Patriots

Shelton runs toward his target weight in Pats offseason program

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Phil Perry

Shelton runs toward his target weight in Pats offseason program

FOXBORO -- When Patriots center David Andrews was asked about his first impressions of new teammate Danny Shelton, acquired from the Browns this offseason via trade, Andrews answered quickly. 

"Big guy," he said. "He's a very big guy."

Shelton's working on that. The defensive tackle said he's shrinking a bit as he goes through the Patriots offseason workout program - and that's the goal. 

Shelton plans to play at 335 pounds, a number he still has yet to reach after gaining some weight starting at the end of last season. He explained that the fluctuations in his weight have become sort of his annual routine: Add some in the winter; shed it in the spring when workouts are underway. 

Since arriving in Foxboro, he said the changes to his body have been noticeable as he's embarked on an intensive conditioning plan unlike any he experienced in Cleveland. 

"My body's adjusting to all the running, man," he said. "It's pretty crazy. But I like it."

What the Patriots have Shelton doing is a radical departure from what he experienced in the first three years of his pro career. 

"Oh yeah. Definitely," he said. "I think any other team would say the same thing. Then again, I've only been on one team and I've only done one offseason program. Now that I'm here, it's pretty cool to change it up a bit and just watch my body change."

Shelton called the early portion of the Patriots program "a struggle," but he knows it has the potential to get even tougher since has yet to be introduced to the hill that rolls off the back of the team's practice fields.

"Not yet. I wave by it," he said. "Just getting my mind ready for it. We haven't gotten to that part. It is deceiving. It doesn't look too tough. But just hearing from some of the guys, it's not something you want to mess with."

Shelton figures to play a significant role in the middle of the Patriots defensive line in 2018. He has the ability to play as a true nose tackle and is expected to be a run-stuffing force on early downs. He was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2015 draft and considered a true blue-chip tackle in that year's class. 

His fifth-year option for 2019 was not picked up earlier this offseason - neither was the option for teammate Malcom Brown - which Shelton said, "sucked at first." But he's trying to think of it as an opportunity to show what he can do this year and put himself in a good position moving forward. 

Shelton knows that part of putting himself in a good position will be to be in good condition so that he can make plays in critical moments for his new team. 

"That's what I'm more focusing on," he said, "and that's what I like about the change is that my body will be more trained for the endurance and trained for fourth quarter, overtime."

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Former Patriots DE Chris Long announces retirement

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USA Today Sports Images

Former Patriots DE Chris Long announces retirement

Former Patriots defensive end and Super Bowl 51 champion Chris Long announced his retirement on Twitter Saturday night. 

The 11-year veteran had been mulling over the decision for the last four months after his season with the Eagles ended in the NFC's Divisional round against the Saints. 

Long will exit the NFL with two Super Bowl championships, both coming in consecutive years with the Patriots and then the Eagles. In 2016 with the Patriots, Long totaled four sacks, 35 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits. He will finish his career with 70 sacks, 85 tackles for loss and 150 quarterback hits.

Another legacy Long leaves will be his philanthropy. He donated an entire seasons worth of game checks to charity in 2017, and then donated a quarter of his salary in 2018 to help local children. Long was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in February

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This stat should make Patriots fans excited for year two of JC Jackson

This stat should make Patriots fans excited for year two of JC Jackson

As an undrafted free agent coming into the 2018 season, cornerback J.C. Jackson made the most out of his opportunity by earning himself a starting spot on the Patriots' Super Bowl championship defense. 

Jackson will face higher expectations as he heads into his second season in the pros, but the Patriots and their fans should have plenty of reason to be optimistic about the young corner. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson ranked as the top corner in the NFL during the 2018 season in Passer Rating allowed (42.0), which was nearly 18 points higher than second place Avonte Maddox of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Jackson allowed just 22 for 262 yards and zero touchdowns on 42 targets last season. He was also seventh in forced incompletion rate and 12th in the NFL with an 82.4 coverage grade, according to PFF's rankings. 

Jackson is with elite company at the top spot of PFF's Passer Rating allowed, beating out Miami's Xavien Howard, Denver's Chris Harris Jr., and Chicago's Kyle Fuller. The Dolphins just recently made Howard the highest-paid corner in the league. 

But Jackson wasn't the only Patriot to crack the top-10. Stephon Gilmore finished 10th in this category with a 71.8 passer rating allowed. Gilmore experienced the best season of his career in 2018, making First Team All-Pro and making the game-clinching interception in Super Bowl 53. 

A lot of people like to talk about what the Patriots lose each offseason, but after letting Malcolm Butler walk in free agency to the Titans, Bill Belichick seems to have found an ample replacement in Jackson. 

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