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Thursday Patriots Notebook 6/1: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
6 months ago at 9:55 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Thursday Patriots Notebook 6/1: News and NotesEric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Some news and notes for this morning:

Belichick Sidesteps Questions On OTA Penalty

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke to the media on Wednesday during the team’s first session open to reporters, and, as expected, dismissed questions from reporters on the team’s recent OTA penalty.

Belichick repeatedly brushed off each question, answering, “it’s in the past” and “looking forward to getting out on the field today.”

After losing two practices, Belichick was also asked what effect it had on their preparation ahead of the upcoming season.

He simply smiled and responded, “They got a long weekend.”

In addition to the two lost practice sessions, Belichick was the one who suffered the brunt of the punishment.  The league avoided any fine to the organization, but Belichick was dealt a $50,000 financial penalty for the misstep.

However, it looks like he’s taking it in stride and definitely appeared to be in midseason form in front of the cameras on Wednesday.

Judge Gets Backing of Belichick

With Joe Judge reportedly being responsible for the miscue that led to the penalties, Belichick took time on Wednesday to stick up for his long-time coach.

“Joe’s great, Joe’s great,” said Belichick.  “Smart guy, got a lot of experience. He’ll do whatever we need him to do, and he can do a lot, so he will.”

No official title appears to have been defined yet for Judge, although reports have said he was involved in special teams meetings that contributed to the issue.

Judge was previously involved with the club’s special teams in some capacity from 2012 through the time before he accepted the head coach of the Giants in 2020.  So far, it appears he’ll have some involvement there heading into this season as well, although, despite some issues last season, Cam Achord remains the club’s special teams coordinator.

When asked about Judge’s role for 2023, Belichick said, “He’ll do whatever I ask him to do. It might change from time to time. He’ll be involved in a lot of things.”

After being pressed, Belichick also added, “We’ll announce our staff. We got a couple things to still work out, but we’ll announce it soon.”

Positive Returns For Mac

Belichick has chosen his words carefully since the end of last season and this offseason when it comes to Mac Jones, but the Patriots coach credited his quarterback for the work he’s put in this offseason.

“Good,” said Belichick when asked how Jones has evolved this offseason.  “I think Mac works hard every day. He puts in a lot of time both in the weight room, in the classroom, works hard on the field. His work ethic is really good, and hasn’t changed.”

Jones reportedly led all of the first-team drills on Wednesday and was in command, with the third-year quarterback looking noticeably bigger and stronger out on the field.

The third-year signal-caller also spoke to reporters and said that as soon as the season ended, he’s followed a college-like offseason program where he hasn’t really let up.

“Stay on it really early, a lot less vacations and just work really hard like all the other guys are doing,” said Jones about his approach. “That’s really going to help in the future, and try to do that every year.”

“But, it’s really just identifying where you can get better at. Like I said, confidence comes from years of practice and doing well, and also not doing well. Sometimes the most confident people come from a year where they might not have been their best, and I feel like that’s where I’m at. We all feel like that, so we’re all hungry. ”

Jones’ High on Smith-Schuster

Jones was asked on Wednesday about how things have been with new receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and he told reporters that the two have a good relationship.  He credits the fact that Smith-Schuster is a fellow “football nerd,” which he said certainly gives them something in common.

“I think JuJu’s done a great job, also from a leadership standpoint. Coming in, that’s someone who adds veteran leadership from different places,” said Jones.  “He just came off of a Super Bowl team, so what a great value to our offense.”

“Obviously, when he gets on the field, that’s going to be great because he has the experience and he loves talking about football. He’s just a football nerd, I guess, kind of like me. We kind of hit it off in that regard. He’s an awesome guy, and I’m looking forward to working with all those guys in that room. I think there’s a lot of potential there.”

Boutte Impresses

Looking at some of the footage from yesterday, rookie Kayshon Boutte certainly showed some impressive footwork and quickness during the session.

Boutte, who was wearing #58, looked quick off the snap while showing some really great shiftiness and change of direction.  He also looked fairly fluid coming out of his breaks, with the rookie working against coach Troy Brown during several reps.

He had a couple of balls that were thrown high that he did a good job going up and snagging, with Boutte also showing some nice hands.

Obviously, it’s early, but after selecting the LSU standout in the sixth-round a month ago, the Patriots appear like they might be on to something there with a player who, a year ago, had projected to be a first-round selection.

Rookie Gonzalez Among Missing Players

While Wednesday’s workout was voluntary, and some veterans were not present during the absence, there was one surprising absence among the rookies.

According to reporters, Christian Gonzalez wasn’t present during the session, and he wasn’t spotted on the alternate field where injured players sometimes get some work.  It’s unclear what his status is, or why he wasn’t out there.

Also among the other notable missing players were Trent Brown, Matthew Judon, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Christian Barmore.  However, as Belichick repeated multiple times on Wednesday, the workouts are “voluntary,” and he didn’t make any further comments about players who weren’t present.

Still, the fact Gonzalez wasn’t there is something worth monitoring.  The team’s next practice open to the media is scheduled for next week, which will hopefully see the former Oregon standout taking part.

Mills Working at Safety

As expected, Jalen Mills’ transition to safety is underway, and that’s where he reportedly spent all of his time on Wednesday.

With the retirement of Devin McCourty this offseason, the Patriots are now in need of establishing someone at that position.  The 31-year-old appears to be in line for that role, which, if he can settle in, would certainly fill a pretty big void considering how well McCourty anchored things during the last decade.

So far, according to reports, he already looks fairly comfortable back there, which included an interception of Bailey Zappe during Wednesday’s session.

It’s still early, but the good news is things definitely seem to be off to a good start for the veteran ahead of the 2023 season.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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