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New England Patriots News 05-30, Football is Back as OTAs Begin

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
5 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

New England Patriots News 05-30, Football is Back as OTAs BeginWinslow Townson - USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 05-30 and AFC East Notes this morning. 

From all of us here, we hope that all of you have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and remember those who gave their tomorrows for us to enjoy our today.  

Football was back (sort of) this week at Gillette, as the team was beginning their next phase of OTAs. But at least football players were doing football things on a football field. That was a welcome sight.

Have you checked out our team news feature for all 32 teams yet? It is a great resource to keep up with what is going on all across the NFL. 

Adam Vinatieri

Adam Vinatieri announced his retirement this week. Matt Kryger/IndyStar

 

Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL: 

Roster Moves: The Patriots made a few roster moves this week as the team released FB Dan Vitale and LB LaRoy Reynolds and signed TE Troy Fumagalli. The big (6’6, 248) tight end was a 5th round draft pick (156th overall) of the Broncos back in 2018. He’s played in 19 career games and has logged 14 catches for 118 yards and 2 TDs.

Vitale was signed in 2020 and was expected to replace James Develin. However, after he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, his position with the club changed as Jakob Johnson took over the job. 

Reynolds, 30, is an undersized (6’1, 228) linebacker/STs player who has played in 114 career games and has logged 65 tackles. 

Mac Jones: The Patriots rookie QB got some favorable mentions by his new teammates. Mike Reiss of ESPN, reported that new WR Kendrick Bourne said of Jones, “He has a swag to him that I didn’t know that he had at first,” receiver Kendrick Bourne said.

“He’s out there confident, and that is what you need in a quarterback. Good energy, awesome guy, comes to work and you just can feel his energy and leadership already.”

“Mac’s doing a great job,” tight end Hunter Henry said. “We’re just all going through it together, him being even new to the atmosphere of this next level. Good to have him here, and we’re all excited for him.” More on Jones below…

Tom Brady: We wrote about this last week and it is even more true now after ESPN lit into the Patriots with another hit piece….talk about forgiving and forgetting…Brady has a new mini-series coming out with ESPN called “The Man in the Arena” and it is due out this fall. It covers all 10 of Brady’s Super Bowl seasons “including 2007 unfortunately”, Brady said in the teaser trailer that was released this week. 

The thought here was that after the way the network treated Brady during the “Spygate” among other issues during his career, that he was the forgiving sort. And after this week’s piece that was full of holes, it begs the question, why do a series with the very same people who have tried to denigrate your career accomplishments. 

The famous “Man in the Arena” speech was given by Teddy Roosevelt in 1910 at the Sorbonne in Paris and is one of the most widely quoted speeches of his life. But it was actually titled “Citizenship in a Republic” and the excerpt,  which is among the best quotes that can be used in a variety of life’s professions. 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Now…as Paul Harvey used to say, you know…the rest of the story.

Salary Cap Questions? Ask Miguel: There is no one with more knowledge when it comes to NE’s salary cap than our old buddy Miguel Benzan aka @Patscap. If you’re going anywhere else for salary cap information, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Miguel joined me, Thomas Murphy, and Clare Cooper this week on a podcast, which was a lot of fun. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, you should check it out. The three of us finally got back in the studio this week and discussed OTAs and some of the latest news.  

Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

Rumors persist that Dont’a Hightower is going to retire this offseason.

Attendance Off in First Look at OTAs, Hightower Questions Persist:

While the Patriots generally get outstanding attendance at the “voluntary” OTAs, there were quite a few players missing or not participating when the media was allowed to attend for the first time this year. 

Among the players either missing or not participating on Thursday, May 27:

RB Brandon Bolden
RB Sony Michel
RB Rhamondre Stevenson
RB James White
WR Tre Nixon
TE Jonnu Smith
OT Trent Brown
OT Isaiah Wynn
DT Christian Barmore
DT Lawrence Guy
DT Byron Cowart
LB Terez Hall
LB Dont’a Hightower
S/LB Brandon King
LB Harvey Langi
LB LaRoy Reynolds (later released)
LB Kyle Van Noy
OLB Matt Judon
OLB Chase Winovich
CB Stephon Gilmore
CB JC Jackson
DB Myles Bryant
S Devin McCourty
S Adrian Phillips
K Nick Folk
RB Damien Harris
TE Dalton Keene
LB Anfernee Jennings
S Joshuah Bledsoe
LB Cam McGrone

While the numbers missing, especially at RB were high, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), has been urging players to skip the non-mandatory workouts this spring. A few of the players listed, Nixon, Winovich, Hall, Bryant, and Jackson were all present (and pictured on the Patriots website), so it could have been injury-related as to their absence.

During Thursday’s practice session, Harris and Keene arrived late, with Harris wearing a compression sleeve on his left calf. However, they didn’t participate, along with Jennings, McGrone (ACL off-season surgery), and Bledsoe who had his arm in a sling. Jeff Howe of the Athletic reported that his right forearm and wrist were wrapped in a cast. 

As he’s done the past few seasons, Bill Belichick had the rookies wear numbers in the 50s, Mac Jones wore #50. 

Dont’a Hightower continues to be the focal point of a ton of speculation. His absence was noted and many persist in the belief that he is planning on retiring. Hightower and his long-time girlfriend were recently married and could still be on a honeymoon getaway. Bill Belichick was asked about Hightower, and had this to say:

“With all the players who are on the roster and not here, my expectations are that they intend to play, but we know things can change,” Belichick said. “That’s always part of life and part of football. We’ll take it as it comes.

“Guys who are here are working hard. They’re learning, they’re physically improving their training and conditioning and their strength and explosion. The fundamentals and techniques are improving. I know that a lot of the guys that aren’t here, I know they’re working hard. I know the guys that weren’t here for a period of time — one, two, three, four weeks — that have come here are doing the same thing. I can see that some of those guys have worked hard. They have some things to work on, but I’d say generally speaking the guys that have come in that haven’t been here the whole time has been in pretty good condition and are ready to go. I know each guy has his own circumstances. I’m not going to get into that.

“But we’ll see how it goes with some of the players who aren’t here, which is a number of them that aren’t. We’ll welcome them when they get here. It’s all voluntary. When they’re here, they’re here. And we’ll work with them.”

Far Too Soon To Begin Talk of QB Competition:

The Patriots drafted Mac Jones in the 1st round (15th overall) of the NFL Draft so naturally, people are going to question when he’s going to take over the reins of the offense. And the team’s beat writers who covered the first available practice are only reporting on what they see…but trying to glean much more than that from what is not much more than glorified walk-throughs are a bit premature.   

The team tried to get all four QBs (Jones, Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham) as much work as they could. But Newton led off each period, which clearly shows, and what Bill Belichick has said frequently, that he’s the top QB until someone outplays him. 

But in quite a few drills, Jones was clearly getting #2 reps. When the QBs split up, Newton and Jones stayed with Josh McDaniels and threw to the WRs and TEs while Hoyer and Stidham threw to the RBs under the eyes of the assistant coaches. 

Mike Giardi of NFL.com said Jones “threw the best ball of anybody at camp.” He’s been praised for his accuracy and competitiveness and according to Giardi, both of those were apparent on the first practice the media was allowed in. 

Should we read into this? Not really. Until the pads come on and the players are competing in reps against one another, it is worth noting but it isn’t the end-all, be-all. But fans can take heart that Jones has definitely put the homework in and appears to have a good start under his belt. 

With Belichick, it is always an exercise in reading the tea leaves. You take what he says and try to interpret it in a way that shows where he’s at. About Newton, Belichick was personal with his comments…

“Cam’s been here all the way through. He was here at the beginning and has been a consistent participant, continues to give us the usual leadership and energy that he brings to the field and to the workouts and practice.

“Cam’s very professional, and I’m sure that he’ll continue to work hard and do his best out there like he’s always done for us. It’s never been anything but that from the day he got here.”

When he was asked about Jones, Belichick spoke in generalities for the most part. 

“I think all the quarterbacks are working hard and, again, it’s a starting-over process for everybody, so some have been here, some of them haven’t. They’ve had various levels of opportunity to work in our offense, but really we’re starting everybody at the same point like we always do at this time of year.”

“Mac dove into the playbook and continues to do that, like everybody out there. We all have a lot of things we’ve got to work on. That includes everybody. So that’s what he’s doing. That’s what everybody’s doing.”

What does that mean? LOL, not much at this point either. Belichick is the master manipulator. He knows we all try to act like Joe Rochefort at Midway and try to interpret one word out of ten, and he could be playing the media, as he typically does. 

But in other news, the weapons signed for the QBs TE Hunter Henry, and WRs Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne all had nice starts to their Patriots’ careers. Bourne was reportedly quite animated and seems to already love being in New England. 

Henry practically gushed about how excited he is to be a Patriot and fitting in with Belichick and Josh McDaniels. 

“I enjoy this culture,” Henry said. “I think it fits me really well, and I’m excited to just embrace myself in it and really just be a complete Patriot and what it means. It’s just such a winning culture. There’s a tradition here. There’s a high level of expectation.

“So I think a lot of us, even including myself, are very excited about trying to elevate ourselves to meet those expectations and this culture,” Henry added. Excited to be here in this locker room and go to work every single day with these guys.”

When it came to his new coaches, the respect factor was extremely high. 

“On the outside looking in, obviously they’re great coaches,” Henry said. “And then when you get hands-on with them, they’re phenomenal as well, even more than you think. They’re two of the best minds football can offer, so just trying to pick as much as I can from them and continue to learn.”

Things are off and running at Foxboro…football, we’ve missed you. 

_______________

“Really the best of all-time. Consistency, ability to handle clutch situations, make the biggest kicks, the longevity of his career is just remarkable,” Belichick said. “Such a pleasure to be with Adam in his rookie year in ’96. Made so many big kicks, we were in so many close games, his ability to put points on the board was incredibly valuable, and obviously the first kick in a Snow Bowl to tie it, it has to go down as one of the great kicks of all time, if not the greatest.

“And then, two game-winning kicks in Super Bowls just doesn’t get any bigger than that but one thing with Adam, you never felt the pressure of the moment and he certainly didn’t seem to, so it gave me and our team great confidence and again, I was very, very fortunate to have a player of his caliber in my time as a head coach. And then as I said, before and after we had some pretty good ones too, but Adam was really, really special. So, a tribute to him and his great career and one that I’m sure will place him in the Hall of Fame in five years. That’s where he should be.”

Bill Belichick’s comments about former Patriots great, kicker Adam Vinatieri who announced his retirement this week. 

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.


Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Cam Newton Kyle Van Noy Mac Jones N'Keal Harry New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Patriots QBs Patriots tight ends Patriots wide receivers


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