Patriots draft pick Derek Rivers on what it will be like to meet Tom Brady: 'I'm going to be starstruck'

Patriots draft pick Derek Rivers on what it will be like to meet Tom Brady: 'I'm going to be starstruck'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady has admitted in the past that it's been more and more of a challenge to relate to teammates in their 20s as he's gotten older. As he enters his 40-year-old season, that hurdle certainly hasn't been lowered. 


Consider this: When Brady and the Patriots captured their first Super Bowl title in the winter of 2002, third-round pick Derek Rivers was seven. After being introduced during a photo op on Thursday, Rivers acknowledged that meeting Brady would be an awe-inspiring moment for him. 

"I'm going to be starstruck, I'm not going to lie," he said. "I got to meet [Panthers linebacker] Luke Kuechly earlier in the year in Cincinnati, and I was starstruck then, so I can only imagine what it's going to be like when I meet Brady. It will be crazy."

And therein lies the challenge for Brady. He wants to be a teammate. Not an idol. Not some unapproachable figure whose poster his younger teammates may have once had on the walls of their bedrooms.

For players like Rivers, fellow third-rounder Antonio Garcia, fourth-rounder Deatrich Wise and sixth-rounder Conor McDermott, there won't be much time to be a fanboy. While Brady will try to relate to them, the music they listen to, the movies they watch, he will also probably be among the first to tell them that it's time to get to work. 

Here are some other quick Rivers quotes of note from Thursday's event . . . 

On being inside Gillette Stadium for the first time: "Man this is awesome. I was born in Augusta, [Maine] so being back in this area . . . My mom and that side of the family is ecstatic. She went to school at Northeastern so they're huge Patriots fans. I know all my family and friends back home they're excited. Being in this stadium it's an overwhelming feeling . . . I'm here. The road to get here is over with. Now it's focusing on winning another Super Bowl." 

On the biggest challenge of jumping from an FCS program at Youngstown State to the NFL: "I'd say the biggest hurdle is just, Coach Bo [Pelini] told me the game speed is a lot different. As far as once I get adjusted to the game speed and the tempo, everything should be smooth."

On if he needs to gain weight after weighing in at 248 pounds at the combine (veteran Patriots defensive ends weigh between 260 and 275 pounds): "I'm going to do whatever the coaches want me to do. If I need to gain weight, I'll feel comfortable gaining weight. If they want me to stay where I'm at, I'll stay where I'm at . . . I'm probably 250, 252 right now."

On what he brings the Patriots defense: "I love to pass-rush. That's my favorite thing is getting after the quarterback. I definitely bring that along with accountability and work ethic."

On what the Patriots Way means, as far as he understands it: "It's a culture and it's a mindset. I definitely think they bring that. That's what Patriots Way means. Blue collar. Hard work. We're going to get after it each and every day. We're going to go hard. That's what Bo brought. That same type of coaching, that same type of attitude."

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

File photo

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."