Here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.
Ealy Enjoying Being a Patriot – The acquisition of Kony Ealy hasn’t gotten much attention since he joined the Patriots earlier this offseason, but he spoke with reporters on Tuesday and he already seems like he’s fitting in pretty well.
Ealy seems to echo the sentiments of New England’s other new players in terms of how things are done here and like the others, he admitted that the emphasis on the details is something that definitely stands out.
“Just attention to detail is the [biggest] thing that sticks out that Coach Bill [Belichick] preaches on and off the field,” Ealy said during his press conference. “It could be in many different categories but just being attentive.”
One thing that Ealy seems to enjoy is the energy and the overall environment, as he’s joining a host of players who have won two titles in three seasons, which obviously proves that how things are done here clearly works. Now it’s just his job to try and get on board with it.
“I’m very excited. I love it here,” said Ealy. “I love the people, the program, as far as how Coach [Bill] Belichick runs it. Everybody buys in. You can see the difference between that. I love it here and I’m going to continue to work my butt off and try to get better.”
Now he’ll spend the next few months trying to get acclimated and potentially do what other players in his situation have done after they’ve had a change of scenery here, which is have success as a Patriot. Ealy said that while he doesn’t expect this to be his best year, he plans on trying to make sure he finishes 2017 as a better player, which is a goal he says he has every season.
“Well I think each year should be your best year,” said Ealy. “You never should be complacent with the year you had previously. You should always want to get better and that’s what I plan on doing individually and with the team. I’m pretty sure everybody around here has the same attitude as far as that”
Edelman was the most targeted players in 2016.
Edelman Among Most Targeted – Pro Football Focus took a look at the most targeted receivers in terms of their production based on the number of “snaps in route” and Julian Edelman found himself in a list full of quite a few prestigious names in 2016.
The website found that Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill was the most targeted player out of the number of routes, having been targeted on 31.2% of them. Behind Hill was Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (29.0%), Cincinnati’s A.J. Green (28.2%), Atlanta’s Julio Jones (27.7%), New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham (26.8%) and Michael Crabtree (26.3%).
Rounding out the list was Edelman, who came in at 26.1%.
These are the NFL's most-targeted receivers on a per-route basis: pic.twitter.com/pQCQRP0Qrl
— PFF (@PFF) May 16, 2017
Overall, Edelman was actually targeted by Tom Brady 159 times with 98 completions (62%) during the regular season in 2016, as well as a team-high 49 on third down with 28 completions (57%), 24 of which went for first downs including two touchdowns.
His value to the team certainly can’t be overstated and when you see him in the mix in this context with so many great NFL players, it’s amazing how much credit he doesn’t receive on a national level. Obviously, here in New England, fans are well aware of how important he is to this team and it’s hard to believe he’s heading into yet another contract year.
The website had another graphic on Edelman, showing that the receiver was also among the best in the league out of the slot in 2016.
Julian @Edelman11 set a career high in slot receiving yards in 2016 and ranked third in the NFL in that category.
His previous best was 506 pic.twitter.com/GP3PsQ7FtS
— PFF (@PFF) May 17, 2017
One thing to watch will be how the addition of Brandin Cooks affects Edelman’s targets or if it will open up things for him even further, especially with Rob Gronkowski set to return this season. Either way, it should be fun to keep an eye on, and hopefully #11 can go out and have yet another productive year.
McCourty Headed to Cleveland? – While there had been some speculation about free agent Jason McCourty joining his brother, Devin, here in New England, it looks like McCourty may be on the verge of landing somewhere else.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the former Titans defensive back had dinner with the Cleveland Browns staff members Monday night and visited the team’s facility on Tuesday. He’s also reportedly set to take a physical there.
After having been released by Tennessee earlier in the offseason, there had been some hope that he could have ended up in a Patriots uniform, but part of what will likely come into play was something his brother mentioned, which was that Jason is likely looking to be a full-time player and not a role player. With newcomer Stephon Gilmore and incumbent Malcolm Butler (whose status was questionable with the team back when McCourty was first released), it’s a group with a fair amount of talent and relatively good depth. When you take that into consideration, depending on what defense they’re in, it could have have definitely affected McCourty’s playing time.
It would have been a fun story, but it looks like he may be joining Jamie Collins and the rest of the Browns defense as they look to get that club turned around. It’s good news for Cleveland should it come to fruition, and considering how bad things have gone there in recent seasons, they definitely need all the help they can get.
Hightower Takes Notice – Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower was noted by Pro Football Focus as a player who was among some of the best in the league in terms of his effectiveness at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2016.
According to the website, Hightower trailed just Khalil Mack at having a success rate of 18.29% among all defenders with a minimum of 150 pass rushes. It’s an impressive stat, especially considering that he ranked above Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham and Denver’s Von Miller in that category.
Dont'a Hightower finished 2016 with the 2nd highest pressure percentage among any defender with at least 150 pass rushing snaps. pic.twitter.com/S6fvJ8FKyB
— PFF (@PFF) May 16, 2017
It’s yet another reminder of how important he is to their defense, and an even bigger reason to appreciate the fact the Patriots were able to come to terms with him on extension this offseason.
Hightower posted his reaction to the news on Twitter, and he was pleased with the results.
— Dont'a Hightower (@zeus30hightower) May 16, 2017
So there you go.
Vollmer Finally Reveals He’s Retiring – Multiple reports over this offseason had mentioned that Sebastian Vollmer looked significantly lighter and that all signs pointed to the former Patriots tackle potentially calling it a career.
According to NFL.com, Vollmer told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday that he plans on retiring from the game, confirming the suspicions that many had thought. Vollmer suffered a season-ending hip injury in 2016 and the lingering pain he’s experienced from the injury reportedly sparked his decision.
The good news is, it sounds like we may see more from Vollmer, who is apparently enrolled in the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.
Class in session at NFL Broadcast Boot Camp here at NFL Films. Recognize any of these dudes? pic.twitter.com/8Lv0tcJPcG
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) May 16, 2017
Vollmer, who is sitting in the back of Ross Tucker’s photo above, has reportedly lost 75 pounds, far below the 320-pound massive frame he carried during his playing days.
Best wishes to Vollmer, who has been a humorous guy on Twitter, although you need to understand German to get some of his jokes and words of wisdom. Hopefully he’ll bring some of that personality to TV as he pursues a new endeavor now that his NFL days are finally over.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Rundown