Sophomore linebacker Cameron McGrone was among several New England Patriots players this offseason to receive a serious amount of hype. However, he did not live up to the lofty expectation shared by media and fans alike.
Quite the opposite, actually. While McGrone did return to the field after essentially missing all of 2021 while recovering from a torn ACL, he found himself clearly behind other linebackers on the New England roster throughout training camp and preseason. As a result, he was released on roster cutdown day.
The former fifth-round draft pick was re-signed via the practice squad after clearing waivers, but has not seen any game action since — serving primarily as emergency depth. That said, he did come close in Week 14 against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Patriots, after all, elevated him to the active roster. He eventually did not make the game-day squad, though, and spent the 27-13 victory as a healthy scratch.
Nonetheless, head coach Bill Belichick spoke highly about his development two days after that game.
“Cam’s had a good year,” he told reporters ahead of New England’s Wednesday practice at the University of Arizona. “He missed a little bit of time at the beginning of the year. Had a good stretch there and then missed a few practices about a month ago, or so, somewhere in there. And then, he’s kind of started to re-climb from there. He’s definitely on a positive track.”
Belichick did not go too deep into why McGrone was eventually deactivated despite his elevation just a few hours before. He did, however, project that the 22-year-old might be getting additional opportunities further down the line.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to go there. We wanted to protect ourselves on that, against Arizona,” he said. “But he’s done a good job for us. If he continues to stay out there and work hard and improve, maybe he’ll get an opportunity here before we’re done.”
McGrone originally joined the Patriots as a fifth-round draft pick last year. Having torn his ACL during his final season at the University of Michigan, he spent the majority of his rookie campaign on the non-football injury list. While he did return to practice late in the year, he was never actually activated to the 53-man roster.
Through almost two whole seasons in the NFL, McGrone therefore stands at no in-game appearances outside of preseason play. That said, Belichick sounds optimistic that he will develop into a player at least worth considering for a spot on the game-day squad in the future.