Michel determined not to fumble away his chance with Patriots

Michel determined not to fumble away his chance with Patriots

FOXBORO -- Why the Patriots haven’t issued number appropriate jerseys for their rookie class has been the subject of some speculation. Perhaps it was because one took to Twitter to poll his followers on what number would look best on him. Or maybe it’s just Bill Belichick’s way of making the rooks earn their job. Whatever the rationale, it remains odd to see quarterback Danny Etling don 58, or first-round pick Sony Michel sport 51.

“This is my real number,” said Michel when asked today, adding, “This is what they gave me. This is what I’m going to wear.”

Michel doesn’t have to worry about being given a duplicate number as some other players get. He’s got a spot on the team, and the plan is for him to contribute right away. He arrived in Foxboro with the reputation of being an explosive player, maybe the second-most explosive back in his draft class behind fellow first-rounder Saquon Barkley. But he also carried the tag of being a little loose when it came to the football. He had 12 career fumbles at the University of Georgia and has put the ball on the ground here in Foxboro both in the spring and again during Saturday’s training camp practice. 

“You have to keep pushing forward," Michel said when I asked if he was angry with himself. "I got a whole practice to go. That was yesterday, I just have to keep moving forward.”

Asked if that was a point that’s been stressed to him by the coaching staff, Michel added, “Ball security is important in football, period. No matter what position you play. The game of football, ball security is very important.”


Michel has shown flashes during his brief time with the Patriots, powering in from the 3 yard line yesterday during goal line drills, and then turning a screen pass into a big gainer today (although the defense was exactly going all out). The crowd didn’t seem to care about the overall defensive effort, erupting in applause.

“It was pretty cool,” recalled Michel of the reaction, “but the most impressive thing was the team effort. Everybody executing their job and actually giving the play an ability to happen.”

In order to earn consistent playing time in a crowded backfield, the rookie will also have to handle blitz pickup and overall pass protection. Many scouts felt as though he was already pro-ready in that department and while we’ve yet to see him have to do it during training camp, Michel knows how important that task is. 

“It’s another aspect of the game that you gotta be willing to do for the team,” he said. “If you’re willing to do your job, you’re willing to do whatever it is- whether it pass protect, run the ball, catch the ball, whatever it is.”

Michel already knows how to say the right things, but the key to succeeding under Bill Belichick is to make sure you do the right things. If he hasn’t already figured that out, he just may if he puts the ball on the ground again. Kevin Faulk, Stevan Ridley and even Chris Hogan - just to name a few - learned the hard way with a seat on the sidelines. It would be hard to envision anything different happening with the 23-year old so it’d be best for Michel to make sure he’s not separated from the ball again.


Patriots' Stephon Gilmore disagrees with Rex Ryan's critique of Amari Cooper

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore disagrees with Rex Ryan's critique of Amari Cooper

Former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan made waves Friday for his harsh critique of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper.

On ESPN's Get Up, Ryan blasted the Cowboys for signing Cooper to a five-year, $100 million contract this offseason. It's one thing to be critical, but Ryan even went as far as to call Cooper a "turd," which probably isn't the most politically-correct way to evaluate a player.

“I wouldn’t have paid this guy. To me, this is the biggest disappearing act in the National Football League,” Ryan said. “He doesn’t show up on the road. He doesn’t show up against — when the competition’s good, when he’s against the top corners, that guy disappears.

“This is who he is. Doesn’t love football. Hell with it, he stops his routes, he does all this. I wouldn’t have paid this turd. No way in hell. No way in hell would I have paid this guy.”

So yeah, pretty harsh.

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New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who played for Ryan on the Bills from 2015-16, caught wind of his former coach's comments and made it clear he disagrees.

That's some high praise from the two-time first-team All-Pro. Especially after Gilmore locked Cooper down back in November by holding him without a catch.

Both Ryan and Gilmore are entitled to their opinions, but calling Cooper a "turd" was a bit over the line. After all, Cooper is coming off a 2019 season in which he tallied 79 receptions while setting career-highs in both receiving yards (1,189) and touchdowns (eight). Not exactly turd-like.

Anyway, Gilmore definitely has Ryan putting his foot in his mouth after those controversial remarks.

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NFL Rumors: Number of teams interested in Brady 'bigger than people realize'

NFL Rumors: Number of teams interested in Brady 'bigger than people realize'

On the surface, it didn't seem like Tom Brady had a lot of free-agent suitors. After announcing that he wouldn't be returning to the New England Patriots, the two teams he was connected to were the Los Angeles Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But evidently, there were more than just a few teams that showed interest in Brady this offseason.

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In a recent appearance on WEEI's OMF show, ESPN's NFL insider Adam Schefter confirmed that many teams had conversations about Brady this offseason.

"There were a lot of teams that went through the conversation of if and when Tom Brady does hit the market, do we make a move," Schefter said. "There were teams out there that had that conversation that you’d be surprised to hear. It wasn’t just a few teams."

But just how many teams were interested in Brady? Schefter couldn't quite say, but he did say "the number was bigger than people realize."

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Throughout the lead-up to free agency, Brady was connected to a number of other teams in rumors, including the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, and even the San Francisco 49ers. So, it stands to reason that some of those teams, and potentially others, at least discussed the possibility of bringing in Brady.

Of course, all of these teams chose different paths at quarterback. The Colts elected to go with Philip Rivers on a one-year deal for a very specific reason. The Titans handed Ryan Tannehill a four-year extension. The Raiders elected to stick with Derek Carr but added Marcus Mariota to compete with him. And the 49ers, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, are continuing to trust Brady's former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, as their starting QB.

Ultimately, the number of teams interested in Brady never mattered much. There only needed to be one to get him to leave New England. That's exactly what happened and now, Brady will be suiting up for the Bucs.

Meanwhile, the Patriots will begin the post-Brady era in 2020. Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer are the only two QBs on the roster, and Stidham is favored to be the starter at the moment.