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FOXBOROUGH — Even Kenny Britt, a veteran with eight seasons and 113 games of NFL experience to his name before he signed with the Patriots last week, was stunned at the realization he’d be teammates with Tom Brady. Forget the fact that Britt’s locker was just a few stalls away from the quarterback’s.
“When I got here, one of the first thing was like, ‘I’m over here with Tom Brady. Come on now. He’s the G.O.A.T.,’ ” Britt said Wednesday. “But I had to take that energy and focus on getting into the playbook because I can’t be out there helping if I don’t know it.”
Britt, who signed a two-year deal with the Patriots four days before the team’s 27-24 win against the Steelers last Sunday, was still beaming this week about his new surroundings.
Playing with a Super Bowl-contending team has been a welcome change for Britt, who was unceremoniously cut by the Browns earlier this month. John Dorsey’s first move as the Browns’ general manager was to rid the team of Britt’s four-year, $32.5 million contract, which the receiver signed this past offseason. Britt was sent home from a road trip in Houston earlier in the season for missing a Saturday curfew and was benched against the Vikings on Oct. 29.
“It’s actually blown away my expectations of it,” Britt said about joining the Patriots. “I knew this was a great organization and disciplined and so focused on their jobs at all times. When I got here, they showed me nothing but love and believed in me. That’s one thing players need, regardless of where you’re at in your career, you need people to believe in you. Regardless of what you do, big or small, they’re going to praise you for it. It builds you up.”
Though Britt was a late addition to the Patriots, he managed to catch a pass for 7 yards against the Steelers.
“I was just happy to go in, even if it was a play or two,” Britt said. “They picked me up like I scored a touchdown when I got to the sideline.”
Britt joked that he knows “a little bit more know than I did” when he signed with the team, but it’s the first time he’s been asked to play multiple positions within the offensive scheme. Now that he got his first game action settled, he’s eager to dig in and contribute whatever he can in the final weeks of the season.
“It takes all the butterflies out my stomach, to tell you the truth,” Britt said. “They’ve been here since I got here. Just to get that one catch to get the jitters out, it helped me.”
It was the seventh consecutive time Slater has been selected since 2011, a good explanation as to why cornerback Stephon Gilmore hollered “Hall of Fame” when he walked past the media crowd at Slater’s locker.
Slater, who’s long been a role model inside the locker room, made it a point of emphasis to credit a majority of the special teams unit for the honor. Among them were: Nate Ebner, Brandon Bolden, Johnson Bademosi, Jonathan Jones, Brandon King, Trevor Reilly, Jordan Richards, Jacob Hollister, Develin, and Geneo Grissom.
“It’s been a challenging year for myself personally, but to have your peers and coaches you go against every week and the fans to vote you to that, it’s a very humbling honor,” Slater said. “I feel like for me personally, I’m just a representative of a great group. I feel like we have the best core group in the National Football league.”
Gronkowski was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance, which came in his return from a one-game suspension for his hit against Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White.
Despite Gronkowski’s success — he joined Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten as the only NFL tight ends with four 1,000-yard seasons — he’s only received the award twice in his career. The other time was in Week 14 of the 2011 season when he caught six passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns against the Redskins.