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Familiar faces await Patriots in preseason bout vs. Lions

Friday’s 7 p.m. ET kickoff at Ford Field will mark a reunion of sorts.

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The New England Patriots will be getting reacquainted with the Detroit Lions this week.

Thursday’s previously scheduled joint walkthrough is no more, but the two sides are still set to meet for a 7 p.m. ET preseason matchup at Ford Field on Friday.

And that should make for a reunion of sorts.

After all, some of whom were once with the Lions, while a rolodex of others were once with the Patriots.

Let’s flip through the contacts.


On the Patriots’ half of the cupboard, there’s a couple players who’ll soon pay a visit to the team they broke into the NFL with: offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle and linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

Waddle signed with the Lions as an undrafted rookie in 2013, and started 24 of the 30 games he appeared in for Detroit before being waived and claimed by New England in December 2015.

Van Noy, meanwhile, arrived as a Lions second-round draft choice in 2014, and went on to record 39 tackles and one sack through 30 games and seven starts before being traded to the Patriots last October for a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks.

Of course, it would be remiss to not mention a non-player, too.

On Tommy Hudspeth’s staff, a then-24-year-old Bill Belichick spent the 1976 season as assistant special teams coach for the Lions and the 1977 season as receivers coach.


A lengthier list of connections now reside in Detroit. It is there that the familiarity spans from the front office, to the scouting department, to the coaching staff, to the roster.

At the top is general manager Bob Quinn, a Norwood, Mass., native who spent 16 years in the Patriots’ organization as a player personnel assistant, pro scout, regional scout, national scout, assistant director of pro personnel and director of pro scouting before being hired by the Lions in January 2016.

Alongside Quinn, there’s Lions vice president of player personnel Kyle O’Brien, who wore just about as many hats as his colleague in the Patriots’ personnel department from 2002 through 2011. Regional scout Dave Uyrus, college scout Ron Miles and area scout Jay Muraco have Patriots hours logged on their respective resumes as well.

So do coaches George Godsey, Harold Nash and Al Golden.

Godsey, now a defensive assistant in charge of special projects for the Lions, served as an offensive assistant for the Patriots in 2011 and tight ends coach from 2012 through 2013. Nash, now entering is second year as Detroit’s head strength and conditioning coach, was a member of New England’s staff from 2005 until 2015. And Golden, the Lions’ tight ends coach, played tight end for the Patriots back in 1992.

As for the current players, Detroit’s injured reserve and 90-man roster include five from Patriots past in defensive tackles Bruce Gaston and Khyri Thornton, tight end Tim Wright, wide receiver Keshawn Martin, as well as safety Tavon Wilson.

Gaston – who was waived-injured by the Lions on Monday – made a brief stop in Foxborough on the practice squad ahead of the 2014 campaign, while Thornton spent the first two months of the 2015 campaign on the Patriots’ active roster before the Lions claimed him off waivers.

Wright, Martin and Wilson saw their stays at One Patriot Place last a little longer.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers shipped Wright to New England in August 2014 as a fourth-rounder and a member of the Patriots’ 50th anniversary team, guard Logan Mankins, came back in return. Wright proceeded to earn a Super Bowl XLIX ring after snaring 26 passes for 259 yards and six touchdowns in what would be his only year with New England.

With regards to Martin, the Houston Texans sent the wide receiver and a sixth-rounder to the Patriots for a fifth-rounder back in September 2015. Martin proceeded to pen two-year, $2.975 million extension with New England after catching a career-high 24 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns while appearing in only nine games that season, but was released with an injury settlement leading up to the 2016 regular season.

And that leaves Wilson rounding out the ties.

A Patriots second-round pick out of Illinois in 2012, Wilson accrued four seasons for New England while collecting 79 tackles, five interceptions, a touchdown and a Super Bowl victory. The safety and special-teamer signed with Detroit as a free agent in March 2016 and started 14 games during his inaugural year in the fold.

From this count, that makes for 16 layers of familiarity.

So while the Patriots and Lions haven’t gone against each other in three years, they’re no strangers.