9 ideas in regards to the Patriots, beginning with their rediscovered athleticism


The Patriots had a plodding workforce simply a few years in the past. No extra.

Darron Cummings
The quickness of Demario Douglas (proven on the NFL Mix) has stood out at Patriots coaching camp.

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A few phrases scribbled on a scrap of paper on the desk, a voice memo or two left for myself on the telephone, collected and amassed into scattershot ideas on the Patriots proper right here …

· One preseason recreation into their careers, and there’s one conclusion that we already can draw from the 2023 Patriots draft class: Invoice Belichick has added a wide ranging inflow of athleticism to his roster.

First-rounder Christian Gonzalez took a pop on his first play however in any other case appeared like a Day 1 beginning cornerback. Second-rounder Keion White was giving me Willie McGinest flashbacks, and in a few years, that sentence won’t seem like hyperbole. Sixth-round receiver Demario Douglas’s quickness has stood out a lot that he bought the veteran therapy through the opener, and seventh-rounder Isaiah Bolden almost broke a kick return.

And that doesn’t even embrace undrafted free agent Malik Cunningham, who could be the very best athlete of the lot.

The Patriots general had a plodding workforce simply a few years in the past. No extra.

· Even with the Ezekiel Elliott signing, I do discover myself wishing Belichick had added just a bit extra dynamism to the offense. Rhamondre Stevenson is a drive, and Elliott will assist, however the franchise’s run of remarkable third-down receivers out of the backfield appears to have ended no less than for now with James White’s retirement earlier than final season.

Tyquan Thornton is the Patriots’ quickest participant, nevertheless it seems like he’s nonetheless a step behind the place he must be. DeVante Parker is a jump-ball risk who doesn’t get separation. Kendrick Bourne is an enigma. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a No. 2 who could also be requested to be a No. 1.

Maybe Douglas will emerge. They’re type of relying on it.

· Jabrill Peppers, maybe my favourite under-the-radar Belichick pickup in recent times, appears able to thrive in an even bigger position within the secondary after the retirement of franchise stalwart Devin McCourty.

Thought it was attention-grabbing that McCourty mentioned on the superb “McCourty TwinCast” through the Patriots preseason opener that Kyle Dugger was a extra constant hitter, however that nobody may ship a more durable one-time wallop than Peppers.

· You most likely keep in mind that Michigan’s Charles Woodson grew to become the one primarily defensive participant to win the Heisman Trophy when he beat out Tennessee’s Peyton Manning (unsure what occurred to him, perhaps went to the CFL?) in 1997. However did you bear in mind how shut fellow Wolverine Peppers got here in 2016? He completed fifth, behind Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, and Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook.

· The hunch right here is that Malik Cunningham’s elevated reps at quarterback — he reportedly had 10 complete over the previous two practices by Monday — has a bit to do with getting ready for Jalen Hurts in Week 1 and so much to do with discovering out if it’s value placing a particular set of performs into the offense to benefit from his breathtaking athleticism.

· Nonetheless chuckle when fascinated with the absurd Zappemania! final season, when the irresistible native comparability for Bailey Zappe was Doug Flutie, after which having Troy Aikman get a have a look at him on “Monday Night time Soccer” and determine that he reminds him of … Invoice Musgrave. Guess the site visitors on Musgrave’s pro-football-reference web page was an all-time excessive that evening.

· Rodney Harrison popped up within the first episode of “Arduous Knocks,” congratulating Jets legend and Patriots champion Darrelle Revis on his induction into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame. In the event you occurred to look at that scene, I think your response was just like mine: It’s a joke that Harrison isn’t already enshrined himself.

· A nod of admiration for Sony Michel, who known as it a profession at age 28 when he knowledgeable the Rams he was retiring on the finish of July.

Sure, the Patriots ought to have as a substitute taken his Georgia teammate Nick Chubb with the No. 31 decide within the 2018 NFL Draft. However as uneven as Michel’s profession ended up being — he appeared to have left his burst behind in Athens — he got here by when the Patriots leaned on him probably the most, operating for 336 yards and 6 touchdowns in three postseason video games for the ‘18 champs.

· Glad the Patriots signed Elliott, even when he’s not something near a dynamo. He can catch a go, decide up a blitz, and provides Stevenson a breather. He’ll assist.

For the document, my order of choice, salaries being pretty comparable, of the numerous achieved veteran operating backs that have been nonetheless hovering in free company Monday: Dalvin Prepare dinner (appears destined for the Jets, however nonetheless), Elliott, Leonard Fournette, after which and solely then, Marion Butts.