The New England Patriots suffered another personnel loss on Monday, when they announced placing fullback James Develin on their injured reserve list. Develin had already missed the team’s Week 3 game against the New York Jets because of a neck issue, and will now be out for at least an additional eight weeks before the team would be allowed to reactivate him — that is, of course, if his recovery is going well.
Develin’s loss does not only have an impact on the Patriots’ offense and kicking game units, though, but also on their locker room: the 31-year-old is one of the club’s most experienced and respected players, as he has proven himself a valuable piece of the team’s fabric both on the field and off it. While more of a role player compared to others, Develin’s impact on the Patriots cannot be underestimated — just ask one of his teammates.
Shortly after his move to injured reserve was announced, Matthew Slater shared his feelings about the Brown product when he joined NBC Sports Boston’s Monday Night Patriots. The team captain’s tone tells you all you need to know about the fullback and how the organization feels about him: he enjoys a tremendous level of respect, and will be missed by the team and its players for however long his absence will ultimately turn out to be.
“That’s a tough one; that’s a tough pill to swallow,” Slater said. “I think about the 12 years I’ve been here in New England, and I think about the entire time that I’ve played organized sports. I’ve never had a better teammate. I’ve never been around a person who’s been more team-oriented, who’s been excited to see others have success, who’s been willing to put aside his ego and anything else for the betterment of the team.”
“James Develin is the ultimate competitor, the ultimate teammate. And when I think about this organization, and what we hope to stand for, James Develin embodies all of that. I love the guy like a brother — so thankful for the time that I’ve been able to spend with him over the last seven, eight years or so,” continued Slater when speaking about Develin, who originally joined the team via its practice squad in 2012.
Since then, the former undrafted free agent has been a key cog in New England’s offensive machinery and has helped the club win three Super Bowls over the last five years. While his outlook for the rest of the 2019 season has yet to be determined, the Patriots certainly will have a hard time replacing their ever-reliable fullback. The next man up, undrafted rookie Jakob Johnson, will have his hands full filling Develin’s void on the field.
Filling it in the locker room is nearly impossible.