Could McClellin help Patriots defense cope with Ninkovich retirement?


Could McClellin help Patriots defense cope with Ninkovich retirement?


FOXBORO -- The Patriots are only five days into training camp so the fact that they haven't settled on a replacement for Rob Ninkovich should come as no surprise. 

It's not like they don't have options. 

Kony Ealy would seem to be the biggest name on the depth chart behind Trey Flowers, but he doesn't have quite the coverage experience to make him a seamless fit at left end. Kyle Van Noy has some experience as a versatile piece who can play on the line and off. Geneo Grissom has been the top left end thus far in training camp. 

But what about Shea McClellin? At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, he's not all that different from Ninkovich in terms of his height and weight. He has had experience at multiple positions over the course of his career in New England and Chicago before that. Might he be the next best thing with Ninkovich now out of the mix? 

"He was a guy I looked up to before I even got here," McClellin said on Tuesday. "In college I watched him on film. At the Bears I watched him on film. I always thought we had a similar skill set so I'd watch him, see what I could learn from him. 

"To come in here last year and be here and him mentor me . . . I looked up to him so much my whole life. It was just a great opportunity for me, and I can't thank him enough for what he's done for me."

Before Tuesday's practice, Belichick gave an explanation of what types of skills he's looking for from his team's next left end -- the spot Ninkovich held down since 2010. 

"I think it really becomes more of a coverage discussion," Belichick said. "How much and what type of coverage responsibilities would you put them in? You know, Chandler Jones versus Ninkovich or Trey Flowers versus Ninkovich. 

"There’s some differences in their coverage responsibilities. Especially most teams are, for us, defensively left-handed formation teams, so not that they couldn’t do it the other way, but more times than not, there’s a high percentage of situations that come up on the left side that are different from the right side, especially with a right-handed quarterback, which most of them are."

McClellin's variable skill set could make him a fit on that side of the field, where quarterbacks may be more prone to dumping off short passes -- or taking off to run it themselves. And if the Patriots feel as though they'd like to go in a different direction there -- say, Dont'a Hightower when he's healthy? -- maybe McClellin can give the Patriots a dependable off-the-ball linebacker. 

"He had a lot of experience before he got here of playing on the line in college, and for a year in Chicago, then he played primarily off the line," Belichick said. "We did both with him last year as a primary position and then we have different calls on different defensive fronts and alignments where he could be in either spot from one play to the next, even though the same people are in the game. 

"So, he’s worked very hard to play with those different techniques and have versatility for us playing on the end of the line, playing off the line, playing in pass coverage, rushing the passer, running games with the defensive linemen and has a number of roles in the kicking game for us. He’s smart, he’s athletic, he runs well, he’s got good size, he’s got experience, so he’s really a very valuable and versatile guy for us. He can do a lot of different things."

Including, perhaps, helping the Patriots deal with Ninkovich's departure.  

"They both played on the line in college. Shea’s probably played a little more off the line than Rob has, but Rob’s played off the line, too," Belichick said. "They’ve both played a lot in the kicking game. Yeah, I think there’s definitely some similarities in their skillsets."

Tom Brady led NFL in royalties last season with 'staggering' number

Tom Brady led NFL in royalties last season with 'staggering' number

Tom Brady is far from the NFL's highest-paid quarterback. But he has other means to make a decent living.

The New England Patriots quarterback took home $2.35 million in "group licensing" endorsements last season, defined by the NFL Players' Association as earnings from the sale of "jerseys, video games and trading cards" with his likeness, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic.

Brady's $2.35 million in earnings led all NFL players, a remarkable feat considering he's the NFL's oldest position player and has played for one team his entire career.

"(It's) just truly staggering, because he’s been in the same market, selling the same jersey for 17 years,” Russ Spielman, president of sports marketing at GSE Worldwide, told Kaplan. “You see, Peyton Manning moves markets when he did (from Indianapolis to Denver), and you understand when his jersey goes to the top of the sales. But for Tom, I mean, how many more Patriot fans are there that don’t own his jersey at this point, but it keeps going. It’s awesome to watch."

Brady actually earned less in endorsements (which don't include his solo sponsorships with companies like Under Armour) than the $2.5 million he earned the previous season. It's testament to the 41-year-old's enduring popularity -- and the Patriots' success -- over his 19-year career that fans are still coming out in droves to buy the same No. 12 jersey he wore as a rookie in 2000.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott ($2 million) and former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown ($1.5 million) rounded out the top three, but Brady remains the de facto "face of the NFL" as he approaches two full decades in the league.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Mind-blowing stat about Josh McCown and the McCourty twins

File photo

Mind-blowing stat about Josh McCown and the McCourty twins

Josh McCown called it a career on Monday. The long-time backup and spot starter had a 17-year career in the NFL and players from across the league took time to praise him following his announcement.

Two of those players were the McCourty twins. Devin and Jason McCourty congratulated McCown on Twitter, and it prompted a pretty funny response from McCown which also saw him drop a mind-blowing stat as well.

This comment is comical, but the real question after seeing this is, do the stats back this up? Is McCown actually the only player to ever throw interceptions to the McCourty twins in consecutive weeks?

Well, apparently, he is.

According to Pats Pulpit's Oliver Thomas, McCown was one of just seven quarterbacks to be picked by both of the McCourty twins, and he is the only one who had it happen by each in consecutive weeks.

While Thomas' data didn't include the 2018 season, no quarterback was added to the list last year. The twins each had one pick last year and while both picks came against the Buffalo Bills, they came against two different quarterbacks (Devin off Derek Anderson in Week 8, Jason off Josh Allen in Week 16).

McCown did have 82 career interceptions, so it's not necessarily a surprise that both of the McCourtys have one. But the fact that it happened by each brother in consecutive weeks is crazy.

Rudolph: "No real opportunity" with the Patriots>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.