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Patriots linebacker Cameron McGrone has put his difficult rookie season behind him: ‘The time is now’

Related: Patriots assistant coaches rave about second-year linebacker Cameron McGrone

His rookie campaign in the NFL was a difficult one for Cameron McGrone. The linebacker, who was selected by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, was unable to appear in any games while still rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered the previous season.

McGrone had hurt the ligament the previous November, during his junior year at the University of Michigan. Despite the injury, he decided to forgo his final year of eligibility with the Wolverines and instead tried his luck in the pros; the gamble paid off, and he eventually heard his name called 177th overall.

However, McGrone’s first year as a Patriot was spent mostly on the sidelines.

“It’s definitely different,” he said following New England’s organized team activity on Monday. “You can spend a lot more time focusing on the little things since you’re not going to be in the game. You can really look at the little things, help your teammates out because they might not be paying attention to everything like that.

“I could spend a lot more time watching film, sitting on the couch while they’re out playing the game, and just really dissect from that point of view. And with all that knowledge I was really ready to put it back onto the field myself.”

McGrone spent the majority of the 2021 season on New England’s non-football injury list. He eventually did return to practice in late November — roughly a year after tearing his ACL — but was never activated to the active team.

Now, the 21-year-old has returned to the practice fields. While he was a limited participant during the Patriots’ first OTA practice of the year, he appears to be trending in the right direction.

“Very blessed,” McGrone said. “Last year was a long year — a lot of learning, a lot of hard days, no working out, trying to get better rehabbing. But the time’s now. Back out on the field. Still a lot to learn, still a lot to improve on. But I’m very excited just to be out here with the rest of the guys working.”

As far as his knee is concerned, it sounds that McGrone is not experiencing any issues.

“You never know with the ACL until you feel you’re ready. But every day I came in last year ready to work, ready to improve,” he said. “The time is now. Last year is last year, I’m good now. ...

“With my knee there’s no problem. That thing’s in the past. I’m just looking forward now.”