Harmon on Brady: 'Seeing him deal with this is frustrating'


Harmon on Brady: 'Seeing him deal with this is frustrating'

LOWELL, Mass. -- Had Duron Harmon not gone into professional football following his playing days at Rutgers, he told a group of campers at Sports International Football Camp on Wednesday, he would have pursued a career in law. He was a labor studies major in college, and he was interested in becoming a labor attorney if he couldn't find a home in the NFL. 

His football path panned out, of course, and now he's headed into his fourth year as a member of the Patriots safety group. Still, like many in New England, there's one very high-profile ongoing labor case that he's paying attention to. 

When asked for his reaction to the Second Circuit's decision not to grant Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a rehearing, upholding Brady's four-game suspension, Harmon expressed a measure of disbelief and disappointment. 

"It's just crazy that it all came to this," Harmon said. "It's disappointing . . . I don't want to speak for Tom at all, but seeing him deal with this is frustrating. But I mean, I know Tom's a competitor. He's a leader. He's gonna get through this and he's gonna overcome it all at the end of the day."

Harmon said he has not been a day-to-day, hour-to-hour consumer of Deflategate coverage. But he has followed it closely enough to know that Brady could take his case to the Supreme Court. He also understands that backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could be given an opportunity to start the first four games of the season. 

Regardless of how Brady's case plays out from here, Harmon explained, he'll have faith in whoever is behind center Week 1.

"We just gotta be able to go with whoever's going to be available to us," he said. "If it's Tom, then great. If it's Jimmy, then great as well. We feel like they're both . . . Tom, he's one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, if not the best. And we feel like Jimmy's a good quarterback, too. Whoever's under center, we feel comfortable going to war with them."

Harmon has seen Garoppolo progress from a second-round rookie out of Eastern Illinois into a third-year pro, and though he has attempted just 31 career passes (including four last season), Garoppolo has done enough behind the scenes to earn the faith of his teammates.

"I can tell you that he's working hard each and every day," Harmon said. "He goes out there, you can tell he cares about football. He's getting better so, like I said, I'm excited. If the opportunity is for him to start, man, I'm excited for him."

If Brady is forced to miss games -- he still has the option to ask for a stay that would put his suspension on hold -- it won't solely be up to Garoppolo to shoulder the load. The rest of the Patriots offense, their special teams units, and their defense, Harmon insisted, will have to do their part as well. 

"I'm really confient," Harmon said. "Not just in [Garoppolo], but in this team in general. We feel like we have a good group of players. I feel we just gotta continue to work hard going into training camp. I mean I really love the defense that I play for. And with Coach [Matt] Patricia leading us and with Dant'a [Hightower] and [Devin McCourty] and Jamie [Collins]. I love playing with those guys, man.

"We got a real talented group. I feel like we could all just speak up a little bit more, [pick up] a little bit of slack. I feel like we'll be all right."

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

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Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."