McCaffrey's versatility presents another challenge to Patriots


McCaffrey's versatility presents another challenge to Patriots

FOXBORO -- Cam Newton will be a focal point for the Patriots defense, especially in light of what another mobile quarterback, Deshaun Watson, just did to this team on Sunday. But to hear Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia on conference calls Tuesday, Christian McCaffrey, is also someone worthy of some serious attention.

The rookie running back is part of the new breed of third-down backs, who do a hell of a lot more than play on third down. McCaffrey lines up all over the damn place - as an I-back, single back or split back. Maybe he’s in the slot. Or outside the numbers. Oh, and don’t forget the return game. Wherever there’s a need, the Panthers aren’t afraid to give the kid a try.


“[Christian] McCaffrey is definitely someone that has I think has expanded their offense in general in what Coach [Mike] Shula has been able to do on the offensive side of the ball,” said Patricia, "utilizing him in really kind of a multiple role position, both in the backfield, out of the backfield, some motion, some different things they’ve aligned him in. Wildcat would be another one that he’s had a role in too.”

Said Belichick: “Call him whatever you want, but it changes from play to play through the versatility. Even though it’s the same number and the same jersey, where he’s located and what he can do from those locations is different defensively. We have to be aware of where he is and what the possibilities are from those spots."

They better be. The Panthers are invested in McCaffrey. He comes from good stock. His father, Ed, was an NFL receiver for more than a decade. The son is more highly regarded. McCaffrey was the eighth overall pick in the first round and thus far, he’s been getting a fair share of touches - 25 carries, 18 receptions and 9 punt returns. He doesn’t have a touchdown yet but it’ll happen.

“He’s a very talented player,” said Belichick. “He’s got speed, quickness, good hands. He’s a smart player that’s versatile and they can do a lot of different things with him.”

“He’s just a very elusive player,” said Patricia. “[He’s] got great burst, acceleration, good vision, really good space player, can catch the ball extremely well. [He] definitely is a guy that can turn big plays out of nothing and just really an overall huge part of dangerousness that their offense now has with him out there on the field.”

The challenge for the Pats will be to make sure they don’t get their linebackers isolated on McCaffrey. None are what you’d call coverage backers, and as you saw this past weekend, they can be gashed for big plays. The Texans' D’Onta Foreman beat Kyle Van Noy along the sidelines and turned what should have been a short gain into a big one. McCaffrey is quicker, faster and more dynamic in space than Foreman, and dying to break out. The way the Pats have been playing defensively, the fear is it will come Sunday at Gillette. 


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.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

1:20 - Despite throwing a depleted roster out there, the Celtics were able to get back in the win column vs. the Magic. Michael Holley and Tommy Heinsohn break down the win.

6:17 - Finally, the Patriots have done something! On Friday night it was reported that New England signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn as well as running back Jeremy Hill. Tom Curran, Alex Giaimo and Ben Volin discuss the impact these additions will have on the team.

11:05 - While the Celtics were able to pull out the win on Friday, the team did announce that Marcus Smart is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. A. Sherrod Blakely expresses his optimism on Smart’s return for the playoffs.