Belichick touches on Cardona availability


Belichick touches on Cardona availability

FOXBORO -- Following the Patriots second (and final) minicamp practice coach Bill Belichick was asked about long-snapper Joe Cardona's availability to the team this season, and his response provided a little clarification on the subject.


Cardona was present for each of the OTA sessions that were open to the media as well as the last two days of practice during mandatory minicamp, but as a graduate of the Naval Academy, Cardona is required to serve five years in the Navy as an officer, and he will likely need to receive military clearance to pursue his NFL career full-time.


"He’s been here for pretty much everything that we’ve done," Belichick said. "Ultimately, that’s not really our decision. But the Navy has been very cooperative in terms of his responsibilities. But he’s in the Navy. He’s on duty. It’s not like he’s getting out of anything. He’s active. We’ve been able to work the schedules out, so we’ll see how it goes."

After graduating, Cardona was reportedly assigned to the Naval Academy Preparatory School, which has allowed him to practice with the Patriots over the last few weeks. Soon after being drafted by New England in the fifth round, Cardona told reporters that he hoped to be assigned to his old stomping grounds.


"One thing that I was going to try to do was go back to the Naval Academy Prep School, which is in Newport, RI," Cardona said back in May. "I went there for a year and kind of fell in love with the New England area, and hopefully I can go up there and help out with our football program for a little bit up there. After that, like I said, my orders haven’t been official yet, haven’t come in yet, so just waiting on that as well."

Cardona, the only long-snapper on the Patriots roster, was the final fifth-round pick from this year's draft class to sign an NFL deal. The deal was announced on June 4.


The Patriots have been through this uncertainty before, where a player of theirs owes a commitment to the Navy. Most recently it was fullback Eric Kettani, who was signed by the Patriots in 2009 and placed on the Military/Reserve list. In 2011, Kettani was signed to the team's practice squad but was recalled by the Navy to serve. He was later allowed to pursue his football career again and has played on practice squads for the Redskins, Chiefs and Jaguars.


After choosing Cardona with the No. 166 overall pick, Belichick was asked how to reconcile the selection of Cardona as what he called a "need pick" with the fact that Cardona may not be available to the team during the regular season.

Belichick explained that the team would cross that bridge when it got to it.


"Well, [if] the player got hurt . . . that’s football," he said at the time. "We’ll see how it goes. If he can’t play this year, then he plays next year. If he can’t play that year, then he’ll play the year after. He’s a good player. [We] felt like he was the best long snapper in the draft. So, we have his rights. Whenever he plays hopefully he’ll be able to contribute and play well. Whenever that is, we’ll see. I don’t know."


Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

It's simple, really. If the Patriots are going to avoid staying home again after the Wild Card Round of the playoffs next season and seasons to come, they've got to get younger.

And to get younger, they've got to be more successful in the draft.

In the latest edition of Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, Curran and Phil Perry focus on the last time New England was sent home this early in the playoffs a decade ago and if there can be lessons learned from that roster reboot in 2010. 

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The biggest issue confronting the Pats this time around is their age, which averages 31.6 years old (a 42-year-old quarterback skews that a little, of course). By comparison, the Super Bowl 54 opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs (26.8) and the San Francisco 49ers (26.6) are considerably younger.

Click here to listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: 

The age factor is why, as Perry pointed out, "the pressure is on for them to hit not only in this 2020 draft, where they do have 12 picks, they have no second-round pick, but 12 shots at the dartboard. Last year, they had 10 [picks] and nine guys are still with the team.

"It's clear they have told themselves, 'We need to get younger. We need to start hitting here if we want to sustain this success.' The draft is the lifeblood of any team."

The 2018 team and its victory in the Super Bowl over the Rams last February worked to hide some of those flaws from recent low-yield draft classes.

"They had a great quarterback when they needed him. They had a Hall of Fame quarterback when they needed him. The defense looked tremendous we know how that story played out," Perry said. 

What kind of draft yield are we talking about to fuel the next generation of Patriots' success?

Curran goes on to rattle off the names from 2008-2012 drafts (Mayo, Slater, Edelman, Vollmer, Butler, Chung, Gronkowski, McCourty) that fueled the second half of the Pats dynasty.

"I have upwards of 30 names from 2008 to 2012 who were contributing players to the Patriots. I'm not even talking a little contributing, but massive contributing...," Curran said.  

There's also a discussion of how the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady will impact the 2020 draft strategy. Listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.


That 617 Life Podcast: Patriots' ties to a Pats-less Super Bowl

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That 617 Life Podcast: Patriots' ties to a Pats-less Super Bowl

The Patriots may have been missing from the NFL's Championship Sunday, but that didn't stop them from being mentioned and having their former personnel play prominent roles in the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

Whether it was former Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel coaching the Tennessee Titans against the Kansas City Chiefs or former New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo helping the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers to reach Super Bowl 54, the Patriots continue to be a talked-about team. 

On the latest edition of the "That 617 Life" podcast, Leroy Irvin, Shanda Foster and Cerrone Battle discussed how the Pats still loomed over the games on Sunday.

"You can not say anything bad about the Patriots because we are always constantly producing talent," Foster said. "I think this is the perfect testament to Bill Belichick."

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Battle said it speaks to the dominance of the Patriots the past two decades that connections to their former players and staff are now all over the league.

"That's what happens when you win," Battle said. "When you win, everybody wants a piece. They want your waterboy. Look at the new head coach of the Giants [Joe Judge, the former Patriots special teams and receivers coach]?... When you're good for 20 years eventually you're going to have your roots all over the league. After years and years of success, I'm not shocked by it."

Irvin and Foster said instead of lamenting a rare NFL Final Four without New England, Pats fans should be grateful.

"I wish Patriot Nation would grow up," Irvin said. "By that I mean I'm tired of seeing on social media people just crying and complaining, 'Oh it's boring without the Patriots.' We've had almost two decades of excellence. We're not there. Get over it."

Said Foster, "I was grateful more than anything. Filled with gratitude. We may never see a run like this again."

In his "Hot Takes and Cold Cuts" segment, Battle says those crowning the Super Bowl 54 opponents as the next dynasties might want to pump the brakes a little. 

"First thing I heard [after the games] is, 'Kansas City they're gonna be around for years and San Francisco they're gonna be around for a long time. They're gonna be contenders forever,' " Battle said. "That was the story all day. 'What is anybody gonna do about these teams next year?' What are they gonna do next year? Not even worry about them. Why? Because this is the Not For Long League. The NFL. Every year, the teams that were hot the year before are never guaranteed to be hot the year after that. Unless you're the Patriots."

The crew also gives their reactions to the new Aaron Hernandez Netflix documentary. It's all in this week's "That 617 Life" podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast network. Click here to listen and subscribe.