Patriots

Next Pats Podcast: How Dalton Keene can transform Patriots' offense

Next Pats Podcast: How Dalton Keene can transform Patriots' offense

In the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots addressed their need at the tight end position by selecting Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene with back-to-back picks.

Keene, a Virginia Tech product, is a particularly intriguing rookie due to his versatility. Anyone who knows Bill Belichick knows the Patriots head coach loves a player who can act as a Swiss army knife and be effective no matter where you put them on the field, and Keene was exactly that during his college years.

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Brad Cornelsen, Keene's offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, believes Belichick and the Patriots will be pleased with everything the young tight end brings to the table as a player. On the latest Next Pats Podcast with Phil Perry, Cornelson explained how Keene excelled at multiple roles on offense and can translate that experience to the NFL.

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In high school he was a quarterback, I mean he did a little bit of everything so we knew there was some versatility when he came. But I think his natural spot when he showed up was kind of that hybrid guy for us between tight end and kind of back. And so, playing him in the backfield quite a bit in the run game, blocking, kicking out edges, getting on the perimeter, those were the ways we kind of used him initially. Certainly the prototypical guy that you can split out that can line up at slot ... great hands, great concentration, doesn't hardly drop anything ...

The Swiss army knife. He can do it all and has done it all for us. It didn't surprise me when I saw the team that drafted him, just the reputation that the Patriots have for really placing such a huge value on tough, smart football players.

Obviously, Keene's primary responsibility to begin his NFL career will be to develop as a tight end. But Perry brings up the interesting scenario of Keene teaming up with Danny Vitale at the fullback position.

I look at the San Francisco 49ers and their usage of [Kyle] Juszczyk, an athletic fullback, and then I look at the two athletic the Patriots have at fullback themselves now in Vitale and Keene, and I wonder if we won't see something similar in New England in 2020. I would say of Vitale and Keene, both very different types of players from James Develin. James Develin was a sledgehammer ... I wouldn't look at Vitale or Keene as someone who's necessarily going to come right away and fill that same type of role ...  I think that these two guys that they have now, they're both a little bit lighter ... I would say both are more explosive athletes and both are probably more dynamic in terms of what they can provide a passing game as receivers themselves.

Also discussed on the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast are how Keene got the nickname "Rambo," how having an athletic fullback could help quarterback Jarrett Stidham, and much more.

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Jason, Devin McCourty put pressure on NFL over uncertain 2020 season

Jason, Devin McCourty put pressure on NFL over uncertain 2020 season

Like many players, Devin and Jason McCourty have lots of questions. And the NFL hasn't given them sufficient answers.

The twin brothers and New England Patriots defensive backs wrote a guest column for Sports Illustrated's "The MMQB" in which they voiced their concerns about the 2020 NFL season amid the coronavirus pandemic and urged the league to address these concerns before training camps begin later this month.

"So many questions with virtually no answers, all three weeks removed from a potential start to training camp," the McCourtys wrote.

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While other professional sports leagues hashed out detailed return-to-play plans prior to restarting their seasons, the NFL has yet to share details of what the 2020 season may look like, all while keeping the same timeline, save for reportedly eliminating two preseason games.

The start of the regular season still is almost two months away, but with players returning to their cities to prepare for training camp, the McCourtys want answers from the league.

"Will we have an option to opt out of the season? Will we be making our full salary? What if there is a COVID outbreak within the league?" the McCourtys wrote. "It's so hard to make a decision of whether we will play or not without knowing what the exact plan is."

The twin brothers, who both have families with young children, also expressed hesitation about signing on to play a season with so many unknowns.

"Will we be able to have meetings in the building? Or will the meetings still be done virtually? Will testing be a few times a week or will it be every day?" they wrote. "As players, how do we decide what is best for us and our families when we don’t know what we’re walking into?"

The NFL and NFL Players Association has formed a joint committee of doctors and trainers to develop protocols that can help players safely prepare for the season. Based on the McCourtys' column, though, it sounds like the league and that joint committee still have plenty of work to do.

"We face a whole lot of unknowns, a whole lot of question marks, and overall are dealing with unsettling feelings about how to handle the two major topics that have hit our entire country hard this year," the McCourtys wrote, referencing COVID-19 and the racial justice movement reinvigorated by the death of George Floyd. 

"The year is only halfway done, so the verdict is still out on whether we can get some answers moving forward."

Next Pats Podcast: Would NFL consider moving season to New England? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

NFL Rumors: How Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry's first Patriots workout came together

NFL Rumors: How Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry's first Patriots workout came together

A bit of good luck allowed Cam Newton to throw passes to Mohamed Sanu just days after joining the New England Patriots last month.

But the new Patriots quarterback apparently has been taking matters into his own hands since then.

Newton "initiated" contact with second-year wide receiver N'Keal Harry to set up last week's workouts in Los Angeles, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported Sunday.

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Newton and Harry spent "a couple of days together" working out, per Reiss, the first of which was a two-hour session that included fellow Patriots tight end Devin Asiasi and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

It's a good sign for Harry and the Patriots that Newton is eager to work with the 22-year-old wide receiver, who has mostly been training in Houston and Arizona but gladly traveled out to Southern California to link up with his new QB.

Newton also gave Harry some love on Instagram over the weekend, commenting, "DØĒ•ßØ¥‼️😂 -1ØVĒ🤟🏾" on the wideout's post from a workout in Beverly Hills.

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Relentless‼️

A post shared by N'Keal Harry (@nkealharry) on

Julian Edelman and Sanu are projected to be Newton's top two wide receivers in 2020 -- assuming the QB beats out second-year Jarrett Stidham for the starting job -- but Harry has plenty of upside.

While New England's 2019 first-round draft pick appeared in only seven games during an injury-riddled campaign, Reiss pointed out Harry could develop a similar rapport with Newton as Kelvin Benjamin did in Carolina.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Harry and the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Benjamin have similar frames, although Harry is working to get more agile and run sharper routes this offseason.

Next Pats Podcast: How can Pats maximize Harry's talent? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube