FOXBORO — For a man with so much to say, nose tackle Terrance Knighton made the ultimate sacrifice this week when he imposed his own ban from Twitter for three weeks.

Why?

“It’s something I’m going to do here just because I’m going to try something different,” Knighton said. “Just the environment I’m around. Everyone is just focused on football. I’ll be off of it for three weeks and as soon as I break in three weeks, I’ll have a lot to say, I’m pretty sure.”

Was he afraid of running into social media trouble with the Pats?

“Nah. I’ll never say nothing to get in trouble,” Knighton said. “I’ll speak on everything. All the Democratic and Republican conventions, I’ll just keep quiet on them right now.

“You watch great players in the locker room. You don’t see guys on their phones all the time. You don’t see guys joking around. They’re always doing something productive to win so I decided to give that up for three weeks. I can’t wait to get back to Twitter because I always have a lot to say.”

Just because he didn’t take to Twitter, he had plenty to say on Saturday after the first full pads practice of training camp. First up, his conditioning. There were those who wondered about his weight (355 pounds) at his age (turned 30 July 4). He answered those doubts by suiting up right from the get-go on Saturday and getting after it in the trenches in the run game, which will be a significant role for him as a two-gap tackle.

“It’s fine. I’ve got these shoulder pads on, this helmet on. That should let you know how good condition I’m in because if not, I’d be on the sidelines,” Knighton said. “I made sure I did what I had to do and worked hard because I knew practice would be hard and made sure I prepared myself and not come in and be a detriment to the defense and be part of a group moving forward.”

Knighton was on the field Saturday, across from the likes of LeGarrette Blount and Donald Brown, two running backs who saw significant reps with the starters.

“You’re going to get something different every time,” Knighton said. “You’ve got to know your personnel before you’ve got to get in your stance. Before you get in your stance, you’ve got to know if Donald Brown is back there or LeGarrette so you know if you’re getting certain types of runs and certain types of things they like do. Just try to get yourself a little advantage pre-snap.”

Knighton, who has played north of 375 pounds before in his career, agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract in March that included weight clauses. On Saturday, he credited the team for helping him watch his weight, especially in the offseason.

“I just think when I was here, it’s just a different structure. They help you out every way they can when you’re home, when you’re in the building, when you travel, everything like that,” Knighton said. “It’s just a good foundation to have behind you and a good support group.”

“Man, when we have these pads on, I don’t get into it with him unless I’m on the other team. We’re on the same team. He’s got that red jersey on. I don’t pay attention to anybody with a red jersey on.”

“Training camp started today. Yesterday and the day before was preliminaries, all about those few who came back in good condition, getting back in your playbook. Real football doesn’t start until you put that helmet on with shoulder pads.”

The newfound crispness on the field was not the only reason Knighton was smiling Saturday. He was hearing the electric buzz from the 21,781 fans on hand for Day 3 of camp.

“If I wasn’t playing, I’d be up there, too,” Knighton said of the overflow fans on the ramp. “This is a winning franchise and you know the fans are loyal. This is a place I’ve played at in the past and games are always sold out. Fans will give you a hard time when you’re on the opposing team. I’m just happy to be on the good side now.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — The Patriots released the rest of their training camp schedule which runs through Aug. 16 and includes joint practices with the Saints and Bears.

Sunday, July 31 9:15am – 11:45am — Morning Practice

FOXBORO — The Patriots released the rest of their training camp schedule which runs through Aug. 16 and includes joint practices with the Saints and Bears.

Sunday, July 31
9:15am – 11:45am — Morning Practice

Monday, August 1
5:00pm — 2016 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for Kevin Faulk (open to public)
7:00pm — In-Stadium practice for Season Ticket Members*

Tuesday, August 2
No Practice. Closed to the public.

Wednesday, August 3
Practice times TBD.

Thursday, August 4
9:15am – 11:30am — Morning Practice

Friday, August 5
9:15am – 11:30am — Morning Practice

Saturday, August 6
No Practice. Closed to the public.

Sunday, August 7
9:15am – 11:30am — Morning Practice

Monday, August 8
9:15am – 11:30am — Morning Practice

Tuesday, August 9
9:15am – 11:30am — Joint Practice with Saints

Wednesday, August 10
9:15am – 11:30am — Joint Practice with Saints

Sunday, August 14
9:15am – 11:30am — Morning Practice

Monday, August 15
9:15am – 11:30am — Joint Practice with Bears

Tuesday, August 16
9:15am – 11:30am — Joint Practice with Bears

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their first full padded practice of the summer Saturday morning on the backfields of Gillette Stadium in front of an overflow crowd which extended up-and-down the stadium ramps on a beautiful, sunny morning.

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo continued to share reps on Saturday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo continued to share reps on Saturday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their first full padded practice of the summer Saturday morning on the backfields of Gillette Stadium in front of an overflow crowd which extended up-and-down the stadium ramps on a beautiful, sunny morning.

It was similar attendance to the past few days with a few new additions. Dion Lewis and Nate Ebner were both not spotted on the field at all along with Malcolm Mitchell, Brandon Bolden, Vincent Valentine and Alan Branch. Valentine tweeted he is at a funeral, Ebner is training for the Olympics, Lewis is recovering from ACL surgery, but Mitchell and Bolden’s absences are unknown.

Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon remain in red, non-contact jerseys, while Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Nate Washington, Sebastian Vollmer, Clay Harbor, and Tre’ Jackson were on the field, but not in pads, thus not participating.

The biggest takeaway was guard Jonathan Cooper being carted off with an apparent right ankle injury. It was a non-contact injury occurring during what looked like an offensive walkthrough drill. He was acquired from the Cardinals in the Chandler Jones trade. He had seen reps with the top unit. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported he is battling a plantar fascia issue.

Here are some observations from the nearly two-hour session:

— Relating the the quarterbacks, Tom Brady led the 7-on-7 drills. He was much more crisp than on Friday, while Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t nearly as good. At one point Brady had a pass knocked down by Patrick Chung and Brady yelled back at him (not in a positive manner). Jacoby Brissett was picked off by Vinnie Sunseri and had a few dropped passes not go his way.

Garoppolo got the first 11-on-11 reps, with Brady following. Overall, Brady had a much better day than he did on Friday. He had a nice connection with Rob Gronkowski in the corner of the end zone, but overall the majority of the plays were running plays.

As has been the case over the first two days, both Brady and Garoppolo have seen equal reps working with the top receivers, but just in different fashions each day.

— Brady was very vocal over the course of the practice, encouraging teammates after nice catches, even when not directly involved in plays.

— Edelman and Amendola participated in stretching drills with the team, which is again a sign they are getting closer to returning to practice. Jackson ran hills, which is a good sign for him returning to the field relatively soon. After practice Edelman caught passes from Brady and Garoppolo.

— Once again there were, “Brady-Brady-Brady” chants from the crowd. The quarterback acknowledged them at the beginning part of the session.

— The daily rotation continued at center as Saturday it was Bryan Stork getting the first reps with David Andrews later getting first reps as Strok was no longer spotted on the field. It is unclear where he went.  This appears to be one of the biggest positional battles during training camp to watch as the starting spot appears wide open. Also getting some reps at center was Kyler Kerbyson.

— Another player leaving practice was defensive lineman Anthony Johnson. He was carted off at the end of practice.

— Rookie running back D.J. Foster left practice to go do some conditioning on the lower fields, but he didn’t come back. This meant LeGarrette Blount, James White, Donald Brown and Tyler Gaffney got all the reps at running back.

— At one point there was action on both fields. One field saw Brady and Brissett throwing passes to receivers and tight ends against the secondary, while on the other Garoppolo ran the offense as the linemen went against eachother in the running game. For the next set of drills, Brady ran the running game offense and Garoppolo and Brissett threw passes to receivers on the goal line against the secondary.

— During special teams drills, Brady and Garoppolo got some extra passes in with Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett and Aaron Dobson.

— Players running penalty laps included Jabaal Sheard and Andrews.

— Cyrus Jones was the primary kick returner with V’Angelo Bentley also getting time there as well.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — Patriots offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper was taken from the practice field on a cart during Saturday’s training camp practice following what appeared to be a right ankle or foot injury.

Cooper appeared to sustain the injury roughly halfway through Saturday’s practice, the first fully padded session of the summer for the Patriots.

FOXBORO — Patriots offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper was taken from the practice field on a cart during Saturday’s training camp practice following what appeared to be a right ankle or foot injury.

Cooper appeared to sustain the injury roughly halfway through Saturday’s practice, the first fully padded session of the summer for the Patriots.

The 6-foot-2, 311-pounder was traded to New England in the offseason deal that shipped defensive end Chandler Jones to Arizona. The 26-year-old Cooper was a first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2013.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Martellus Bennett had an appreciation for Tom Brady even before he joined the Patriots. (Getty Images)

Martellus Bennett had an appreciation for Tom Brady even before he joined the Patriots. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Martellus Bennett was acquired this offseason by the Patriots via a trade with the Bears, but the tight end has already distinguished himself as a quality pass-catcher and a terrific quote. Here are our five favorites to this point in his New England career:

“I’ve dated two girls at the same time before.” — on building chemistry at the same time with two quarterbacks he’s never worked with

“Dr. Seuss said, ‘No one can be you-er than you.’ Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself, because everyone else is taken.’ I can only be one person. I just try and continue to be who I am and don’t change that. I’m a little chameleon. I just try and fit in wherever I am. When you’re authentic, people appreciate that.” — Bennett on whether or not he’ll mesh with the Patriots’ culture

“Just like any other thing in life, you just prepare to make sure you flow where the wind goes. Try to be a dandelion.” — on whether or not he was surprised he was traded

“I just tell them every day, ‘Man, you guys are lucky. You guys have been playing with Tom Brady forever.’” — on speaking with his new teammates about getting the chance to work with Brady

“Football is just fun. Anytime you get to play is exciting. I ended up on IR, in like, November, so I really haven’t had that much football for a long time,” he said. “It’s like when you break up and finally get back with the girl that you love in the first place. It’s been great to be back out there.” — on returning to the game after a stint on injured reserve in 2015

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price


FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich came to camp this week with a freshly shaven mug, ready to look the part of a young playmaker on defense.

Ninkovich, who turned 32 on Feb. 1, is the oldest returning veteran on the defense. He keeps his job by not just maintaining a high level of play on the field but learning to do more on defense as he gets older.

The competitiveness amps up for rookies and veterans alike on Saturday with the start of full pads practice on Saturday.

“We’re starting training camp with pads and I think everyone is focused on getting those pads on and starting training camp, hitting somebody. I’m excited. It’s always good to start real football, and that’s when the pads come on.” Ninkovich said. “That’s the fun part of training camp. Right now, we’re focused on getting better and coming together as a team.”

And staying cool as a team. Ninkovich took one look at the forecast this week and saw temperatures in the 90s and knew one thing that had to go was the full beard.

“It’s hot, it’s hot,” he said. “I saw the temps so I figured I needed to take the beard off. And I look a little younger now. In this business, you don’t want to look too old, right?”

But Ninkovich knows as well as anyone, with age comes experience. And that’s gold to Bill Belichick, as long as your skills remain viable at the NFL level.

In the spring, he worked extensively with the linebacking corps, a role he hasn’t played much of late. That’s because he’s been one of the mainstays of the edge pass rush, along with Chandler Jones. But with Jones gone, it’s up to Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers and Chris Long to pick up the slack. It’s a role that Ninkovich will likely play again but just in case, Ninkovich could spot a few reps in the second level of the defense if the situation arises.

Why does Belichick trust him to handle both?

“Rob’s got a great feel for the game,” Belichick said. “First of all, he’s got great physical skills. He can run, he’s athletic, he’s strong, so he can hang in there against the big guys but is athletic [enough] to play in space. Whether that be in the kicking game or as an off-the-line linebacker; you can drop him into coverage from the line of scrimmage. Mentally, he sees the game as well. He can move around, do different things. He doesn’t get bogged down. He has the ability to play in coverage, which means you have to see the game a little bit behind you in pass coverage.

“It’s not all in front of you, especially in zone defense. There are plays behind you. You have to have an awareness for where receivers are, where people are on the field. Mike [Vrabel] was able to do that. Junior [Seau] was able to do that, although Junior primarily played inside linebacker, but he played on the line quite a bit, rushed quite a bit. Tedy [Bruschi] certainly did that over the course of his career even though the majority of his college career was down and the majority of his pro career was up, but he showed the ability to do both of those things at a very high level. You get players that do that. Not everybody can do it but when you have one that can it is a big advantage.”

Belichick isn’t the only one who trusts Ninkovich. His teammates are the ones on the field with him.

“He’ s a great player, a great leader,” Dont’a Hightower said. “He orchestrates the front very well, just as far as in the meeting rooms, and he’s just a great ball player.”

Can versatility improve over time?

“Again, Lawrence [Taylor] did that, Carl [Banks] did that, Pepper [Johnson] did that in New York,” Belichick said. “I don’t think you really usually ask that guy, guys like that, to do it all at once – ‘Your first year you’re going to do all of this stuff.’ Usually it’s a progression over time due to either the player’s development, or possibly injuries or game plan situations where you need to make some variations like that.

“So, I’d say generally it’s a buildup over time but that’s kind of the way, but that would be kind of the way it would be anyways. Again, I don’t think there are too many players that you would want to bring into the league in year one and give him that kind of multiplicity defensively in a pretty short amount of time. I guess it could happen. I haven’t seen it too often.”

Ninkovich is about to enter his eighth season with the Patriots. Whether it’s long-snapping (like he did against Green Bay in 2014), playing special teams early in his time in New England, playing the edge like he did in college, shifting to linebacker early in his NFL career or switching back to play the edge like he has the last several seasons, Ninkovich feels confident he will be ready.

“Every year it’s going to be different, there is going to be change,” Ninkovich said. “That’s just the way the game is. This is really when guys start coming together in training camp. You’re working on all of the communication and just getting a feel for one another, communicating and getting everything down.

“As you’re progressing through your career, you learn a position, then you learn another one, and towards the end, you know a couple. So for me, it was playing defensive end early in my career, then learning how to play linebacker. Being able to do multiple things, for me, has helped me play as long as I have. You’ve got to continue to do that as your career moves along.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia