Tracking the Patriots history of pursuing opponents from joint practices

Tracking the Patriots history of pursuing opponents from joint practices

The Patriots announced on Monday that they'll hold joint practices with the Bears before their Aug. 18 preseason game. Is it only a matter of time before one of Chicago's players ends up in the Patriots locker room?

There's a trend here. As the years have gone by, the Patriots have benefited from joint training camp sessions not only because of how the workouts have allowed the team to jell together before the regular season. The practices have also provided the Patriots with an opportunity to do some advanced scouting.

From every joint practice in which the Patriots have participated since 2010, at least one opposing player has ended up -- at some point -- in a Patriots uniform.

Last year, after spending time at The Greenbrier resort with the Saints, the Patriots came away impressed by defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. At the time, Patriots director of pro scouting Bob Quinn (now Lions general manager) saw an opportunity for a trade and got the ball rolling on a deal that brought Hicks to Foxboro in exchange for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui.

Linebacker Ramon Humber also must have made a good impression last summer. A member of the Saints from 2010-15, he's participated against the Patriots in joint practices three separate times, and he was the first free agent signed by the Patriots this offseason.

Here's a quick rundown of the other Patriots opponents in joint practices who were eventually acquired by New England later in their careers . . .

2014 vs. Redskins: DL Frank Kearse, signed as a free agent in 2016; CB EJ Biggers, signed as a free agent in 2016

2014 vs. Eagles: CB Bradley Fletcher, signed as a free agent in 2015

2013 vs. Buccaneers: LB Jonathan Casillas, acquired in a trade in 2014; TE Tim Wright, acquired in a trade in 2014

2013 vs. Eagles: S Patrick Chung, signed as a free agent in 2014; WR Damaris Johnson, claimed on waivers from Houston in 2015; CB Bradley Fletcher, signed as a free agent in 2015

2012 vs. Saints: RB Travaris Cadet, signed as a free agent in 2015; LB Jonathan Casillas, acquired in a trade in 2014; LB Ramon Humber, signed as a free agent in 2016;  DL Akiem Hicks, acquired in a trade in 2015

2012 vs. Buccaneers: RB LeGarrette Blount, acquired in a trade in 2013; CB Aqib Talib, acquired in a trade in 2012; CB EJ Biggers, signed as a free agent in 2016; LB Dekoda Watson, signed as a free agent in 2015

2011: No joint sessions following NFL lockout

2010 vs. Saints: LB Ramon Humber, signed as a free agent in 2016; DE Will Smith, signed as a free agent in 2014

2010 vs. Falcons: WR Michael Jenkins, signed as a free agent in 2013

Of course there's no guarantee the Patriots will snag one or more Bears players after this summer's joint practices. (Patriots coach Bill Belichick already has three in tight end Martellus Bennett, linebacker Shea McClellin and defensive back Brock Vereen.) But it will be worth paying attention on Aug. 15 and 16 when John Fox's team visits Gillette Stadium. There just may be a future Patriot among the group. 

Patriots stay busy, reportedly sign Patrick Chung to extension

Patriots stay busy, reportedly sign Patrick Chung to extension

The Patriots have been busy in the last 48 hours. They made a trade to bring in a second McCourty. They signed a defensive end, a running back and an offensive lineman. And now they're extending one of their own. 

According to NFL Media, the Patriots are signing safety Patrick Chung to a short-term contract extension. Chung was headed into the final year of his contract and was set to earn $2 million in base salary. It's the third extension Chung has signed with New England in a little more than three years. 

Chung, who turns 31 in August, is arguably Bill Belichick's most versatile defender. He is able to play a traditional strong safety role, covering tight ends and backs and playing in run support. He's also been used at the "star" spot to take on opposing slot receivers, and he'll occasionally rush the passer. He's also still a key contributor in the kicking game. 

"The guy is a really good football player," Belichick said of Chung earlier in January. "He’s one of the best players in the league, one of the best players on our team. He does a lot of things very well and has done them that way for a long time. We’re lucky we have him. He’s an outstanding player in all the things that he does. We put a lot on him, and he always comes through."

Chung's second go-round with the Patriots has breathed new life into his career. 

Drafted in the second round in 2009 - with a pick the Patriots picked up by trading Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs - Chung was used in more of a traditional deep safety role. That gig didn't exactly maximize his skill set, and in 2013 he signed with the Eagles to play under his college coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly. 

The Eagles released Chung after one season, and the Patriots re-signed him with a different role in mind. A strong tackler who wasn't afraid to mix it up at the linebacker level, Chung started to be deployed more often in the box. He readily admitted, he welcomed the change to be a little closer to the action. 

In 2015, Chung signed an extension to tack on three years to what was initially a one-year contract. In 2016, he signed another one-year extension. 

"We took the guy in the second round," Belichick said last season. "But it just - for a combination of reasons, I'd say a big part of it [being] mistakes that I personally made - it didn’t work out the way that we hoped it would. But we got it right the second time. I think we've been able to utilize him. I wish we had been able to do that when we initially got him, but it didn’t work out that way. Like I said, I think we finally got it right."


Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL.

The 33-year-old took to Instagram to make it official.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long. But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love. First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible. He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way. All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school. She has been a rock through all the ups and downs. Sis, Willy, Mae Mae, and Hopie your daddy is going to be home a ton more and I can’t wait! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always supporting me and showing me that God is first, then everything else will fall into place. Ben, Joel, and Anna thanks for preparing me for the NFL in our backyard games growing up. The dreaded in-laws Steve and Suzie for always being there for me. Chris Gittings (agent) you’re the best and thankful your my brother/uncle! Thank you Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens! Thanks to all my head coaches (Bob Zohner, Brad Smith, Bill O’Boyle, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, Mike McCoy, and John Harbaugh) who believed in me! To my rbs coaches (coach skiles, coach reiners, Jimmy Raye, A Lynn, Ivan, Ollie, Ridge, and Thomas) thanks for putting up with me. Thanks to all my teammates from high school till now. Without you guys I never would’ve become who I was as a player. To all my olinemen, you guys deserve the credit for anything that I received credit for. I thank you for helping make my career. To all the trainers, team docs, strength coaches, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, body gurus thanks for making sure I was on the field. To all the people who made my life easier at the facility (ops, pr, equipment staff, cafe workers, custodians) thanks and your work doesn’t go unnoticed. And how could i forget all my fans?! You’re the best and have always felt the love and support! I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but know that I’m thankful for everything everyone has done on my journey.

A post shared by Danny Woodhead (@teamwoody39) on

Thursday, it was reported the Patriots reached out to Woodhead for a possible reunion. 

The last two seasons have been challenging for him, as he dealt with season-ending injuries in both 2016 with the Chargers and 2017 with the Ravens.

Woodhead finishes his career with 2,238 yards rushing, 2,698 yards receiving, 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.