FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fast-hit ideas/notes across the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Close to miss: Proper in regards to the time Patriots gamers went to the locker room at halftime of their preseason opener Thursday, exterior linebacker Matt Judon took a brief detour by way of a special door — for a medical verify and X-rays on his left leg.
Fortunately for the group, it was precautionary as Judon rejoined his teammates on the sideline for the sport’s remaining half-hour.
Judon’s preseason debut was one of many group’s most promising developments — he was bodily, quick and disruptive in 12 snaps whereas registering a deal with and quarterback hit — however it will have been overshadowed had Washington Soccer Group tight finish Logan Thomas’ lunge at his prolonged leg resulted in a big damage.
The close to miss was a reminder of the danger gamers take each time they step on the sector, and the way the Patriots’ four-year, $56 million free-agent funding in Judon does not include a fail-safe insurance coverage plan.
It has solely been a pair months, however an image is creating on how Judon (6-foot-3, 261 kilos) is becoming in now that he has crossed “enemy strains” from the Baltimore Ravens to the Patriots.
Simply as linebacker Bryan Cox introduced a notable component of toughness and edge to the protection in 2001 — one thing that was cited as vital within the group’s surprising Tremendous Bowl run that season — Judon appears to be bringing the identical.
“He reveals as much as work each day and competes onerous, and I believe that is a very good factor for all of us to attempt to emulate the angle and toughness and energy he is available in with on a constant foundation,” coach Invoice Belichick mentioned.
Judon’s management function has proven up on the conditioning hill on the finish of observe, when he voluntarily joins skill-position gamers to problem himself, one thing that was first famous by longtime captain Devin McCourty. And in addition in his willingness to be a part of the punt protection group in observe, a duty that normally is not related to the highest-paid participant on the group (when it comes to common wage per 12 months).
Belichick famous Judon has “slot in nicely with the group” and fellow exterior linebacker Tashawn Bower relayed that Judon “has a lot data to offer me, and a variety of guys are just below his wing, making an attempt to take every part in, study as a lot as we will from him.”
Judon’s continued well being appears to be one of the crucial necessary developments from the opener.
2. QB replace: On the evening the Patriots drafted Mac Jones in late April, Belichick mentioned: “Cam’s our quarterback. No matter time Mac is able to problem and compete, then we’ll see the way it goes.” Three-plus months later, the hole between Newton and Jones is narrowing. Probably the most prevalent query is: Has it closed to the purpose Jones might be a respectable consideration as a Week 1 starter? Not saying it can occur, however nothing would shock me.
3. If Mac, then what? If Belichick made the choice to go along with Jones from the beginning of the season, Newton’s standing could be an intriguing storyline. Would he settle for a backup function? Within the offseason, Newton mentioned he believes he is one of many NFL’s greatest 32 quarterbacks. On the identical time, he has shared his admiration for the Patriots’ tradition, and spoke glowingly of Jones after Thursday’s sport. Given the respect Belichick has expressed for Newton, who has been a champion for the group when it took some hits following Tom Brady’s departure, it would not be stunning if he gave Newton his selection on how greatest to proceed ought to it head in that course.
4. Agholor’s velocity: Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis made an insightful level on Sirius XM NFL Radio after the preseason opener, questioning if the group had sufficient explosiveness at huge receiver. Who do defenses need to respect down the sector? On Thursday, it was principally a mixture of N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers at receiver, with Kendrick Bourne approaching because the third possibility. Kristian Wilkerson was the No. 4 and none could be thought of burners. It highlights why Nelson Agholor (DNP, minor damage), who’s the Patriots’ quickest possibility and greatest deep menace, is a crucial a part of the plans.
5. Lacking Gilmore: The protection minus cornerback Stephon Gilmore (who’s on the bodily unable to carry out record, quad) confirmed some cracks depth-wise Thursday. Jalen Mills took Gilmore’s spot on the surface, however he could be a greater match on the within in a task with some safety-type ideas, which is the place he settled with the Philadelphia Eagles final season to account for, partially, an absence of top-end velocity. With the Patriots additionally skinny at security (Myles Bryant was amongst these injured), maybe that sparks some urgency to resolve Gilmore’s lingering difficulty together with his contract standing.
6. Nordin’s tape measure: Undrafted kicker Quinn Nordin (Michigan) is making a cost to unseat incumbent Nick People, following up a few sturdy in-stadium practices by hitting all three discipline objectives within the preseason opener (35, 50 and 40 yards, respectively). He did miss an additional level try. Belichick mentioned consistency is vital, and he is in “no rush” on the subject of deciding on Nordin’s standing.
Nordin (Nor-DEEN) was intentionally measuring out his steps earlier than discipline objectives on Thursday (the aim is to hit the identical mark each time), which he mentioned is one thing he had by no means carried out previous to arriving in New England. “Each time we had been in a gathering, I used to be in there with a tape measure, taking my steps, taking the tape measure, placing it down,” he mentioned. “I did that for hours and hours.”
7. Go-rush increase: One distinction offensive deal with Trent Brown has observed upon his return to the Patriots after having performed for them in 2018 is the standard and depth of pass-rushers he has confronted in observe. “There’s a variety of rushers right here this time that may really get after the quarterback,” he mentioned, a reference to a gaggle that features Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Josh Uche, Deatrich Clever Jr., Henry Anderson and Ronnie Perkins, amongst others. That is a promising remark for the protection, particularly contemplating final season’s sack chief, Chase Winovich (5.5) has but to observe in camp.
8. Van Noy’s versatility: It was a small factor, however doubtlessly one thing necessary to the Patriots’ protection — Van Noy opened Thursday’s sport at exterior linebacker reverse of Judon, the place his high property of setting the sting on the road of scrimmage and dashing the passer could be tapped, then moved to an off-the-line inside linebacker function a bit later within the sport. These are two totally different worlds and few gamers have the flexibility to play each at a excessive degree (e.g. Mike Vrabel).
The Patriots venture to begin Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley at inside linebacker, and Raekwon McMillan was probably the highest backup earlier than he tore his ACL. Now that function may fall to Van Noy within the occasion of damage to Hightower and/or Bentley, with Uche, Perkins or Winovich stepping in at exterior linebacker.
9. Dion and futures contracts: Information that working again Dion Lewis is retiring sparks a thought that Lewis will eternally be the Patriots’ instance of by no means overlooking a transaction when the group indicators a participant to a “reserve futures” contract. Gamers who aren’t on a roster when the prior season ends could be signed to a reserve futures contract for the next 12 months, that means they are going to be added to the roster when it expands to 90 gamers in mid-March. That is how Lewis first arrived in New England in January 2015 — as an afterthought to most as a result of he had been off the NFL radar resulting from accidents. That helped revive his profession, and he went on to play a notable function within the 2016 Tremendous Bowl championship season.
10. Did You Know: Had rookie working again Rhamondre Stevenson’s 91-yard landing run late Thursday occurred within the common season, it will have been the longest scoring run in franchise historical past, topping the present mark of 85 yards — by Larry Garron on Oct. 22, 1961.