Patriots

Ryan beats Brady for All-Pro honor; Slater gets First-Team nod

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Ryan beats Brady for All-Pro honor; Slater gets First-Team nod

Matthew Slater is having himself a nice little week. 

He was honored as the league's Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award winner back on Monday, something that caused Slater's "seasonal allergies" to act up on him during a Patriots Bible study session. Then on Friday it was announced that Slater had earned a First-Team All-Pro nod for his performance throughout the 2016 season. 

It's the first time in Slater's nine-year career that he's been named an All-Pro. The six-time special-teams captain has also been selected to the Pro Bowl six times, including this year. 

Slater is still one of the best in the league when it comes to covering kicks, serving as a gunner on the punt team where he regularly sees multiple blockers as he engages in what he has called "hand-to-hand combat."

There are others in the league who have posted better special-teams numbers than Slater this year -- including Slater's teammate Nate Ebner, who led the league in special-teams tackles -- but he is consistently praised by others in the Patriots locker room for his kicking-game IQ and his ability to draw attention of opposing teams' return units.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan edged Tom Brady for First-Team honors after throwing for 38 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 117.1. Brady finished the year with the best touchdown-to-interception ratio of all time (28-to-2) and a rating of 112.2, but he missed the first four games of the season to serve his Deflategate suspension.

Brady headlined the Second-Team All-Pro offense that also featured Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon. 

The Patriots defense, which ranked first in the league in points allowed, was well represented on the Second Team. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, corner Malcolm Butler and safety Devin McCourty were all listed as Second Team honorees.

Ebner, who missed the majority of training camp in order to compete for the U.S Men's Rugby team in the Rio Olympics, also landed on the Second Team for his efforts on special teams.

Rob Gronkowski: I met with Bill Belichick to tell him I'm in for 2018

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AP Photo

Rob Gronkowski: I met with Bill Belichick to tell him I'm in for 2018

Rob Gronkowski is just days removed from one of the strangest press conferences in the history of Gillette Stadium. First he said he wasn't sure if he was playing for the Patriots in 2018, then he said he wasn't sure when he would decide, then he said he'd be a "freek-a-leek" when he comes back . . .

On Tuesday he washed away any uncertainty about his future with one Instagram post. 

"I met with coach today," he wrote, "and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats. I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run."

Staying consistent with his social-media posts from this offseason, Gronkowski finished off the caption with "#bandsamakeherdance."

During Gronkowski's Monster Energy appearance on Saturday, he said he did not plan to attend optional Patriots workouts. It remains to be seen as to whether or not Bill Belichick, during their meeting, encouraged him to be present for those moving forward this offseason. 

Even if Gronkowski doesn't work out at Gillette with his teammates before mandatory minicamp, it seems as though if there was any friction between the tight end and the coach, that has been smoothed over to the point that Gronkowski is comortable announcing publicly that he'll be in New England for next season. 

More to come . . .

Gronk -- the horse -- will not run in the Kentucky Derby

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Gronk -- the horse -- will not run in the Kentucky Derby

There was more breaking Patriots news this afternoon.

This time it was related to Gronkowski, and a health scare.

But it wasn't the Gronkowski that plays for the New England Patriots.

So it is unfortunately confirmed that Rob Gronkowski's horse will not be competing in the Kentucky Derby.

The 3-year-old colt named after Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski had a “minor setback,’’ according to trainer Jeremy Noseda when he spoke to The Racing Post.

Gronkowski was unbeaten in starts, earning his place in the Kentucky Derby field.

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