Patriots

Benjamin Watson admits Patriots' culture unchanged since he left in 2009

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USA TODAY Sports

Benjamin Watson admits Patriots' culture unchanged since he left in 2009

FOXBORO -- Benjamin Watson understands what it means to be part of the New England Patriots, which should help make his transition back to the team after a 10-year absence a smooth one.

The veteran tight end spent the first six years of his career in New England before leaving in 2009 as a free agent. The offense, the playbook, and much of the personnel outside of Tom Brady have changed over that span, but the culture around the team is very much the same.

"That's something that is familiar. That's something that hasn't changed," Watson said Thursday after OTAs at Gillette Stadium. "A lot of things have changed, obviously offensive terminology, players, some coaches have changed. But the culture is the same. It's highly competitive. There's high accountability. There's very high expectations.

"That's not only in the locker room and on the practice field but it's with the media, it's with this area of the country. Having played in different areas of the country, there's just different feels from different fanbases. And so a lot of the culture here is the same. You realize when you go different places that it's different. It's not bad or good, but things are just different. That's something that I think has really helped the team be so successful over the last couple decades."

Despite his familiarity with Brady, there's still a lot of new material for Watson to learn and study as training camp approaches. This process is nothing new for the 38-year-old veteran, who's played for four different teams and in several different offenses throughout his NFL career.

"(The playbook is) quite different, as to be expected," Watson said. "Josh (McDaniels) has been here, he's left, he's come back. There have been different offensive coaches, different players that have been here, and sometimes you cater to your personnel.

"So, things might change. The terminology has to change because obviously after time, defenses aren't dumb. They pick up on what the quarterback's saying, so they change. So, offensively, we have to change terms and stuff like that. There are a lot of different terms. There are a lot of different formations, terminology. There are some carryover, a little bit, but so far it has been a process of learning a lot of new stuff, which is good."

Watson has a really good opportunity with the Patriots, who are undergoing a lot of changes at tight end following the offseason departures of veterans Rob Gronkowski (retirement) and Dwayne Allen (released). He's off to a good start, too, after catching a touchdown during Thursday's OTAs.

Observations from Thursday's Patriots OTA session>>>

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Quick Slants The Podcast: Tom E. Curran politely questions Chris Simms on his ABSURD ranking of Tom Brady

Quick Slants The Podcast: Tom E. Curran politely questions Chris Simms on his ABSURD ranking of Tom Brady

NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms ranks Tom Brady No. 9 - yes, ninth, among current quarterbacks. Tom E. Curran - very politely - demands an explanation.

3:00 - Chris Simms breaks down why he ranked Tom Brady as the ninth-best QB in the NFL right now.

4:00 - Why is Patrick Mahomes ranked higher than Tom Brady?

8:30 - Tom and Chris debate whether it is Bill Belichick or Tom Brady who makes the Patriots successful.

10:00 - How is Matt Ryan ahead of Brady in Simms’ list?

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https://link.chtbl.com/1rxUUlvD

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Friendship with O'Brien reportedly a big part of Caserio's attraction to Texans

Friendship with O'Brien reportedly a big part of Caserio's attraction to Texans

The apparent tug of war between the Patriots and Texans over Nick Caserio appears - for now - to have gone the Pats' way.

While the Texans keep the seat warm for the Patriots director of player personnel, and Bill Belichick's right-hand man, to finish out his contract that ends after the 2020 draft, there's been speculation a trade could be worked out that would allow Caserio to become GM in Houston.

Our Tom E. Curran notes that the Pats' asking price would have to be a first-rounder and that would seem to be a non-starter for the Texans.  

The driving force behind Caserio's desire to work for the Texans, who also sought permission to talk to him a year earlier but were denied by the Patriots, is his close relationship with Houston coach and former Pats offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, The Boston Globe's Chris Gasper reports.

According to Gasper, Caserio and O'Brien's "friendship extends well beyond football." That relationship and the opportunity to be the boss have Caserio, 43, intrigued by the Texans.

More from Gasper's column:

“It was a chance to work with his buddy, and finally have a chance to run the building,” said a source with knowledge of Caserio’s situation. “He told Belichick he’s super grateful for every opportunity he’s been given. But it would be absurd to request that [Houston-type] opportunity there, and he never would.

“Based on age, at some point, he’ll be given the opportunity. I think he would love that. I think he knows to not desire it or request it in New England because of the gentleman he reports to. If Coach wants to make it 10 more years, maybe he will."

This same source told Gasper that Caserio, Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft held a clear-the-air session after the Texans backed off their pursuit and the focus is on the season ahead: “It was a tough week and a half, but I’m certain it’s behind all parties, or at least it seems to be."

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