July 27, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Dont

Morning Cup of Gronk

FOXBOROUGH — Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer are on the shelf, with no timetable for their returns. Brian Waters hasn’t reported to the team. Matt Light is retired.

“I got to come in and start my first game as a freshman, so I’m very proud of that,” Hightower said Thursday. “(I’m) one of maybe 13 players to ever do that at Alabama.”

First, the team signed 6-foot-3, 315-pound offensive lineman Derek Dennis, a rookie free agent who had been released by the Miami Dolphins the previous Thursday; later in the day, the club was awarded another rookie free-agent offensive lineman off waivers from the Dolphins, adding 6-foot-5, 310-pounder Dustin Waldron.

Former NFL executive and current NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi joined the Dennis & Callahan show on WEEI 93.7 FM this morning to discuss the Patriots and all things NFL.

Martin enters the Canton, Ohio, shrine Saturday as the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history. His stats and the honors that have come with them, including the 1995 Offensive Rookie of the Year and the league’s leading rusher in 2004, were never something he aspired to.

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