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  • Brandon King will miss at least the first six regular season games after being moved to reserve/PUP
    by Bernd Buchmasser on August 11, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    Related: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu on PUP list to begin camp Ahead of the start of this year’s training camp, the New England Patriots decided to place three of their rehabbing players on the physically unable to perform list (PUP): running back Sony Michel, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, and core special teamer Brandon King. While Michel remains on the list for the time being, Sanu has since been activated. King, meanwhile, has also seen his designation get changed. According to the NFL’s transaction wire, the Patriots moved him from their active/PUP list to reserve/PUP on Tuesday. This change in status means that the 27-year-old will now no longer count against New England’s 80-man roster — leaving the team with two open spots — and also that he will have to sit out at least the first six weeks of the regular season before being eligible for reactivation. King finds himself in this situation because of a season-ending quad injury that he suffered during the Patriots’ third preseason contest last August. The issue eventually forced the club to move him to injured reserve, and will now cost him time in 2020 as well. Since arriving in New England as an undrafted rookie free agent four years ago, King has consistently proven his value in the kicking game and was expected to return in a prominent role this year — especially in light of Nate Ebner’s free agency departure and Brandon Bolden’s opt-out. Now, however, the outlook has changed. In turn, another special teamer will get a chance to make the Patriots’ opening day 53-man squad. King himself has appeared in a combined 57 regular season contests and 11 playoff games for the team since first appearing on its active roster in October 2015 — helping the Patriots win two Super Bowls while simultaneously serving as a core member of their kicking game units. In this role, he regularly found himself among the team leaders in special teams tackles while appearing on both kick and punt coverage as well as the two return teams. Despite being listed as a linebacker on New England’s official roster, King has yet to see any playing time on defense outside of the preseason.

  • Who will replace Patrick Chung in the Patriots’ lineup?
    by Taylor Kyles on August 11, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Related: Patrick Chung explains why he opted out of the 2020 NFL season The New England Patriots’ top-ranked defense suffered some major losses this offseason, with safety Patrick Chung opting out as just the latest personnel blow. In true Bill Belichick fashion, however, it is what it is: the team will find a way to replace the lost talent, which means that it also will need to find a new strong safety to take over Chung’s role in the slot and as a hybrid box defender. Who will the Patriots look at in order to do that? They certainly have some options on current their roster. Devin McCourty The current elder-statesman in the Patriots’ secondary is typically more of a deep safety who bumps down to cover running backs, slot receivers, and the occasional receiving tight end on passing downs. But now that he is their most experienced coverage player at the safety position, it’s only fair to assume that we will see him in more of a box role than we have in recent years. There is a crack in this theory, though. With Duron Harmon in Detroit, McCourty is now the only safety on the roster with experience playing centerfield and getting the secondary in position to win the down. This may force him to play more single-high safety than he has in previous years when Harmon could reliably man the spot in obvious passing situations. If former Jaguar xCody Davis can carve out a leadership role quickly, it would go a long way in freeing up McCourty to line up wherever he’s needed. But that’s a lot to ask of a newcomer in our current global climate (it’s sickly outside) Jonathan Jones The undersized, do-it-all speedster in the secondary has already spent time rotating with Chung at deep safety in the Patriots’ base defense when they want to stay heavy against teams that like using crossers off of play action. Jones is a phenomenal tackler and plays well above his weight class, but I still think his best safety role is away from the box and tight ends where his size becomes a big disadvantage. Joejuan Williams Pat Chung may not be as nimble as he was a few Super Bowl rings ago, but his physicality and ability to jam tight ends off the line was enough to keep him in the hip of some premier talents. He may have allowed a long reception here and there, but the swiss army knife is far from the liability he’s often portrayed to be. If anyone on the Patriots’ roster is capable of mixing it up in close quarters with tight ends, it’s lean, mean Joejuan Williams. We saw when J.C. Jackson shadowed Travis Kelce at times in 2019’s AFC Championship Game that the Patriots are willing to use a young corner buried on the depth chart to check big receiving tight ends. Williams may not be J.C. Jackson, but he brings a Brandon Browner-esque presence to the secondary with his combination of length and press-man skills. The former second-round pick has a perfect opportunity to show the coaching staff what he can do in a niche defensive role perfectly suited for his strengths. Michael Jackson Sr. While officially listed as a cornerback — the position he played since arriving in the NFL last year — the Patriots’ newest trade acquisition has some of the skills that could make him a viable replacement for Chung: he’s a strong tackler whose upside against the run was on display throughout his two years as a starter in Miami. Accordingly, Jackson might get a shot at filling Chung’s role in New England’s system as well. Yup I'm in love.Plenty capable of taking over for Chung in the slot and down in the box if he can get up to speed. Isn't intimidated by blockers or contact. Also a strong tackler who makes an effort to attack the football on arrival— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) August 9, 2020 Jackson playing safety would be nothing new for him. There are some clips on his college tape which show him rotating to deep safety as a response to motion. It looks like he generally took good angles to the ball whenever he had an opportunity. Adrian Phillips What truly sets Patrick Chung apart from his peers in the versatile safety pool is his effectiveness in the box. He does more than cover oversized flankers, he can drop down into the box and fly around with a linebacker’s mentality and tackling ability. Chung had a heavy role in the Patriots’ big nickel “tite” defense, which placed the safety at weak-side linebacker behind a five-man front designed to flush runs outside. Safety-linebacker hybrid Adrian Phillips served as the cog of the 2018 Chargers’ similar big dime defense, which featured eight defensive backs to contain a rookie Lamar Jackson in the playoffs. The scheme was effective against Baltimore that day, capitalizing on speed and a talented defensive front to shut down a sleeping juggernaut. However, the Chargers could not adequately adjust to the Patriots’ downhill run game the following week and were promptly booted from the postseason. If there’s one thing Bill Belichick knows, it’s adaptability, and he knows to pick his spots to avoid overwhelming an aggressive, but unavoidably undersized box defender. He does an excellent job of keeping players clean to fly to the ball and make plays, a role Phillips helped bring to prominence for modern defenses. Kyle Dugger It wouldn’t be fair to expect much from a rookie safety who’s coming from a Division II school and being forced to miss live exhibition games due to a global pandemic. However, Dugger’s explosive athleticism will be hard to ignore if the Patriots can’t adequately replace Chung with their veterans. The Lenoir-Rhyne product’s ability to hold up tight ends off the line and frame to hold up in the box made him an easy-projection as Chung’s heir. But with the king sitting this campaign out, the probability of seeing Dugger in live action becomes harder to ignore. Please make sure to support Taylor in his continued quest to keep creating NFL, entertainment, and mental health content. For more information, head over to Patreon.

  • Lawrence Guy thinks that DeMarcus Covington will help the Patriots D-line ‘see the bigger picture’
    by Bernd Buchmasser on August 11, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Related: Isaiah Wynn wants his play to do the talking: ‘I don’t want to speak too much, I want to show it on film’ The 2020 offseason was one of change for the New England Patriots, and the coaching staff was not immune to it either. One of the coaches to leave the organization was Bret Bielema, who had worked with the defensive line in 2019. With Bielema gone, the Patriots were forced to adapt and rearrange the roles on their defensive staff — a process that resulted in DeMarcus Covington taking over the D-line after having spent the previous year as New England’s outside linebackers coach (a title that is now held by ex-safeties/secondary coach Steve Belichick). The 31-year-old may be new to the role, but the first impression he left on the unit’s most senior player appears to be a positive one: Lawrence Guy, who is entering his fourth season in the system, spoke about his new position coach during a media conference call on Monday. Based on his statements, the veteran defensive tackle seems to be impressed with Covington’s knowledge and the unique perspective he brings to the table. “He’s really good,” Guy said about Covington during the short press session. “I think we have a good coaching staff, everybody brings their own unique way of coaching to the staff. It’s one of those things as we’re in this process through virtual meetings up to now, we’re building this brotherhood. We will see how we interact with each other, how he interacts with the D-line, how he interacts with the linebackers.” Covington’s coaching career started back in 2012, when he worked as a graduate assistant at Alabama-Birmingham. Over the years that followed, he added stints at Mississippi, UT Martin and Eastern Illinois before finally arriving in New England in 2017 — the same year as Guy. Originally serving as a coaching assistant whose focus was primarily on the defensive side of the ball, he was promoted to outside linebackers coach in 2019 before eventually taking on a new role this year. “Coming in, working with us, then working with the linebackers last year, now bringing all that knowledge he has from that aspect down to the D-line, it helps us see some of the bigger picture more and more,” the 30-year-old defender continued. “Some of the questions that we have asked, he could easily answer: ‘This is what we were coaching last year; and this technique; this is how we developed it this way.’ “It brings out a unique aspect that he’s able to share, after where he was coaching last year. He doesn’t have to go over there, ‘What would you say? How would you play that?’ He’s in the room helping us out with those situations,” added Guy. Besides his knowledge of the linebacker concepts, Covington’s transition to defensive line coach will also be aided by the general continuity at the position. While the rest of the Patriots’ front-seven saw some considerable personnel turnover since the 2019 season came to an end — none of the team’s top three linebackers from last year will be available in 2020, for example — the group up front remained mostly intact. Lawrence Guy is returning as its elder statesmen, with Adam Butler also entering his fourth year as a Patriot. The two roster locks are joined by offseason addition Beau Allen, who is expected to effectively replace free agency departee Danny Shelton, as well as Deatrich Wise Jr, Byron Cowart, Nick Thurman and Bill Murray. Only Allen and the undrafted rookie Murray were not in New England last year.

  • Next Gen Stats: Patriots had the best two coverage defenders in the NFL last year
    by Bernd Buchmasser on August 11, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images Related: How Stephon Gilmore elevated his game to a new level in New England The New England Patriots’ defensive success in 2019 was largely built on the team’s ability to shut opposing passing attacks down on a week-to-week basis. No defense in football gave up a lower completion percentage, allowed fewer touchdowns, had more interceptions, or registered a better passer rating than the Patriots’. But while the unit’s overall performance is what matters in the grand scheme of things, the proper context surrounding it cannot be ignored either. New England’s aggressive man-to-man coverage scheme did succeed because of the players’ ability to perform within it — from veteran, starting-caliber talent such as Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Jonathan Jones to the two best coverage defenders in the NFL last year. That’s right, no other players were better in coverage in 2019 than Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson. While that claim itself will most definitely be disputed if only based on the fact that Jackson flew under the radar outside of New England, its basis is rooted in statistics: the league’s Next Gen Stats recently broke down cornerback play based on five metrics — passer rating allowed, catch rate allowed below expectation, tight window percentage, target rate, average separation yards — to determine who were the best of the best among the league’s defensive backs last year. Turns out that Gilmore and Jackson took the top two spots. The excerpt about New England’s top cornerback, via’s Nick Shook, reads as follows: Gilmore cemented himself as the league’s best corner in 2019 with numbers like the ones listed above, which don’t even include his six interceptions. He was the only player who faced 85 or more targets and didn’t give up a touchdown. He allowed the lowest passer rating as the nearest defender in coverage among cornerbacks in 2019 (teammate J.C. Jackson is listed as a defensive back). His catch rate allowed below expectation (-11.8) was also the lowest among cornerbacks with a minimum of 300 coverage snaps. No one was better in coverage than Gilmore in 2019. Gilmore’s numbers were impressive. Not only did he surrender a passer rating of 38.0, according to the Next Gen calculations, he also allowed a catch rate of 11.8 percent below expectation while scoring well in the other metrics as well: his tight window percentage of 27.1 percent, target rate of 19.5 percent, and average separation yards of 2.7 all stand out. Gilmore ranking as the top coverage defender in the NFL in 2019 does therefore not come as too big a surprise. This also is true based on the accolades he received after the season: He was voted the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, and named to both the first All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl. Furthermore, he routinely took on number one wide receivers and was able to eliminate them from the equation. Gilmore was the best defensive back in football last year, and a key factor in New England’s defense leading the league in scoring during the regular season. For as impressive as the 29-year-old played — especially considering the opposition he faced — Jackson’s achievements should not go unnoticed either, however: [...] Jackson was still a revelation for the Patriots despite starting just six games, allowing the lowest passer rating as the nearest defender in coverage among all defenders who qualified for this exercise, and the second-lowest completion percentage allowed. Jackson was excellent, especially in press coverage, allowing a passer rating of just 8.1 in such situations and recording all five of his interceptions while in press. No one was better in those two categories while in press. Add in his perfect passer rating allowed of 0.0 as the nearest defender on deep targets and you’ll see the resume of a defensive back poised to explode onto the scene as a soon-to-be-household name in the same defense that also features Gilmore, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Jackson did enjoy the luxury of not having to take on opposing number one wide receivers, but he still established himself as a bona fide number two on the perimeter in 2019. The numbers reflect this: his passer rating of 21.8 was actually lower than Gilmore’s (and that of any other qualifying defender), while his catch rate of 10.1 percent below expectation is no less impressive. Add a tight window percentage of 27.6 percent, a target rate of 15.6 percent and an average separation of 2.2 yards and you get an outstanding coverage player. Heading into the 2020 season, Jackson is again projected to play a prominent role in New England’s defensive backfield. With Gilmore as the team’s clear number one cornerback, the third-year man, who went undrafted in 2018, will compete with Jason McCourty and Joejuan Williams for the number two role and starting gig opposite the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. McCourty may have the experience and Williams the draft pedigree, but Jackson’s development over the last two seasons could give him an edge. Either way, the statistics confirm what Patriots fans have witnessed throughout the entire 2019 season: the team’s secondary is a game-changing unit, and both Gilmore and Jackson were big-time contributors to its effectiveness.

  • New England Patriots links 8/11/20 - Newton’s spark, Stidham’s resolve, Wynn’s health, Bentley’s readiness
    by Marima on August 11, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    Wynning smile | Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Daily news and links for Tuesday TEAM TALK Patriots Unfiltered Notebook 8/10: Veteran Edelman sets example; Wynn ready to roll; Web quotes of note; More. Mike Dussault passes along reports that the Patriots made two additions, at OL and RB, rounding out the depth on their roster. Mike Dussault addresses 20 burning Patriots training camp questions. 1. Is the roster set? 2. Any extensions coming? Video Conferences: Julian Edelman (20.25 min. video) - Josh McDaniels (23.19 min. video) - Cam Newton (20.20 min. video) - Jarrett Stidham (13.48 min. video) - Brian Hoyer (10.52 min. video) LOCAL LINKS Alex Barth and Matt Dolloff make their Patriots 53-man roster projections. David Latham (LastWordOnSports) 2020 AFC East breakdown by position: Offense and Defense. Luke Ervin (PatsBuzz) Six players most crucial to the Patriots’ success on offense. Doug Kyed explains why the Patriots’ decision to sign veteran RB Lamar Miller makes sense. Ryan Hannable wonders if the Lamar Miller signing is signaling something going on behind the scenes. Henry McKenna (PatriotsWire) The Lamar Miller signing is truly bad news for Sony Michel and Damien Harris. David Latham (LastWordOnSports) Patriots will not sign Jordan Leggett. Nick O’Malley sees Isaiah Wynn finally healthy and working to be the consistent left tackle the Patriots need him to be. Mike Reiss notes Jarrett Stidham’s resolve remains strong despite Cam Newton’s arrival in Foxboro. Back in March, “Stidham was prepared to step up and be the guy.” Mike Reiss points out one theme that resonated among Julian Edelman and other Patriots players is that Cam Newton has added a spark — and intriguing X’s and O’s possibilities — to the mix. Tom E. Curran says Cam Newton and Josh McDaniels are in the honeymoon phase but plans to look for ‘body-language interpretations and lip readings’ to determine how well their relationship evolves. Henry McKenna (PatriotsWire) Cam Newton explains his mindset after breakup with the Panthers. Alex Barth highlights Julian Edelman sharing his thoughts on Tom Brady’s departure, and more. Andy Hart relays Julian Edelman and Lawrence Guy on their decisions to play this season. Alex Barth notes Jerod Mayo says he’s excited to coach ‘moldable’ group of young linebackers. Robert Alvarez (PatsFans) Stephon Gilmore ready for ninth season in the NFL. Ryan Hannable explains how one of the most underrated parts of the Patriots offense this season is the influence of new QB coach Jedd Fisch. Darren Hartwell highlights Josh McDaniels raising some notable strategy concerns of games without fans. Zack Cox passes along a report that the Pats are expected to sign C Tyler Gauthier to fill their final roster spot. CBS Boston calls attention to the Patriots having the top two players in NFL’s Next Gen Coverage stats from 2019. David Latham (LastWordOnSports) It’s time for a Logan Ryan, Patriots reunion. /Meh... Alex Barth discusses the report that the NFL schedule could add Saturday games in 2020. OfficialTyLaw (Instagram) “Feeling a bit nostalgic so bear with me as I take you on a trip down memory lane. Hands down, the most incredible weekend of my life!!!” Locked On Patriots podcast: Mike D’Abate brings in our favorite professor, Miguel “Pats Cap” Benzan, to tutor us on Foxboro Finance-101, including the Pats’ acquisition of more than $9 million in cap space and some myth-busting as well. (47 min.) NATIONAL NEWS Albert Breer (SI) Monday Afternoon QB: The cost of extended training for NFL combine; How ‘Hard Knocks’ will look this season; More. Kevin Patra ( Jerod Mayo believes LB Ja’Whaun Bentley ready to play key role in Patriots’ shuffled defense. Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Report: Patriots are expected to sign Jordan Leggett, Darius Kilgo. Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Julian Edelman: I love Tom Brady to death, but the train keeps moving. Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Logan Ryan pitching himself to teams as a safety. /‘Memba him? Danny Heifetz (The Ringer) An unbiased, totally correct ranking of every NFL pass-catching group, 2020 edition. Patriots 29th. “The Patriots’ receivers are bad, but their tight ends are worse. ...” Cynthia Frelund ( Projecting NFL’s 2020 stat leaders. No Pats. Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) If college football season doesn’t happen, NFL likely will play on Saturdays. Frank Schwab (Yahoo Sports) NFL odds: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is the best bet for NFL MVP, with a couple other longshots. R.J. White (CBS Sports) NFL betting 2020: Unpacking the great unknown of home-field advantage during a pandemic, and what we do know. Terez Paylor (Yahoo! Sports) With 2020 college season near a shutdown, NFL teams brace for toughest scouting challenge in decades. Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) If college football moves to the spring, what happens with the draft? EXTRACURRICULAR Michael McCarthy (FrontOfficeSports) NFL to ditch on-field National Anthem singers this season; league could also limit on-field access of military/police honor guards. Jim Reineking (USA Today) Best ‘Hard Knocks’ moments: From J.J. Watt workouts to rants from Rex Ryan and Bob Wylie. Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Court documents allege Derrius Guice strangled his girlfriend until she was unconscious.


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