Patriots

CAMP BATTLE: Christian Sam vs. The Bubble

CAMP BATTLE: Christian Sam vs. The Bubble

Phil did his first roster projection of training camp over the weekend. ('Preciate ya, Phil!). When I got to the linebackers, I noticed Christian Sam wasn't on the final 53. Now, I trust my guy but I gotta be his extra set of eyes, too, his safety net.

So I texted, "No Christian Sam, right?"

The phrasing showed I didn't doubt him, just confirming. Important.

Phil said I got it right. No Christian Sam.

There were a few other eye-openers on the outside looking in with this projection (and it's a "projection" from now on, not a "prediction for the end of camp" . . .  stuff changes) among them, Brandon Bolden, Vincent Valentine, Geneo Grissom, Cole Crosston, Ryan Lewis, Eric Decker and Eddie Pleasant.

Personally, I think Phil should do a slide of the "Last Seven Out" but he probably thinks I should do my own slide show if I have such great ideas.

Anyway, back to Sam. The kid is a fifth-round linebacker from Arizona State who's landed with a team that needs linebackers. He's 6-foot-2, 240 pounds and, while he's not a freak in terms of timed speed (4.75 40-yard dash) he did come billed as a possible three-down linebacker with coverage skills. The Patriots need that. Badly. They don't do well covering at the linebacker level unless it's Patrick Chung on a tight end.

But despite that purported skill, Sam being close to the bubble shows just how competitive the linebacker position is going to be.

Which brings us now to the reason for this post -- highlighting the camp battle between Sam and The Bubble. As Phil sees it, Nicholas Grigsby, Marquis Flowers and Brandon King are core special teamers who have an inside track because of that. Rookie Ja'Whaun Bentley, who had an impressive night in the middle of the defense in the preseason opener, is also in a good spot. Dont'a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy are locks. Elandon Roberts less so, but still on. If he's going to remain a Patriot, Sam is going to have to boot one of those core special teamers or Roberts. Or, if he gets cut, maybe he'll go unclaimed and be signed back to the practice squad. We'll be watching Sam closely this week to see if he's able to make some progress against the Eagles in game two of the preseason.

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Chris Hogan sees similarities between Tom Brady and Cam newton

Chris Hogan sees similarities between Tom Brady and Cam newton

Chris Hogan wasn't with the Patriots for long, but in three seasons with the franchise, he experienced about as much as you possibly could for that short a time frame. He played in three consecutive Super Bowls and won two while catching passes from the legendary Tom Brady. 

Hogan signed a one-year deal with the Panthers this offseason after he said the Patriots moved on from him, though there are no hard feelings. Now he's working with the talented but inconsistent Cam Newton in Carolina, and has already noticed a key similarity between his new quarterback and Brady, as he told ESPN's David Newton

That competitive nature, it’s there. When it comes time to strap on the pads and play football, their focus is on one goal and that’s winning football games.

Cam wants to win. You can tell that right away from talking to him and being around him.

Newton won the MVP in 2016 and led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, but lost to Von Miller and that brutal Broncos defense that featured Malik Jackson, Chris Harris Jr. and DeMarcus Ware just to name a few key contributors.

You have to wonder what would have happened if the Patriots hadn't lost to Denver in that year's AFC Championship game. Super Bowl 50 is the only Super Bowl the Patriots haven't participated in over the last five years. 

Hogan had enough time with Brady to notice what made him great, so if he sees that same competitive fire in Newton, then that has to be a good sign for Panthers fans. We already know Newton has the ability to turn a conference on its head, so there's a possibility we see him and Brady square off in February this coming season You never know. 

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WATCH: NFL Films special on Julian Edelman and his dad will make your Fathers Day

WATCH: NFL Films special on Julian Edelman and his dad will make your Fathers Day

It's Fathers Day, and for most of us who love sports, we've mostly developed that interest through our dad's, and Patriots receiver Julian Edelman is no different. 

NFL Films posted a great special on Edelman and his dad Frank and the journey they each went on for the former Kent State quarterback to become the second leading receiver in NFL Playoff history and a three-time Super Bowl champion. 

"I discovered football through my father," Julian said. "My brother played, he was seven years older than me, and my father was coaching him, so I was the kid in diapers running around the practice field and I’ve had a love for it ever since."

The video shows some of Edelman's highlights as a youth football star, donning No. 21 because he thought he was Deion Sanders. However, his opportunities were limited throughout his amateur career due to his size. 

"The thing about Jules is he was really little," Frank said. "He used to come in my room crying in the middle of the night saying, ‘Daddy when am I gonna grow, when am I gonna grow.’ And I said son, don’t worry. 

"He’s fearless, and always had a chip on his shoulder."

As a three-year starting quarterback at Kent State, Edelman threw for 4,997 yards, 30 touchdowns and 31 interceptions to go along with 2,483 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. The only interest he drew as a quarterback was in the Canadien Football League, while the Patriots drafted him in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft to be a receiver. 

"I said, ‘Jules you just got picked up by British Columbia,’ and he goes, ‘I ain’t going I’m gonna be a receiver in the NFL," Frank said. 

Edelman only caught one pass for 11 yards in college, so he and his dad worked seven days a week for Edelman to get up to speed on being a successful receiver. His dad's coaching style was similar enough to Edelman's new coach that he called his dad, "Baby Belichick."

From catching punts with one eye covered and a hand behind his back to using running routes on tennis courts, Edelman's methods seemed to work for him. 

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