Patriots

Edelman in camp, working toward . . . four games off

Edelman in camp, working toward . . . four games off

FOXBORO -- When the Patriots open training camp Thursday, Julian Edelman is expected to take the field with the rest of his teammates, no doubt wearing that familiar yellow Kent State Golden Flashes jersey under Patriot colors, just as he has since day one with the organization. That’s part of Edelman’s routine, just like spending extra time after practices with Tom Brady. One assumes it will look like this every day this summer, right up until a week before the season opener. That’s when Edelman’s 4-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy kicks in, meaning the 32-year old wideout must go cold turkey, banned from the stadium and all team activities. 

Wednesday, for the first time since the suspension was announced, we had the opportunity to speak with Bill Belichick about the news. It was brief.

“Julian is a very hard-working player,” said Belichick. “We’re all disappointed. It is what it is. He’s moved on. We’ve moved on.”

Indeed, Edelman has, deciding not to follow in Tom Brady’s footsteps by suing the league, instead accepting his penalty after his appeal was denied. Those around the former seventh-round pick say he wants to focus his energy and attention on football, especially seeing the toll it took on his buddy Brady when he went after the NFL for his 2016 Deflategate suspension.

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In that summer, there was a fair amount of debate about how Belichick used practices and the preseason to get Brady as many reps as possible while trying to balance that with the the task of getting Jimmy Garoppolo ready to start the season. Now Belichick and his coaching staff will have to work that balancing act again with Edelman. 

“Just take what we have now and do the best we can with it,” he said. “He’s been here the last couple of days. He’s got a good attitude, a good work ethic. He’ll make the most of the opportunities that he has.”

Edelman has been a regular participant in the team’s offseason program as he continues to work his way back into form following the ACL tear he suffered during the 2017 preseason. That cost him the entire season. That streak will continue to start 2018 with the pint-sized slot wizard to miss games against Houston, at Jacksonville, at Detroit and finally versus Miami. It also will take a chunk out of Edelman’s future earnings. He will cough up $470,588.20 in base salary.

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Fans overwhelmingly prefer Patriots go Stidham-Hoyer in 2020

Fans overwhelmingly prefer Patriots go Stidham-Hoyer in 2020

Why in God’s name do I keep reading and hearing “Cam Newton” and “Patriots” in the same sentence?  

Or Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton or any other backsliding veteran on the free-agent quarterback market?

Are people insane? Were they slumbering for the past 19 years? Or just a little forgetful?

The lead mule pulling their wagon for the past 20 years was a sixth-round pick. The only guy that filled in for the aforementioned sixth-rounder over an extended period was a seventh-round pick. The guy who was supposed to succeed the sixth-rounder was a second-rounder from a Div. II school.

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Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo were all overlooked, undervalued and brought into the Patriots laboratory where they turned into either good, really good or legendary quarterbacks. The Patriots brew their own quarterbacks, thank you very much.

And with a one-year hitch in salary cap jail hanging over them, they are not going to be in the market for someone looking to make a seven or eight-figure salary who just flunked out of a lesser team’s program.

The Patriots make their own brew, thank you very much.

Bill Belichick has the helmeted heads of so many first-rounders and first-overall picks mounted on his wall that suggesting he’d be in the market for a live one makes no sense.

During Tom Brady’s long goodbye, I was told by team sources the Patriots weren’t going to be chasing a veteran “name.” And their actions since have signaled that.

They are going with their fairly-promising fourth-rounder, Jarrett Stidham, and they have Brian Hoyer (undrafted free agent who came into the league with the Patriots in 2009) to take the reins if the Coronavirus-marred offseason means Stidham’s not ready.

And, thanks to our Quarantine Question of the Day posed Monday morning on Twitter, it’s clear most Patriots fans think that’s the right approach.

Of the 5,148 votes cast in six hours, 64.6 percent of respondents chose “Ride with Stidham/Hoyer” as the preferred Patriots approach for 2020.

Meanwhile, 12.2 percent felt that bringing in a rookie to compete with Stidham was the move to make. I suggested either Tua Tagovailoa or Jordan Love in the poll. Others suggested different options to battle Stidham as Brady’s successor.

I jokingly included an option to trade with the Bucs for Brady. A significant portion (17.4 percent) of the populace thought that was a capital idea (even though Brady has a no-trade clause).

There was a suggestion I didn’t hate -- grabbing Niners backup Nick Mullens to come in and push Stidham.

The least popular option was recycling someone like Newton. That option drew just 5.8 percent of the vote.

And one respondent had a hard time making his selection at all.

It happens. We’ll be back later in the week with more QUARANTINE QUESTIONS OF THE DAY!!!!

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham 'has a lot of great qualities,' says Matthew Slater

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham 'has a lot of great qualities,' says Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater is the latest New England Patriots player to give a positive review of young quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and after not getting many regular season reps as a rookie, he's now the leading candidate to replace Tom Brady after the six-time Super Bowl champion left to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

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Taking over for the greatest quarterback in NFL history will be an enormous challenge for Stidham (or whoever wins the starting job for Week 1), but Slater is optimistic about the 23-year-old's talent and mental makeup.

"He's a great kid, and I think that’s the thing that is going to matter the most with any player – who is he as a man, who is he as a person, what’s he motivated by? He’s just a great kid to be around," Slater said Monday during a media conference call. "He brings a lot of positive energy, he’s always got a smile on his face, and you can tell he’s very appreciative of the opportunity that he had last year and the opportunity that he’ll have going forward. So, certainly he has a lot of great qualities that can make him a good player at the quarterback position. Coach Belichick and his staff wouldn’t have brought him in here if they didn’t think he had those qualities.

"I think at that position, almost more than any other, it’s going to be the intangibles that get a guy to maybe a successful position. So, I think he’s got some good traits. I think he’s going to be a good player. His attack, his approach is going to have to be one day at a time, just like any of us. I think it’s important, and I’ll certainly encourage him, just to be himself – be himself, continue to be the person that he is, continue to be the teammate that he is, and we’ll just take this thing one day at a time."

Slater isn't the only Patriots player who's given a positive review of Stidham of late. Veteran safety Devin McCourty praised Stidham's poise and maturity (among other qualities) during a recent episode of his "Double Coverage" podcast and on a media conference call last week.

Stidham showed flashes of his exciting potential during last year's training camp and preseason, and now he should get the opportunity to prove he's capable of being a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. Even though this will be a brand new and difficult challenge for him, he does have some good experience to help him. Stidham played against SEC competition for two years as Auburn's starting quarterback before spending all of 2019 learning from Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Patriots fans will love Slater's mindset on the team's 2020 goals