Patriots

Pass's FB thoughts relevant to current roster battle

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Pass's FB thoughts relevant to current roster battle

Former Patriots fullback Patrick Pass spoke with media at the Central Maine Youth Football Clinic this past weekend.

His words about his role on New England's 2000-2006 rosters were interesting -- in consideration of the current team.

"It's more of a dinosaur position now," he said of fullback. "You go back in the day, we were watching guys like Tom Rathman (who played fullback for the 49ers) and (former Charger) Lorenzo Neal. Those were bruisers then. Now you've got these hybrid tight end-fullbacks. Guys that are a lot bigger than a normal fullback, but can still run and catch the ball out of the backfield."

See the intrigue? The Patriots currently have three dinosaurs in their employ: Spencer Larsen, Tony Fiammetta, and Eric Kettani.

Though Bill Belichick said during mini-camp there's a chance the team could carry a traditional fullback, he added that the trio will probably engage in "crossover" competition (in relation to linebackers, tight ends, running backs, the kicking game) during training camp.

Larsen -- famed for starting an NFL game both at linebacker and fullback -- is certainly versatile. Fiammetta helped open up Dallas' running game last season (when healthy) as lead blocker. And Kettani? Belichick calls the Naval Academy graduate an "unknown quantity."

But for all three, that old Patriots mantra of, "The more you can do," is key. Just like when Pass was playing.

"I didn't really have a defined position," he said. "I did it all, receiver, running back, fullback, whatever I needed to do on the field, that's what I was going for."

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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