Patriots

Bill Belichick once again calls Rams punter Johnny Hekker a weapon

Bill Belichick once again calls Rams punter Johnny Hekker a weapon

The first three members of the Los Angeles Rams Bill Belichick mentioned in his media availability Thursday did not include Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, or even Aaron Donald.

They were defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, kicker Greg Zuerlein and four-time Pro Bowler Johnny Hekker, a punter Belichick has always been captivated by.

"Yeah, again, he's a weapon on the field," Belichick said. "He can change field position and he’s a good situational punter and obviously he’s very athletic. You have to respect his ability to handle the ball. I think the main thing when you sent your punt return team out there is you want to make sure you get the ball at the end of the play. That’s not always that difficult but with these guys it’s pretty challenging. As I said, they’re all weapons. Zuerlein’s a weapon, Hekker’s a weapon. They do a good job in the return game." 

This isn't new for Belichick. In November of 2016, the last time the Rams and Patriots played each other, Belichick couldn't stop using the word "weapon" to describe Hekker

Hekker is a tremendous weapon. I mean, this guy is as good a player as I've ever seen at that position. He's a tremendous weapon in his ability to punt the ball, punt it inside the 20, directonal kick it, involved in fakes, can throw, can run, very athletic . . . He's dangerous. Absolutely. He's like a quarterback. He can throw. He can run. You gotta defend him like you defend one of those guys.

He most certainly can throw. Hekker most recently completed a pass on a fake punt to give the Rams a crucial first down in the NFC Championship game. Los Angeles is notorious for its creative special teams plays, so it's possible we see the Rams try something in the Super Bowl. 

Belichick loves punters, Hekker especially. It makes you wonder how much he would give up in a trade for the 28-year-old punter. 

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Devin McCourty avoids fine after personal foul penalty for hit against Dolphins

Devin McCourty avoids fine after personal foul penalty for hit against Dolphins

Saturday is the day the NFL usually passes out fines for hits from the previous Sunday. Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree, for example, was hit with a $21,056 bill for his helmet-to-helmet shot to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, though he wasn't penalized on the play. 

Devin McCourty, however, can rest easy. As can his daughter London, 2, and son Brayden 1.

He wasn't fined for his hit on Dolphins receiver Allen Hurns, though he did draw a personal foul flag for lowering the head to initiate contact. 

Initially, the veteran Patriots safety wasn't happy with the call, but then said he told the officials "it was actually a pretty good call once I saw the replay."

McCourty expressed concern a fine might be coming last Sunday in his postgame press conference. "Hopefully the NFL doesn’t fine me. I don’t think it was fine-worthy. I’ve got too many kids for that,” he said with a smile.

McCourty has only drawn one fine in his career. In December 2010, he was fined $10,000 after a hit on a defenseless receiver, Packers tight end Andrew Quarless, drew an unnecessary roughness penalty.  

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Patriots promote FB Jakob Johnson off practice squad to replace injured James Develin vs Jets

Patriots promote FB Jakob Johnson off practice squad to replace injured James Develin vs Jets

The Patriots promoted fullback Jakob Johnson off their practice squad Saturday to replace the injured James Develin in Week 3 against the Jets. 

Develin missed all three of the Patriots' practices this week with a neck injury and was listed out on Friday. 

Johnson, an undrafted rookie out of the University of Tennessee and former German Football league player, will dress for his first game in the NFL. 

Johnson was originally recruited as a linebacker out of high school, but he made the transition to tight end while with the Volunteers. The Patriots turned him into a fullback, so the 24-year-old has shown a fair share of versatility over the course of his career. 

The Patriots usually find creative ways to utilize Develin in the passing game while sometimes giving him opportunities to punch in touchdowns on the goal line. There's a small chance Johnson gets that chance on Sunday, but who knows since the game will most likely be over by halftime. 

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