Some Patriots News on this Friday:
– The New England Patriots posted a terrific segment on their website that focused on tight end Hunter Henry, which looked at the veteran’s journey from high school to his college days at the University of Arkansas. “I didn’t get to Arkansas until 9th grade, literally enrolled right into Pulaski Academy.” said Henry, who graduated from there and 2013 and the MaxPreps website still has his picture from that time. “The one thing that I think is really funny is that Hunter actually started out at offensive tackle,” said Hunter’s father. He then asked his son, “Do you remember that?” Hunter smiled and replied, “Yeah, I do. You wanted me to be that.” After intially starting out on the offensive line, his high school coach, Kevin Kelly, saw him playing basketball for the school later that year and noticed his athleticism and how well he caught the ball. That led to Kelly coming to the realization that Hunter was playing out of position. “I knew he was going to be great catching the football because anybody that plays basketball catches that ball so much because everybody catches the ball. It’s not like football where only certain guys get to catch the ball,” said Kelly. “So I knew he’d be fine there but I thought, you know, if he can learn what we’re wanting him to learn, how to run our routes and how to make post-snap adjustments and stuff like that, he’s got a chance to be a really good receiver.” Hunter’s father said he wasn’t sure about it, but Kelly convinced him to let his son make the change and obviously it worked out. The entire 6-minute segment is well done, so be sure and check it out.
– Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson is apparently pleased with what he’s seen from quarterback Mac Jones, so much so that he puts Jones ahead of Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray during a recent discussion about the two players on NBC Sports Boston. “Look, I was a big fan of Kyler Murray coming out of college. But I’ve seen enough where I’m a little bit hesitant to go all-in on Kyler Murray. I’m going to go with Mac Jones,” said Johnson via Justin Leger. “What I saw from Mac Jones, he’s a leader, he is completely bought into the system. He loves this football team. I just feel his intangibles are off the chart. His decision-making and his accuracy are better than Kyler Murray. (Murray) has a better skill set than what Mac Jones has, but at the end of the day it’s about decision-making and it’s about accuracy and it’s about being a good leader. I think Mac Jones is better than Kyler Murray at those three things.” It’s not hard to agree there and it’s essentially the same argument people make about Jones’ arm strength, which is already improved given what he showed in OTAs. His ability to not make mistakes in big moments are already what has set him apart so hopefully, we’ll see more of that from him in his sophomore season.
– Jones has spent time with receivers from top to bottom this offseason, including holding throwing sessions with starters to guys who will potentially not even be on the roster. What’s interesting is that it’s another example of what makes him such a great leader because he truly seems to genuinely care about every one of his teammates. For those who remember Tom Brady‘s first season as a starter, that was one of the things players talked about at the time. They viewed Brady as “one of the guys”, where as Drew Bledsoe had his own circle of people he hung out with and it didn’t always include everyone. That’s one of the reasons why so many guys initially rallied so quickly with Brady, because the former 6th-round pick had already spent time with pretty much everybody and it quickly translated into success on the field. Jones seems to be someone who falls into the same category and he’s also done a great job building relationships with all of the guys at every level. As a result, it’s given him a solid foundation to build on as he continues establishing himself here in New England.
– Former Patriots receiver Julian Edelman also believes Jones is headed for great things, with Edelman citing Jones’ work ethic during what Edelman believes is a big offseason for him. “First offseason for a 2nd year QB is where you find out who wants to put in the work and who doesn’t,” Tweeted Edelman, who tagged Jones in the exchange. “Excited for year two for the kid.” Edelman’s Tweet quoted a session with NFL reporter Mike Giardi and fromer Patriots GM Scott Pioli talking about Jones’ “next step” heading into year two as he continues his offseason work with training camp now less than two weeks away.
– ESPN revealed its top-10 list of running backs and Phil Perry of NBC Boston was surprised to see there were no Patriots listed. In fact, Perry believes that Rhamondre Stevenson could emerge as a player who might surprise people this year, which could land him on it at this time next offseason. “I think he’s right there. It’s not just the ProFootballFocus grade. It’s yards-per-attempt, I mean he was third in the NFL,” said Perry. “That’s the second half of the season, he barely played in the first half of the season. 24 carries weeks 1-8, but over 100 the rest of the way and he’s third in the NFL in yards per attempt, he’s in the top 5 in terms of elusive ratings, some of these updated analytical types of numbers that you see from ProFootballFocus. But even something as simple as yards after contact, which I think is a pretty good indicator as to what a back is doing on his own, and so take the offensive line out of it, he’s among the league leaders once he started getting regular work. He proved he was very capable as a receiver at times as well.” As Perry points out, Stevenson had just 25 carries for 74-yards and 1 TD from Weeks 1-8 of last season, with the running back then seeing a bigger workload and carrying 108 times for 532 yards and 4 TDs over the second half of the season. With Damien Harris potentially in a contract year, this is a big year for Stevenson who may find himself in the lead role one year from now if Harris departs next offseason in free agency.
It’s a little quiet today news-wise so no additional NFL notes today, but I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who stop by and read this each day, I definitely appreciate it. Best wishes to you and yours and hope everyone has a great weekend!
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Damien Harris Drew Bledsoe Hunter Henry Julian Edelman Kyler Murray Mac Jones Rhamondre Stevenson Scott Pioli Ted Johnson Tom Brady