FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit ideas/notes round the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Harrison excessive on Dugger: A advantage of Bill Belichick being in his twenty first season as Patriots coach is the potential to attach his present gamers with a few of the greats from the early years of his tenure. One instance is how Patriots Hall of Famer Rodney Harrison has attached with safety Kyle Dugger, the workforce’s high 2020 draft decide (thirty seventh total).
“Right after the draft, they gave me his number and I just called him. I reached out and talked to him,” mentioned Harrison, who enters his thirteenth season as a pull-no-punches analyst for NBC’s “Football Night in America.” “Even this offseason, I text him and say, ‘Hey, send me some clips you want me to look over of you in coverage.'”
Harrison, whose spectacular 15-12 months NFL profession got here after enjoying at Western Illinois, sees a hyperlink between the two based mostly on their small-faculty roots (Dugger went to Division II Lenoir-Rhyne). Furthermore, Dugger is 6-foot-2 and 220 kilos, much like Harrison in his enjoying days (6-1, 220).
“[Coach] Belichick told me that he’s been looking for a young kid who can come in and do a lot of the things that he basically asked me to do. Kyle can be that,” Harrison mentioned, referencing the “money” place as a linebacker in six-defensive-again packages, amongst different issues.
“I love the kid, his attitude. He’s such a humble kid, and he wants to be really good. He asks questions.”
Last week, Dugger informed reporters he research Harrison’s movie, however did not reveal how a lot Harrison has studied him, whereas additionally passing alongside phrases of recommendation.
“I’ve been telling him ‘You can cover. You just have to believe in yourself a little bit more. Don’t give those tight ends free releases. Get up there and jam them — you’re a big kid, you’re strong, so get up there and challenge them and don’t make it easy for them,'” Harrison mentioned.
“In the pass game, I just want to see him play with more confidence. He just has to believe what he sees. I tell him, ‘Believe what you see and go get it! Don’t second-guess yourself! Be aggressive! You don’t need to play careful.’
“In the run recreation, I feel he is robust and he is beginning to actually see the line-block combos; when the tight finish blocks down and the sort out pulls, the place he must go, the place his correct match is.”
Harrison said that once Dugger starts trusting his instincts more, decisive results will follow.
“He’s not a person of many, many phrases, however he loves the recreation of soccer,” Harrison said. “Having some veteran gamers round him, and him persevering with to develop, I feel he will be a incredible participant.”
2. Cam’s first step: Quietly and with little fanfare, Cam Newton had been working with a throwing coach to rebuild some of his fundamentals this offseason. Some who shared a field with him this past week at voluntary Patriots workouts — the first time players were on the field as the program shifted to its second phase — noticed a difference. What does it mean in the big picture? The essence of the Patriots’ offseason program is teaching-based, with the goal to give every player what they need so they can be in the best position to compete come training camp, so any pure evaluation is premature. But some teammates view Newton as getting off to a nice start last week.
3. Eyes on Julio: If the Falcons are truly in a vulnerable position, and forced to trade receiver Julio Jones because of a dire cap situation, it makes sense that the Patriots would be among the teams interested. The Patriots’ offseason approach has centered on making the most of their ample cap space in a year when the majority of teams don’t have as much, which created rare opportunities to acquire top players at less-than-top-of-the-market prices. The Jones situation fits.
Max Kellerman makes a case for why the Patriots should pair Cam Newton with Julio Jones.
4. Uche’s health: Maybe the most important Patriots interview nugget of the week came from second-year linebacker Josh Uche, who said: “I really feel nice. The coaching employees has carried out an incredible job serving to me come again from what I used to be going via.” Uche, the 2020 second-round pick from Michigan whose athleticism and suddenness are promising, hurt his foot in a Week 16 loss to the Buffalo Bills and was quickly placed on injured reserve. A significant injury that compromised his offseason development would have been tough, but he made it sound like that hasn’t been the case.
5. Harrison surprised: Here is one Patriots leftover from a chat with Harrison. “I used to be actually, actually, actually shocked — like everyone else, I suppose — that Belichick went out and spent as a lot cash as he did. I believed he did a terrific job of lastly getting some expertise in there. Two actually good tight ends. I love Jonnu Smith. I do not suppose the Titans used him sufficient. … With the addition of lots of actually good gamers, I feel the Patriots have an opportunity to win the division, and I do not even know who the quarterback goes to be.”
6. Guy-Godchaux duo: Chemistry between quarterback and receiver is commonly highlighted as important — it was one thing Tom Brady harassed yearly — and the same dynamic exists at different positions, too, resembling defensive sort out. So it was greater than a passing be aware when Lawrence Guy mentioned Thursday that he has been working carefully with massive-cash free-agent signee Davon Godchaux in digital conferences on how they should react shortly, and in live performance, to speedy-fireplace play calls. A strong pairing of Guy (6-4, 315) and Godchaux (6-3, 311) at the coronary heart of the line of scrimmage appears like a great begin to rectify struggles towards the run final season, when the Patriots ranked twenty sixth in speeding yards allowed per recreation (131.4) and twentieth in opponents’ speeding common (4.5).
7. Edelman at peace: Listening to retired Patriots receiver Julian Edelman on “The Michael Irvin Podcast,” one massive takeaway was that he is at peace along with his determination and has no plans to play once more, as a result of his injured knee (bone on bone) will not permit it. Of the Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy debate that adopted his retirement announcement, Edelman mentioned: “I’m not here to make a case. I didn’t play the game to be in the Hall. I played the game to, first off, make a team. And then to go out and win Super Bowls.”
8. Snap to it: When the Patriots signed lengthy snapper Wes Farnsworth on Thursday, one line of pondering was that it was competitors for seven-12 months incumbent Joe Cardona. Not essentially. More seemingly it was to assist Cardona. The Patriots have three kickers on the roster (Nick Folk, Roberto Aguayo and Quinn Nordin), and for every to get the reps they need, that is an added burden on the snapper. So bringing in a second layer on the depth chart, and even a second holder (e.g. Brian Hoyer), helps arrange two snap-maintain-kick operations with out overtaxing specialists.
9. UDFA blackout: The Patriots might at all times add one other undrafted free agent, however as of now, Nordin — the kicker from Michigan — is the solely UDFA they’ve signed this 12 months. It units up a better probability that the workforce’s 17-12 months streak of getting an UDFA on the opening-day roster will likely be damaged. The workforce has as a substitute focused gamers with NFL expertise to fill out its 90-man roster in an method that’s markedly completely different, and appears to be tied, partially, to a shallower pool of UDFAs than the norm (fewer faculty gamers signed with brokers in 2021 after a season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic).
10. Did You Know: Patriots second-spherical decide Christian Barmore recorded 11 pressures in the College Football Playoff final season, which is the most by an inside defensive lineman in the CFP over the previous three seasons, passing former first-spherical picks Christian Wilkins (9) and Quinnen Williams (seven).