Crockett Gillmore said the Ravens have the best tight ends group in the NFL. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

Crockett Gillmore said the Ravens have the best tight ends group in the NFL. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore is feeling very confident despite there being three months before the NFL season kicks off in September.

“This is the best group in the NFL,” Gillmore said of the Ravens’ tight ends via ESPN. “I’m not afraid to say it. It’s hands down [the best group].”

Along with Gillmore the Ravens have former Patriots tight end Ben Watson, Maxx Williams and Dennis Pitta. If Gillmore truly believes what he said, he’s saying that group is better than what the Patriots have in Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett to go along with Michael Williams, Clay Harbor and A.J. Derby.

While the Ravens group potentially could be very good, there are a lot of questions, most notably the ages of Watson and Pitta.

For more on how good the Patriots tight ends and specifically Bennett can be this year, check out today’s column by our own Chris Price.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Without much game expierence, hard to know exactly what Jimmy Garoppolo is. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)FOXBORO -- Just how good is Jimmy Garoppolo?



Martellus Bennett will be an interesting fit in Foxboro.</p>
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Aaron Hernandez is back in the news.

According to ESPN, Hernandez has hired a new defense team which includes attorney Jose Baez, the one who represented Casey Anthony who was acquitted of killing her two-year-old a few years ago.

Aaron Hernandez is back in the news.

According to ESPN, Hernandez has hired a new defense team which includes attorney Jose Baez, the one who represented Casey Anthony who was acquitted of killing her two-year-old a few years ago.

In addition to Baez, Harvard law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., criminal defense attorney Alex Spiro, and forensic science counsel Linda Kenney Baden also will be part of the new team.

“Mr. Hernandez strongly maintains his innocence, and I plan to establish that before a jury of his peers,” Baez said in a statement. “I have fully committed myself to ensuring a fair and just trial for Mr. Hernandez. We understand that numerous reports of our client’s alleged activity have been published, but we ask the public to afford Mr. Hernandez the presumption of innocence and let the facts unfold in a court of law.”

Hernandez was convicted in the April 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He is also waiting trial on a double-murder occurring in 2012 in Boston.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
A change in scenery could be a good thing for new Patriots OL Jonathan Cooper. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

A change in scenery could be a good thing for new Patriots OL Jonathan Cooper. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Being the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, it hasn’t been the greatest start to a career for offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper.

The 26-year-old couldn’t seem to fit in with the Cardinals as he started just 11 games over the last three seasons. He battled toe and wrist injuries last season with the Cardinals moving him around on the interior line.

Overall, Cooper has played in just 24 games in the NFL so he is still relatively new to the league, despite being 26 years old and a former top-10 pick.

Being traded along with a second-round pick to the Patriots this offseason for Chandler Jones, this year could be viewed as a fresh start with a new team, but Cooper didn’t want to go down that road.

“I honestly try and just be in the present, honestly,” Cooper said. “Try not to look back and really focus, continue to work and be better than I was before.”

The University of North Carolina product was asked if his best football is still ahead of him?

“I guess,” Cooper said. “I’ll keep working and that will remain to be seen.”

Coming from a team in Arizona coached by Bruce Arians, to now playing in New England for Bill Belichick, it certainly is a contrast of styles. Cooper tried to explain what it’s like playing for the Patriots.

“I mean, it’s definitely — I don’t know, you can’t really put the way you come in here and you feel this is something else, but you come in and work hard every day and know things are going to be all right,” he said.

With the return of Dante Scarnecchia as offensive line coach, there are many who feel he could be very helpful in turning not only Cooper’s career around, but the Patriots’ offensive line as a whole, which struggled down the stretch last season.

Cooper is grateful to get to work with a coach like Scarnecchia.

“I feel like he’s just like any other great coach,” Cooper said. “He can coach you hard, he’s going to lay on you when the time is right and he is definitely going to teach you some great techniques and work you hard.”

As it stands now, Cooper isn’t guaranteed a starting job, but with second-year players Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason out of minicamp coming off of offseason surgeries, he’s getting more reps to move himself, which is all he can ask for at this point on the the calendar.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rob Ninkovich takes pride at being able to play multiple positions. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Rob Ninkovich takes pride at being able to play multiple positions. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich has been a member of the Patriots since 2009, so he knows how much the Patriots value versatility.

With a number of defensive ends on the roster and perhaps a shortage at middle linebacker, Ninkovich has seen some time at both inside and outside linebacker during the first two minicamp sessions.

Being a team-first player, the 32-year-old noted it’s all about the team.

“I’ve played multiple positions many times in my life. Whatever I am at, it’s just to help the team and do whatever I can,” Ninkovich said. “Be multiple. I figure that is one of the strengths of my game is playing multiple positions.”

Added Ninkovich: “For me it’s being an overall football player in every aspect of the game. Whatever it is helping the team. Just trying and learn different positions and being flexible. For me, it’s fun to learn different positions and try and master inside, outside, end of the line, whatever I need to do.”

Learning a new position is always challenging, but Ninkovich is up for it.

“Of course,” he said. “Again, there’s many things hard to master. Trying to learn different positions is a challenge and I embrace that.”

Currently, behind Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower at the linebacker spot the Patriots have Jonathan Freeny, Ramon Humber, Elandon Roberts, Rufus Johnson, Shea McClellin, Kevin Snyder and Kamu Grugier-Hill on the depth chart.

After the troubles the team had last year with injuries to Collins and Hightower, the team might be looking for insurance with a proven, veteran player. And with Ninkovich’s experience at being versatile — most notably long-snapping in 2014 — it shouldn’t be a huge adjustment.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rob Ninkovich takes pride at being able to play multiple positions. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Rob Ninkovich takes pride at being able to play multiple positions. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich has been a member of the Patriots since 2009, so he knows how much the Patriots value versatility.

With a number of defensive ends on the roster and perhaps a shortage at middle linebacker, Ninkovich has seen some time at both inside and outside linebacker during the first two minicamp sessions.

Being a team-first player, the 32-year-old noted it’s all about the team.

“I’ve played multiple positions many times in my life. Whatever I am at, it’s just to help the team and do whatever I can,” Ninkovich said. “Be multiple. I figure that is one of the strengths of my game is playing multiple positions.”

Added Ninkovich: “For me it’s being an overall football player in every aspect of the game. Whatever it is helping the team. Just trying and learn different positions and being flexible. For me, it’s fun to learn different positions and try and master inside, outside, end of the line, whatever I need to do.”

Learning a new position is always challenging, but Ninkovich is up for it.

“Of course,” he said. “Again, there’s many things hard to master. Trying to learn different positions is a challenge and I embrace that.”

Currently, behind Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower at the linebacker spot the Patriots have Jonathan Freeny, Ramon Humber, Elandon Roberts, Rufus Johnson, Shea McClellin, Kevin Snyder and Kamu Grugier-Hill on the depth chart.

After the troubles the team had last year with injuries to Collins and Hightower, the team might be looking for insurance with a proven, veteran player. And with Ninkovich’s experience at being versatile — most notably long-snapping in 2014 — it shouldn’t be a huge adjustment.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

It seems like Chandler Jones had an idea it was coming.

With the number of free agents the Patriots have upcoming following this season, they likely will not be able to keep them all.

FOXBORO — Toward the end of Wednesday’s minicamp session, there was a scrap that appeared to involve offensive lineman Bryan Stork, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton.