FOXBORO — The Patriots made a pair of signings for the back end of their roster, adjusting for the loss of second-year receiver Greg Orton on Friday.

Director of player personnel Nick Caserio announced Sunday morning during his press conference that the team signed receivers Cole Stanford and Brian Tyms. Both were in attendance Sunday morning as the team held its second straight practice in pads. Stanford was wearing No. 14 while Tyms was assigned No. 84.

Tyms was undrafted out of Florida A&M in 2012. He has spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and the Miami Dolphins. Last year, he played for the Cleveland Browns, where currently Patriots executive Mike Lombardi watched him when Lombardi served in Cleveland’s front office.

As for Stanford, he played collegiately at Cal Poly, catching 43 passes for 891 yards and four touchdowns during his four years. As a hybrid weapon, he also rushed 54 times for 314 yards with a touchdown.

The Patriots also waived (injured designation) Orton, who will go back to the Patriots on injured reserve if he clears waivers. Orton suffered a lower body injury during practice late in practice Friday and had to be carted off the field.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Bill Belichick could end up passing Marty Schottenheimer and Paul Brown this season on the all-time wins list. (AP)

Bill Belichick could end up passing Marty Schottenheimer and Paul Brown this season on the all-time wins list. (AP)

1. Bill Belichick kicked off his 40th season in the NFL this week, and his 20th as a head coach. With 199 career victories, he’s seventh overall when it comes to head coaching wins, and while it’s unlikely he’ll ever reach Don Shula‘s mark of 328 career wins, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for him to reach as high as third place on the list. (It would take 51 more wins as a head coach.) Currently, Shula sits at No. 1, with George Halas behind him at No. 2 with 318 wins. Tom Landry is third with 250 victories. This season, Belichick could reach as high as fifth on the list, as he could pass Marty Schottenheimer (sixth with 200 wins) and Paul Brown (fifth with 213 victories) in 2014. Curly Lambeau sits fourth overall with 226. (For what it’s worth, Belichick is just starting his 20th year as a head coach, but he’s the only head coach with 19 or fewer years of head coaching experience to land in the Top 10 when it comes to all-time victories. The closest is Bill Parcells, who was a head coach for 19 seasons and ended up with 172 career wins, good for 11th on the all-time list.)

2. It was revealed this past week that in 2014, NFL officials will place a renewed emphasis on how officials call illegal contact and defensive holding penalties. For the Patriots — a team that revamped its secondary by adding two of the more physical corners in the league in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner — it could be an interesting issue. Revis said Friday he doesn’t anticipate it being a problem.

“The rules are the rules — you’€™ve got to adjust to the rules,” he said with a shrug. “There are always new rules changing, and as long as we know the rules, we’€™re going to try to play great football — clean and great football — within the rules.”

The last time the league went hard after that sort of bumping between the corners and receivers was back in 2004 when former Colts GM Bill Polian complained about the job the New England defensive backs and linebackers did on the Indy pass catchers. (According to former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, illegal contact fouls went up from 79 to 191 the following season.) The team who could ultimately bear the brunt of the changes are the Seahawks — the Seattle secondary pushed the boundaries all 2013, and became was just the third team in NFL history to league the league in penalties and still win the Super Bowl. Many of those flags against the Seahawks came against the secondary — cornerback Richard Sherman led the team with 11 penalties against.

For what it’s worth, Revis has actually pretty skilled at avoiding penalties the last few years. According to nflpenalties.com, Revis didn’€™€™t take one in 2012 (mainly because he only played two games before going down with a season-ending knee injury.) He had three (one declined) in 2011, and just one (with one declined) in 2010. In all, he’€™€™s played nearly 100 percent of the snaps in 2013, 2011 and 2010, and has just five penalties to show for it in that time. For some added perspective, Aqib Talib led the 2013 Patriots in penalties with six and penalty yards against with 73. (As a group, the cornerbacks were the second most penalized positional grouping on the team by yardage with 128 yards, trailing only the offensive line at 166. Overall, the Patriots took the second-fewest penalties in the league last season.

3. We’ve already written about what sort of impact Browner’s four-game suspension at the start of the season will have on the New England pass defense. Turns out, it’s something the Patriots have started taking into account when it comes to doling out practice reps and preseason action. Browner won’t be around for the first four games, as well as the practices. As a result, you have to walk a fine line between making sure that Browner is up to speed in the system, but at the same time, also making sure you have some possible fill-ins ready to go when the season kicks off.

“Well … we’re going to have to balance that out,” Belichick said when asked about Browner’s summer workload. “We’re going to have to balance it between getting him a lot of reps, getting him ready, but also knowing that we’re going to have to play four games without him. So we’re going to have to try to find that fine line. Right now, I don’t think we’re doing anything other than just getting everybody going. But at some point here as we move into preseason, we’re going to have to juggle that a little bit in anticipation of the four game’s he’ll miss.”

4. It was interesting to hear more this week from safety Adrian Wilson, who was signed by New England in the spring of 2013, but spent the entire year on injured reserve with what was later reported to be an Achilles’ injury. It turns out that it wasn’t your average heel issue — instead, according to this story, Wilson missed the season with a condition known as Haglund’€™s deformity, in which an enlarged heel bone or bone spur causes bursitis in the heel. It required surgery on his Achilles tendon and 10 weeks in a hard cast. That was in addition to what was described as a “pretty severe hamstring tear,” one that took two months to recover from.

But now, the 34-year-old Wilson has pronounced himself ready to roll as a member of the Chicago defense. Wilson told reporters this week that despite his age and the fact that he’d been out of the game for a year, there was never any doubt he’d return.

“€œThere’€™s no challenge, man,”€ Wilson said. “€œFootball is football. I’€™m a guy who’€™s very prideful. I’€™m a little bit disappointed from last year. I don’€™t have any goals. I’€™m just going out there and competing with myself. I’€™m not competing with anybody. I’€™m just here to play football. I take a lot of the critics that said I can’€™t play, that it was a terrible signing by the Bears, and all the other stuff that’€™s being said. I use that as motivation for me.”€

5. Across the league, the Patriots have always been a team that’s moved the needle, but in what might be a first this week, an opposing team used New England and quarterback Tom Brady as part of a preseason promotion to get fans to come see the Patriots practice. The Redskins were aggressive in their use of the image of Brady — when you opened the home page at Redskins.com, you were greeted with a sizable image of Brady (as well as one of RGIII) and a message telling fans they could enter to win a contest to get guaranteed access to the joint practices between New England and Washington next month. (At this point, attendance is limited by a lottery.)

6. To this point in camp, the Patriots have appeared suffer just one injury, coming Friday when wide receiver Greg Orton was carted off with a lower-body issue. The extent of the injury is unknown, but when you start to see reports of camp injuries around the league, you start to realize just how lucky New England has been to this point, especially when stacked against two other playoff teams:

On Friday, the Colts lost Vick Ballard to what was reported to be a torn Achilles. Coming off a lost 2013 (he played just one game last year because of a torn ACL), it’s a blow to the Indy running game. Trent Richardson is still seen as the No. 1 back for the Colts, but his ineffectiveness last season was the impetus behind Indy’s decision to go get Ballard, who had 814 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2012. Chris Rainey and Daniel Herron are the leading candidates to replace Ballard in the backup role, but neither has much experience carrying the ball at the NFL level. notable — Rainey has 26 career carries, Herron nine.

Another backup back went down on Friday, when San Francisco’s Kendall Hunter appeared to go down awkwardly in a non-contact session. On Saturday, it was reported that he also suffered a torn ACL. Unlike Indy, however, the Niners do have a couple of intriguing backs behind Hunter in Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Hyde, two running backs who were taken in the last two drafts. Lattimore, who suffered a devastating knee injury as a collegian in 2012, spent all of 2013 on the sidelines, and was on the PUP list as camp opened. If he can’t go, that means Hyde will likely get a shot at extra carries as the backup to Frank Gore.

7. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has always been an advocate of expanding the NFL brand to new markets, but he’s been particularly aggressive in getting that message out over the last couple of weeks. First, he indicated that there should be an NFL team in London sometime before the end of the decade. Then, on Friday, he told ESPN that seeing an NFL team return to Los Angeles “within the next two to three years … would be in everybody’€™s best interest.”€ It’s not known what sort of particulars would go into the deal — for instance, where a team would play (the Coliseum is likely no longer a suitable venue) or if it would involve expanding the league (which would also involve finding a suitable owner) or relocating another franchise. But it’s clear that the league is starting to get the itch again when it comes to putting a team in Los Angeles.

“œWe’€™ve gone a generation –€” almost 20 years –€” without a team in LA,” Kraft said of the Southern California market, which hasn’t had a team since the Raiders and Rams left in 1995. “We have a generation of young people growing up not really branded and tied to a team. I think that kind of passion only comes when you have a team you can root for, and I think it’€™s very important.”

8. When it comes to self-promotion, I’m just as shameless as the next guy, and I’d like to note that I’m part of the staff that put together the 2014 Football Outsiders Almanac — I wrote the chapters on the Patriots and Bills. The PDF is available here, and you can by it in stores soon. I was lucky enough to be a part of an incredible group of writers, a collection that included our pal Aaron Schatz, as well as Doug Farrar of SI.com, Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth, Jason Lisk of The Big Lead, Scott Kacsmar or Football Outsiders and Brian McIntyre of Mac’s Football Blog. It’s an honor to be a part of the group, and can recommend the latest edition heartily.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Jimmy Garoppolo is getting his first feel of the NFL. (AP)

Jimmy Garoppolo is getting his first feel of the NFL. (AP)

FOXBORO ‘€” Jimmy Garoppolo can either be frustrated or determined, and he’€™s choosing the latter with a smile.

In his first few days of training camp, the second-round pick has looked like exactly what he is: a rookie quarterback who has a lot to learn.

Garoppolo was intercepted three times during Saturday’€™s practice, and a mistake during goal-line work caused him to a run a lap for a second straight day. Yet speaking after Saturday’€™s practice, he spoke of the ‘€œnext play mentality’€ that he’€™s learned from Tom Brady. Think less of an I’€™m-struggling mindset and more I’€™ve-got-this.

‘€œJust picking up the offense one day at a time, really,’€ he said of the early going of camp. ‘€œLittle bits and pieces here and there. It’€™s a process. There’€™s going to be bumps along the way, but you’€™ve just got to learn and improve on that.’€

Those bumps are common for any young quarterback, but there’€™s a difference between getting to know a new league and system (which would describe Garoppolo’€™s situation) and appearing physically incapable, which also happens (2010 seventh-rounder Zac Robinson come to mind).

It’€™s clear that despite the misplaced passes and laps run that Garoppolo doesn’€™t feel incapable. It’€™s hard now, but with improvement it will be easier.

‘€œIt’€™s difficult at times, but it’€™s part of being a rookie, really,’€ he said. ‘€œYou don’€™t want to make a mental error twice, you don’€™t want to make a physical error twice. It’€™s just part of the NFL, really.’€

When Garoppolo ran his lap Saturday, he went past packed stands on the practice fields of Gillette Stadium that grew louder with cheers as he ran by. That’€™s another difference for Garoppolo, who played his college football at Eastern Illinois.

‘€œComing from Eastern, we didn’€™t have the biggest crowd by any means and at practice we didn’€™t have a crowd,’€ he said with a laugh. ‘€œIt’€™s awesome to come out here, and the fans, they’€™re unbelievable.’€

A benefit for Garoppolo, whose selection this spring turned heads, is that’€™s he’€™s got one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Brady, as well as someone who has gone through adjustment to NFL life recently in 2011 third-round pick Ryan Mallett.

When the Pats chose Mallett, there was similar intrigue and a similar support system. There isn’€™t any pressure on Garoppolo to be the backup this season, just like there wasn’€™t pressure on Mallett to be the backup as a rookie given the status of then-second-stringer Brian Hoyer.

So throughout all of the little learning experiences that will hopefully contribute to an understanding of the highest competition, Garoppolo has good resources should he have any questions.

‘€œRyan and Tom both,’€ Garoppolo said. ‘€œTom may have been a little while ago, but they both went through it. They’€™ve been helping me along the way, just giving me little bits of advice here and there, and I really thank them for that.’€

For now, Garoppolo will remain all smiles and all effort as he tries to get caught up to speed. That, he hopes, will mean fewer showings like Saturday, and fewer laps.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots held their third training camp session of the summer Saturday, practicing for roughly two and a half hours in pads.

Here are a few notes on the session:

- The highlight of the practice came at the end, with Foxboro resident Danny Nickerson coming onto the field for a belated birthday celebration. Nickerson, who turned six on Friday, has an inoperable brain tumor and received 100,000 birthday cards from around the world.

- Saturday appeared to be Julian Edelman appreciation day, as he was thrown several deep balls and received major cheers with each catch. Edelman reeled in four deep passes from various quarterbacks on the day. He also had a diving catch in double coverage later in the practice.

- It wasn’€™t all good for Edelman, however, as he and Tom Brady fell victim to Darrelle Revis multiple times. Revis intercepted Brady on a pair of passes that were intended for Edelman during drills in addition to breaking up passes.

- Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garappolo threw three interceptions and ran the only lap of the session with an unknown flub (it was on the other end of the field; likely a fumble or botched snap) during goal line work. Two of the second-round pick’€™s interceptions were tipped before being snagged, with the other one being a clean pick on a deeper pass. Garappolo got a break from the crowd when he connected on a deep pass with tight end Justin Jones.

- It wasn’t the prettiest day for Kenbrell Thompkins, who had a pair of drops. The second-year receiver dropped a pass over the middle from Brady during 7-on-7 work and later failed to secure a pass along the sidelines during passing drills.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Rob Gronkowski (87) is ready to be there for Tom Brady again in 2014. (AP)

Rob Gronkowski (87) is ready to be there for Tom Brady again in 2014. (AP)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski has been through a lot of pain and misery over the last three seasons. Bum ankle, back surgery, forearm surgery, ACL surgery.

And those are just the major injuries the most popular target of Tom Brady has endured. That’s why he’s taking his time and being measured about his rehab, working closely with Patriots trainers to make sure that he’s a full go when he returns to game action, either in the preseason or – as he hopes – by the Sept. 7 opener in Miami.

But while he can’t take part in full 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills as training camp opens, he can run individual drills and work on his routes, especially where he’s most dangerous – in the red zone. Gronkowski has been running – and cutting – on the surgically repaired right knee without any noticeable limp, a good sign as he works his way back. He did it again on Friday, catching several red zone passes from Brady, as Bill Belichick looked on.

“It’€™s feeling good out there running routes and getting balls thrown [to me], and it feels great being out there with my teammates again, being in the huddle, catching balls from Tom Brady. It’€™s a dream come true again. It feels like it got taken away, and now it feels like I’€™ve got it back so it’€™s awesome.”

He even stood behind center and lobbed one to Brady.

“Yeah, we were just having fun,” Gronk said. “Maybe we’€™ll put that in after that throw. It wasn’€™t a spiral, but I’€™ve got to work on that.”

Gronkowski not only is sporting a black sleeve/brace on his right knee, he is still wearing a protective sleeve on his left forearm.

“I’€™m used to the arm brace,” Gronkowski said. “It’€™s been a year now wearing that, so it’€™s secondhand having that on. The knee brace just started, but it’€™s the second day out there, and I’€™m already getting comfortable with everything.”

After what’s he went through with the forearm going into the 2013 season, it’s natural to think Gronkowski will be more cautious. There have even been suggestions that the team (i.e. Bill Belichick) is sending a loud message that by being cleared for practice, they expect him ready once the season starts in South Florida. Does Gronk sense this?

“No, I don’€™t feel any pressure at all about that,” Gronkowski said. “I worked my butt off the last six months to even be here right now at training camp, throwing with all of my teammates. I made sure I was in there every single day, rehabbing every single day so I could come out here and be running routes on Day One. So it feels great to be out here on that note.

“If I’€™m just working hard every single day, improving every single day, giving it all I’€™ve got, listening to the trainers, listening to the coaches to get myself prepared, to get myself ready ‘€“ that’€™s all I can ask for. I’€™m putting pressure on myself to improve every single day and work hard every single day.”

Gronkowski said it’s a realistic goal to be ready for Week 1 against the Dolphins.

“I’€™m preparing myself to my max ability right now for the first regular game,” he said. “I can’€™t say anything from here on out because it’€™s far away. So, every single day I’€™m just giving it all I’€™ve got in the rehab room, out here on the field, improve my knee, strengthen it all around, prepare myself, listen to my trainers what they have for me so I’€™m ready to go when it comes down to it. And hopefully I am.”

As for the knee?

“The knee is doing good,”

Are there any limitations?

“Yeah, obviously you’€™ve seen me out at practice just doing individual drills, routes and everything, getting my conditioning up, keeping the legs strengthening, keeping the body in shape ‘€“ all that good stuff,” he added. “[I'€™m] just taking it easy, slow pace and gradually increasing every single day and improving every single day.”

Here is the rest of Rob Gronkowski‘s Q and A with reporters on Friday outside Gillette Stadium:

Q: What percentage would you say you’€™re at?

RG: I don’€™t really have a percentage. I’€™m just improving every single day and trying to get myself completely ready so when it comes game time, I’€™m ready and there for my teammates.

Q: How important is it for you to be cutting on the knee and telling yourself you can handle the load once it’€™s ramped up?

RG: It’€™s important first off of rehab. For the last six months, I worked my butt off to be out here ‘€“ to be out here for my teammates, to be out here for myself and come out here, be satisfied running routes with the quarterbacks, running routes with the tight ends, learning from the coaches. It feels great to be out here every single day cutting on it, making it stronger and improving on it every single day, strengthening it so I’€™m there and I’€™m ready.

Q: How much have you thought about what you’€™ve been through physically with the forearm, the knee and the back over the last two years?

RG: It’€™s been a lot, but I’€™m putting that in my past now and just grinding right now, going to get my knee 100 percent ready to go and just going to not dwell on the past and keep looking forward. And hopefully everything goes right how I want it to.

Q: Last year, you sat out a few games even though you were cleared to play. Will you consider sitting out even if you’€™re cleared to play just to make sure you’€™re ready for the whole season?

RG: Last year, I’€™m putting that one in the past. We’€™re all on the same page as a team, an organization, myself, the trainers, the doctors ‘€“ we’€™re all on the same page. It’€™s just to keep working hard, and we’€™ve got so long until the first preseason game, until the first game of the year. Just as long as we’€™re improving every single day, going out there hustling, getting in shape, running routes, getting football acclimated ‘€“ it feels good to be out there. I’€™m not really worried right now, and I’€™m just working hard every day.

Q: Was there a time last year where you weren’€™t on the same page?

RG: No, not really. I guess it seemed like that out there, but in the organization, we were on the same page. This year we’€™re all on the same page again. It’€™s going well, and it just feels really good to be out there with my teammates and giving it all I’€™ve got when I’€™m out there.

Q: How did it feel last year when you went down with the injury, knowing you were done for the season?

RG: I’€™m not dwelling on that in the past. Right now I’€™m just looking forward to the future and what that holds. And what that holds is just having practice every single day and going to meetings, learning the playbook even more, learning new positions, learning everything I can do to go out there to help my teammates to the max to help them win games.

Q: Do you feel like you can pick up where you left off and be Tom Brady’€™s No. 1 target?

RG: I definitely feel like I can go back out there right where I left and pick it right back up. Whoever Tom throws to, whoever Tom throws to. I’€™ll just be out there and help my teammates win for sure.

Q: You do recognize how much Tom relies on you, though?

RG: It’€™s a team game. We all rely on each other to the max. If one person isn’€™t doing their job, then the whole team isn’€™t doing their job. We’€™re all a big part of the offense, every single player that’€™s out there at the same time.

Q: Do you guys think you’€™ll be a very good team, especially with the defensive additions?

RG: It all depends on how we work, how our training camp is, how we work together as a team. And that’€™s what’€™s so great about this game is that it’€™s such a team game ‘€“ all 11 players out on the field working together. The defense, they’€™re looking good. We’€™ve got a lot of big players, a lot of fast players, and it’€™s going to be a lot of fun competing versus them throughout all of camp and just seeing all their skill sets and seeing what they can do. It’€™ll be awesome.

Q: Was your summer really not as fun as you made it seem with rehab every day?

RG: Yeah, it was boring this year. I was rehabbing every day. It was miserable. Hopefully that never happens again, and I don’€™t wish anything on anyone like I had these past few years. I’€™m just literally looking forward to the future and just getting back out on the field and just making some plays and helping my teammates out.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — In his first meeting with the media this summer, Darrelle Revis pronounced himself to be in the “best shape of my career.”

Talking with reporters shortly after the end of Friday’s practice session, the Patriots cornerback said that even after coming back from a devastating knee injury that sidelined him for all but two games in 2012, he wasn’t where he wanted to be physically as a player.

But now, he’s feeling good about his health again.

FOXBORO — In his first meeting with the media this summer, Darrelle Revis pronounced himself to be in the “best shape of my career.”

Talking with reporters shortly after the end of Friday’s practice session, the Patriots cornerback said that even after coming back from a devastating knee injury that sidelined him for all but two games in 2012, he wasn’t where he wanted to be physically as a player.

But now, he’s feeling good about his health again.

‘€œI finished all 16 games last year but I still wasn’€™t where I wanted to be physically as a player,’€ Revis said. ‘€œThis is my first offseason where I could really focus on working out. They say it takes a year and a half, or two (to get back to full strength). I think I’€™m at a point now, I’€™m there.

‘€œI’€™m back to where I can move around a little better. Last year was really tough coming off the injury — I wasn’€™t where I needed to be. Now, I’€™m a little bit more excited. I feel the butterflies a little bit more, and I’€™m just ready to play and get ready for the season.’€

Revis was quizzed as to whether or not he feels the need to reclaim the mantle of best cornerback in the league.

‘€œI don’€™t need to prove nothing to anybody. W’s is what matters — more wins than losses. That’€™s what we want to do as a team,’€ he said.

“Everybody is great. Everybody performs well at the professional level. Those are for you guys to rate who’€™s this and that. It really doesn’€™t matter to me.’€

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots announced Friday they have released veteran tight end Nate Byham.

The Patriots announced Friday they have released veteran tight end Nate Byham.

Byham, 26, was signed by New England on July 21 and is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2010-11) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13). The 6-foot-4, 264-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by San Francisco out of Pittsburgh in 2010. He was signed by Tampa Bay on Oct. 2, 2012 after being released by San Francisco on Aug. 16, 2012. In his four NFL seasons, Byham has played 29 games with 11 starts and has totaled 11 receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. Last season in Tampa Bay, Byham was limited to four games and finished with three receptions for 38 yards.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the news of the day from Day 2 of Patriots training camp 2014, including Rob Gronkowski speaking to reporters for the first time since being cleared for training camp practice. Gronkowski acknowledged that he is not 100 percent but promises to be fearless, adopting a “smashing and dashing” attitude when he is cleared for game action. Petraglia and Price also discuss the potential of the current Patriots’ secondary to rank among the best in team history and those coached by Bill Belichick.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia