Some news and notes for this morning:
Judge Behind Club’s Rule Violation?
Following a frustrating year where Joe Judge reportedly bumped heads with Mac Jones for much of the season after being designated the club’s quarterback coach, the thought was that Judge returning to coaching special teams would be a positive.
Apparently, he’s off to a difficult start.
According to Boston Sports Journal writer Greg Bedard, Judge is seemingly to blame for the club’s recent penalty from the league, which saw New England lose two OTA practices this week.
“At the heart of the matter: coach Joe Judge — referred to as Patriots’ Special Teams Coach by the league in the documents — conducted special teams meetings that caused offense and defense players to be at the facility longer than their maximum four hours,” wrote Bedard.
“The NFLPA filed the complaint on May 4, alleging the four-hour violation. On May 9th, they amended it, “alleging that Patriots’ Special Teams Coach Joe Judge directed special teams players to be at the Club’s facility longer than the maximum of four hours permitted during Phase Two of the Club’s program.”
Obviously, someone within the facility had to have pointed out the violation, and Judge clearly didn’t keep an eye on the clock, and it cost his team two full days of work as a result.
Belichick Fined, Meetings Weren’t Scheduled
To make matters worse, the move by Judge cost Bill Belichick $50,000, which Mike Reiss of ESPN reported was the financial penalty for the violation.
According to Reiss, the complaint filed to the NFL was specific to meetings/workshops that weren’t even on the official schedule of the four-hour workday sent to players for three of the sessions, which were scheduled for May 1, May 2, and May 4.
The Patriots reportedly told the league the meetings they were penalized for “weren’t mandatory, and no attendance was taken.”
Still, the league ruled that all activities need to start and finish within the time constraints set by the labor agreement, and they found the team to be in violation. However, the Patriots reportedly showed full transparency during the investigation, which likely made the final penalty a little less severe.
League Official May Have Been On Hand
While there was some speculation that it was potentially a player who reported the violation, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran reports that there may have instead be a league official on hand who may have been behind the report.
Curran, who appeared on Jones Mego & Arcand on Thursday, said that officials presence may have been behind the violation.
“From everything I understand so far, there was an NFL official in the building and they kind of were caught red-handed having these meetings,” Curran said via Logan Mullen of WEEI.com. “I don’t think they got caught red-handed three days in a row, but I do know with the practices themselves, they’re supposed to videotape and share everything.
“So the Patriots were compliant with everything, so my guess is they got caught red-handed once, but he did this two other times. I don’t even know if there were tapes to turn over because they were only meetings, they weren’t even on the field.”
Curran pointed out that Judge apparently did similar things in New York during his time in the Giants, although back then, he was the person any type of punishment might have fallen on. Instead, this time, his boss got hit with the fine and one would have to believe that probably didn’t sit too well.
McMillan Goes Down With Injury
Former Ohio State standout Raekwon McMillan has had a long road during his brief NFL career. The linebacker has been battling injuries, and the thought was that 2023 might have finally been his opportunity to expand his role with the club after a productive 2022 season.
Unfortunately, it appears that won’t be the case for this year after all.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, McMillan suffered a partially torn Achilles in practice, which will see him head to injured reserve ahead of the upcoming season.
McMillan’s had a run of bad luck, having suffered a torn ACL during the 2021 preseason. He was able to recover and appeared in 16 games last season, playing in 70% of the snaps in the opener against Miami, before seeing a reduced role against the Steelers (20%).
He missed the game against the Ravens before returning and only playing on special teams against the Packers, with the linebacker then averaging a little under 30% of the defensive snaps the rest of the way.
McMillan signed a one-year extension with the team back in March worth a reported $1.6 million that included $575,000.
Patriots Sign TE Firkser
Following the news of McMillan’s injury, the club reportedly signed tight end Anthony Firkser.
The 28-year-old tight end out of Harvard has spent five seasons in the NFL, spending four of them in Tennessee with the Titans while playing last season with the Falcons in Atlanta.
Over that span, he’s appeared in 69 regular season games, including four starts, while tallying 115 receptions for 1,207 yards and five touchdowns.
He played in 11 games last season, finishing the year with 9 receptions for 100 yards with the Falcons.
Posted Under: Patriots News