Friday Daily Rundown 5/20: New England Patriots News and Notes
It’s finally Friday, and here are a few quick notes as we close out the work week:
RB Foster Rumor of Being in Boston Is True, But May Not Involve Patriots – One of the best parts of the offseason in New England is the process of free agency as people wonder which players will come in and provide the new paint and shine that will appear on the next season’s version of this football team.
Every year, there are always surprises and speculation about guys who eventually sign and others who are discussed yet don’t end up joining the team. In a lot of cases, you just never know why some work out and some don’t.
Here in New England, one of the biggest areas of concern is at running back and Thursday saw a Tweet involving a fan who spotted Texans free agent Arian Foster in Boston at a rental car location, which drew some speculation about whether or not he’s on the Patriots radar.
Only the two sides know for sure if there’s any interest but according to NFL Media reporter Ian Rapoport, Foster is indeed in town but for reasons unrelated to the Patriots.
The prospect of adding Foster is interesting, but the difficult thing with the 29-year old running back is the fact that he’s coming off of a torn Achilles, which ended what would end up being his final season in Houston just six games into the season.
For Foster, the road back has likely been a long one and the issue facing him is he’s coming off an injury that historically hasn’t favored running backs. That leaves him now with the personal challenge of proving that he can return to form despite the fact Achilles injuries have statistically been career-killers at that position.
At other positions, that hasn’t been the case. We saw Vince Wilfork bounce back after tearing his and play relatively well, but he’s not constantly making cuts that rely on speed, quickness and explosion, all of which affect a running back’s ability to be elusive. Other players at other positions have been able to return, but as Chris Wesseling of NFL.com noted from a 2013 column, running backs have been the one position where it’s been career altering.
In that article, Wesseling noted that after the research they did, “no running back has recaptured sustained pre-injury form after rupturing an Achilles tendon.”
However, there’s always typically one exception to the rule and the type of improvements surgically with the techniques being used now have provided some incredible surprises. Rob Gronkowski is a terrific example. The injury he suffered in 2013 where he suffered a torn ACL after a bad hit from then Browns safety T.J. Ward could have had disastrous implications for one of the best players in football at his position. Watching Gronkowski get carted off that afternoon was a vision most fans would prefer to forget, and given the severity of the injury that was reported, it obviously generated a lot of questions. Due to his size, any loss in his speed and quickness was a concern because those are attributes that have obviously made him such a special player.
But by mid-season the following year, Gronkowski looked better than ever and any doubt about his recovery has been completely wiped away at this point. In fact, in some cases he even looks better than he did before he got hurt.
As a result, there’s always someone who seemingly beats the odds and that’s sort of what Foster seems to be up against. Hopefully for his sake, he’s able to recover and he’s able to land a job with someone. But for now, whether or not that involves the Patriots remains to be seen.
Mitchell Skips Rookie Premiere to Study – Newly-drafted Malcolm Mitchell has been a fun story since he got drafted, and the more you hear about this kid, the more you can’t help but like him.
Whether it’s his book club where he encourages reading among young people, which has allowed him to get noticed by celebrities inspired by his story, or just the overall way he carries himself, so far he appears to be the consummate Patriot in the limited time that he’s been here.
The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin revealed an interesting bit on Mitchell on Thursday as Mitchell apparently decided not to take part in the annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere due to other priorities.
According to Volin, Mitchell instead decided to spend his time studying the playbook, which shows you he’s taking his new role with the team seriously. Volin pointed out that the rookie’s decision made him only one out of 41 expected attendees who didn’t make it.
Good for Mitchell to make that decision, and he’s a kid that already seems to have his head on straight. Hopefully if things work out, all his efforts will translate into success on the field. It would be a nice change, since it’s been a long time since the Patriots have had a draft pick make an immediate impact at receiver over a sustained period.
He’s certainly doing the right things. Needless to say it will be fun to see how it plays out, and he’s obviously giving us plenty of reason to root for him.
Ninkovich a fan of Long so Far – With Chandler Jones no longer part of the team, Rob Ninkovich is without a player who had joined him as one of the Patriots most important pass-rushers.
However, the addition of Chris Long gives the Patriots a player who can also provide a little help getting after the quarterback, and so far it sounds like he and Ninkovich are already working pretty well together. Ninkovich said Thursday that he reached out to Long when the Patriots signed him and the two immediately bonded, which if all goes well will lead to success when they get together out on the field in 2016.
“When he signed, I reached out to him and said, ‘Hey man, welcome.’ Since then, we’ve kind of hit it off. He’s a great guy,” Ninkovich said via ESPN. “It’s fun when you can learn from other guys, other pros, and he’s been doing it a long time as well.”
Hopefully they have a little fun harassing quarterbacks this season as well.
SOCIAL POST OF THE DAY:
Patriots RB James White riding for “Best Buddies”:
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