FOXBORO — With Friday being the first OTA session with media access, and first team activity since the Wells Report and subsequent penalties were handed down, there were sure to be a lot of questions asked about quarterback Tom Brady.

FOXBORO — With Friday being the first OTA session with media access, and first team activity since the Wells Report and subsequent penalties were handed down, there were sure to be a lot of questions asked about quarterback Tom Brady.

Many of the players, including Rob Gronkowski, didn’t address the topic, simply discussing the team getting ready for the upcoming season.

“My take is that I just gotta keep on doing what I need to do and that’€™s preparing every day coming out here and working as hard as I can,” Gronkowski said. “Doing my job out on the field every single day. Whatever goes on with him doesn’€™t affect how I play or I prepare. I’€™m just really worried about myself right now and what I have to do to help the team out.”

The Patriots tight end, who did quite a bit of work with Brady off to the side on goal line work, was asked if he noticed anything different about the quarterback given he’s suspended for the first four games.

“No difference,” Gronkowksi said. ‘€œHe comes out here and competes every single day like nothing happened.”

Friday certainly won’t be the only time Gronkowski and his teammates will be asked about their quarterback and their thoughts on Deflategate. Gronkowski explained his mindset with how to handle that.

“When there’€™s outside distractions, you gotta block ‘€˜em out,” said Gronkowski. “You gotta come out on the field, you gotta do what you gotta do to help the team out. Just block everything out, come in the stadium like nothing’€™s going on and work hard in the weight room, on the field, in the playbook, wherever it is.”

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the quarterback duties Friday.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the quarterback duties Friday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Here are some quick takeaways from Friday’s OTA practice session, the first open to the media, which was held on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.

— Although attendance was next to impossible to take with the players not wearing numbers, even none on their helmets, here’s an unofficial list of players who weren’t present: Alan Branch, Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, AJ Derby, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Chris Jones, Brandon LaFell, Jerod Mayo, Sealver Siliga, Matthew Slater, Sebastian Vollmer and Ryan Wendell. Wendell was spotted leaving the field in street clothes as the media filed in.

— Long snapper Joe Cardona, the Patriots’ fifth-round pick this year, was present even though he hasn’t officially signed. Since he is coming out of Navy he needs special clearance to delay his deployment and potentially start his career. There’s no word if that has been approved yet.

— There was a drone flying overhead for the entire session, adding to the cameras already stationed high above the field. The Cowboys were seen using one as well earlier in the week.

— Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the snaps fairly evenly between 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. In 11-on-11’s, Brady went 7-for-11, while Garoppolo went 8-for-11. Brady’s favorite target was Julian Edelman, while Garoppolo looked for Aaron Dobson a lot. Brady was as animated as usual, yelling lots of encouragement to his receivers.

— Brady got some goal line work with Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui and James Develin. The group ran plays without facing a defense.

— On the other end of the field, Jake Bequette caught passes from third-string quarterback Garrett Gilbert. It was reported earlier Friday by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the defensive end drafted in 2012 will get some action at tight end this summer.

— Running back Jonas Gray appeared to bulk up a great deal in the offseason. He will be in the mix in the back field, which is one of the deepest positions on the roster.

— There was a great deal of special teams work done, led by new coach Joe Judge. Edelman, Danny Amendola and Jonathan Krause all got chances to return punts.

— The team will continue with OTAs next Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Thursday’s session being open to the media.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO – Brandon Spikes was a member of the Patriots for four years, but that doesn’t mean things ended well.

Brandon Spikes is back with the Patriots after spending four years with the team before playing with Buffalo last year. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Brandon Spikes is back with the Patriots after spending four years with the team before playing with Buffalo last year. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FOXBORO – Brandon Spikes was a member of the Patriots for four years, but that doesn’t mean things ended well.

The Patriots didn’t re-sign the middle linebacker following the 2013 season and Spikes signed with the Bills where he then took to Twitter and posted: 4 years a slave. Spikes was put on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury at the end of 2013, which reportedly was because he missed practice.

It became clear things didn’t end well between he and Bill Belichick.

Fast forward just over a year and with Spikes a free agent, Belichick and the Patriots scooped him up, with Spikes signing a one-year deal. Following Friday’s OTA practice, he spoke for the first time and wasn’t in the mood to discuss his departure.

“I don’t want to talk about that. You can clearly see me and The Hoodie kissed and made up. I’m here, that’s in the past. I’m moving on,” Spikes said, referring to Belichick.

Even with how things ended, Spikes said he’s looking forward to the season and playing for Belichick again.

“I just look at Bill as a genius,” Spikes said. “He can plug guys in and still be efficient and be productive, top of the league in all categories. That’s what makes him great. Just to have that opportunity to play under the greatest coaches ever is a dream come true and I want to definitely take advantage of it. Let him coach me up ins and outs, everything.

“I’m all ears and happy to be here. It’s that simple, I don’t know how else to put it. I’m honestly in awe to be standing here talking, seeing you guys again, familiar face over the years. It’s nice. Everybody welcomed be back — even the fans, the players, the people upstairs. It was all smiles and hugs. It’s cool.”

Spikes spent one year in Buffalo, playing in all 16 games and finishing with 54 tackles. He said nothing has really changed in the one year he missed.

“It’s the Patriot way, you know how that goes,” Spikes said. “It obviously works and I am just glad to be part of it and get another opportunity to prove I can play here and hold myself accountable to my teammates and coaches. I just want to prove them right.”

“I’m definitely fortunate for the opportunity Bill gave me and sometimes you need that separation and it kind of makes you more appreciative and thankful,” he added.

The Patriots did win the Super Bowl in the one year Spikes was gone, and his teammates have playfully joked with him about him not getting a ring, but Spikes isn’t letting that getting to him. He said he’s focused on just making the team.

“You know, it’s the same thing, they have that big ring and we moving on from that, but some of the guys are going to throw it in my face, but it is what it is, it’s all fun and games,” Spikes said. “But, I am letting them know I am here to work and make this ball club. It’s that simple. I am trying to get better each and every day and control what I can control.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — It worked so well on the way to a Super Bowl title that Bill Belichick brought back a moniker from 2014 to deflect the media crush Friday at Patriots OTAs outside

Bill Belichick addresses reporters Friday after OTA practice outside Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick addresses reporters Friday after OTA practice outside Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — It worked so well on the way to a Super Bowl title that Bill Belichick brought back a moniker from 2014 to deflect the media crush Friday at Patriots OTAs outside Gillette Stadium.

Asked if the joy from February’s Super Bowl win was diminished at all by the news from Deflategate, Belichick looked toward the future.

“That’s a long time ago. We’re on to next year,” Belichick said. “It’s 2015. You forget about last year. That was last year.”

With Tom Brady facing a four-game suspension to start the season, Belichick was naturally asked if he’s preparing to start the season with second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

“We’re just going day-by-day right now,” Belichick said. “Everybody is working hard, trying to get better. That’s what we’re all doing.”

Garoppolo, Brady and Garrett Gilbert all took snaps and turns in running the Patriots’ offense Friday during a practice that lasted nearly two hours.

“Trying to get everybody an opportunity to learn our system and get ready to compete and play and that competition will really come in training camp,” Belichick said. “This is a more a teaching camp than a competitive camp. We want to try to get everybody an opportunity to learn and understand the plays and know what to do and then we’ll let them compete in training camp and preseason games and see how it goes. It’s up to them.

“Right now, we’re in 2015. Nobody is looking back. Nobody is looking ahead. We’re just trying to come out here and get better day by day.”

Belichick would not offer any comment on what he felt about owner Robert Kraft’s decision to accept a $1 million fine and the loss of two draft picks as punishment for the organization’s role in Deflategate.

“He made a statement on it last week,” said Belichick, who was actually asked if he had any opinion on the fan movement to delay the Super Bowl banner raising until Brady returns. “Right now, we’re just concentrating on our practices out here.”

More from Belichick on Friday:

Message to rookies during controversy:

“What they need to do is go out and work hard and try to earn a job on the team. That’s what we’re all trying to do, is improve. Players are trying to compete for spots and coaches are trying to get everybody ready to compete and ready to play in a very competitive 16-game regular season schedule. So, that’s what we’re doing. There’s no other real objective.”

Has it been difficult to watch the organization in turmoil?

“We’re just working hard every day to come out here and get better,” Belichick answered. “Coaches, players, everybody in the organization, each day we’re trying to make it a little bit better than the day before. That’s where we’re at and that’s what we’re going to keep doing. I love football.”

On OTAs:

“First week of OTAs so I feel like the players are working hard. We have a lot of guys who have really done a good job in the offseason and now they’re starting to get the opportunity to play football out on the field, come together a little bit as a team and in different groups. That’s encouraging. It’s always good to be back out there. I think that these guys so far have done a good job. We just have to build on it day-by-day. See if we can build next week off this week’s start and string some good days together.”

“This is it. We’ve had a couple of weeks with them. Prior to OTAs, it’s just drills and footwork and bags and stuff like that. There’s not a whole lot we can do. Now we can get another team in front of them and they can start to see how all the plays come together, how it looks against somebody on the other side of the ball. Communication that they have to have with each other in order to make plays work. It’s a big jump for them, big step for them. It’s a new system for all of them. As a group, they’re working hard. I respect what they’re doing. They’ve made a lot of progress. They’ve got a long way to go but they’ve made some strides.”

“That’s what this time of year is for. We’ve had a lot of preparation time. We’ve had some offseason program time and we’ve added some players to our team and now we’ll start to see them perform out there together instead of just having a bunch of names up on a board and name cards. Now, we’re actually [looking at] football players.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — The general consensus among the country is the Patriots are not very well liked, as a recent poll (courtesy of the Washington Post) named the Patriots the second-most hated NFL team.

The general consensus among the country is the Patriots are not very well liked, as a recent poll (courtesy of the Washington Post) named the Patriots the second-most hated NFL team.

From winning four Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick era, to Tom Brady‘s success, to the recent Deflategate developments, the nation generally dislikes the Patriots.

Julian Edelman was asked what he thought about people’s dislike of the Patriots and his answer was simple and direct.

“They hate ya if they ain’t ya,” Edelman said following Friday’s OTA session on the back fields of Gillette Stadium.

Brady is faced with a four-game suspension following the release of the Wells Report, although he is appealing. Edelman isn’t even thinking about that.

“We’re not even thinking about the first four games, we’re just focused on trying to get this offense going and learning everyone’s names, trying to learn background information on everyone,” Edelman said. “It’s one of those things where you can’t look into the future, you can’t look into the past. There’s been good things that have happened in the past, there have been bad things that have happened in the past. There are good things that will happen in the future, and bad things that will happen in the future, it’s more about how we can improve today and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

If Brady were to miss time, second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would be in line to step in and start in his place. With the quarterback having to lead the offense and demonstrate leadership qualities, Edelman said he doesn’t think this will be an issue as every member of the Patriots shows leadership qualities in one way or another.

“You see leadership from a lot of people,” Edelman said. “Jimmy has had leadership. Josh Boyce has had leadership. Everyone has had a little bit of leadership. If you come in and work your tail off, you go and try and lead by example. It’s one of those things.”

With the possible suspension hanging over Brady, Edelman was asked what the team can do to show support for him. Again, Edelman brought it back to the team and working on getting better, building on the first part of the offseason, and he didn’t comment on Brady.

“What we can do is try and come out here and get better every day, worry about what we can control,” Edelman said, “What we can control is taking things from what we learned in the classroom and develop them on the field and taking drills to team stuff. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Terrell Suggs has never been shy about expressing his opinion on the Patriots and Tom Brady.