FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Some picked-up pieces from members of the New England Patriots’ rookie class:
1. Garoppolo emerges as leader among offensive players. Tight end Justin Jones relayed how quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sometimes comes up to him, shouts out a play, and asks him his responsibilities. That has reflected how Garoppolo has become a leader of sorts for rookies on offense. “Coach has given him kind of the responsibility offensively of making sure everyone is in the right spot and making sure we’re all on time,” Jones relayed. “He’s gladly taken on that role of being accountable for everybody. But at the same time, he is a rookie, too, and we can’t leave him out to dry. So nobody’s missing, nobody’s late. That’s all part of being a professional.” As for Jones, it was hard to miss his 6-foot-8 frame as he looked down on reporters and talked about how his basketball background helps him on the football field.
2. Still waiting on White and Fleming. Fourth-round draft choices James White (running back) and Cameron Fleming (offensive tackle) are not yet in town with the Patriots because their classes have yet to graduate. They are expected in town this weekend, but then will have to depart until their schools’ respective graduation. Every other rookie with the team met with reporters this week.
3. Oklahoma’s Finch open to all positions. Running back Roy Finch, who is listed at 5-foot-7 and 167 pounds, is known for his explosiveness. His size might mean he’s more of a specialty player if he makes the roster. Asked where he fits in New England, Finch repeated that he’s still learning (that’s been a mantra from the coaching staff) but is open to all possibilities. “Pretty much anything – slot receiver, halfback, kickoff return, punt return – just explosive positions where the ball can be in my hands,” said Finch, who added the Patriots were his favorite team growing up.
4. Stork keeps his focus on the field. Center Bryan Stork of Florida State, the team’s initial fourth-round draft choice (105th overall), looks like he’ll fit right in with the team’s offensive line with his bushy beard and shaved head. Stork relayed how he had a pre-draft visit with the Patriots and had hoped the team would select him because he had a good feeling about his interaction with members of the staff. Stork said he has long admired Patriots left guard Logan Mankins, among others.
5. Thomas prides himself on special teams and physicality. In describing Georgia Tech defensive back Jemea Thomas, one of the team’s sixth-round selections (206th overall), coach Bill Belichick previously said he could be a four-down player because of his special-teams prowess. Thomas said Thursday that he played on every special-teams unit at Georgia Tech and he prides himself on physical play at cornerback. One additional note from Thomas: He grew up one county over from cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, and recalled playing AAU basketball against him.
6. Michigan alums recall Brady’s visit. Receiver Jeremy Gallon and linebacker Cameron Gordon, who both played at Michigan, were asked about quarterback Tom Brady’s surprise visit to the Wolverines team last year. Gordon, a captain in 2013, said the two things that stood out to him from Brady’s speech were “leadership” and “seizing opportunity.” But Gordon, who played on all special-teams units over his career and is known for his versatility among other things, repeated multiple times that college is in the past, which is something coaches have stressed to all players.