Joe Cardona's absence adds context to Patriots' long-snapper move

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots selected Navy long-snapper Joe Cardona in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft, head coach Bill Belichick said, "He's one of the first guys that's really been in this situation."

Belichick's point was that Cardona was still on active duty while playing in the NFL regular season, which was different from others in the past, such as Kyle Eckel, Eric Kettani, Phil McConkey, John Stufflebeem and Napoleon McCallum.

"I think each situation is a little bit different," Belichick said at the time. "In this case, Joe's responsibilities are really going on at the same time."

Things worked out for Cardona to play the full season in 2015, but there's no certainty at this time that Cardona will play the full 2016 season.

Cardona's responsibilities have kept him away from the Patriots' voluntary offseason program, which started April 18. That adds context to the signing of four-year veteran long-snapper Christian Yount last Friday, as Yount's presence ensures that kicker Stephen Gostkowski and punter Ryan Allen will have a dedicated snapper to work with.