|Resetting Patriots depth chart: Safety||04.30.15 at 12:35 am ET|
With the majority of free agency completed and the draft looming, we’re going to take a look at the Patriots depth chart by position, and try and assess the level of need going forward. We’ve broken down each position on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, we’ve taken a look at the defensive line and the linebackers. Now, it’s safety:
Current depth chart: (2014 regular-season stats via coaches film review and Pro Football Reference): Devin McCourty (72 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble), Patrick Chung (89 tackles, 1 INT, 7 passes defensed), Tavon Wilson (20 tackles, 2 passes defensed), Duron Harmon (12 tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defensed), Nate Ebner. (4 tackles).
Lost in free agency: None.
Gained in the offseason: None.
Other changes: The only major event at the safety position to this point in the offseason has been McCourty signing a five-year, $47.5 million contract with $28.5 million guaranteed. With the departure of Darrelle Revis, McCourty will have more in his shoulders, at least as it relates to the secondary. And with the loss of Vince Wilfork, McCourty will be asked to provide more from a leadership standpoint as well.
Is this a major area of need going into the draft? Probably not, at least through the first two days. But the Patriots appear to be thin at the free safety spot, with a sizable dropoff after McCourty. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see New England try and add an extra body at the position between now and the start of training camp for depth purposes.
|Patriots’ White House trip signifies turning page on 2014, shifting focus towards 2015||04.23.15 at 9:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Thursday afternoon the 2014 Patriots will get together for one final time, as they will be honored by President Obama at the White House.
There have been numerous appearances over the last two-plus months that have come with being Super Bowl champions, but after Thursday the Patriots will moving on.
“I think from a team aspect standpoint, it really puts everything in the past,” safety Devin McCourty said. “I think it will helps focus on 2015 now and everything we want to do for 2015 is still out there, but we also understand we have to put the work in now.”
Many, if not all, of the departed free agents — including Darrelle Revis are scheduled to be in attendance, but after Thursday they will no longer be teammates, they will be division rivals.
“I think this kind of closes the book on 2014 and as I said, our focus needs to shift, because the other teams in this league, their focus has already shifted and they’re hungry to do what we were able to do last year,” special teams Matthew Slater said.
Even though it signifies the end of the 2014 season, the team is definitely looking forward to the experience, which for many will be the first time they will visit the White House, 2014 was their first Super Bowl win.
“I think that’s a tremendous experience, to be able to go to the White House and meet the President,” said Slater. “I know we’re all excited about it, and we’re going to enjoy it. I think we should. We’re excited.”
As the focus shifts towards the 2015 and a new season, the team is coming off a Super Bowl winning season, so they obviously did a lot of things right over the course of the year. Part of defending a championship is staying hungry and trying to get better everyday, but at the same time also realizing which things worked well last season and trying to keep them going.
“That’s a very good question. I think we’ll find out. I think it’s important, as you do every offseason, to take time, reflect on the season, look at what you did, good or bad, whether you ended up winning the Super Bowl or not,” Slater said. “It’s important to do that, reflect on it, and then at some point you have to close the door. I think there are some things that can carry over as far as what we did well, but I think we have to understand this is a different football team with different players, and it’s a new season, so we have to focus on the here and now.”
The Patriots will begin their OTAs on May 26 with mandatory mini camp a few weeks later June 16-18.
|Tom Brady’s dedication forces rest of team to ‘take it up a notch and do more’||04.21.15 at 5:30 pm ET|
Safety Devin McCourty has been a member of the team for five full seasons, so he sees how serious Brady takes his training. He said sometimes this can be taken for granted.
“For us, a lot of us take for granted because that’s all we ever see from him,” McCourty said. “I think especially newer guys that come in, free agents, you see the guy Tom Brady in here all the time — here early. Here before everyone got back and even now he’s always one of the first ones into the building. I think it forces you to raise your level of expectations just for yourself when you watch him and see everything he does. You say, ‘Wow, that must be why he’s great.’ It forces you to take it up a notch and do more.”
Brady drew some attention this offseason when he jumped off a cliff in Costa Rica. McCourty said he would never do that, but Brady can do whatever he wants.
“I thought that was cool,” he said. Tom has what four Super Bowl‘s now? You have to live on the edge.”
“He’s having fun,” he added. “He’s a great swimmer I guess. I wouldn’t have jumped, I can’t swim.”
With the Patriots winning the Super Bowl over two and a half months ago, the team is already excited to get back to work and prepare to defend their crown.
“I think the Super Bowl has kind of been over for awhile now and I think like all athletes after awhile you’re excited to get back into it and what the next year holds and what we can do as a team,” said McCourty. “I think everyone is more excited about that.”
|Patriots secondary will have younger players stepping up in place of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner||at 5:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots’ secondary will look a lot different this coming season, as opposed to last year’s Super Bowl winning squad.
Arguably their two best cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner departed via free agency, to the Jets and Saints respectively. Without adding any major players to their secondary in free agency, it would seem the team will go into 2015 with some of the younger players stepping up and taking on more responsibility.
Defensive captain Devin McCourty is already moving on from having Revis roaming the secondary with him.
“Who? We’re past that,” McCourty said jokingly. “No, we’re still friends.”
With the two starting corners departing, some of the younger up-and-coming players on the defense will now need to step up in Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and possibly Alfonzo Dennard.
McCourty said he believes in those guys, as he’s seen the hard work they’ve been putting in.
“I’m excited for all those guys,” he said. “They’ve put in a lot of work. I was in Arizona with Logan for a little while and since I met him when he was freshman in college he’s always one of the guys putting in extra work trying to get better. I think Malcolm is a guy, he came in last year really not knowing anything to expect and now making a great play in the Super Bowl, I think it’s exciting for him. For all those guys, when you’re young in the NFL you just want to try and learn as much as you can year in and year out. I don’t think they should worry what everyone will try and ask them, just try and get better.”
Although they may not be the biggest of names — the organization did sign a few veterans to potentially help out the secondary. Chimd Chekwa, Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain are all cornerbacks who have joined the team this offseason.
Being the most experienced member in the secondary, as well as a captain, McCourty knows it’s his job to get those players acclimated to playing in New England.
|Matthew Slater on Nate Solder’s testicular cancer: ‘The way he handled that last year was really admirable’||at 3:14 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The general population learned Tuesday morning of Nate Solder being diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer prior to last season. But, for some of his teammates they knew last year, and were blown away with how he handled it, especially during a Super Bowl winning season.
“I was aware of it, and you know, I have so much respect for Nate Solder and the type of man that he is, the faith in God that he has and the way he carries himself and I can’t think of anyone who’s handled a situation like that better than he did,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “I don’t want to get too much in detail, I’ll let him speak on that, but Nate Solder is a great man and the way he handled that last year was really admirable, with so much courage and a positive attitude, a sense of peace, it was really something to behold.”
Devin McCourty, another veteran and team captain, said he knew, but said there were some players on the team who didn’t.
“I don’t know if everyone knew,” he said. “I think some guys knew, but I think that was more for him a personal process. It wasn’t something as a team that everyone talked about, it was more for him. I think as a teammate you’re just blown away by everything he was able to do — getting over that, playing at a high level.
“To me it was highly impressive. Nate is a great guy and he does so many things — on the field, off the field and I think that is another battle that he passed and now he’s going to do great things with it spreading awareness.”
The report Tuesday morning said Solder goes to Mass General every three months for check ups and everything is going according to plan.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
FOXBORO — It was just two years ago that Aaron Hernandez shared the same locker room and was a teammate of many of the current players on the Patriots roster.
They too had emotions when the former tight end was convicted of murder last week.
Special teams captain Matthew Slater said he’s praying for everyone involved, including Hernandez.
“I’ll say this: that’s a very tragic, sad situation, for so many different people, for so many different reasons,” Slater said. “You know, I just feel like we all should keep everybody involved and affected by that situation in our prayers and our thoughts, that’s really all I’ll say on that. My heart is broken on so many different levels for that, and I just pray for everyone that’s been affected by it.”
Like Slater, McCourty is thinking of both sides — Hernandez’s family, as well as Odin Lloyd’s.
“It was just saddening,” he said. “I think you’re talking about two lives that are gone. I think it’s like everyone else, you look at that whole thing it’s just a saddening event and everything that went on.”
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots DBs finish spring workouts in Arizona||04.17.15 at 7:55 am ET|
Over the last couple of years, a handful of Patriots’ defensive backs have made the trek out to Arizona to work with Will Sullivan, who has collaborated on training schedules for several NFL players over the course of the offseason, including Darrelle Revis.
Sullivan’s work with several members of the New England secondary has been well-documented in stories here and here, and he texted over a photo on Thursday night of many of the Patriots who have been with him in at his facility in Arizona. It’s a group that includes cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safeties Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon. (Cornerback Logan Ryan had worked with Sullivan earlier in the offseason.) With the Patriots set to begin their offseason workouts at Gillette next week, the group said farewell to Sullivan (for now) on Thursday night with the group shot.