FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Minutes before the Patriots hit the field for the first time as a complete team Tuesday, Tom Brady made them a promise.

“It’s gonna be a good day,” tight end Ben Watson said, relaying Brady’s message to reporters after New England’s first minicamp practice.

It didn’t take Brady long to make good on his pledge. Simply by attending his first practice of the offseason, Brady appeared to inspire teammates at the start. And then his play did the rest.

“He’s got snap. He had snap in walkthrough. We were up there doing the walkthrough and I was like, ‘Man, this dude is throwing the ball in walkthroughs – zipping it,” Watson said.

Brady later completed passes to six different receivers, including third-round rookie running back Damien Harris. But Harris diffused his awe of the future Hall of Famer quickly, opting instead to focus on how he can earn the 41-year-old’s treasured trust.

“It’s special, but he’s my teammate now. So I get to do that every single day,” Harris said. “And I’m fortunate to be able to learn from a guy like that; a guy that has been through a lot of things, has had a lot of success in this program. So he’s a guy that I can lean on and learn from.”


The 38-year-old Watson knows better than most what earning Brady’s trust requires. He spent six seasons with Brady from 2004-09 and has now returned after a decade apart and a brief retirement earlier this year. The distance, he intimated, only made his appreciation of his first and final quarterback grow stronger.

“It’s exciting to watch. I sit there and watch him, he’s been amazing to watch over the last 10 years while I haven’t been here,” Watson said. “He’s a consummate professional.”

“I’m going to listen to everything he does. I’m 38 – not quite where he is – but all the tips that he does, I need to do the same thing. I gotta stay on the field, too.”

• According to a source, the Patriots are releasing tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who was expected to compete for a starting position, but instead is taking a step back from football and taking a month away  to work on personal issues.

The Patriots signed Seferian-Jenkins after Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement this spring.

PANTHERS: Carolina signed three-time All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy  to a one-year deal worth up to $10.25 million Tuesday. The 31-year-old McCoy has been one of the better players at his position over the last nine seasons with  Tampa Bay, and is the only NFL defensive tackle with at least six sacks in each of the last six seasons. He has 296 tackles and 54 ½ sacks during his career.


BUCCANEERS: Three-time All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh slipped on his customary No. 93 jersey and practiced with Tampa Bay for the first time on Tuesday, joining teammates for the start of a three-day mandatory minicamp.

The Bucs will pay Suh up to $10 million as a replacement for Gerald McCoy – released last month after nine seasons as the face of Tampa Bay’s defense.

BROWNS: Running back Duke Johnson, who demanded to be dealt in the offseason after Cleveland signed free agent Kareem Hunt, said Tuesday he still wants to be traded and only wants to be “somewhere I’m wanted.”

The 25-year-old asked for a trade when he learned the Browns had been shopping him around after signing Hunt, who won’t be eligible to play until serving an eight-game NFL suspension.

Johnson said he showed loyalty by signing a contract extension last year after enduring 1-15 and 0-16 seasons, but the team hasn’t treated him the same way.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t defend Johnson, saying “you’re either on the train or you’re not.”


COLTS: Quarterback Andrew Luck will miss his third week of offseason workouts because of a strained calf and Coach Frank Reich would not say whether Luck will return for next week’s three-day minicamp.

Reich has said the Colts are playing it safe and that Luck would practice and play if the injury had occurred during the regular season.

WASHINGTON: Linebacker Reuben Foster tore his lateral collateral ligament in addition to his anterior cruciate ligament when he was injured on the team’s first organized team activities practice, Coach Jay Gruden said Tuesday during the first day of the team’s minicamp.

LIONS: Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay and defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison were not with their teammates Tuesday and Coach Matt Patricia says he’s focusing on players on the field.

Slay and Harrison may be staying away while trying to get new contracts. Slay is in the third year of his $50 million, four-year deal. Harrison has two years left on the $46 million contract he signed with the New York Giants.

49ERS: Longtime linebacker NaVorro Bowman announced his retirement Tuesday at the headquarters of the 49ers. He spent eight-plus seasons in San Francisco after being drafted in the third round in 2010 and was a key part of a defense that went to three straight NFC title games and one Super Bowl.

Bowman teamed with Patrick Willis to form one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL. He was named an All-Pro four times and had the interception return for a touchdown that sealed the final game ever at Candlestick Park in 2013. Bowman was released by San Francisco in October 2017 and played 10 games that season with the Oakland Raiders. Bowman didn’t play last year.

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