bill Belichick to play Garoppolo Thursday at MetLife Stadium.

“It’s really not my call,” Garoppolo said. “You always want to be out there with your guys. It’s just the nature of the beast; you’re a competitor, you want to be out there, but whatever Coach asks me to do, I’ll do. Naturally [the desire to play is] in all of us, we’re all competitors, so we all want to be out there playing. At the end of the day, it’s not our call. You can’t worry about things you can’t control.”

Garoppolo found out in warmups he was starting against the Bears and wasn’t given that much more time before the Panthers game.

“You don’t know if you’re going to start, you don’t know if you’re going to come off the bench,” Garoppolo said. “At first, it was a weird – I can remember back in my rookie year it was a weird thing not knowing. You just get used to it after a while, mixing and matching with all the different guys, knowing guys’ tendencies and how they play, and you just react to it, really.

“The Bears game, I found out like an hour before, and this past week, not very much more than that. You kind of have to stay on your toes; you never know what’s going to happen.”

Does Garoppolo think it would be helpful to get another series or two before opening the season and making his first NFL regular season start?

“I mean that’s just not my call,” he said. “I really don’t even think about it like that, to be honest. Whatever they ask me to do, they ask me to do.”

As for some of the struggles against Carolina, Garoppolo said he was happy to finally get the chance at some early points with an opening drive. That first drive ended with a Stephen Gostkowski missed field goal from 30 yards.

“We’ve got to move on from that,” he said. “We’re moving on to the Giants week, getting ready for those guys. We’ve just got to get ready for them.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Alan Branch was seen for the first time in almost two weeks Monday as he returned to the practice field with the Patriots preparing for their fourth and final preseason game against the Giants Thursday night.

Alan Branch

Alan Branch

FOXBORO — Alan Branch was seen for the first time in almost two weeks Monday as he returned to the practice field with the Patriots preparing for their fourth and final preseason game against the Giants Thursday night.

Branch had been suspended since prior to the second preseason game against the Bears on Aug. 18. Bill Belichick called the matter a “club issue” and Branch wouldn’t say anything more than that.

“If Bill ain’t telling you all, I ain’t saying a damn thing,” Branch said. “I guarantee you that. If you all are looking for something from me it ain’t happening. I’m just happy to be out here and getting ready to play against the Giants. Being out here with my teammates, we’re all just grinding for the same goals. That’s where we’re at right now.”

The 31-year-old said there are no issues with either his teammates or coaches since returning.

“My teammates are good. My coaches are still good. There is no reason for me to walk around embarrassed at all,” he said.

Although Branch said there were no lingering issues, he did acknowledge he missed valuable snaps and reps during practice and the two games missed.

“Every snap on the field is valuable,” he said. “Every one I missed out there everyone is getting better while I was either staying stagnant or going down while I was going through the personal workouts I was doing. I missed some valuable time out there.”

Branch has been with the Patriots since 2014 as he was let go by the Bills. During that span he has 48 tackles and a sack. After bouncing around the league for his first seven seasons, he feels comfortable with the Patriots.

“I love it here,” Branch said. “Love the guys in the locker room. Love the atmosphere, the winning attitude. Everything about being here is awesome. I love this place.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — The Patriots got some good news back at practice on Monday, as offensive linemen Jonathan Cooper and Shaq Mason returned to the practice field.

Jonathan Cooper

Jonathan Cooper

FOXBORO — The Patriots got some good news back at practice on Monday, as offensive linemen Jonathan Cooper and Shaq Mason returned to the practice field.

Cooper had been missing since being carted off with a foot injury on one of the first few days of training camp. Mason missed the last week with a reported broken hand. Defensive tackle Alan Branch also returned after being suspended for last week.

Players missing all together from the shorts and shells session were: Matthew Slater, Dion Lewis, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Sebastian Vollmer. Danny Amendola and Tre’ Jackson remain on PUP.

As has been the case of late there were several players not participating on the entire session as they left early for conditioning work on the lower fields. They were: Amendola, Jackson, Mason, Cooper, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin and Rob Ninkovich. It would appear these players will not play in Thursday’s game against the Giants.

Jabaal Sheard was a full participant as was newly acquired Barkevious Mingo.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Bryan Stork

Bryan Stork

FOXBORO — It appears that Bryan Stork’s rights have reverted back to the Patriots.

The offensive lineman, who was dealt to the Redskins last week for a conditional draft pick, reportedly failed his physical with Washington. On Monday, Bill Belichick was asked if New England would reclaim his rights because of what happened.

“I don’t know if that’s official, but that sounds like the way it’s going to go,” Belichick said.

“We’ll find out exactly what the story is,” he added. “Whenever that is, we’ll make the best decision that we can.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price