Indeed, Belichick and the Patriots “have a long way to go” — the team produced just seven wins last season and missed the postseason for the first time since 2008. But many believe this year’s squad, specifically the defense, should be much better, thanks to some key offseason acquisitions that should help the Patriots contend for the top spot in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.
But as Belichick explained — and yes, it has been reported over the past few days (and weeks) — some members of the Patriots won’t be on the field tomorrow when camp begins at 9:45 a.m. And one of those players is cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was nowhere to be found during the team’s mandatory minicamp.
New England will compete three times next month, including once at home when they open their preseason slate against the Washington FootballTeam on Thursday, August 12 with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Like many, I am excited to see how some of the team’s offseason signings mesh with members of last year’s squad, including quarterback Cam Newton, who will enter the team’s 2021 training camp on Wednesday, July 28 as the favorite to be spotted under center in week one against the Miami Dolphins.
Newton did not have a great 2020 season — I think many know that or are aware of how he performed last fall. But coach Bill Belichick has acquired some solid pieces for the offense over the past few months, including tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Both players should certainly help Newton, as well as the offense, perform even better than they did last season — New England won just seven games in 2020 but had a chance to squeak out a few more victories had things gone their way down the stretch, especially against the Buffalo Bills in New York.
Like Newton, Jones competed in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) — Jones played at Alabama while Newton competed at Auburn — and should be ready to take the reigns from the league’s most valuable player in 2015.
Jones led the Crimson Tide to a national championship in January — Alabama rolled past Ohio State, 52-24, in the College Football Playoff National Championship contest, which was held in Miami Gardens, Florida — and recorded career-highs in completions (311), passing yards (4,500), and touchdowns (41). And despite seeing limited action in 2018 and 2019, Jones should be able to translate his junior season’s success to the NFL this summer and fall.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Stidham has competed in eight games since becoming a member of the Patriots organization, including five contests last season. The former Auburn signal-caller completed 22 of 44 passes for a career and season-high 250 yards and two touchdowns. He did, however, throw three interceptions compared to one in 2019.
Numerous talking heads, along with various analysts believe Mac Jones could be the starter in the opening week, but it will all depend on how he handles himself during in-game situations. As Patriots.com’s Mike Dussault explains, “Every throw of 11-on-11 work will be dissected ad nauseam, but the bottom line is whether or not Jones or Stidham do enough to dethrone Newton, and can Newton hold them off by taking significant strides in his second year in the offense.”
For now, my bet is Cam Newton will be the starter in the opening week, but I do think Patriots fans will see Mac Jones under center at some point this fall — maybe against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week four? I am not sure if week four is when Jones will be thrusted into the lineup, but we’ll certainly learn more about his readiness when the Patriots scrimmage the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles later this summer. Those inter-squad practices will help us identify which quarterback(s) is ready to lead the hometown team to hopefully a postseason appearance next January.
Saturday’s contest marked the second week of the 2021 Premier Lacrosse League(PLL) season — the game was held at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
Yet, despite not tallying a single goal or an assist against the two-time defending PLL champions, Hogan seemed content after the final whistle sounded that he was able to play the same sport he did as a student-athlete at Pennsylvania State University.
He would go onto say that “I was just excited to be out there with my team and you know try to help them win games — I was just excited to be out there, man.”
Prior to his official start with the PLL, Hogan’s former teammate Julian Edelman shared excitement for his former teammate by quoting a tweet from the league with the following sentence: “Former football player Chris Hogan.”
Hogan and the Cannons will be idle next weekend before returning to the field on Sunday, June 27 when the team competes in its fourth contest of the 2021 season against the Atlas Lacrosse Club. The game will be played at Homewood Field in Baltimore, Maryland.
John Haus fired three shots during Saturday’s matchup with the Cannons Lacrosse Club with his third goal-scoring attempt being the difference as the Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club scored an exciting 15-14 overtime win on Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University.
With the win, the Whipsnakes, who have captured the last first and second Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) championships in 2019 and 2020, improve to 2-0 overall while the Cannons fall to 1-2.
Lyle Thompson attempted to win the game seconds later but his one-handed attempt on the crease was denied by Matthew Dunn, who finished the contest with one caused turnover.
Thompson led the Cannons with four goals while Ryan Drenner recorded a hat trick.
The Whipsnakes led the Cannons, 8-4, at the break, but were outscored 10-6 in the second half.
Zed Williams paced the Green and White — the Whipsnakes’ colors — with six goals on 13 shots while Brad Smith registered two goals and one assist.
As a team, the Cannons recorded 50 shots, including 34 shots on goal while tallying 12 caused turnovers. They also won 14 of 31 face-offs, thanks to Drew Simoneau, who went 13 for 29 at midfield.
Saturday’s contest marked the first time Chris Hogan suited up for the Cannons, however, according to the final statistics, the former New England Patriots wide receiver did not record a single goal or assist. But that didn’t stop him from sharing his excitement with the media following his initial game in the PLL.
“I was just excited to be out there, man,” Hogan said during his postgame press conference. “I mean, these guys are the best players in the world, and it is an amazing opportunity that I was given today to be on this team and play against these guys.”
The Cannons will be idle for the next week before returning to the field on Sunday, June 27 when they compete against the Atlas Lacrosse Club at Homewood Field in Baltimore Maryland. The game will be streamed on Peacock.
One question Burmeister asked was a fun, what-if/hypothetical questions — he wanted to know which of his Cannons teammates was “best suited” to go from the PLL to the National Football League (NFL).
Of course, there are a few that come to mind, but Hogan named Paul Rabil, who is a co-founder of the PLL with his brother Mike Rabil. He described the veteran midfielder as “big, physical, runs hard, (and) probably could play offense or defense.”
“All these guys are good athletes, and I know a lot of them played two sports,” Hogan said to Burmeister. “I mean, I think Paul gave it a second thought there for a little while.”
While it’s unknown if Rabil wanted to play in the NFL, especially earlier this year, he did tell Rich Eisen that Patriots coach Bill Belichick did try to convince him to try out for the team when he was younger.