Patriots

Patriots excited to have Bennett back in the mix, banged-up shoulder and all

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Patriots excited to have Bennett back in the mix, banged-up shoulder and all

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett's injury history will be combed through and parsed, it seems, until we find out exactly what percentage of his shoulder looks like confetti and how it got that way in the first place.

Here's what we know: Bennett had shoulder issues last season as a member of the Patriots; during the Packers Week 8 bye, he said on Instagram that he was "pretty sure" he would retire after this season; he landed on the injury report with a shoulder injury following the team's first practice after the bye; he did not play in a Week 9 loss to the Lions; Green Bay released him this week with a "failure to disclose a physical condition" designation.

MORE ON BENNETT

Since then, both NFL Media and ESPN have reported that Bennett is dealing with a torn rotator cuff. ESPN said Bennett has a torn labrum as well.

Indications are that Bennett will try to play through any ailments he's coping with at the moment. According to one Patriots player who has been in touch with Bennett, the tight end is happy to be back in New England given that he was available for any team in the league to claim after the Packers waived him. Even if Bennett thought he was destined to pass through waivers -- it's relatively unusual for vested veterans like Bennett to be claimed -- he'll take comfort in the fact that the place where he's headed is somewhere he's been before.

His old teammates, now his teammates once again, said on Friday morning that they're excited to know he's back in the mix. 

Danny Amendola, who has known Bennett and his brother Michael since they were athletes growing up in the Houston area, couldn't stop smiling when speaking about the recent addition to the Patriots offense. The two entered the league together in 2008 as Cowboys rookies.

"I’m excited," Amendola said, acknowledging that he may have lost his locker-room DJ duties with Bennett's arrival. "He’s been my friend for a long time. We came in this league together in Dallas, so 10 long years. He’s a great guy. We’re all happy to have him back."

Bennett's contributions off the field were widely noted by teammates last season since he was someone who kept things light in what is oftentimes a hyper-serious environment.

"Energy and thoughtfulness, and he’s a great teammate," Amendola said when asked what Bennett will bring to the locker room. "He’s gonna help us out a lot, as he did last year. It’s going to be fun."

On Bennett's on-the-field talents, Amendola added: "He can run and catch. He blocks well in the run game, obviously, and an all-around good football player. He knows the system, he knows the environment, he knows the energy when you walk into the building every day, and he’s familiar with that. Marty B’s back."

How healthy he is, and how much he'll be able to help the Patriots remains to be seen. But from the front office, to the coaching staff, to the players Bennett will share a locker room with at Gillette Stadium, they're clearly ready to give this marriage another go.

It makes too much sense not to.

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Gronk question now makes tight end a position of need

Gronk question now makes tight end a position of need

Before free agency kicks off, and before we dissect the top college prospects entering this year's draft, we're taking a look at the Patriots on a position-by-position basis to provide you with an offseason primer of sorts. We'll be analyzing how the Patriots performed in 2017 at the position in question, who's under contract, how badly the team needs to add talent at that spot, and how exactly Bill Belichick might go about adding that talent. Today. we're looking at a position where the Patriots have arguably the best player that’s ever manned it in his presumed prime. But tight end is suddenly a tenuous spot for New England.

OTHER ENTRIES IN THE SERIES

HOW THEY PERFORMED


This became – contrary to the Patriots hopes – a one-man position. Rob Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games. The rest of the tight ends – Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister and Martellus Bennett – combined for 20 catches and six of those came from Bennett who played just two games before heading to injured reserve. Gronk was – and is – the best tight end in the game and one of its most dominating offensive weapons. After losing Julian Edelman in the preseason, the Patriots offense became tremendously Gronk-reliant. They got away with it. But they clearly wanted more from Dwayne Allen than what they got or they wouldn’t have gone after Bennett when he became available.

WHO IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR 2018?
Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Martellus Bennett, Will Tye, Jacob Hollister

WHO IS NOT?
All tight ends on the roster are under contract.

HOW DIRE IS THE NEED?


Publicity grab or legitimate consideration? What exactly to make of Gronk’s reported dalliance with the WWE and his idle desire to be an action movie star (also reported)? Both have the earmarks of brand-building genius. It’s a page torn from the business plans of Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard or Conor McGregor – ruminating on retirement and expressing interest in other public pursuits exponentially ratchets up public interest in both the main gig and the potential side gig. Gronk himself might not be that savvy and calculating to mildly hold the Patriots fortunes hostage but Gronk Inc. certainly is. Then again, maybe he legitimately is weighing it. The “will he or won’t he” conversation will sustain buzz and has to in some way impact the Patriots’ offseason plans. The presumption has to be that Gronk returns but this is anything but a layup. Which means the need is a Level-8

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY?


There is a nice crop of tight ends hitting the market. Virtually all of them come with the same nagging health issues that Gronk has (had). Jimmy Graham is the biggest name in the group. His tepid blocking skills may make him unattractive to the Patriots, but never let it be said the Pats don’t like to take a flier on a once-electric player who’s on the backside. At 31, Graham’s coming off a 10-touchdown season, though his yards per catch went down to 9.1. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see New England pursue. The Eagles' second tight end, Trey Burton, is 26 and stuck behind Zach Ertz. An undrafted rookie, the kid who threw the touchdown pass to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl is targeted sparingly in Philly but is a smooth player. He also plays special teams (boing!). Austin Sefarian-Jenkins finally got his stuff together with the Jets in 2017 and he’s only 25. He’s no dummy, he’s only acted like one in the past and it seems like he’s got a handle on it now. He’d need face-to-face vetting but he’s got upside. Then there’s Tyler Eifert. Still just 27, Eifert’s played in 10 games the past two seasons and had season-ending back surgery in the fall (it was performed by the same doctor who treated Gronk). He’s played 39 games in five seasons. Terrific talent. Always broken.

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT?


I like this Dallas Goedert kid from South Dakota State. Also, Dalton Schultz from Stanford gets checkmarks as a blocker and competent receiver. Neither of them are first-round prospects at this point. Hayden Hurst from South Carolina and Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews are regarded as the top prospects. Hurst is a very good pass-catcher with a huge catch radius. He’s a 24-year-old former Pittsburgh Pirates draftee. Andrews is smooth as a receiver but not seen as a potent blocker. Same with Mike Gesicki from Penn State who’s the best athlete along with Hurst but doesn’t impress with his blocking.

HOW CAN THE PATRIOTS ADDRESS IT?


Assuming Gronk is returning, the Patriots can go at it a number of ways. There’s not a “can’t miss” prospect out there, so drafting Hurst or Gesicki in the first couple of rounds means they’ll have to live with the shortcomings or hope they can improve them. Given other needs, they may not want to spend on “maybes” near the top of the draft. Too many drafts have been like that, especially with second-rounders. It seems unlikely they’ll be really interested in counting on either Allen or Bennett to provide anything in 2018. If they take a run at the Eagles’ Burton and pay him a crapload, Gronk will lose his mind. Screw it. They should take Hurst. We will change our minds several times between now and April but that’s where we are now.

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Julian Edelman posts video of resistance-band training

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Julian Edelman posts video of resistance-band training

Julian Edelman is grinding.

The New England Patriots receiver, who is recovering from an ACL repair surgery that ended his 2017 season, shared a quick video from his workout on Tuesday. Edelman is shown running with a resistance band and a trainer in-tow.

Edelman has posted a few tidbits on social media to show encouraging signs during his recovery since he got surgery in October after suffering an ACL tear in a preseason game. He was spotted around the locker room a few times during the final weeks of the 2017 season.

"Rehab is a [expletive]. It sucks," Edelman said in November on Barstool Sports' "Pardon My Take podcast." "You go in and you’re feeling decent and then you warm up, you beat it up and then you get stiff again. I mean it’s just a process and you go in six days a week and you’re going into work it, work on everything — your flexion, your extension."