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Thursday, May 6, 2010
Hard not to notice Crumpler's presence

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Holding court with 12 reporters at Gillette Stadium during a break in the offseason program, veteran tight end Alge Crumpler explained his motivation in signing with the New England Patriots and why he didn’t want to walk into the team’s locker room until he whipped himself into better physical condition.

From a media perspective, it was hard not to come away impressed with Crumpler’s presence.

At a position where the Patriots drafted 20-year-olds Rob Gronkowski (second round) and Aaron Hernandez (fourth round), it’s easy to see the potential impact the 32-year-old Crumpler, now in his 10th NFL season, could have as a mentor. He said he enjoys the teaching aspect of being a veteran teammate.

But Crumpler also made the point that he’s here to help on the field, and that those looking at film from last season will see that he was one of the NFL’s top blocking tight ends.

As for his physical condition, Crumpler detailed why he put himself through a six-week crash course with Mackie Shilstone, the personal trainer for tennis player Serena Williams, after signing a two-year, $4.8 million contract with the Patriots in March. He arrived in town this week to take part in the Patriots’ offseason program.

“Perception is everything,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I was in the physical condition to walk into a locker room and be able to work and be able to get around guys and show I can lead by example. Admittedly, I hadn’t done a lot early in the offseason. I was resting my body.”

Crumpler, who one Tennessee Titans teammate had said was around 300 pounds last season, looked noticeably slimmer. He wouldn’t provide a number as to how much weight he lost.

“All that matters is I feel great every day,” he said, adding that he’s in better shape than he’s been over the last couple of years.

Crumpler said that it was a tug-o-war between signing with the Patriots and Titans, and that he still has strong feelings for his former team. Crumpler said it was tough to leave Tennessee, and that he is close with former Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson, so he had an idea of what to expect in New England.

Reading between the lines, it sounded like the Patriots upped the ante in terms of a contract offer, and Crumpler spoke about his motivation at this point of his career. It's all about winning, he said.

One revealing quote came when Crumpler was asked how challenging it was to go from a premier pass-catching tight end with the Falcons to a block-first tight end with the Titans.

“As long as I had a role that was communicated to me, I was totally fine with it," he said. "I think it only hurt the feelings of the people that had picked me in fantasy football. It didn’t hurt my feelings. I had a role that was defined and I tried to be the best at that role."