Patriots

Patriots announce their UDFA class

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Patriots announce their UDFA class

FOXBORO - With rookie mini-camp starting Friday morning, the Patriots have announced their undrafted rookie free agent group.

According to the release sent by the team they are:

RB Brandon Bolden, 22, finished his college career at Mississippi ranked second in school history in total touchdowns (33) and rushing touchdowns (27) and fourth in rushing yards (2,604). Bolden, 5-11, 215 pounds, played in 10 games with four starts in 2011 and totaled 96 carries for 462 yards and four touchdowns while serving as a team captain.

DL Marcus Forston, 22, was limited to three games last season at Miami due to an injury. Forston, 6-3, 300 pounds, played in 13 games with 12 starts in 2010 and registered 37 total tackles, 3.0 sacks and one interception.

DE Justin Francis, 23, appeared in 12 games in 2011 at Rutgers and tallied 60 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception and five passes defensed. Francis, 6-4, 275 pounds, appeared in seven games as a true freshman in 2007 before being redshirted in 2008.

TE Brad Herman, 22, played in 12 games with three starts as a senior at Iowa last year, finishing with eight catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Herman, 6-5, 255 pounds, was a four-year letter winner at Iowa.

WR Matt Roark, 22, appeared in all 12 games as a senior at Kentucky and finished with a career-high 36 receptions for 349 yards and his first career touchdown. Roark, 6-5, 214 pounds, led Kentucky to its first win over Tennessee since 1984 when he filled in at quarterback and completed four-of-six passes for 15 yards and rushed 24 times for 140 yards.

OL Jeremiah Warren, 24, started the final 38 games of his career at South Florida at guard. Warren, 6-4, 329 pounds, was named to the All-Big east second-team as a senior after starting all 12 games at guard.

T Markus Zusevics, 23, started at right tackle as a junior and senior at Iowa. Zusevics, 6-5, 300 pounds, was named honorable mention All-Big ten as a senior.

Bolden is an intriguing player given he's following the same path BenJarvus Green-Ellis did. Green-Ellis was undrafted out of Ole Miss like Bolden and had a terrific run as a short-yardage, between-the-tackles back who could make the yards in front of him, protect the ball and always make positive yards.

With Green-Ellis signing with the Bengals this offseason, the 5-11, 222-pound Bolden has a chance but he'll have to beat out Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Joseph Addai.

The Patriots liked Warren enough to work him out personally the week before the draft and Zusevics is well regarded as well.

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

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Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

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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