Patriots

After six stops in less than a year, Lucien working hard to stick with Pats

After six stops in less than a year, Lucien working hard to stick with Pats

FOXBORO -- Thursday's preseason opener wasn't a showcase for the Patriots wide receivers by any stretch. There were moments of great competency but, with the velocity-challenged Brian Hoyer taking most of the snaps, it wasn't an aerial circus.

But the wideout who made the most of his opportunities against Washington was Devin Lucien. He had a team-high 71 yards on four catches (six targets).

Another catch came on a little in-cut and required a well-executed hands catch on a ball that was away from his body.

Also impressive was the block he threw on running back Ralph Webb's first touchdown when he got into a Washington defender and walked him through the end zone, sealing the edge for Webb.

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"We were taught to make sure we leave one," Lucien explained, referring to the process of selecting a defender to block and leaving the other for the back to beat 1-on-1. "I ended up getting the linebacker. The linebacker, I tried to push him into the other dude that I was supposed to get and it ended up being a touchdown for Ralph. When you've got people like Julian (Edelman) and them blocking like they do all the time, you just kind of do your best like they do."

It was a helluva block and the kind of play that will earn Lucien notice as much as the pre-halftime catches.

Getting noticed has not been an issue for Lucien since he was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round in 2016. Getting a toehold has been an issue.

After being cut at the end of camp as a rookie, the Patriots were able to re-sign Lucien and have him on the practice squad that year. But an injury at the end of camp last year caused the Patriots to put him on IR. They then released him from IR after an injury settlement. And Lucien went on an odyssey from New England to Indianapolis to Kansas City to Houston to Tampa Bay. He finished 2017 on the Bucs roster but was released in May. The Patriots picked him up again.

He's made six stops in less than a year. He still has no regular-season NFL statistics.

"We're glad to get him back this year," Belichick said after Thursday's game. "He's made some good plays in practice and he made some good plays tonight. He gained some experience in several organizations and I'm sure those places were a good learning experience for him."

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Lucien acknowledged that things went pretty OK against Washington.

"I felt like it was a good way to start," he said. "A good way to start the preseason. I know there is a lot to work on both as a group and individually. I'm just trying to do that and do my best during the preseason and the regular season if I'm blessed enough to be around."

Asked if he'd be able to take a satisfied breath after his performance, Lucien indicated he wouldn't.

"I'm actually going to be looking at the Philadelphia Eagles (the Patriots Game 2 opponent)," he said. "I'll see what I did wrong but after that, I'm working on Philly. You can't wait, especially here. You can't focus on the past at all. It's on to the present and the future."

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Where does Patriots' Sony Michel rank among NFL RB1s entering 2019?

Where does Patriots' Sony Michel rank among NFL RB1s entering 2019?

Sony Michel enjoyed a tremendous rookie season for the New England Patriots and played a pivotal role in the team's run to a sixth Super Bowl championship.

The 24-year-old running back ran for 931 yards and six touchdowns in 13 regular season games, but his real value, however, was shown in the playoffs. Michel tallied 336 yards and a rookie postseason record six touchdowns in three games, culminating with 94 yards and the Patriots' only touchdown in their 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

After a stellar first season as a pro, where does Michel rank among the league's RB1s entering the 2019 season? Former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew ranked Michel at No. 11 in his rankings on NFL.com. Here's what MJD had to say about the Georgia product:

Michel showed he can be a bell cow during the postseason, with 71 carries for 336 yards and a rookie-record six rushing TDs in three games. He underwent a minor knee procedure in June, but Michel should still be the effective rusher he was in the postseason starting in September. Plus, I think Patriots OC Josh McDaniels will be more creative with the running game now that Rob Gronkowski is no longer on the team.

Jones-Drew put New York Giants rookie sensation Saquon Barkley atop his rankings, with Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints, Le'Veon Bell of the New York Jets, Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys and Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers rounding out the top five, in that order.

The Patriots offense was carried by its ground game in the last season's playoffs, and we could see more of the same this coming season after New England selected talented Alabama running back Damien Harris in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Pats now have Michel, Harris, Rex Burkhead and James White leading a really impressive group of running backs that should make the team's offense a well-balanced unit next season.

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NFL odds: Three quarterbacks favored over Tom Brady for 2019 MVP

NFL odds: Three quarterbacks favored over Tom Brady for 2019 MVP

Tom Brady opens as one of the favorites to win the 2019 NFL MVP award, but Vegas has three quarterbacks favored over the Patriots QB.

Chiefs quarterback and 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes unsurprisingly is listed as the favorite heading into the new season at +350. Also ahead of Brady are Eagles QB Carson Wentz (+550) and Colts signal-caller Andrew Luck (+600).

Brady is tied with Chargers QB Philip Rivers at +700 and followed by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who opens at +800.

(Odds via Caesars Palace)

Considering the uncertainty at the wide receiver position for the Patriots, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Brady isn't favored to be 2019's MVP. But at +700, there's certainly plenty of value there if you're looking to put some money down before the season.

Brady has won the NFL MVP award three times before in his illustrious career (2007, 2010, 2017).

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