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Daily Patriots News 5/31: Five Things to Know

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
May 31, 2022 at 11:46 am ET

Daily Patriots News 5/31: Five Things to Know(PHOTO: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 6 minutes

Some news and notes on this Tuesday:

1) Coming off the Memorial Day holiday the New England Patriots are set to hold their second OTA session that will be open to the media today.  This should hopefully provide a bit more of a glimpse into this year’s team, which will potentially give us a sense of where some of the new players might factor in during the coming months.

The team is subject to the same media restrictions and hasn’t been posting any additional reports but they have had their team photographer on-site, with additional photos being added from last week’s practices on Wednesday and Thursday.  With things being closed off to the media, we haven’t heard much since the previous session they were allowed to report on a week ago, but the photos still provided a nice look at several players.

There were 64 photos in all from last week, which included a great shot of rookie running back Pierre Strong Jr. going up high and making a terrific leaping grab with a coach getting a pad on him (image 28/64).

Strong was more than a foot in the air on the play, which was a good example of the athleticism we’ve seen from his film coming out of South Dakota State.

Fellow rookie running back Kevin Harris continues to stand out, as he’s got massive legs and he’s another large back the club has heading into camp.  He was shown catching passes out of the backfield, which was a strength of his in college.

Veteran defensive back Malcolm Butler was also shown going up high and making a leaping grab.  Based on the reports and what we’ve heard about him thus far, he seems like the time away hasn’t set him back, although it’s obviously a little early to make too much of an evaluation there.

All in all, it’s still May but hopefully, today will provide another look into a team with plenty of question marks.  Bill Belichick will speak to the media this morning and we’ll also follow up on that here as well.

2) With a crowded backfield heading into training camp, it’s hard not to wonder if Belichick might pull off a surprise move in the coming months and make an unexpected trade.

The player in question is Damien Harris, who is heading into the final year of his rookie deal.  The former third-round pick has turned out to be a solid player for the team but the likelihood of New England paying a high price for a running back certainly seems unlikely.

So the question then becomes whether or not they’ll simply let him play out the final year of his deal or if they’ll try and take advantage of his value.

But moving him comes with some risk.  They got fairly good production from rookie Rhamondre Stevenson last season, with the two providing a terrific one-two punch against opponents.  Stevenson also had to fill in when Harris was forced to miss the club’s Week 15 loss to Indianapolis after suffering a hamstring injury in his previous outing against Buffalo.  Stevenson carried 10 times for 36 yards in that game.  He also carried the load the following week against the Jaguars after running 19 times for 107-yards and two touchdowns.

However, whether or not he could shoulder a larger load is a big question, which certainly would add to the risk in the team moving on from Harris.  The other challenge is potentially disrupting team chemistry as Harris, having played with Mac Jones at Alabama, is seemingly close with the second-year quarterback.

Belichick has been no stranger to making those difficult decisions in the past, but whether or not he’d do it given everything riding on this season would be a surprise.  While building up their currency in terms of draft picks is important, so is working their way back up to the top of the conference.

Harris is already a proven commodity and a player who provides them stability at that position.  Moving on from him certainly feels a little risky and it’s going to make what happens with both Strong and Kevin Harris during training camp something to watch.  If either begins to show promise, this could be a scenario we might see unfold and it could definitely shift the dynamic heading into the season.

3) Every Memorial Day tends to feel the same as it’s a reminder of the loss of Patriots defensive lineman Marquise Hill, who passed away in a jetski accident back in 2007.

Hill was a standout at LSU and a second-round pick by the team in 2004, which was the same year they drafted Vince Wilfork with the #21 pick in Round one.

He was a beloved player in the locker room, with his teammate Jarvis Green, who played with him at LSU, wearing Hill’s shoulder pads throughout that entire season.  The team wore a #91 sticker on their helmet throughout that 2007 season and left Hill’s locker intact for years following his passing.

He was just 24-years old when he passed away, drowning in Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans after he and his friend, Ashley Blazio, were both knocked from their jet skis in what was said to be rough waters.

According to reports, Hill kept his calm and bravely shouted instructions to Blazio, who was able to get to a buoy and remain there until rescuers could get to her. Meanwhile, Hill, unfortunately, was taken by the current away from her, with rescuers eventually locating him 17 hours later and pulling him out of the lake.

It remains a moment in Patriots history that will forever remind us of how quickly life can be taken away from a promising young player.

But at the same time, we’re forever grateful to all of the servicemen and women who gave their lives for all of us who enjoy the freedoms we have, which is obviously what this past weekend was really about.

4) It sounds like former Patriots receiver Antonio Brown is done with football.

According to a recent interview, the wide receiver has essentially said his playing days are over.

“Obviously we live the game, but you can’t play forever,” Brown said via “I think I’m a great player that’s done everything in the game.”

When asked about whether or not fans will see him on the field in 2022, Brown replied “Nah,” adding, “don’t play yourself looking (for) me to play.”

Brown’s final time on an NFL field will be remembered a little less impressive compared to other former players who decided to call it a career.

Brown walked off in stunning fashion during a game against the Jets where his team was trailing 24-10 with 3:01 left to go in the third quarter.  The veteran receiver reportedly got into a verbal altercation with head coach Bruce Arians, which apparently led to Brown’s bizarre decision.

The wideout stormed off the field but not without stripping off his equipment and shirt before waving to fans and heading down the tunnel.

Meanwhile, his team stormed back and pulled off a come-from-behind 28-24 win over the Jets, which put an exclamation mark on a game where Arians was seething when it was over as he spoke to reporters.

“He is no longer a Buc,” said Arians of Brown. “All right? That’s the end of the story. Let’s talk about the guys who went out there and won the game.”

As for Brown, he seems at peace with the decision and says he already has plans for the future.

“I do what I want,” said Brown. “Obviously I’m a 12-year veteran, one of the best players of all time, and my job is to live. Life is about living. We all gonna die … I’m a rapper, I do shows, I’m an independent businessman. Business booming.”

5) Speaking of players who may also be walking away, Aaron Donald remains a player who has shifted gears about committing to playing in 2022.

Donald is in the middle of a 6-year, $135-million contract that he signed with the Los Angeles Rams and, according to Spotrac, has a base salary of $9.25 million heading into 2022.  The two sides have been reportedly working on an extension as Donald has no guaranteed money left on his current deal.

However, so far, no deal has been reached and it sounds like Donald might also hang up his cleats if they can’t come to an agreement.   While Donald already said previously he wanted to play this season, it sounds like unless the team steps up to the plate with another sizable extension, he’s still prepared to walk away.

“It ain’t about the money, but it’s a business at the end of the day,” Donald said via “That’s what you’ve got to see. For me, it’s about winning. I don’t want to play football if I can’t win anyway, so I feel like if I got a real opportunity to win another Super Bowl, then it makes sense to play. But again, it’s still a business. We’ve got to handle the business side of things, and if that wasn’t to get handled then, you know, it is what it is type of situation. I’ll be fine regardless.”

Donald sounded eager to come back and make another run earlier this offseason, having reached the league’s mountaintop back in February when they beat the Bengals and won the Super Bowl.

The veteran said winning a title is like no other, but he also said at the end of the day, it’s a business and that his contract will likely determine his future.

“Winning a Super Bowl, you get kind of a little addicted to it,” said Donald. “I ain’t going to lie. I want to feel that again. That experience is like none other. If I was to play, it’s just to win another Super Bowl, but at the end of the day, it’s still a business and it got to make sense to me and my family.”

Five Questions As the Patriots Continue OTAs

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.

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