Patriots

Giardi: Welker brings intelligence, passion to Texans coaching staff

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Giardi: Welker brings intelligence, passion to Texans coaching staff

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, West Virginia -- If you can’t beat 'em, keep taking those with ties to the organization. That seems to be the Houston Texans modus operandi. First it was Bill O’Brien as the head coach, then Romeo Crennel as the defensive coordinator. Mike Vrabel left Ohio State’s coaching staff to come along for the ride, joining old teammate Larry Izzo. Now another familiar face has joined the staff, formerly number 83 in your Patriots program, Wes Welker. 

“I think all those guys are -- Wes, Larry, Mike -- are all players that had that were as hard a working players as I coached,” said Bill Belichick Tuesday morning. “Love the game. Were grinders. Had that coaching mentality, which is be there early and stay late. Put in the extra time. Do the dirty work. They all started at the bottom and worked their way up.”

That’s been Welker’s story almost from jump. Not heavily recruited to play college ball, then almost an afterthought to start off his NFL career -- he was undrafted -- to  getting cut by San Diego before latching on with Miami in 2004. It was there he caught Belichick’s eye as a player the Pats just couldn’t cover.

By the time he called it a career, Welker ranked 21st all-time in receptions and three times led the league in catches, including 123 in 2009 and 122 in 2011. Initially, Welker seemed to resist the urge to plunge back into football but the pull was too long so now he’s Coach Welker.

“Wes is such a smart, intelligent football player,” said former teammate and current Pats wide receiver Julian Edelman. “He played a lot of years. He’s a grinder, meaning he earned everything he got. He didn’t start on 3rd. He had have a long journey to being ultimately a revolutionary player who basically created a position.”

High praise from a player who succeeded Welker both as Tom Brady’s favorite target and as that slot guy who has proven to be just as tough to cover, if not more so. Maybe Welker coaching didn’t initially seem it was a fit but Edelman sees otherwise.

“Being in the locker room with him for so many years and being able to pick his brains and to see how just from how he practiced and how he played, it doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Edelman. “He was such a student of the game. He knew just about everything so it was one of those things being a coach, you know it’s a grind, it’s a huge thing, but he’s a football guy. He loves the sport.”

That passion is now Houston’s gain.

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Source: Tom Brady not at TB12 while teammates next door at OTAs

Source: Tom Brady not at TB12 while teammates next door at OTAs

A source confirms that Tom Brady was not working out at his TB12 sports medicine facility at Patriot Place in Foxboro while his teammates were on the field at OTAs as was previously reported by the Boston Herald.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, the other notable absence from OTAs, has been at the TB12 facility on the days his teammates were on the field practicing and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who participated in the first day of OTAs, has also been at TB12, according to the source.

The Herald's Karen Guregian reported on Tuesday that both Brady and Gronkowski were at TB12 on Monday, which is right next to Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots were practicing. 

Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak and Bertrand" show said Brady likely wasn't even in the country this week.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Wednesday that Brady and Gronk are expected to participate in the mandatory mini-camp at Gillette June 5-7.

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NFL announces new policy on players' anthem protests

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NFL announces new policy on players' anthem protests

ATLANTA  — NFL owners approved a new policy Thursday aimed at addressing the firestorm over national anthem protests, permitting players to stay in the locker room during the "The Star-Spangled Banner" but requiring them to stand if they come to the field.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously by the owners at their spring meeting in Atlanta, but it was met with immediate skepticism by the players' union.

"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand," Goodell said. "That's all personnel, and to make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That's something that we think we owe. We've been very sensitive on making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on."

In a sign that players were not part of the discussions, any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team — not the players.

The NFL Players Association said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.

The owners spent several hours addressing the contentious issue — which has reached all the way to the White House.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a quiet but powerful protest against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system.

Other players took up the cause, and the gesture carried on during the 2017 season even after Kaepernick left the 49ers and failed to land a job with another team.

President Trump turned the anthem protests into a campaign issue, saying the NFL should fire any player who takes a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner." The NFL hasn't gone that far, but Kaepernick has yet to land another job and one of his former teammates and fellow protesters, safety Eric Reid, is also out of work.

Both have filed collusion grievances against the NFL.

While the owners touted the change as a compromise and noted it was approved unanimously, the players' union made it clear it was not part of the discussions.

"The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new 'policy,'" the NFLPA said in a statement. "NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about."

The statement added, "The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL's Management Council John Mara (co-owner of the New York Giants) about the principles, values and patriotism of our League."

© 2018 by The Associated Press.

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