McCourty Has Good Offseason

Devin McCourty

The Patriots need more from their defensive backs in 2012. After finishing 31st overall in 2011, the unit has a lot to prove. Former second round pick Devin McCourty is one player that the team is expecting to step up this season.

McCourty buoyed by offseason work

   One group of players adversely affected by the 2011 lockout were the 2010 rookies that weren't able to benefit by a full offseason program heading to their second season.

   Cornerback Devin McCourty, a first-round pick in 2010, acknowledged the group of rookies from that year had some issues last season. He can tell the difference now after having an offseason program this year.

   "Yeah, you just see it's a difference," McCourty said. "Last year, you're on your own, feel like you're working hard doing different things, but I just think it's a better feeling when you can be with your teammates working on the things and working with the people that you actually do this sport with the most.

   "During the season, you're with the coaches and the players all the time, so just to be around those guys, be able to get their input on different things is key to any player's development."

All About Concussions

   --Plenty of former current and former NFL players have made headlines of late by saying that they don't want their children to play football due to the current awareness of the long-term ramifications of concussions and head injuries. But don't count former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi among them.

   Holding his fifth annual youth football camp sponsored by SBLI at Gillette Stadium this week, the former Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion is looking forward to his boys playing football. He admits he'll make them wait to play, just as his mother did with him. Bruschi didn't begin playing until he was 14.

   "My oldest is 11. He talks about playing football. I'm teaching him the fundamentals of football. He hasn't put a helmet on his head yet," Bruschi said. "I believe in letting my kids develop a little bit before they play. That's the way it was with me, and I'm pretty sure I'm OK. So hopefully it works out for them that way also.

   "Football, I would want them to be a part of it. It's a great sport."

Getting Paid

   Quarterback Tom Brady and guard Logan Mankins both made Forbes' list of the top 100 highest-paid athletes of 2011. Brady came in at No. 28 on the list thanks to his $27.1 million in earnings, which includes salary, bonus money and endorsements. Mankins ranked No. 51 with $21.9 million in income, tying for that spot with former Patriots and current Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

No Return To Glory In Foxboro

   Tight end Bo Scaife was released June 19. The 31-year-old former Titan had signed with the Patriots on June 7 as the team struggled with depth at tight end during OTAs and minicamp. Scaife, who was on injured reserve with the Bengals last season, struggled mightily with his conditioning on the practice field and was barely able to contribute during minicamp action.

Faulk Bides His Time

    Running back Kevin Faulk, currently a free agent, continues to hope that he might get a call from the Patriots, the only team he says he'll play for if he indeed returns for a 14th NFL season.

   "Just waiting, being patient," Faulk said at a recent charity golf tournament held by former Patriots guard and current assistant strength coach Joe Andruzzi.

   New England currently has a committee of running backs vying for playing time that includes second-year players Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen as well as offseason free-agent addition Joseph Addai.

   Faulk is being patient, but also admits that it can be a bit frustrating.

   "Of course, I'm human, but at the same time you keep your trust in God and you understand what goes on, you understand the business, and you move on," he said. "It's just one of those things that happens -- your career comes to an end at some point."

Ridley Wants To Be The Man

   At a fundraiser in his Natchez, Miss., hometown, Ridley said his goal is to win the starting job. "Everything I could have asked for is right in front of me," he said. "It's all about 'What do you do right now.' I'm smiling and happy, but at the same time, it's a business, and you have to realize if you don't do your job somebody's coming to replace you.
   "I'm going into this year focused with an edge I've never had. It's put up or shut up at this point, and I'm ready to play and try to put this city on the map and do well for Natchez, Mississippi."

Gronk Says Both Sides Are Happy
   Speaking for the first time since reaching a six-year extension in New England that could pay him more than $54 million, All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski expressed great pleasure in the fact that he could be in New England through 2019.
   "I'm just happy," Gronkowski said with his characteristic big smile. "Both sides are really happy. I love all my fans out there. It's a great community, a great team. It's awesome going out there every single Sunday in front of that crowd. I'm happy to be here long-term, definitely. It all worked out well."

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "Great!" - Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski when asked at a recent charity golf tournament about the status of his surgically repaired left ankle. Gronkowski did not take part in OTA or minicamp practices this spring.

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