FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from Day 1 of New England Patriots mandatory minicamp:
— Andrew Hawkins, formerly of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, is looking to break into a crowded Patriots receiving corps led by Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan.
“The receivers here are incredible,” Hawkins, who signed a one-year contract with New England last month, said after practice Tuesday. “I have so much respect from even being around them now, that much respect for how talented they are. Personally, I continue to say it, but I have so much work to do to try and catch up and when I’m out here, try not to slow down this football team.”
Earning a roster spot will be tough for the 31-year-old Hawkins, who turned down more lucrative offers to chase a championship with the Patriots. But that’s nothing new for him.
“That’s the NFL,” Hawkins said. “It’s hard to earn a roster spot anywhere. I’ve never been a lock anywhere. I’ve always kind of fought from the bottom. If that was going to scare me away, I probably shouldn’t be playing anymore.”
Hawkins is one of 11 wide receivers currently on the Patriots’ roster. Edelman, Cooks, Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell all are locks to stick around, and Danny Amendola has the inside track on securing the fifth wideout spot. Hawkins, Devin Lucien, DeAndrew White, Austin Carr and Cody Hollister all will have their work cut out for them this summer.
“I think the great thing about the Patriots is they’re looking for the best guys,” Hawkins said. “The best guys who come out here and compete, continue to get better and challenge themselves to set a high standard. That’s what I’m focused on.”
— Patriots coach Bill Belichick is expecting big things from New England’s 2016 rookie class, which includes the likes of Mitchell, Joe Thuney, Jacoby Brissett, Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones and D.J. Foster
Jonathan Jones and Foster, the only undrafted players in that group, both have impressed in spring practice. Foster made several eye-opening catches during organized team activities, and Jones broke up two passes Tuesday during 11-on-11 drills. Jones also has been New England’s primary nickelback thus far, ahead of Cyrus Jones, Eric Rowe and Justin Coleman.
“Jonathan is one of a number of players that are in their second year,” Belichick said. “You usually see a level of jump from those guys because they’ve been through our system before and have a better understanding of what’s in the league and other schemes and so forth.
“I think all those guys from our rookie class last year have all made good progress — definitely ahead of where they were last year.”
— Undrafted rookie defensive end Corey Vereen reverted to the Patriots’ injured reserve after passing unclaimed through waivers. New England waived Vereen on Monday and signed UDFA cornerback Will Likely.
Likely joined the Patriots at practice Tuesday, wearing No. 33.
— Jimmy Garoppolo spoke with reporters after practice. Not many backup quarterbacks draw a crowd like this:
— Belichick channeled his inner Emperor Palpatine during his morning news conference.
— The Patriots offered fans a sneak peek of the Super Bowl LI rings the team will be receiving later this week.
The rings will be handed out in a ceremony this Friday. Tight end Martellus Bennett, who signed with the Green Bay Packers in March, plans to make the trip back to New England for the occasion.
I'm going back to Boston this Friday to get my Super Bowl ring. It made me start thinking about some of my favorite places in a wonderful town. One place I'll be stopping by which is the best place in Boston @bostonchildrens to make some kids laugh and hand out Football Marty Pillows. Yaaayyyy!!! This was one of my last visits there. #theimaginationagency #martyland @bleacherreport
Thumbnail photo via Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports Images’