With training camp in full swing, there is a lot going on around the New England Patriots and the rest of the league. Let’s use this forum right here to go through some of the stories that have emerged over the last few days that we did not have time to cover elsewhere: welcome to this week’s Sunday Patriots Notes.
Who will be the next Patriots in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Defensive lineman Richard Seymour was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, becoming its 10th member associated with the Patriots. Seymour is without a doubt deserving of the honor, given his contributions to New England’s early dynasty.
He will not remain the only one of its members to make the cut at one point in the future, which begs the question: Who will be the next Patriot enshrined into what Seymour called “football heaven”?
There are several candidates, but the most realistic might just be team owner Robert Kraft. The 81-year-old has been named a finalist as a contributor for 2023, and appears to have as good a shot as anybody to make it in: no NFL owner has won more Super Bowls than he has.
Also on the Hall of Fame ballot for 2023 is Francis “Bucko” Kilroy. Originally joining the organization as director of player personnel in 1971, Kilroy spent 35 years in New England and won three Super Bowls. His most notable contribution to the game, however, might have been his role in helping found the NFL Scouting Combine.
Beyond Kraft and Kilroy there are other realistic candidates out there as well. Head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and kicker Adam Vinatieri are all locks to make it in one day. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, guard Logan Mankins and safety Rodney Harrison also appear to be in a solid position to at least receive consideration.
The same is true for two players still active members of the Patriots’ roster: special teamer Matthew Slater and safety Devin McCourty. Short-time Patriots such as running back Fred Taylor and cornerback Darrelle Revis also cannot be forgotten.
While it remains to be seen who will get in next — Revis and Vinatieri are some safe bets in 2023 and 2025, respectively — there is no denying the Patriots had some Hall of Fame-worthy talent on it recent rosters.
New England was well represented in the Hall of Fame Game. Speaking of the Hall of Fame, festivities in Canton OH were traditionally kicked off with the Hall of Fame Game. This year, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders faced off in the exhibition contest — and it was one with several Patriots connections, especially on the Raiders side of the ball.
Led by quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who went 8-for-15 for 96 yards and also scored a rushing touchdown, a total of seven ex-Patriots took the field for Las Vegas: fullback Jakob Johnson, tight end Jacoby Hollister, wide receiver Isaiah Zuber, offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor, linebacker Tashawn Bower and safety Duron Harmon.
Additionally, three former Patriots players did not dress: linebacker Chandler Jones, running back Brandon Bolden and cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc.
On the Jaguars’ side only one of three ex-Patriots participated in the contest: wide receiver Marvin Hall caught two passes, while center Darryl Williams and defensive tackle Malcom Brown were inactive.
James White explains what he is most looking forward to in 2022. Patriots running back James White saw his 2021 season come to an end in Week 3, when he suffered a hip subluxation versus the New Orleans Saints. The injury forced him to undergo surgery and enter a rehabilitation process that is still not over; White entered training camp on the physically unable to perform list and remains there heading into Week 3.
The eventual goal is to get White back onto the field at one point, even though him opening the regular season on PUP remains a realistic option. Nonetheless, he is still a part of the team again after spending most of last season rehabbing.
“It’s been a long recovery, still taking it day-by-day pushing myself to feel my best and be my best when I step out there,” White said about the process.
Appearing on a recent appearance on the The Big Stage podcast, the 30-year-old spoke about a variety of topics. From how he got the nickname “Sweet Feet,” to how his wife Diana was forced to take on a heavy workload the last few months, to the Sweet Feet Foundation
He also mentioned what he missed the most during his time recovering.
“I’m [...] excited to get back in that locker room,” he said. “After I got hurt I had my surgery a few weeks later, I took off to Illinois to do my rehab there, I got referred to a guy up there and he did a great job of getting me back on track, but I’m excited to get back with the guys.
“Being in a locker room is one of the coolest things in the world. You have guys from all over the country, different ideas, different music they listen to, from different places. It’s a unique place to be. It can be very weird, it can be very cool; it goes from one extreme to the next. But it’s a special place and I built a lot of good friendships there. And I’m excited to just play my role, whatever it is, to help my team win football games.”
White originally joined the Patriots as a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 and over the next few years developed into a core member of their offense. He was in line to again play a prominent role last season before his hip injury cut the year short.
Earlier this offseason, he re-signed with the Patriots on a new two-year, $5 million contract.
“After sustaining an injury like that, a lot of times teams may not want you,” he said. “I’m blessed and fortunate that Bill [Belichick] and Mr. [Robert] Kraft they wanted me back. I’m just pushing myself to make sure I feel as best as possible so whenever I do step out on the field I can perform at a high level.”
Trent Brown and the great transformation. According to the Patriots’ official media guide, offensive tackle Trent Brown stands at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds. However, the document is no accurate representation of the behemoth blocker: Brown is significantly below that listed weight.
According to a recent interview with GQ, he checks in at 360 pounds and hopes to drop five more by the end of training camp. Losing 25 pounds or almost 7 percent of body weight compared to his listing is quite the change, but one that Brown is hopeful will help him stay healthy in 2022 — something he has not been able to do the last few seasons.
How do you feel the focuses you made to address the calf issues you’ve suffered over the last few seasons will benefit you?
The calf has felt great, and the work I did was also about repairing a lot of scar tissue — strengthening over the calluses that had been created and just smoothing everything out. I’m as mobile as I’ve been since I was a kid, probably. I feel really good and that’s definitely a testament to my diet and the regimen I’ve been on during the offseason.
How do you feel your body has responded to some of the things you’ve done this offseason?
I think dropping 20 pounds definitely goes a long way as far as mobility and helping the way my body moves. I’ve always been an explosive guy, but I feel like I’m that much quicker and lighter on my feet now. My cardiovascular health is definitely better with just not carrying the extra 20 pounds around. By the end of camp I hope to be at around 355. That would be great — it will give myself some leeway between my weight goal and their weight goal for me, so I won’t have to be strict as hell on myself throughout the season. I can live a normal life and afford a cheat meal here and there and enjoy myself — especially when family visits.
Brown noted that his offseason regimen did not just see him focus on offensive line technique and footwork, but also on mobility, stretching and cardiovascular work. It also included becoming a pescatarian and doubling the amount of water he drank in a day — from one gallon to two.
What does a typical day of eating look like now?
I typically wake up, drink a green juice for breakfast. I’ll start on my two gallons of water. I don’t know why this is now, but I’ve been super addicted to watermelon this offseason and I haven’t had a bad one yet. After my workout, I’ll have watermelon and that fills me up because it’s full of water, so I’m probably at two and a half gallons. Lunch will probably be salmon and a nice salad. I’ll have dinner after that. That will be salmon and a spicy stir fry.
When I get back to camp, I know I’ll have to find a way to fine-tune that just to be able to make it through a day of practice. Training-wise, I can get through that, but you have to be able to eat to have some type of fuel to make it through a New England practice.
A seventh-round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2015, Brown originally arrived in New England via trade in 2018 and promptly won a Super Bowl. He left the following offseason to spend two disappointing seasons with the Raiders before returning to the Patriots last spring.
Brown started the 2021 season as a starter at right tackle, but a calf injury forced him to miss eight games. This offseason, he has not just made changes to his diet and workout focus, he also has a new position: Brown returned to the left side of the offensive line again, trading places with Isaiah Wynn.
Tyler Hughes steps up. The depth chart is in focus throughout training camp, but that is not just true for the players’: the coaching depth also is important this time of the year. Nick Caley being absent for much of last week for undisclosed reasons was an example of that, with offensive assistant Tyler Hughes taking over coaching the tight ends.
Hughes is in his third year as an offensive assistant, but despite his title brings plenty of football expertise to the table.
After starting his coaching career at Murray High School in Utah back in 2003, he joined Snow College the following year — first as wide receivers and tight ends coach, and later as offensive coordinator and head coach. During his two seasons serving in the latter role, Hughes and his teams won 20 of their 24 combined games.
In 2013, he left the school again to take on a job as quality control assistant on Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State. One year later, he became head coach at Minot State. While his success was limited during his three years with the Beavers — he went 5-28 as the school’s head coach — the team did show some positive developments: Minot State tied the most wins in a single season during its Division-II era when it went 3-8 in 2016.
After stepping down from the position following his third season, Hughes took over as coach at Bountiful High School in Utah. In two seasons with him at the helm, the Braves went a combined 9-13 and made the playoffs once. In 2020, he resigned from his position to make quite a sizable jump: the one to the Patriots.
DeMarcus Covington is working with the next generation of coaches. Speaking of coaches, Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington spoke about the importance of helping bring others along earlier this week. The 33-year-old spoke about Keith Jones in particular, who is with the team this summer as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.
A graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas, Jones is working under the guidance of Covington — a continuation of a relationship that began seven years ago. Back then, Jones was coaching at UT Martin where Jones played along the defensive line.
“I always was taught as you continue to climb, you pull somebody up,” Covington said about the arrangement. “For me, that’s what I continue to do. As long as I continue to climb, I’m going to help somebody up because there are guys that came before me that pulled me up.
“We have the unique opportunity to have some guys for the Bill Walsh Minority Internship to come and develop and grow as coaches. Fortunately for me, I have one of my former players who is now a coach. ... He grows and I grow, and that’s how we really want it. It’s not just a transaction for him, we are all in it so we can all develop together as coaches.”
Jahlani Tavai may have dodged a bullet. One year ago, the Patriots lost Raekwon McMillan to a torn ACL early in training camp. Earlier this week, it appeared history might be repeating itself: during Thursday’s practice, fellow off-the-ball linebacker Jahlani Tavai went down with what might have been a major injury.
He remained on the ground, with head coach Bill Belichick checking in on him and teammates kneeling around. He later had to be helped off the field while being unable to put weight on his right leg.
The injury appeared to be quite serious, but it loos like Tavai and the Patriots may have dodged a bullet. The very next day, after all, he was spotted again:
Jahlani Tavai is here after getting helped off the field yesterday. Has a sleeve on his right leg. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/NO0VCL9sgs— Brian Hines (@iambrianhines) August 5, 2022
While it remains to be seen how long Tavai will be sidelined, simply seeing him back on the field is good news for both him and his team. The second-year Patriot, after all, is expected to play a sizable role for the team — at least if Bill Belichick is to be believed.
“I think he’ll be a big factor for us this year, on all four downs; not just defensively but also in the kicking game,” Belichick told SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this week.
Ex-Patriot N’Keal Harry just cannot catch a break. Speaking of injuries, let’s check back in with former Patriots first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry. The wide receiver, who was traded to the Chicago Bears earlier this offseason, appeared to have suffered another training camp injury — his third in four years in the league.
This one happened during the Bears’ full-pads practice on Saturday and was described as follows by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:
Wide receiver N’Keal Harry had to be helped off the field, unable to put weight on his left leg after linebacker Nicholas Morrow and free safety Eddie Jackson tackled him on a wide receiver screen that was stopped near the line of scrimmage.
The extent of Harry’s injury is not yet clear, but the early indication is that he might indeed miss some time because of it.
Harry has had some good training camp performances throughout his time in the NFL, but injuries have stalled his momentum several times. As a rookie in 2019, he hurt his ankle in preseason. Two years later, a shoulder injury ended a promising camp performance. Now, it appears another ankle issue could cost him some valuable practice time and maybe more.