Some Patriots and NFL news and notes on this on Monday:
1) One of the more frustrating things this offseason is the fact there was no media availability for minicamp this past weekend, especially after the addition of newcomer, Mac Jones, who is obviously in the spotlight.
Bill Belichick kept the activities behind closed doors, with the only real “news” coming out from this weekend being the 28 photos released by the Patriots on their official website.
Rookies are off to work.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) May 16, 2021
The notable photos were shots of Jones with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, with the two seen working together in a few different photos. Obviously, there isn’t any context behind them and it would have been fun to at least get a few tidbits from the workouts. Instead, Belichick has the doors closed and it will obviously be a while before we get to hear anything of interest.
That’s quite a contrast from other teams, with the 49ers allowing enough to give little tidbits like this of rookie defensive back Deommodore Lenior coming out of the weekend:
— 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙎𝙁𝙉𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨 (@Thesfniners_) May 15, 2021
As for 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, the reviews out there are already positive. He reportedly saw limited work as the club called for 24 short pass plays with the rookie completing 20 of them, which included two drops.
One report said Lance looked like “a five-year veteran” and never fumbled a snap, which apparently happened repeatedly with Colin Kaepernick when he was a rookie. Lance also checked down frequently, which he earned praise for.
Obviously, these are just workouts to start familiarizing players with their respective team’s systems, so the events from the weekend won’t necessarily mean much until the veterans get there and things ramp up. But still, from a Patriots standpoint, it would have been nice to hear a little more, even if it had been from the team’s own website like others did, given that we’re in one of the quieter points in the offseason.
2) Players continue to downplay the need for offseason practices and training but Ben Volin had an interesting bit of information in his Sunday notes that sheds a little bit of light on a potential issue.
While there were slightly fewer concussions last season (142 compared to 145 the previous year), one thing that did stand out was the fact that knee injuries went up a considerable amount in 2020, with ACL and MCL tears both climbing up significantly.
Volin pointed out that ACL tears increased from 32 to 40 last season, the highest levels since at least 2014. Regular season MCL tears skyrocketed from 79 to 102, which is a staggering number.
While it’s hard to completely put the blame on how players trained last offseason, those numbers indicate that there should at least be enough concern by players to be a little less reluctant, especially given the amount of work and rehabilitation that they have to go coming off that type of injury just to be able to start getting themselves back into NFL shape.
Needless to say, those totals were surprising, and should at least be something the NFLPA would want to take into consideration as they continue trying to navigate this.
3) Jamison Hensley of ESPN had a good story on former Ravens player Lional Dalton, who is going through a tremendous ordeal as he currently waits on a kidney transplant.
Dalton, who has been battling stage 4 kidney disease for the past 17 months, first noticed the issue following a New Year’s Eve party just over a year ago, which saw him wake up the next day and seek medical attention. He found out then that his kidneys were functioning at just 20%, which was devastating news.
The former Baltimore Raven attributes his issues to his playing days, which saw him taking a large amount of anti-inflammatory medication each week.
“They give a pill for everything,” Dalton said via ESPN. “What happened in January  was an accumulation of all the Motrin and anti-inflammatory medication. All that stuff wears on the kidneys. If I would have known in 2005 about my issues, I would have stopped taking all those pills when I was playing. But I didn’t know. That’s why I’m in the position I’m in right now searching for a donor.”
After appearing on “Good Morning America”, Dalton ended up with good news after a woman who was going to donate her kidney to her mother decided to help him after losing her mother before a transplant could be performed. She wants to donate it to Dalton in the name of her mother and is undergoing tests to see if she is a match.
Best wishes to Dalton, who is now crossing his fingers that it all works out. But it’s a reminder that these guys go through a lot to stay on the field and even they aren’t immune to potentially life-altering impacts from their playing days once they’re done playing football.
4) For those looking forward to the Week 4 match-up against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one thing to note is the fact having this game fall so early in the season isn’t exactly ideal, especially given how the Patriots have fared against tough offensive teams early in the season.
The obvious example is the Kansas City Chiefs, who going back to 2014 are 3-0 against the Patriots in early season match-ups, beating New England in 2014 (Week 4), 2017 (Week 1) and 2020 (Week 4).
The problem seems to come whenever the Patriots are facing an unfamiliar foe with limited film, with Andy Reid being someone who has gotten the better of Belichick in those situations in recent years.
Fortunately, Belichick has been ready when it matters most, having beaten Kansas City twice in the postseason. But given that strange recent trend, it will be interesting to see just how ready they are for Brady and Bruce Arians that early in the year.
5) One story that was a little upsetting given how hard NFL rookies work to get to this point was the story of Austin Peay State University defensive back, Juantarius Bryant, who got tricked into believing he had a tryout down in Atlanta for their recent minicamp.
According to an article by Ryan Young in Yahoo! Sports, Bryant apparently got a text from an Atlanta area code that he believed came from Falcons defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, inviting him for a tryout.
So Bryant showed up at the facility and was turned away by the team, with the club obviously being unaware of the situation.
That has to be incredibly disappointing and Bryant issued a statement apologizing to the Falcons, with the rookie embarrassed about being duped into what he thought was “a legit opportunity”.
It’s been a rough few days, but I felt the need to clear the air and get this off my chest. Honestly ready to move on from the situation. pic.twitter.com/yUJELOstZW
— Juantarius Bryant (@TheyLoveMyHair_) May 15, 2021
As of now, the Falcons haven’t commented on the incident but it will be interesting if he gets an opportunity. For now, Bryant remains positive as he turns his attention to whatever his future holds.
“This was heart breaking for me,” said Bryant in his statement. “But just another stepping stone that I am not afraid to admit or overcome.”
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2021 Patriots Minicamp Andy Reid Atlanta Falcons Baltimore Ravens Bill Belichick Bruce Arians Deommodore Lenior Juantarius Bryant Kansas City Chiefs Lional Dalton New England Patriots NFLPA San Francisco 49ers Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady Trey Lance