It’s hump day. Just two more days until we get to relax, so grab some coffee, and let’s get to it.
Blount back in the mix – The Patriots brought back running back LeGarrette Blount on Tuesday, adding a key component to a group that at this point was a bit shaky given how thin they are at this stage of the offseason.
Bringing Blount back adds some stability for now as the Patriots head back into camp with both Blount and Dion Lewis as the two who would seem to be the logical two players to carry the load this season until New England finds the next player who can emerge and give them some explosion in the backfield.
With the NFL Draft fast approaching, it wouldn’t exactly be a surprise if Belichick spent a pick on a player who could potentially fill a role in this offense. One logical choice was mentioned yesterday by PatsFans.com writer Steve Balestrieri, with Balestrieri taking a good look at Utah running back Devontae Booker. Booker appears to be a player who is a reasonable possibility after ESPN’s Mike Reiss also later spotlighted him.
Running back is likely a priority, especially given that both Blount and Lewis are coming back from injuries, with Lewis suffering a season-ending knee injury and Blount suffering a hip injury, which was also season-ending. Blount didn’t appear as quick or as powerful as he did in past seasons prior to his injury in 2015, and something to watch will be whether or not he’s able to bounce back after an offseason of recovery.
He’s reportedly back on a one-year deal, which puts the ball firmly in his court if he hopes to cash in after the season. That certainly works out well for the Patriots who have their leading rusher from last year back in the fold with plenty of incentive to be productive. Hopefully, if all goes well, Blount will get back on track and have another good season.
The Patriots also kept CB Justin Coleman in the mix
Two Exclusive Rights Free Agents Signed – The Patriots announced on Tuesday that they’ve signed a couple of exclusive rights free agent, with both players adding depth to their secondary.
According to the team’s official site, New England signed both DB Justin Coleman and Safety Brandon King.
Coleman’s signing is certainly one that stands out after he performed pretty well last season. He appeared in 10 games for the Patriots in 2015 and finished with 5 passes defensed, tying him with Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon for fifth most on the team.
As for King, he appeared in 13 games and was primarily a special teams contributor, but as a defender at the safety spot he’s also got good size (6’2″, 220-pounds) and the fact he’s been so productive on special teams certainly helps his cause, as he gives them the versatility that Bill Belichick covets from his players.
Conversation with McGinest Previews Washington’s future – The addition of receiver Nate Washington caught the eye of former Patriots Hall of Famer Willie McGinest, and the longtime Patriot apparently let him know that joining New England is a great fit, provided he’s willing to work.
Heading into his 12th season, Washington admitted that he needed to be on a team that’s going to force him to be at his best, and what McGinest told him about what to expect now that he’s a Patriot really hit home.
“I had a chance to talk to him a couple of weeks ago once he found out I signed,” Washington said of McGinest during his media conference call on Tuesday. “The No. 1 thing he told me is ‘It’s going to be good for you, because they’re going to pay attention to the detail and they’re going to get you in the aspect of making sure you’re pushing yourself every single day. Those guys work hard every single day and don’t take a day off. Those coaches, they work hard every single day and don’t take a day or a minute off.’ To be in that type of atmosphere gave me some type of understanding, especially at not only this point of my career but this point in my life, to what I needed.”
“I needed a bunch of guys that were going to make me better,” Washington continued. “Although I’m 32 and although this is my 12th year in the league, I do feel like I can get better physically and mentally. And I needed to be around a core of guys that can push me to that point. His advice pretty much summed up what I’ve been hearing from everybody, which is that it’s a hard-working group of guys; they’re going to be into the game, they’re going to know their opponent, and they’re going to go out there with a belief that they can get the job done, and that’s definitely what I want. I want to go out there with that attitude to know that my preparation has prepared me for Sunday.”
He’s been a mid-tier type of player for much of his career. He had two breakout seasons in both 2011 and 2013 where he totaled 1,023 and 919 receiving yards respectively, but for the most part he’s averaged a bit over 600 yards a season for much of his career. The potential is obviously there and when you see what a player like Brandon LaFell did after coming in averaging similar numbers to Washington over his career, the now-former Patriot totaled 953 yards in his one full season with the team and ended up being a key component during their title run.
Whether or not that’s in Washington’s future remains to be seen. But the good news it certainly sounds like he wants to work, which should make him fun to watch in the coming months.
“It’s going to take a lot of work and I’m not afraid of it,” said Washington. “That’s why I’m here. I’m ready to get better and I’m ready to prepare my mind mentally to play this game”
Writer Compares Approaches of Packers and Patriots – Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel took a look at the approach taken by both the Patriots and Packers when it comes to personnel and it’s obviously worked out for both clubs after each of those two teams are the only ones who have reached the postseason in each of the past seven seasons.
One thing that Silverstein notes they have in common is the fact they both acquire as many picks as possible through trades and the free-agent compensatory system, which has allowed both Belichick and Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson to keep their teams competitive.
Former Packers GM Ron Wolf told the newspaper that bringing in guys at low salaries provides Belichick with low-risk investments that allow him to see if the skillset he liked by that player pays off in a big way.
“He does it because he can afford to do it,” said Wolf. “He’s got a solid football team. It’s not sweat off his back. He can turn around and make something with these guys.”
And obviously he has, although he’s missed on some along the way after guys like Joey Galloway, Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth have been examples of players who couldn’t quite fit in. But that obviously comes with the territory.
When it comes to the draft, the focus has been strength in numbers and since 2005, Silverstein points out that the Packers and Patriots have each selected 103 players in the draft, which is an average of about 9 per year.
Given the success of both teams over the years, the approach obviously works.
“From that standpoint, they’re not different,” an NFL executive told the newspaper. “They’re very different people, but they have the same philosophy.”
For now the building process continues and the Patriots lead Green Bay with 74 roster spots filled while the Packers have 62 of their 90-man off-season roster spots occupied to this point. Granted teams don’t win anything in March and April by any means, but whoever stocks their club best certainly tends to stand the best chance of being there when the dust settles.
The only true test of who made out better would be if these two played each other next February. So far an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady Super Bowl match-up hasn’t happened, but it would definitely be fun to see.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Rundown