Belichick explains why he asks linemen to wear knee braces


Belichick explains why he asks linemen to wear knee braces

When Patriots rookie offensive lineman Tre' Jackson went down with a left knee injury in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's game against the Dolphins, it looked serious.

Jackson writhed on the ground in pain after Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon collided with the outside of Jackson's leg while Jackson blocked defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Jackson grabbed his helmet and pulled at his face mask, appearing to be in a significant amount of discomfort as team medical personnel attended to him on the field. Eventually Jackson walked off to the Patriots sidelines under his own power with an unstrapped knee brace clinging loosely to his leg. 

That knee brace, something that the Patriots have long asked their linemen to wear under coach Bill Belichick, may have saved Jackson from a season-ending injury. Belichick was asked about the team's knee-brace policy during a conference call on Monday.

"The braces that the players wear now are a little different than the braces that we first started wearing back in the 80s when I was first with the Giants and then Cleveland," Belichick said. "They were kind of like a steel hinge that was usually taped or wrapped to the side of the knee, as opposed to the brace, the bigger DonJoy braces that most guys wear now.

"I can remember on multiple occasions, seeing the brace, like, literally bent in half. Not maybe in half, but bent significantly so that it's taken a blow. The brace bends and the player had a minor injury or a low MCL sprain or something like that. And the braces were strong. Had they not taken that blow and protected the player, you'd have to imagine the injuries would be a lot worse. I think that was a pretty vivid image that I had. We did that with the players as well, too. When that happened in a meeting, you'd just hold the brace up and say, you know,  'It's fortunate that so and so was wearing this protective brace. Looks like he might miss a week or two, or maybe he isn't going to miss any time at all, but I think we can all picture a more severe injury if he didn't have this protective equipment on.' That type of thing.

"The braces now, at least the way they're constructed. They're not really conducive to that type of a visual example. But you still see plays on film where guys get hit in a way that it looks like it's going to be a pretty bad injury and then it isn't as bad as it looks. I'm sure part of that is the protective equipment."

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wears a brace on his left knee, something he started doing during training camp of the 2013 season after he took a hit to his left leg during a joint practice with the Buccaneers. Brady's first inclination was to continue playing without the brace, but he acquiesced to owner Robert Kraft's wishes and has been wearing one ever since. On the play when Jackson was injured, Brady actually took an awkward low hit to his left leg from Vernon as well. 

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said during a conference call on Monday that he thinks the braces have helped keep Patriots players on the field. 

"I think the knee braces are great," he said. "Look, the most important thing for us is the health of the players. If there's something that we can do to help protect them in a game that obviously has enough injuries as it is, then I think it's worthwhile. I don't think it's a big hassle to do that in either practice or games. And I think it's a very good precaution to take.

"I don't know that we'll ever know how many injuries we've prevented, but hopefully you're putting guys in a position where they can withstand a fall or an awkward pile or something and then come back and continue to play. I would suggest and certainly recommend it. I'm all for it because I certainly think it helps our guys stay healthy."

The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft picks taken with 32nd selection

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The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft picks taken with 32nd selection

The Patriots will have a long wait on Thursday night before they are on the clock for their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

It's a position they've found themselves in before. This will be the fourth time in the last 15 years that they've owned the 32nd overall pick. (It would have been the fifth time, but DeflateGate cost them a first-round pick in 2017.)

Will Bill Belichick be able to find some top-tier talent? Tom E. Curran looked at past drafts, and found that some teams have managed to strike gold with pick number 32, though it's far from a sure bet.

Check out Tom's list of the Top 15 players taken at No. 32 overall.>>>>

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NFL draft rumors: Patriots have shown a 'ton of interest' in QB Will Grier

NFL draft rumors: Patriots have shown a 'ton of interest' in QB Will Grier

The New England Patriots currently are slated to close out the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with pick No. 32, and after passing on Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in a similar spot in last year's draft, could they use this season's first-rounder to select Tom Brady's eventual successor?

Grier is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft and could be selected anywhere from the mid-to-late first round to the early portion of the second round. What level of interest do the Patriots have in Grier with Thursday night's first round fast approaching? Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst reported an update Monday:

The New England Patriots have shown a ton of interest in Grier and could draft him as the first round closes out. The New York Giants also like Grier, and he could be their fallback plan if they don’t take a signal caller in Round 1. The Carolina Panthers also have an infatuation with Grier and will consider him in the second round.

Would the Patriots really take Grier in Round 1, or is this a smokescreen designed to trip up opposing front offices?

The Patriots do need a quarterback of the future. Contrary to what we've seen from Tom Brady in recent seasons, the 41-year-old quarterback will, at some point, start to break down and eventually retire. There aren't any great candidates already on the roster to play the role of Brady's successor, so drafting a QB this weekend makes a lot of sense for New England.

Grier played really well for the Mountaineers last season. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,864 yards with 34 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He reportedly visited with the Patriots earlier this month, as did Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock could be available on Day 2 of the draft as well.

Click here for our final 2019 Patriots mock draft roundup>>>

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