Chris McDonald continues brotherly connection with Patriots
|05.04.13 at 8:54 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When it comes to the Patriots, there are several brotherly connections that reach throughout the NFL. Defensive end Chandler Jones has a brother (Arthur) who plays for the Ravens, while tight end Rob Gronkowski has seen brothers Chris and Dan also reach the NFL, with the latter spending a few weeks with the Patriots in 2011.
Into this picture comes the McDonald Brothers: Nick has been with the Patriots the last two seasons after breaking into the NFL as a part of the Packers in 2010, while his brother Chris was picked up last week as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State.
When Chris was signed by the Patriots, his brother gave him a call.
“He just told me to work hard and do what I have to do. It’s about me,” he said Saturday during a break in the action at rookie minicamp. “I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be with my brother, but this time is my time. And I have to do what I have to do.”
The brothers have engaged in an amazing journey just to get to this point. As teenagers, they were adopted by separate families. Chris said Saturday he considers his brother an inspiration, but at the same time, he understands the reality of the situation that’s in front of him.
“My brother being in the NFL is not going to help me stay in the NFL,” he said. “I have to do whatever it takes for myself.”
Nick was an undrafted free agent out of Grand Valley State who beat the odds to reach the league. And while Chris has a more polished resume at this point in his career — he was a four-year letterwinner at Michigan State who made 39 starts at right guard with the Spartans — he knows that he’ll have to face the same uphill battle if he wants to stick around.
“I’m just truly blessed to have the opportunity to come out here and have a chance to compete for an NFL spot. It’s a great program. I’m truly blessed to be here,” Chris said Saturday during a break in rookie minicamp. “Not many people get this opportunity. I have to take it all in, and I know I have to do whatever it takes. It’s all on me.”
Chris, a 6-foot-4, 300-pounder, was named an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media as a senior after being the only Spartan offensive lineman to start in every game. Despite the fact that he can lean on his brother for advice when it comes to sticking with the Patriots, he knows that it’s on his shoulders at this point.
“I think that every single person, when you make it to this level, everyone is good. You have to think about what you can do to make yourself better and make the team better, and that’s what I’m looking at right now,” he said.
“You have to work hard at it. It’s not even just Nick,” he added. “You see every single guy here. There’s a lot of free agents on this team who have played, and I’m truly blessed to be part of a program that has free agents and has played a lot and it just shows you have to work hard and do whatever it takes.”
Chris said he drew some interest from some other teams, but he would have signed with New England even if his brother wasn’t here.
“The Patriots are one of the teams, they have a very well respected program. It’s one of those teams I grew up really wanting to play here. It’s one of the teams that I liked a lot. I’m just excited for this opportunity I’m going to have,” he said. “It was one of those things where I would be blessed enough to go anywhere. The Patriots called me and gave me that opportunity.”