Patriots

UPDATE: Pats hopeful Vollmer's injury isn't serious

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UPDATE: Pats hopeful Vollmer's injury isn't serious

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Patriots never-ending run of injuries struck a key member of their offensive line Sunday, as Sebastian Vollmer was carted off the field after having his lower left leg rolled over during a run play on the team's first offensive series.

However, it may be not as serious as it first appeared. According to multiple reports, the Patriots are hoping the injury is a sprain and that Vollmer will be able to return for the playoffs. They'll know more after an MRI on Monday.

The injury occurred on New England's first third-down attempt of the game when Brady handed the ball off to fullback Joey Iosefa at the Patriots 39-yard line. Iosefa was stopped quickly but spun forward to get back to the line of scrimmage. When Iosefa went down, Vollmer's left leg bore the weight of part of the pile and his upper body was bent back awkwardly.

Vollmer one of the team's most indispensable players. Given the Pats' lack of depth at offensive tackle, the argument can be made that he's the team's third most important player, after Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

 

Next Pats Podcast: How Dalton Keene can transform Patriots offense

Next Pats Podcast: How Dalton Keene can transform Patriots offense

In the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots addressed their need at the tight end position by selecting Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene with back-to-back picks.

Keene, a Virginia Tech product, is a particularly intriguing rookie due to his versatility. Anyone who knows Bill Belichick knows that the Patriots head coach loves a player who can act a swiss army knife and can be effective no matter where you put them on the field, and Keene was exactly that during his college years.

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Greg Cornelson, Keene's offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, believes Belichick and the Patriots will be pleased with everything the young tight end brings to the table as a player. On the latest Next Pats Podcast with Phil Perry, Cornelson explained how Keene excelled at multiple roles on offense and can translate that experience to the NFL.

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In high school he was a quarterback, I mean he did a little bit of everything so we knew there was some versatility when he came. But I think his natural spot when he showed up was kind of that hybrid guy for us between tight end and kind of back. And so, playing him in the backfield quite a bit in the run game, blocking, kicking out edges, getting on the perimeter, those were the ways we kind of used him initially. Certainly the prototypical guy that you can split out that can line up at slot ... great hands, great concentration, doesn't hardly drop anything ...

The swiss army knife. He can do it all and has done it all for us. It didn't surprise me when I saw the team that drafted him, just the reputation that the Patriots have for really placing such a huge value on tough, smart football players.

Obviously, Keene's primary responsibility to begin his NFL career will be to develop as a tight end. But Perry brings up the interesting scenario of Keene teaming up with Danny Vitale at the fullback position.

I look at the San Francisco 49ers and their usage of [Kyle] Juszczyk, an athletic fullback, and then I look at the two athletic the Patriots have at fullback themselves now in Vitale and Keene, and I wonder if we won't see something similar in New England in 2020. I would say of Vitale and Keene, both very different types of players from James Develin. James Develin was a sledgehammer ... I wouldn't look at Vitale or Keene as someone who's necessarily going to come right away and fill that same type of role ...  I think that these two guys that they have now, they're both a little bit lighter ... I would say both are more explosive athletes and both are probably more dynamic in terms of what they can provide a passing game as receivers themselves.

Also discussed on the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast are how Keene got the nickname "Rambo," how having an athletic fullback could help quarterback Jarrett Stidham, and much more.

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What will new QB coach Jedd Fisch bring to Patriots offense in 2020?

What will new QB coach Jedd Fisch bring to Patriots offense in 2020?

Editor’s note: In the coming weeks our Patriots insiders will be speaking with beat writers from around the NFL to get an outside view on what the future holds for the Patriots. Today’s team: The Los Angeles Rams with Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

One under-the-radar personnel move made by the New England Patriots after the 2019 season was the hiring of Jedd Fisch as quarterbacks coach in January.

Fisch spent 2018 and 2019 with the Los Angeles Rams as an assistant offensive coordinator. His experience as an offensive coach dates back to 2004, when he was an offensive assistant with the Baltimore Ravens.

Since then, Fisch has spent time with numerous teams including the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he served as an offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. Before joining the Rams, Fisch was an offensive coach at Michigan (2015-16) and UCLA (2017), where he also was named an interim head coach.

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On the latest edition of Patriots Opposing Views, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated shed some light on what Fisch will bring to the Patriots in 2020.

"Very much a quarterbacks guy," Breer said about Fisch. "I'm sure [Bill] Belichick's connection to him at least to some degree came through Mike Shanahan. Mike Shanahan helped welcome Jedd Fisch into the league, and he's clearly been a part of the development of Jared Goff over the last couple of years, went to a Super Bowl with Jared Goff at the quarterback position. He was a part of that room.

"Everywhere he's been, he's been locked in on the quarterbacks. My feeling is [the Patriots] brought him in for very Jarrett Stidham-specific reasons. His experience, again, is working with young quarterbacks. He was a college coach both at UCLA and at Michigan. And so, I think part of the reason you bring him in is to give Jarrett Stidham one more resource to work with."

Considering Stidham's inexperience at the pro level, it makes sense to give the 2019 fourth-round draft pick every resource possible to help expedite his development. While Fisch may not be a household name, his role is tremendously important to Stidham and the Patriots' success in 2020.

Stidham will have plenty of coaches in his corner as he prepares to take over for Tom Brady. Along with Fisch, Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and veteran QB Brian Hoyer each will play a major part in getting Stidham ready to lead the Patriots offense in Week 1.