Rob Gronkowski pronounced himself ready to play on Monday, but in a conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick sounded hesitant when it came to giving a thumbs up on the playing status of the tight en

Rob Gronkowski pronounced himself ready to play on Monday, but in a conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick sounded hesitant when it came to giving a thumbs up on the playing status of the tight end.

“I’m glad that Rob’s optimistic about his situation,” Belichick said. “We’ll go through the week of practice and take a look at everything, everybody, and see where everybody’s at and try to do what we feel like is best for the team.

“With all due respect to Rob — I’m glad he feels the way he does — but, in the end, we’ll have to make the decision we feel like is best for the team and we’ll do that as we go through the week.”

Gronkowski said he was “super excited” Monday, and proclaimed himself “good to go.”

“€œJust seeing my teammates grind all week,” he added. “Go back out there with them, get in the huddle, break the huddle with them. It’€™s going to be an honor to be out there with my teammates. Super pumped, super excited and just preparing for the game.

“€œI feel mentally and physically ready, for sure. No doubt about it.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Julian Edelman joined the show to talk about the departure of Logan Mankins, whether he would be ready to go at QB if necessary (he's not), the Miami Dolphins, and ... fanny packs.

Defensive end Chandler Jones checked in with the Middays with MFB show on Tuesday, as the Patriots start planning for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Defensive end Chandler Jones checked in with the Middays with MFB show on Tuesday, as the Patriots start planning for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Dolphins won the teams’ last meeting, a 24-20 decision in Miami last Dec. 15. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns in that game.

Jones, who led the Patriots with 11 1/2 sacks last season, is wary of Tannehill’s ability to improvise and pick up yards on scrambles.

“Ryan Tannehill — very, very athletic quarterback,” Jones said. “He’s a guy that can beat you with his arm or can beat you on the ground with his legs. It’s our job — well, it’s my job as a defensive lineman, me and Rob [Ninkovich] as well, just to contain him. He’s very versatile, he can make big plays, and it’s our job to contain him. He can definitely get out of the pocket. He definitely can.”

Jones should see plenty of new Dolphins offensive lineman Branden Albert, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason after six years with the Chiefs.

‘”Branden Albert is a great player,” Jones said of the 6-foot-5, 316-pounder who was a Pro Bowler last season. “This is his first year there over in Miami. He’s a very big individual. The thing that really impresses me is his footwork for his size, for his height, he’s a big guy, he’s even taller than me. And I’m tall myself. But his footwork is very, very good. He’s very trained to not bite on certain moves and certain things of that nature. It will be a very good test and I’m excited to go against him. I really am.”

The Dolphins finished 8-8 last season and just missed a playoff berth. After some key offseason moves, there is hope in Miami that the team will improve enough to find its way into the postseason this year.

“I feel like that’s every team, not just the Miami Dolphins, not just the New England Patriots,” Jones said of teams’ goals to improve. “Every team in the NFL, it’s the head coach’s job and everyone around the organization’s job to better that team. I would figure obviously that people would say, or things of that nature would come about, that this is a better team. Because each and every offseason certain teams are trying to better their team. Our team has gotten better as well.

“Not one team in the NFL has played a down yet. With that being said, like I said, it goes back to being prepared. This is a good team. They have a new team, they have new schemes. Our job is come up there and be prepared and execute whatever the coaches preach to us the whole week during practice day in and day out.”

Tom Brady, during his appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, said he wants to play as long as he can, and, “When I suck, I’ll retire.”

Said Jones: “You never know. You can never put a time or a duration on someone’s longevity or their career. Tom Brady takes care of his body, as far as I know. He’s a very smart player I enjoy having him as a teammate. Tom is very competitive. Tom just wants to win, and that’s the main goal of this game is to win. All 32 teams are competing for that one trophy.

“Having a guy like Tom on the team, I enjoy having him on the team. There’s no time limit — whenever he wants to hang it up, that’s when it will happen. That’s a decision that he will have to make on his own.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman stopped by for a visit with the Middays with MFB crew on Tuesday to preview Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Dolphins in Miami.

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman stopped by for a visit with the Middays with MFB crew on Tuesday to preview Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Dolphins in Miami. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Patriots made two big moves since Thursday’s final preseason game, trading offensive lineman Logan Mankins and backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, leaving rookie Jimmy Garoppolo to serve as Tom Brady‘s backup.

“With the whole Mankins situation that happened last week, like I said last week, I love the guy as a teammate, but as Tom said, we’re moving on,” Edelman said. “We’re thinking about Miami, the team that we have now. It is a business. A lot of these kind of crazy things go down.

“As far as Jimmy Garoppolo, his job is to back up Tom Brady. He has to worry about what he has to do, I have to worry about what I have to do, because if that if that situation were ever to come … you prepare for what you have to do as an individual to make everything comfortable for anyone who comes in. That’s along with a tackle, another receiver, the kicker, whatever. Injuries are a part of the game. Whenever something like that goes down, you’ve just got to be prepared to kind of do your job.”

Rob Gronkowski also made news when he announced Monday that he’s ready to play Sunday.

“That’s Gronk being Gronk, maybe. That’s his situation,” Edelman said. “I didn’t even see the clippings or anything. … He’s been in there practicing, working hard. But like we keep on preaching around here, you kind of worry about what you have to do. If he plays, that’s awesome, because that’s a huge weapon, probably the best tight end in the National Football League, in my opinion. But if he doesn’t, you have to worry about what you have to do, and go out and do your job.”

The Dolphins made a move to improve their defensive backfield in the offseason, signing controversial veteran Cortland Finnegan, someone Edelman expects to see a lot of on Sunday. Edelman called the oft-fined Finnegan “a feisty, instinctive vet player who’s played a lot of games in this league.”

“He’s a competitor,” Edelman said. “He’s played a lot of games, like I said. He’s been known to maybe get in there and compete in the full length of the play, but we all do here.”

Following a tightly called preseason, Edelman isn’t sure what to expect from the officials, but he’s ready to adjust either way.

“We’re going to play the game the way it’s being called,” he said. “Both teams have to deal with that. If it’s being called tight that day, everyone’s got to make an adjustment. If it’s being called a little loosely you’re going to make an adjustment to that, too. Our coaches do a great job of making the situation in practice pretty hard, pretty comparable to games, tough game situations. So hopefully all that coaching and those drills in practice will translate great to the game.”

The start of the regular season brings with it the team’s true game-planning mode for the first time this season.

“It’s a sense of normality now,” Edelman said. “You go in and you have camp and you’re over there and you’re practicing all these fundamentals, you’re practicing scheme and you’re just running plays, you’re running through situations. Now you get to game plan and think about an opponent and look at their strengths, their weaknesses, how you’re going to attack them, how they’re going to attack you.

“It’s definitely normality now to get back in this grind. It’s something if you’ve been around you know that feeling. … It’s a lot different once you get to the normal season.”

Added Edelman: “Now it counts. We’ve got a tough opponent, a division opponent in Miami with a solid defense coming back, an offense that’s explosive, a really good team right now. It’s going to be a big battle for the first game.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
Tom Brady discussed his feelings on the Logan Mankins trade and the return of Gronk.

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Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning as the Patriots prepare for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Dolphins in Miami.

Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning as the Patriots prepare for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Dolphins in Miami. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Patriots finished a 2-2 preseason with Thursday’s 16-13 loss to the Giants. Since then, the team traded stalwart offensive lineman Logan Mankins and backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. According to a report, Brady was very upset upon learning that Mankins was sent to the Buccaneers for tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 draft pick.

“I haven’t really spoken to anybody about it,” Brady said. “I have my own personal feelings that obviously are very personal to me. Whatever those are, I just want our team to be the best it can be for this year. I love Logan, Logan was a great friend of mine. Nobody stood for Patriot football more than him. But he’s moved on. I hope he’s happy. We’ll keep in touch.

“We’ve got a game to win. I can’t really think too much about what happened in the past. Like I said, yeah, I dealt with whatever feelings I had last week, but I’ve moved on. I’ve got to move on, because that’s what this team expects me to do. With Miami coming in, the only thought on my mind is how I can be the best quarterback against them and how I can can try to go out there and lead my teammates and be a great example and be a great motivator and bring the enthusiasm and energy for the team. Because without that then we have less opportunity to win. And you guys know me, I like winning.”

Brady has been through this before, losing close friends in the final days and weeks before the season begins, but he said the business aspect of football is no easier to handle as a seasoned veteran.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “I’m a very person-to-person type of person. I am a very emotional person. I don’t think those things have ever gotten easier for me. And I don’t think they ever will. But you’ve got to come to grips with it also, and learn to deal with things in a mature way.

“We as players, the business side of things, we’re there to play, we aren’t there to run businesses. We’re there to enjoy the camaraderie with our teammates, enjoy the playing experience with our teammates. We play for one another, and you deal with whatever comes up and then you move forward. I think that’s part of the sport. Being that it’s happened, I know it’s going to happen next year, too, I know it’s going to happen the year after that, the year after that — for as long as you continue playing here you’re going to be dealing with this.

“But now we’ve got a chance to move forward, to move forward with the start of the year. And you’ve got to bring the best attitude you can when it matters to the most, which is now.”

As with Mankins, Brady said he did not get much time to reminisce with Mallet, his backup for the past three seasons, after Bill Belichick sent him to the Texans.

“All these things that happen, they happen really quick,” Brady said. “I know coach said there were 800 transactions or something on Saturday. You show up to work one day, everyone’s there, you’ve got 90 guys or whatever, then the next day you show up and there’s 53. There’s not really time to sit around the table and talk about how great things have been. … In Ryan’s particular situation he’s moving on with his life, and the Patriots move on. You wish each other luck. We’ll always keep in touch. I keep in touch with Matt Cassel and Damon Huard and Brian Hoyer. I keep in touch with all these guys, because they’re my friends. It’s not football, it’s personal. Those guys will be friends for the rest of my life, certainly Ryan will be, too.

“You spend three years of all this emotion and energy you spend together and you have friendships. That’s one of the really gratifying parts about playing professional sports, is the relationships that you build with the people that matter so much in your life because you make such a sacrifice for them, and they make such a sacrifice for you.

“These things are never easy. It doesn’t take away from any personal relationship. It’s a business relationship that the organization has with particular players. Like I said, everyone deals with them differently, but the way that we deal with it is we choose to deal with it, you move on, and certainly this week and yesterday and on, we’re just focused on the Miami Dolphins and how we can go out there and put together the best plan to go out there and kick some butt on Sunday.”

Should the day ever come when the Patriots decide to part ways with Brady, the quarterback said it would be difficult to accept.

“There’s nowhere I’d rather play, I know that,” he said. “I love playing for this team and I love representing this team. Hopefully I can do that for as long as I can. When I suck, I’ll retire. I don’t plan on sucking for a long time. [Laughing] Hopefully that leads me to be in here, and there’s no place I’d rather be. I love this game and I love working hard at it.

“I’ve had a lot of people over the years tell me the things I couldn’t do, and I think that’s always been great motivation for me to go out there and accomplish things that I think I can do. Hopefully it’s to continue to play at a high level for a really long period of time.”

Added Brady: “I like working hard at it. I’m going to try to be the best I can be for as long as I can do that. Hopefully the team values that. If they don’t, then I’ll probably have a tough day at some point. That’s what football’s all about.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On Rob Gronkowski announcing Monday that he’s ready to play: “Well, I hope so. The more guys we can have out there, the better. We just started the week of practice, so I think everyone’s trying to get out there, learn each other. The final roster has finally been picked, and whosever on the active roster really has to be ready to go. We’re going to need contributions from everybody. If Gronk can be one of those guys, then I think that makes our team better.

“We’ve got a lot of plans. We’ve made contingency plans for everybody being out. That’s just what we have to do.”

On Gronkowski’s impact on the team: “Him being a teammate for the last, I don’t know, four years, we know what he can bring to the team, what his ability is when he’s out there, what he’s capable of. Not only his own ability, but how that helps the other guys, too. Because it’s hard to put one guy on him and just think that guy can hold up all game. So then you may get more zone coverage, then you may get double coverage. They’re going to figure out their schemes to stop your best player. That’s what good defenses do, they try to identify what an offense’s strength is, and then they’ve got to shut that down. We have to try to identify what a defense’s strengths are and shut those things down.

“We’ve got a good group of guys. If they’re going to cover Gronk, then we’ve got to throw to the other guys. And when he’s out there, he’s obviously a great target because of his size, his speed, his agility, his ability to catch the football in traffic. That’s what he’s done over the course of his career. That’s why he’s got so many touchdowns, because he’s got such a big catch radius that you put the ball in certain areas and he can go up and make the play.

“But like I said, if they cover him, then there’s other options. We’ve got a lot of guys that I’m excited about. I’m really excited about our offense and the work that we’ve put in, guys really finding a role for themselves. That all really gets a chance to go out and prove it this weekend.”

On new tight end Tim Wright: “It’s been a short period of time. I haven’t studied what he’s been doing as much as probably the coaches have. … Truthfully, I watched him a lot last year because we had a lot of games where we saw Tampa playing, and I said, ‘Who is this young No. 81 that looks like a good player?’ I’m excited to have him on our team. He’s a good player. I know the other night in the game [watching] from the sideline he was making a lot of plays out there. Hopefully he can go out there and keep making them.”

On if there’s a change in the tone and pace in practice this week: “Absolutely. These count. This goes in the final standings. This is when you’re expected to be at your very best, and every bit of preparation that we’ve all done for the last last six months since the end of last season comes down to this particular day. Yeah, there’s a lot of urgency this week. You can’t afford any mistakes. The guys that are out there, those are the guys that have done the best job over the course of the offseason to put themselves in the best position to help our team. I’m excited. I think it’s a different feeling yesterday than all year. We’ve been off for so long, finally we get an opportunity to go out there and do something that really counts and that’s going to matter in the final standings.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar