Patriots starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard’s training camp schedule got a little less complex Wednesday.
Dennard, arrested July 11 for suspicion of DUI and appearing at a probation review in Lincoln, Neb., was cleared by a judge to travel to Massachusetts for training camp Thursday.
Dennard, 23, is on two years of probation stemming from a conviction in April of assaulting a police officer during an incident in Lincoln in April 2012. He also received a 30-day jail sentence, which the court is allowing him to serve in March 2014.
Dennard could have been sent back to jail for violating his probation, but district judge Robert Otte ruled that Dennard still can travel out-of-state. His next court appearance for the DUI arrest is Aug. 12 in Lincoln, and his new probation hearing will be Aug. 27. The Patriots’ final preseason game is Aug. 29 at home against the Giants.
Dennard is free to practice with the Patriots in the meantime, and a source told the Globe last week that the team plans on keeping him, although leadership expects Dennard to be suspended by the NFL office under the personal conduct policy. Based on precedent, the suspension likely would be two to four games.
Dennard’s camp is disputing the facts of the DUI case, saying he never failed any field sobriety tests. Police say he intentionally blew too softly into the tube when given a breathalyzer.
The Patriots are giving Dennard the benefit of the doubt for now, given his version of events and because he was a good teammate last year, rarely giving the coaching staff any problems.
Dennard, a talented player who dropped to the seventh round of last year’s draft because of the first arrest, is expected to start opposite Aqib Talib this year. He had 35 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble, and a touchdown last year as a rookie.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick declined to comment when asked about Dennard Wednesday.
The Red Sox parted ways with team doctor Thomas Gill after the 2011 season, and now the NFL Players Association is asking the Patriots to do the same with Gill.
The NFLPA has filed a grievance against the Patriots asking the team to remove Gill as the top doctor, according to a league source. The grievance claims that Gill wasn’t working in the best interests of former defensive end Jonathan Fanene, who was released by the Patriots last training camp for what the team claims was a pre-existing knee injury.
The NFLPA, the Patriots, and Fanene’s agent all declined to comment.
Fanene and the Patriots are currently battling over a $3.85 million signing bonus payment – the Patriots are trying to recoup some or all of the money under a “failure to disclose physical condition” designation. Fanene and an NFLPA representative argued their case at a hearing Monday and Tuesday at Gillette Stadium.
According to the source, the Patriots contend that Fanene lied on his entrance medical form when he signed with the Patriots in March 2012, claiming he never had had a surgery. But the team’s medical staff grew curious when it noticed Fanene had a zipper mark on his arm, and he admitted to shoulder surgery. The Patriots will contend at the grievance, expected to be held next month, that they acted in Fanene’s best interests given what he told the team at the time of signing.
Gill could be the second team doctor forced to step down this offseason – former Chargers doctor David Chao stepped down in June after the NFLPA previously filed a complaint against him.