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MORSE: Patriots Camp Preview, Morse’s Morsels

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
4 months ago at 7:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Patriots Camp Preview, Morse’s MorselsEric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back Patriots fans as Training Camp is about to start.  Here are a few morsels as the players begin.

Tuesday the players ran their conditioning test.  Expect to see more names added to the PUP list when they don’t pass the test.  Trent Brown is the obvious name to watch.  Brown made some headlines on Monday when he had a car delivered to the stadium.  He was flaunting his high salary for his teammates with his new ride.

Bill Belichick Press Conference

Lawrence Guy Holdout

Belichick confirmed Guy is at camp but I would think that he finds a way not to practice.

Jack Jones Pending Legal Case

Jones will be in camp and participating.  Not surprising that Bill wouldn’t answer any questions when pressed about Jones’s status.  “It’s a legal situation that I can’t comment on, that’s ongoing”.  When asked again he said, ”Yeah I can’t comment on it, I would love to, but”.  He would love to, yeah right.  It’s a good excuse and an easy out for him.

Looking Good  

Trent Brown is looking good according to Belichick.  Brown has been at Foxboro 4 days ahead of schedule.  That’s a positive sign.  I did see pictures of Brown working with other O-linemen in shorts and tee shirts.  Brown had a pair of hideous vertical striped shorts on.

JuJu Smith Schuster and Tyquan Thornton have also looked good and were at the facility the last 4 days.  They are both good to go for the start of camp.

Five Things I am looking at as Camp Begins

  1. Mac Jones Progress – How has Jones progressed in the Bill O’Brien offense? I expect that he should have a big boost knowing this offense that he ran at Alabama.  Jones’s accuracy will be something that I am watching.
  2. Wide Receivers – OK they didn’t sign Hopkins but they did add JuJu Smith-Shuster and Mike Gesicki. They extended Devante Parker.  I am hoping they will utilize Kendrick Bourne more.  What will Ty Montgomery bring to the table as a WR?  Will Ty Thornton make the jump as a second-year player and can he get off-press-man coverage to utilize his speed?  Can the two late-round rookies have any impact to make the team?  Will UDFA Malik Cunningham make enough impact to find a place on the final 53-man roster?
  3. Offensive Line – This is the biggest question mark on the team. Can they protect the QB and make holes for the running backs?  What kind of shape is Trent Brown in?  Can he be the player he use to be?  How serious is Michael Owenu’s recovery from off-season surgery?  Owenu is currently on PUP.  He can come off the PUP List at any time.  As with Thornton, can Cole Strange make the big jump in his second season?  Who will win the Right Tackle job?  Does Riley Reiff have anything left in the tank?  Can Calvin Anderson take one of the tackle positions?  Will the three Mid Round rookie draft picks contribute at all?
  4. Secondary – I have high hopes for the secondary, despite the loss of Devin McCourty at Safety. The drafting of Christian Gonzalez was brilliant and he is projected as the starter at Left Corner.  How will Jack Jones’s legal problems affect him and the team?  Jack Jones is projected as the starting Right Corner.  Jonathan Jones would be free to play either the slot corner or Safety replacing McCourty.  I prefer Jon Jones at Safety because of his makeup speed.  None of the other Safety candidates including Jalen Mills who is moving to that position have his speed.  Depending on how things play out, this could be the strongest position on the team.  The two late-round DB selections will be fighting it out for a special team role.
  5. Defensive line – we learned nothing with the off-season practices about the D-line. The Lawrence Guy situation remains to be seen.  When the pads are put on and the hitting begins we should find out.  I want to see a healthy Christian Barmore and how he has improved.  What can we expect from Keion White?  The Patriots used a second-round pick on a player they never expected would still be there on the draft board and took the best player available rather than an Offensive Tackle they desperately needed.  Can White supplant Guy on the roster?

Comings and Goings

Patriots sign two to fill the 90-Man Camp Roster

Diego Fagot a LB from NAVY was signed yesterday along with WR Jalen Hurd.  Fagot (FAH-go) is a 6’3” 235 undersized LB that gained fame at the Naval Academy.  He was a player I had targeted as a possible UDFA candidate for the Patriots last year when he came out for the draft.  He signed with the Ravens instead and was cut in training camp and didn’t sign on with any teams Practice Squad.  You know how Bill Belichick loves those players from the Naval Academy.  Fagot is slow, running a 4.72 40-yard dash and a 7.27 3-cone drill.

Hurd has not played a single down in the NFL since being drafted in the 3rd round by the 49ers in 2019.  He is 6’5”, 228 lbs, and runs a 4.64 40.  As a rookie, he missed the entire season with a back injury.  The next year he blew out his ACL and in 2021 he hurt his knee again and never played in an NFL game in his three years with SF.  He sat out 20222 and is trying a comeback with the Patriots.  Hurd is an interesting story.  He played three years for the Tennessee Volunteers as a running back and had 20 TDs in 33 games.  He transferred to Baylor and had a very good season as a WR with 69 catches for 946 yards and 4 TDs.   I can’t help but compare him to Jakobi Meyers with the exception that Meyers has performed well at the NFL level and Hurd has yet to prove he can stay healthy.

Other Moves

OT Calvin Anderson starts camp on the Non-Football Illness list.

Demarcus Mitchell  is on the Non-Football Injury list

Justus Tavai has been taken off the PUP List

Roster Turnover

This morsel is from Zack Cox of NESN. Kind of crazy: 90% of the Patriots’ current 90-man roster wasn’t around for New England’s most recent playoff win (SB53). Only nine players remain from that 2018 team.  That would be 10 players if you included LB Calvin Munson who was on the Practice Squad.

Cox went on to quote some of the team leaders “The expectation here is for us to be winners and to be competitive every year,” said Slater, the Patriots’ longest-tenured player and longtime special teams captain. “And for those of us who have been here for any (amount) of time, we have not enjoyed this past couple of seasons. It hasn’t been fun for us.

“Football is a lot more fun (when you’re) winning. That’s no mystery. I think everybody in that locker room wants to win, but we’ve got to be willing to do what it takes to win. Because everybody in the league wants to win, but everybody’s not willing to do what it takes.”

N’Keal Harry

The former 2019 1st round selection of the Patriots (bust) is still out there as a Free Agent.  He worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles today.  Wow, want to talk about a fall from grace!  The scouts that evaluated him and the GM that selected him should be fired.  Yeah, I said it … Bill Belichick should have his title reduced to just Football Coach and take away his GM duties.

Patriots Schedule

The Patriots have the toughest schedule in the NFL.  The other thing to keep in mind is the improvement in the quality of opponents’ QBs they will face this year. This according to Warren Sharp are the QBs the Patriots beat for their 8 wins:

Zach Wilson (2)

Mitchell Trubisky

Tedy Bridgewater/ Skylar Thompson

Sam Ehlinger

Colt McCoy

Jared Goff

Jacoby Brissett

It’s not going to be so easy this year.  Replace Zach Wilson with Aaron Rodgers and they also have Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, and Pat Mahomes.  In division Tua Tagovailoa and Josh Allen twice.  Then they have Daniel Jones, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Gardner Minshew / Anthony Richardson, Sam Howell, and Kenny Pickett are QB they should dominate.

The Patriots’ defense and secondary are going to have to play their best in order to keep the Patriots in the games.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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