Some Patriots News on this Thursday:
– Some sad news as former Patriots receiver Charles Johnson has passed away, with CBS News 17 out of North Carolina reporting that former players confirmed the death of the 50-year-old receiver on Tuesday evening. Originally a first-round pick (#17 overall) in 1994 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Johnson spent 5 seasons in the Steel City, followed by two years in Philadelphia before joining the Patriots and becoming part of the club’s first championship run in 2001. The former receiver appeared in 14 games that season while catching 14 passes for 111-yards along with a touchdown. He wore #81 that year and was only with the team for one season, departing for Buffalo the following offseason, with 2002 being his final one in the NFL. No cause of death has been released.
– Mike Reiss of ESPN reported late Tuesday that rookies Chasen Hines and Andrew Stueber have been placed on the active/non-football injury list, which means that they’re not yet ready to practice. Neither player took part in any of the sessions during the spring and there haven’t been any other reports on what’s holding them back. However, it is possible the two are still recovering from ailments coming off the previous college football season and both are eligible to come off of that list as soon as they’re ready to do so. Hines and Stueber were each sixth and seventh-round picks respectively from the 2022 Patriots Draft and will be looking to compete for a spot as the team continues to build depth along the offensive line.
– With the departure of N’Keal Harry, who was traded last week, it appears DeVante Parker is making a uniform change that should make retired receiver Julian Edelman fairly happy. According to Parker’s Instagram page, the veteran is taking over Harry’s #1 instead of Edelman’s #11, which he had reportedly been set to wear this season. The former Dolphins receiver had worn #11 over the course of his entire career, and it’s also part of his Twitter and Instagram handles (@devanteparker11) so the move is certainly surprising. However, with Parker looking to establish himself in a bigger role with his new team, it’s entirely possible that his fresh start could be the reason and he rounds out what looks to be a fairly talented receiving group heading into training camp.
– According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots recently added defensive lineman Jeremiah Pharms who previously played in the USFL for the Pittsburgh Maulers. Pharms has an NFL pedigree as his father was a former fifth-round pick by the Browns, although he never appeared in a game. While the younger Pharms has yet to break into the NFL ranks, they say sometimes it just takes an opportunity and he’ll now have a terrific chance to compete in a group that is certainly in need of additional depth.
– After seeing the team adjust David Andrews‘ contract this offseason, this bit of information posted by Orlando Mayorquin of USA TODAY was interesting. Mayorquin pointed out that Jason Kelce‘s 1-year, $14 million contract with Philadelphia made him the highest-paid center in the NFL and he then went on to rank the other centers around the league accordingly. Andrews comes in at 14 with an average salary of $4.75 after previously signing a 4-year, $19 million last offseason. The club previously restructured his deal this offseason and converted $3.15 million of his compensation into a signing bonus. It’s already been mentioned here about his impact in the running game, but it just goes to show the market at that position appears to be shifting and it will likely come into play when his contract next comes up.
– Since it’s a little quiet news-wise, we’ll close this out on this note. A quick congratulations to Scott Holt, who helped put together the NE Patriots Fan Club of Arizona, which is celebrating its 25th year. Holt put the group together back in 1996 and has been someone I’ve been fortunate to talk to at times over the last 20+ years. He’s done some terrific things, bringing Patriots fans together out in the desert and continuing a connection within the incredible community he’s put together. It’s not an easy thing to do and it takes an incredible commitment and Holt continues to put in the work. You can follow him on Twitter at @nescottaz and he’s just a terrific guy who doesn’t get enough credit for what he does. Best wishes to them and if you’re ever out in Arizona during football season, be sure and look them up.
– Down in Pittsburgh, after seeing how things played out during OTAs, Mitchell Trubisky heads into training camp as the first-string quarterback for the Steelers. According to reports, the role appears to be his to lose but Trubisky will have to compete with incumbent Mason Rudolph and first-round pick Kenny Pickett for the starting role in 2022. Head coach Mike Tomlin is apparently looking forward to seeing things play out, saying this offseason that it’s a bit of a rush for him to be in this position. “I’m looking forward to the anxiety associated with that uncertainty,” Tomlin said during an appearance of The Pivot podcast via TheSpun.com. “To have to stand and deliver, to live out what we believe in — the standard is the standard. It’s like McDonald’s. You know what a No. 1 is. It doesn’t matter what corner of the globe, a No. 1 is a No. 1, and that’s what I want Pittsburgh Steelers football to be. So it doesn’t matter who puts their hands underneath the center, as far as I’m concerned. But, with all that cool stuff being said, it’s scary. But exciting.”
– The Las Vegas Raiders accomplished a surprising feat last season, with the club reportedly finishing first in the NFL in ticket revenue. What’s interesting about that tidbit of information is the fact that, according to Fox Channel 5 in Las Vegas, the club was 25th in tickets sold in the league but had the most expensive tickets. They also required fans to be vaccinated in order to attend the games. That being said, like any other new venue, there was likely a curiosity factor that played into things with Allegiant Stadium being such a new facility, which likely made it an additional destination for people who were vacationing there to check out. Should Josh McDaniels make the Raiders a contender within that division, things will likely grow further and that’s likely what fans are hoping for as the team continues trying to establish itself in its new home.
– As the saga with Jimmy Garoppolo continues, it sounds like it will still be a while before the quarterback is cleared medically to get back on the field. According to Ian Rapoport, Garoppolo will not be fully cleared from his offseason shoulder surgery until mid-August, which would likely be when the 49ers might try and move him. Some reports believe the team might ultimately cut him, as the likelihood of Garoppolo accepting a pay cut to remain as a backup seems unlikely since San Francisco has other needs that they could use his salary for. Still, they’ve held him hostage for this long and after this latest report, it sounds like it may still be another month before the 49ers ultimately put this mess to bed.
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