Wednesday Patriots Notebook 3/28: Some Disguise on Defense in 2018? Pats Visit With Manziel Again
We’ve made it to the halfway point. Fortunately, this week has included some interesting moments with Bill Belichick and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.
McCourty Addition Adding Some Disguise on Defense? – One of the more humorous moments on Tuesday during Bill Belichick’s press conference came when he was asked about newcomer Jason McCourty, who is the twin brother of Patriots veteran safety Devin McCourty.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss jokingly asked Belichick if the addition of McCourty adds any element of disguise on defense, hinting at how similar the two obviously look given their kinship.
That exchange led to a smile from Belichick, who nodded and laughed and admitted it might be a problem.
“I’ll be fooled more than anybody,” said Belichick. “I’ve been hit on that one before. Two sets of twins, I think we’re in the lead on that in the league.”
Reiss pointed out that the last team to have the honor of twins together and actively playing for the same team was back in 1926, with the Louisville Colonels. Gene and Tom Golson currently hold that honor of being active together at the same time, which lasted for just four games.
The Patriots obviously came close last season with Jacob and Cody Hollister, but Jacob was the only one who made it to the active roster, while Cody never made it off the practice squad. They’re more likely to pull it off this year as barring injury, Jason should earn a role in the secondary, which should put them in the record books.
The Saints were the last team to come close, with Brandon Dixon joining his brother Brian with New Orleans in 2015. The two were each cornerbacks and then-defensive coordinator Rob Ryan couldn’t tell them apart.
Strangely enough, Brandon passed through New England, having spent time after joining the practice squad on October 1st, 2015 but was later released a few weeks later on October 28th.
It will be a fun story to follow, and now it will be up to Cody and Jacob Hollister to try and make it two sets of twins to be active by the start of the season.
Belichick is looking forward to working with newcomer Adrian Clayborn.
Belichick Looking Forward to Working With Clayborn – Belichick was asked about newcomer Adrian Clayborn on Tuesday, with the former Falcons defensive end so far having made a good impression.
“He’s had a good career,” said Belichick of Clayborn. “He’s been a very productive player in multiple positions. So again, looking forward to working with him. I know he’s a solid person, works hard, tough kid, think he’ll be a good addition to our program. We’ll see how it goes.”
One thing that came up was the topic of Erb’s Palsy, which is an ailment that Clayborn was born with that limits his full use in his right arm. He’s played mostly on the right side, with Belichick being asked about whether or not he’ll be used that way in New England.
“He’s played on the left before,” said Belichick. “[But] mostly on the right. High percentage has been on the right, but he has been on the left, earlier in his career.”
As far as what role he envisions him in, Belchick said it will take some time on the field before he really gets a sense of how he’ll fit in.
“We don’t have any experience with the player,” said Belichick. “Like the player, want the player, just haven’t worked with him yet.”
Bethel Johnson still the fastest guy Belichick’s ever seen – Belichick was asked about newcomer Cordarrelle Patterson, who is expected to be a factor in the return game this season and it sparked the mention of a blast from the past.
Belichick was asked if he’s ever had a returner with that kind of speed and he mentioned New England 2003 second-round pick Bethel Johnson, who scored a touchdown in each of his first two seasons as a return man.
“Like Bethel Johnson?” Belichick replied when asked if he’s ever had a player with Patterson’s speed. “Nobody faster than Bethel Johnson. Nobody.”
Patterson carries quite a resume, having already returned five kicks for a touchdown during his career, including three of over 100yds (109yds in 2013, 101yds in 2015 and 104yds in 2016).
“He’s been a productive player, kind of a situational player,” said Belichick. “We’ll put him in our offense and special teams and see how it goes.”
Belichick did say that Patterson may be an option to return punts, which should provide some competition at a spot that now has a vacancy after the departure of Danny Amendola.
“He’s returned kicks, primarily,” said Belichick. “We’ll see how it goes with punts, he’s played receiver, running back, slot back, we’ll see.”
Manziel remains on New England’s radar. (USA TODAY Images)
More interest by Patriots in Manziel? – Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported on Tuesday that the Patriots were again present for a workout for embattled quarterback Johnny Manziel, who held a workout at Texas A&M as he put on another display for NFL personnel that were on hand to watch him continue trying to prove he belongs in the league.
The team reportedly met with him both before and after his workout Tuesday, leading to more speculation about how serious New England is in acquiring his services.
Jeff Howe of the Herald pointed out that the team originally had a pre-draft visit with him, citing a history New England has showing interest in him. The team may have just been doing their due-dilligence back then, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’ve now been at two recent workouts. That’s a lot of time to invest in a player, so there may be a little more to this than some might think, albeit he still likely has a long way to go to prove himself.
Manziel reportedly impressed those teams who were there to witness his workout, with one veteran NFC scout telling NFL.com that the ball looked better coming out of his hands “than he did four years ago”.
For now, Manziel remains upbeat about an opportunity, but he’ll continue to take it one step at a time.
“If something pops up, it pops up,” Manziel said via NFL.com. “If not, and I don’t get the opportunity to go back, I’ll go play in the CFL. Things are going to be fine. One way or another, one day down the line, I’m going to get back to exactly where I want to be, and I’m not going to stop until I do.”
Coaching responsibilities will be spread around – “I think everybody on the defensive staff will take on additional responsibilities. Haven’t really added anybody to the defensive staff… not saying we won’t or will but I’d say everybody’s responsibilities are going to … Matt [Patricia] did a lot for us, obviously…did a great job. But those will be shared by multiple people on the defensive staff.”
Belichick gave a vote of confidence to Brian Flores, who is expected to take over a bigger role this season.
“Absolutely. He’s done a lot of different things for us and he’s done them all well.” said Belichick. “He’s gained a lot of experience. He’s a quality person, quality coach with a lot of experience.”
He was also asked about the departure of Patricia and whether or not his absence has been felt so far.
“No different than free agents,” said Belichick. “It’s the NFL, people move on. We’ve all done that…it’s part of the process.”
Odds and Ends – Belichick was asked about a possible extension for Brady and whether or not they necessarily needed to do that given their current cap situation, but, as expected, he had little to say. “You know I’m not going to talk about contracts and personal situations,” said Belichick. “So we’ll just let that one go – along with all the other contract questions” … Belichick spoke highly about the return of Dante Scarnecchia, who seemed unsure about his future after the Super Bowl, and he’s glad to have him back. “It’s great,” said Belichick. “[He’s] one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with. Does a great job. Absolutely, it’s a big positive to have him in our program and obviously Josh [McDaniels] – both of them. There was some – whatever – degree of uncertainty, but very fortunate to have a good coaching staff. They’re two of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with. So, it’s great to have them.” … After the proposal for a pass interference penalty being limited to 15 yards was tabled, Belichick was asked if he felt pro players might abuse it compared to college players but he didn’t have any comment. “That’s a decision for the membership and it’s not going to be on the table, so … next.” … Another funny Belichick moment – a reporter asked him if he had talked to Tom this offseason, to which he replied, “I covered that the other day.” The reporter then said, “I’m sorry, I’m not local, can you…”. Belichick then quipped, “Oh, trust me, it’s on every internet site you’d want to find. I’m sure we can pull it up for you.” … Ben Volin of the Boston Globe asked Belichick if with the new rules in the CBA, which includes limits the time players can be in the building, if whether or not that has affected his view of the draft not being quite as valuable. Belichick admitted that it just makes it difficult for the players to make as much progress. “Maybe a little bit, yeah,” said Belichick. “It’s just harder to develop players. You don’t have as much time.”
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