-- FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- New Atlanta Falcons practice squad member Joe Vellano?told ESPN.com that former? New England Patriots?teammate Rob Gronkowski offered a helping hand after his Attleboro, Massachusetts, home burned down last week.
The Patriots released Vellano just days after the fire.
"We were friends for the last three years, so we are good friends," Vellano said of Gronkowski on Thursday. "He just said to me, 'Anything I can do to help?' and stuff like that. It's kind of a crazy, weird time. I'm just trying to put all things together right now."
Vellano, who is from New York and played college football at Maryland, said police are still investigating the cause of the fire and assessing the damage to the duplex. The defensive lineman joined the Falcons' practice squad this week.
"It was 15 or 20 minutes before we played our last preseason game [for New England]," Vellano said of the fire. "I just got a call that it was kind of caught on fire and burned up. It was nothing I could really do at that point. They're all kind of figuring it out right now. I ended up having to leave to come down here, but they're going through the whole deal right now. I'm learning new stuff every day."
Vellano, a member of the Patriots' 2014 NFL champion team that defeated current Falcons head coach and former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, said he was the only person who lived in the home.
"I lost a lot of my Super Bowl stuff," he said. "My ring was in my other house [in New York], but I had a bunch of helmets that were signed by the team and a bunch of gear and all that stuff. I had a little room for all the football stuff, and that caught on fire. It's been a whirlwind couple of days, but I'm just glad to be here. I'm here now with these guys and just moving forward."
Vellano, 27, signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He started eight games as a rookie and one during the 2014 season. Vellano also spent time on the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad last season before returning to New England. He was part of the Patriots' final cuts last weekend. Vellano has 54 combined tackles and three sacks in his career.