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Thursday Patriots Notebook 6/8: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
4 months ago at 11:44 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Thursday Patriots Notebook 6/8: News and NotesBob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Some news and notes for this morning:

Mills Ready For New Challenge

Through the early portion of OTAs, Patriots defensive back Jalen Mills appears poised to take over the void left by long-time safety Devin McCourty in New England’s secondary.

Mills has reportedly been working there since the first time reporters were granted access to view the two open sessions the club has held so far, and things seem to be progressing well.  Mills, who also played some safety during his tenure with the Eagles prior to joining the Patriots in 2021, sounded pretty optimistic about his role for 2023 and seemed to be in good spirits earlier this week.

“For sure, man,” said Mills via NESN’s Zack Cox when it came to whether or not he was enjoying the change. “It gives me the ability to not only show my versatility but be around the ball a little more and make more plays.”

The 29-year old also said he’s been getting plenty of help from his teammates as he continues the transition, and so far, he’s just trying to learn as much as he can.  This is obviously the time of year where guys like Mills have an opportunity to get reps and it’s a key time for a player who is growing into a new role.

So far, things appear to be going well, and he’s just taking it all in stride.

“Here with the Patriots, everything is a little bit unexpected,” said Mills. “But when your number’s called, you have to be ready.”

Firkster Contract Numbers Revealed

KPRC 2 Houston’s Aaron Wilson revealed New England Patriots tight end Anthony Firkster’s contract numbers on Tuesday, and it appears he signed a pretty good deal for a one-year contract with the team.

According to Wilson, Firkster’s deal is worth a reported $1.08 million for 2023, which isn’t a bad number for a player who will anchor a tight end room that features Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki.

The former standout from Harvard spent six years in the NFL after originally signing with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2017, before playing with the Chiefs and Titans prior to landing in Atlanta.

The veteran tight end caught 9 passes for 100-yards with the Falcons last season and will hopefully round out a group that will need to be a little more productive coming off what was a disappointing season for New England there in 2022.

Hopkins Making First Reported Free Agent Visit

It looks like DeAndre Hopkins is beginning to explore his options, with the veteran set to make his first meeting with a team after recently parting ways with the Arizona Cardinals.

According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Hopkins is reportedly headed to Nashville this weekend to meet with the Tennessee Titans.

Pelissero reports the meeting is scheduled for Sunday, where Hopkins will meet with Titans coach Mike Vrabel, who has some familiarity with Hopkins, having spent time together while he was a position coach with the Texans during the receiver’s tenure in Houston.

There’s certainly a sense of urgency for Tennessee.  Vrabel’s club finished 7-10 last season and is trying to vault themselves back atop an AFC South Division that saw the Jacksonville Jaguars overtake them in 2022 with a 9-8 finish.

Dugger Focused on 2023

Veteran safety Kyle Dugger is quietly heading into a contract year with the team, but if he’s bothered by the uncertainty that comes with that, he definitely doesn’t appear to be showing it.

Dugger said all the right things during his meeting with reporters this week, and he just seems excited about the upcoming season.

“That’s not on my mind,” Dugger said earlier this week via USA TODAY. “That’s the biggest part, I’m on the field, and I’m trying to handle this on the field and let that be that. But I definitely enjoy playing for this organization.”

The former standout from Lenoir–Rhyne has been a terrific addition since the Patriots selected him in the second round back in 2020 with the 37th overall pick, establishing himself as a key piece in Bill Belichck’s defense.

He’s amassed 7 interceptions along with 13 passes defended during his three seasons in New England, with three of those picks coming last season, and he took two of them in for touchdowns.

He’s certainly off to a solid career and one would have to believe that with a reset year coming up after the season salary cap-wise, Dugger should absolutely be a priority as a foundational piece for this group moving forward.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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