NFL Notes: Gronkowski plans to attend minicamp

The Sports Xchange

June 03, 2018 at 8:39 pm.

Jan 13, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) makes a touchdown  catch against Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard (31) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 13, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) makes a touchdown catch against Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard (31) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed Sunday that he will report for the team’s mandatory minicamp this week.

Gronkowski has not been a part of any of the Patriots’ voluntary offseason program this year and only recently said he plans to play this season. New England will have a three-day minicamp.

“We’ve got mandatory minicamp this week,” Gronkowski told Boston radio station WBZ. “So I’ll be there this week. I’ll be full go. I’m looking forward to it. Can’t wait to get back to work. I’m excited.”

He is set to make $8 million this season, but the team may make some changes to his deal, much like last year when it added about $5.5 million in incentives.

— Free-agent defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman was arrested early Saturday on a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired, multiple media outlets reported.

Hageman was released without posting bail 90 minutes after he was booked, per Hennepin County (Minn.) jail records. A court hearing has been set for June 21.

The 27-year-old Hageman has not played since being released by the Atlanta Falcons in September after an arrest on domestic violence charges stemming from a March 2016 incident with his then-girlfriend.

Hageman, the Falcons’ second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has 61 tackles and four sacks in 44 career games.

— The Miami Dolphins made Bobby McCain the NFL’s highest-paid nickel back after signing him to a four-year, $27 million contract extension.

The deal includes $13 million guaranteed, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

The Dolphins were able to sign McCain due in part to picking up approximately $17 million in salary cap space, the result of former defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s contract coming off the team’s financial ledger on Friday.

McCain had a career high in tackles (48), interceptions (two) and passes defensed (seven) in 16 games last season.

— Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said surgery will be in his near future after he sustained a broken nose during a charity softball game.

A video showed Matthews on the receiving end of a line drive during the game Saturday in Appleton, Wis. He then walked off the field covering his face.

“Thank you for all the concern and well-wishes,” the 32-year-old Matthews tweeted. “I busted my nose pretty good and will have surgery once the swelling subsides. Thankful as it could have been much more serious.”

The six-time Pro Bowl selection had 44 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 14 games last season. He has 439 tackles and a franchise-best 80 sacks in 127 career games.

— Donald Penn revealed that he was fit to be tied when the Oakland Raiders selected fellow offensive tackle Kolton Miller with the 15th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Penn, in fact, was so upset that he called coach Jon Gruden to share his displeasure.

“I’m not going to lie, as soon as I saw the draft pick, I called Gruden immediately. Like ‘Man, what the (expletive),'” the 35-year-old Penn said during an appearance on Michael Rapoport’s podcast, via “He didn’t answer, but when I saw him the next Monday, he was joking with me saying, ‘You were ready to kick my (expletive), huh, Donald! You were mad as a (expletive).'”

Gruden said the pick had nothing to do with Penn, a 13-year veteran who signed a two-year, $21 million contract extension after holding out during training camp in 2017.

— Running back Isaiah Crowell doesn’t have fond memories of his time with the Cleveland Browns.

An 0-16 record last season and a 1-31 mark dating to 2016 likely don’t add many pages to the scrapbook. Crowell, however, told the New York Post that he never knew his role in the offense on a weekly basis, thus contributing to his troubles.

“Sometimes it was (an every-down situation), sometimes it wasn’t,” he said. “You just never knew week in and week out. I felt like that was discouraging and annoying.”

Crowell has not missed a game since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He started all 16 games in each of the last two seasons for Cleveland, rushing for a career-high 952 yards in 2016. Last year, he ran for 853 yards.

— Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson ended any speculation about a possible return to the football field.

“I don’t (think so), man, ’cause I get up from the bed sometimes in the morning, I’m just like, I shuffle across the ground cause I can’t bend my ankles,” Johnson told the Detroit Free Press. “That was my problem when I played, just ankle is always stuck or swelled up, I can’t flex them. If you can’t flex your ankles then you’re just running flat-footed all the time.”

Johnson retired before the 2016 season and told reporters last year that he walked away because the franchise was not close to reaching the Super Bowl. Johnson, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, had 731 receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns in nine NFL seasons.

— Free agent linebacker Mychal Kendricks denied Sunday that he has a deal with the Cleveland Browns.

NFL Network and the Cleveland Plain Dealer earlier reported that Kendricks would sign a one-year contract with the Browns. In response to the report by NFL Network, Kendricks told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the report is “not accurate.”

After six years with the Eagles, Kendricks was released in a cost-cutting move last month. He visited the Browns, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders last week.

Kendricks, 27, started 13 games for Philadelphia in 2017. He had 77 tackles (55 solo), 2.0 sacks and six pass breakups in 15 games.

— Left tackle Nate Solder is well aware of the challenge that found its way to his plate shortly after he signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the New York Giants, whose offensive line struggled mightily last season.

“There’s a tremendous amount of pressure and I’ve been under a tremendous amount of pressure for years now,” Solder told WFAN in New York. “You can only take it one bite at a time. You go one day better. It’s not going to be one person that is going to fix everything. It’s going to be a group effort. We got to win as a team and do the best we can every single day.”

The Giants also added guards Patrick Omameh and Will Hernandez this offseason and Ereck Flowers has been shuffled to right tackle.

Solder has been a mainstay on the New England Patriots’ offensive line, starting at least 15 games in six of his seven NFL seasons.

— Free-agent running back Adrian Peterson was impressed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ work ethic despite being teammates for just a brief period.

“There’s one person that when you asked that question that stood out immediately. It was Drew Brees,” the 33-year-old Peterson said when asked if he has played with anyone who exceeded his work ethic, per The Times-Picayune.

Brees, 39, set an NFL record for completion percentage (72.0) last season despite throwing for his fewest yards (4,334), touchdowns (23) and interceptions (eight) in his 12 seasons with the Saints.

A former Super Bowl MVP and 11-time Pro Bowl selection, Brees needs 1,496 yards to break Peyton Manning’s record of 71,940. He needs 52 more touchdown passes to break Manning’s NFL record of 539.

Peterson, ranking 12th on the career leading rushing list with 12,276 yards, is three yards behind Marshall Faulk and 36 shy of Jim Brown at No. 10.

— Linebacker Shea McClellin came to the defense of his former team — and the so-called “Patriot Way” — in light of others taking shots from afar at Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

McClellin spent 2016 and 2017 with the Patriots after playing his first four NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears. He said his time with the Belichick-coached teams were “the best two years of my football career that I’ve had.”

McClellin, who was a first-round pick by the Bears in 2012, was released by the Patriots with a failed physical designation in March after missing all of last season.

— Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree is aware that there is a lot expected of him during his first season with the club.

Crabtree is the most experienced of a wide receiving corps that includes offseason acquisitions John Brown, Willie Snead and DeVier Posey, draft picks Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott, and holdovers Breshad Perriman and Chris Moore.

Crabtree, 30, signed a three-year contract with the Ravens after being released by the Oakland Raiders. He was limited to just 58 receptions for 618 yards with eight touchdowns last season after amassing 89 catches for 1,003 yards and eight scores in 2016. He has 579 catches for 6,870 yards and 51 touchdowns in nine seasons.