Patriots

Gray on weight: 'You feel lighter, you play a lot faster'

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Gray on weight: 'You feel lighter, you play a lot faster'

FOXBORO -- Did Jonas Gray look quicker to you in Thursday’s preseason opener versus the Packers? Did he look faster? There’s a reason behind that, one that goes beyond Gray’s initial acknowledgement postgame that he’d lost somewhere between 3 to 5 pounds. That weight loss may not seem like much - as I noted to the hulkish running back - but Gray says it goes beyond the physical benefit. It’s mental as well.

“I think its just a mindset,” said Gray after Monday’s training camp practice. “When you feel lighter, you play a lot faster. That physical part of my game is never going to leave, but being able to run away from guys and get more yards and get more out of plays, you know, from watching film last year and seeing runs I had that I could have taken the distance, or gained more yards on it, I knew this year that was going to be a difference between was I going to play more, or play a little bit.”

So the man who emasculated the Colts in prime time a season ago, rushing for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns to earn the cover of Sports Illustrated, worked harder than he’s ever worked during the offseason, to show not only the coaching staff, but his teammates, that this version of Jonas Gray is all about business.

“I knew,“ said Gray, “for the guys to be able to trust me week in and week out, I would have to come here in great shape and show 'em how serious I am about being a player on this team and helping this team out.”

That has been evident as camp has gone on. Instead of just running to the hole, or just working his way through it before slowing down, Gray is channeling his inner Jim Brown. Every run has purpose, and even when there is nowhere to go, the former Notre Dame product keeps those legs churning well after the whistle.

“One thing I knew the coaches wanted to see was [me] to do more stuff in the open field,” acknowledged Gray. “I’m trying to emulate that in practice so every time I get that opportunity if I’m stopped, I totally try to run through and get a good 10 to 15 to 20 yards down the field, to prepare myself mentally to do that.”

You can’t knock the hustle, and even Bill Belichick, who walked by Gray’s interview session with a wary eye, would probably agree with that.

Welker: Brady's absence from voluntary work might've benefitted Patriots receivers

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Welker: Brady's absence from voluntary work might've benefitted Patriots receivers

BOSTON -- Wes Welker has been keeping up with his old team. He's a competitor now, in his second year as a Texans offensive and special teams assistant, but he's aware of what's happening with the Patriots.

He's aware that his buddy Tom Brady, the guy who threw Welker well over 800 passes in five seasons, opted not to take part in the voluntary workouts held at Gillette Stadium this spring.

And even though Welker is now a coach, even though one would assume all coaches carry the belief that all players should show up to all workouts whenever possible, he believes it wasn't a big deal for Brady to skip that which wasn't mandatory.

In fact, Welker believes Brady's absence may have actually benefitted the Patriots in some ways.

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"He's got a family," Welker said Tuesday at the Leonard Hair Transplant Associates media day at the Battery Wharf Hotel. "He's got a wife who wants to take the family on vacation.

"What are you really teaching Tom Brady at this point? And, you know, if you're worried about him getting on the same page with the receivers, that's really why you would have coaches. The coaches are really able to emphasize with those guys what they want them to do.
It's a really good opportunity for those guys to play together without Tom and kind of figure it out."

Welker's insistence that spring workouts may not help Brady all that much is hard to argue. Brady is going into his 41-year-old season. He knows the offense. He's long been maniacal about keeping himself in good physical condition.

But because the entire Patriots organization has long touted spring work as critical -- as a time to lay the foundation for the rest of the year -- it's hard to believe that what happens in the spring is now gravy.

And for a player like Brady, who knows enough to be an effective teacher during what is commonly referred to as a "teaching camp," it would make sense that his presence at spring practices would be beneficial to others even if he personally doesn't gain much from it.

Welker, though, insisted. Brady's absence may have helped the players he'll be throwing to next week when training camp begins.

"I personally think so," he said. "It's got to get figured out somehow, and it can't always be him doing it."

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Welker knows challenges Edelman faces in recovery

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Welker knows challenges Edelman faces in recovery

BOSTON -- Wes Welker and Julian Edelman will always share a connection. They were teammates from 2009 through 2012. Last summer, Edelman credited Welker with essentially creating a position that Edelman has manned.

When Edelman tore his ACL in Detroit during a preseason game last summer, the pair shared another connection. Welker tore up his ACL and MCL at the very end of the 2009 season, robbing Tom Brady of one of his favorite targets for the playoffs. 

Because the timing of the two injuries was so different -- over a year will separate Edelman's injury and Week 1 of this season, while Welker had eight months -- they haven't had an apples-to-apples recovery schedule. 

But at the Leonard Hair Transplant Associates media day at the Battery Wharf Hotel on Tuesday, Welker gave some insight into what he experienced after his serious knee injury as a receiver who, like Edelman, relies on his ability to cut and cut hard. 

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"It was tough," Welker said. "I didn't have as much time, and I look back and I wish I had taken more. But I just wanted to get back on the field so badly. You know, it took me the whole year and really getting to that next offseason where I could really train and get ready for the next season."

Welker explained that it took him a long time, multiple seasons, before he could trust his knee to make the same cut he made when he suffered the injury.

"I think even years after, you're still playing on that thing and anytime you make that same cut, you almost don't want to make it," he said. "Those hard cuts like that -- real hard, when you're trying to make a guy miss -- those are kind of rare. But you can feel when you're about to make one, and in your mind, in that split-second, [you] remember what happened last time. It's a tough, brutal injury."

Welker was 28 years old when he tore his ACL and MCL. Edelman turned 32 in May and is scheduled to be suspended the four games of the 2018 season after having been found to have violated the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. Edelman appealed the decision late last month, but his appeal was denied by a third-party arbitrator. 

During spring practices Edelman insisted he was improving with each passing day, and he appeared to have little issue when it came to running and cutting during drills. Edelman was limited during team periods at Patriots practices.

Welker went on to make three more Pro Bowls following his injury, and he played six more seasons. In 2010, Welker caught 86 passes for 848 yards. Both were low marks during his six years in New England, but still good enough for a Pro Bowl nod. In 2011, Welker was a First-Team All-Pro after catching 122 passes for a career-high 1,569 yards.

Given what Welker knows about Edelman and Edelman's work ethic, he believes Edelman will bounce back.

"I think he'll be fine," Welker said. "He works really hard. He does all the right things. [He's] just trying to work to get back there on the field. He's had almost a whole year by the time the season starts and should be good to go."

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