Patriots

Ochocinco gets into his groove

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Ochocinco gets into his groove

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Operation Ocho Assimilation is going swimmingly. On Tuesday, Chad Ochocinco, thePatriots effervescent wideout, spoke tothe mediahorde at Gillette Stadium for thesecond time. His remarks centered on some self-congratulation for how quickly he's picking up the offense."The transition to heaven's been pretty good," Ochocinco professed. "It's been fun. Surprisingly, I've caught onto so much material in such a small amount of time."The amountof time he's spent with fellow receivers has made a huge difference in getting up to speed, he said. "They've made it the easiest," Ocho said when asked aboutconversations with Wes Welker and Deion Branch."With so much verbiage as far as signals and other things in the offense, its hard for me to get that. Wes and Deion have been able to catch me up to speed on that. With those two, including Tom, they've expanded the process. Even if a game was played very soon I could probably go out there and play at full speed without having to think."In Ocho's case, the transition from larger-than-life personality to mere standout is just as important. As he did in his opening statements to the media, he pointed out that hehas had to change his ways. Ocho's Twitter hasn't fallen silent. But it is quieter. "Alot of people are upset and we all know why," he acknowledged, alluding to the fact the Patriots aren't interested in employing Ocho the celebrity as much as they are in the football player. "You have to do it the Patriot way, the way things are done here. But one thing about this city, man, and their sports. All they do is win. That stuff I did in the past, there's just no need for." With the Patriots' preseason opener on Thursday, Ocho's first chance to put on a Patriots' uniform looms. He stressed, however, the importance of the practices as the real learning periods. And his pass-catching - which lagged in his first few practices - has been more in line with what one would expect throughout the last few workouts. "What's important for me is practice out here," he explained. "The better I am out here, the easier it will be for me on Sundays. The preseason is important to a certain extent but most of my quality work comes out here on the field with these guys. "The reason I'm able to have even a little bit of confidence is I've been able to consume alot of information in a short period of time, he added. "I'm nowhere near where I need to be to be a part of this offensein a good way but I'm on the right track."Away from the field, Ochocinco is still marching to his own beat. He said he gets lost on purpose to learn the area. He plans to live with a fan for "two or three weeks" until he gets acclimated and chooses a place to live. "Boston - or actually heaven - has been good," he added. "People have been fun.A lot of people are not too fond of the Prius that I drive. I find that hard to believe, I'm not sure what that's all about. But other than that, people have been great."If the biggest problem people have around"heaven" is Ocho's choice of ride, things should go just fine.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Ex-Patriot Chris Long donating his salary to educational equality program

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Ex-Patriot Chris Long donating his salary to educational equality program

PHILADELPHIA - Chris Long is donating the rest of his year's salary to increase educational equality.

The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end already gave up his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, he's using the next 10 to launch the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign.

"My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality," Long told The Associated Press. "I think we can all agree that equity in education can help affect change that we all want to see in this country."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.5 million guaranteed. His base salary in 2017 is $1 million.

The charitable initiative encourages people to make donations to improve equal education opportunities. Long began his career in St. Louis in 2008 and played for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots last season. Long's foundation has selected four organizations whose missions focus on making education easily accessible to underserved youth while also providing students the support they need to develop strong social and emotional character.

The four organizations are based in the three communities in which Long has played during his NFL career. The city that raises the most money during the season will receive an additional $50,000 donation.

"There's a lot of opportunities to help out and they're wonderful organizations," Long said. "We have such a great platform as football players and hopefully fans get behind it."

Long grew up in Charlottesville and starred in high school at St. Anne's-Belfield before going to the University of Virginia. He was moved to start the scholarship program following the violent protests in Charlottesville in August.

"Our hometown is a wonderful place and I feel like people got the wrong idea about what the residents of Charlottesville are all about," he said.

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Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski's never suffered a break like the one Gordon Hayward did on Tuesday night, but he has been through enough to know what lies ahead as the Celtics forward stares at a lengthy recovery period.

"I saw it. I mean, I wish him nothing but wellness," Gronkowski said on Wednesday. "Hopefully he heals ASAP. You never want to see that with a player in any sport. When my friend showed me that last night, you get that feeling in your body, like, your heart drops. I wish him well.

"I can't wait to see him back. I know he's going to bounce back. Being here in Boston, he's going to be a hard worker it feels like. I can't wait to see him back."

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Multiple back surgeries, a plate in his arm, a surgically-repaired ACL . . . Gronkowski has put in his share of rehabilitation work. Asked if he'd give Hayward any advice as he embarks on his road back to normalcy, Gronkowski's message was simple.

"Just go into rehab just like you go into anything else. Dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you're 100 percent . . . He wouldn't be where he is now if he wasn't a hard worker. I don't know the guy. Never met him. But it's not something you want to see as an athlete happen to anyone else."

Gronkowski acknowledged that in his experience, one of the biggest hurdles following an injury like that is the mental one. You quickly go from being a powerful athlete to a patient in need of help with even the smallest of tasks. 

"There is a big mental challenge, definitely, with that," Gronkowski explained. "It's not just not being able to be with your teammates and all that. It's outside of football, too. Because it takes away your whole life, going out like that . . . You can't do anything. You can't walk. You gotta have people do [things for you]. You get really frustrated. You just want the people around you to help you out and keep you in the best mindset throughout the whole process."

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