Patriots

James White among NFL players balking at prospect of game-day travel

James White among NFL players balking at prospect of game-day travel

NFL teams are considering some bold measures as they attempt to play the 2020 season amid a global pandemic.

One of those measures isn't sitting well with players, though.

Several teams plan to fly to and from road games the day of the game rather than stay in hotels the night before, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported Tuesday.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

That strategy makes sense from a health perspective, as teams staying overnight in different cities increases the risk of spreading COVID-19. But it's not ideal for players, who don't seem thrilled about the idea of waking up early on a game day to sit on a plane for a few hours before kickoff.

Just ask New England Patriots running back James White, who responded to Florio's report with a fitting emoji:

Denver Broncos running back (and White's former Wisconsin teammate) Melvin Gordon seemed to share White's sentiments:

White and Gordon weren't alone, either. A host of NFL stars bristled at Florio's report and insisted they want no part of game-day travel.

The Patriots' road slate includes games in Los Angeles (twice), Seattle, Kansas City, Houston and Miami, all of which are at least a three-hour flight away. That'd be a very long day for players, not to mention the possibility of weather potentially delaying flights to and from games.

Unless the U.S. can magically contain the coronavirus over the next two months, though, teams and players likely will have to make these kinds of sacrifices if they want the 2020 season to go on as scheduled. That means players will have to decide between very long game days or no game days at all.

Todd McShay's new 2020 NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking Alabama LB

Todd McShay's new 2020 NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking Alabama LB

Do we know what the state of college and NFL football will be in the spring of 2021? No. Has that stopped the experts from prognosticating? Also no.

Major conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 already have pushed their 2020 football seasons to next spring, and it's still unclear whether college football will even happen. It's also unclear if the 2020 NFL season will happen, as a host of players already have opted out due to concerns about COVID-19.

Despite all that, the 2021 NFL mock drafts are already starting to trickle in. And if you're looking for signs of normalcy, here's one: ESPN's Todd McShay has the New England Patriots taking an Alabama defender.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Here's McShay's explanation for the Patriots taking Crimson Tide inside linebacker Dylan Moses at No. 26 overall:

If there were a QB who made sense at this stage in the draft, the Patriots would probably look there. At this point, there isn't one, as my Nos. 4 and 5 quarterbacks -- Texas A&M's Kellen Mond and Iowa State's Brock Purdy -- are well down the board. But there is a linebacker (two, actually, with LSU's Jabril Cox also available) here who would go a long way toward providing the middle of the defense a QB of its own.

Moses missed last season with a knee injury, but when he's healthy, he is a complete player and game-changer. He brings athleticism, speed, physicality and leadership qualities. Dont'a Hightower, who already opted out of 2020, will be a free agent after the 2021 season, and the 'backer corps already lost Jamie Collins Sr. and Elandon Roberts to the open market.  

Moses won a national championship with Alabama as a freshman in 2017 and was a second-team All-American in 2018 but missed the entire 2019 season due to a knee injury.

He announced his intention to return to Tuscaloosa in 2020 but will be draft-eligible in 2021, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a long history of drafting good friend Nick Saban's players, from Hightower (2012) to cornerback Cyrus Jones (2016) to running back Damien Harris (2019) to outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings earlier this year.

New England certainly has a need at the position, too: Collins, Roberts and Kyle Van Noy left in free agency this offseason, while Hightower will hit free agency in 2021.

NFL Rumors: Sony Michel may not be ready for Patriots' season opener

NFL Rumors: Sony Michel may not be ready for Patriots' season opener

The New England Patriots are incredibly deep at running back. So, why are they reportedly bringing in Lamar Miller?

Part of that answer may have to do with Sony Michel, who had foot surgery in May and began training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, it's "no sure thing" Michel will be healthy for the Patriots' 2020 season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

"There’s such an uncertain nature in the recovery from any foot surgery that it can be a challenge to predict a defined timeline," Howe wrote. "But right now, Michel is not on the doorstep."

That's obviously concerning news for the third-year running back, who also missed three games as a rookie due to a knee injury. Michel played in all 16 games last season, though, and led New England with 912 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns on 247 carries.

The Patriots have until Labor Day weekend to activate Michel from the PUP list; if they don't, he'll miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

It appears Miller is their Michel insurance policy as an early-down, workhorse running back to complement James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris after Brandon Bolden opted out of the 2020 season.

Considering Michel's current status, they may have to use that "insurance policy" right off the bat.