FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts/notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. On Mother’s Day, Patriots assistant coaches share the one lesson they’ve learned from their mom that stands out to them most:
Steve Belichick (safeties): “I’ve learned a ton from my mother [Debby]; I’m definitely a momma’s boy. With my dad working a lot, I grew up very close with my mother. She always preached to me, the golden rule in our house was ‘Treat others as you want to be treated.’ It’s got me a long way. Hard to do sometimes, but I definitely appreciate it and love my mother for teaching me that.”
Brian Flores (linebackers): “My mother [Maria] is the toughest person I know. She’s battling cancer now. It’s like it doesn’t faze her at all; she just gets up every day and says ‘I’m beating this.’ She’s as tough as they come, and that’s the one thing I feel like I’ve taken from her, and has helped me in all walks of life -- personally, professionally.”
Ivan Fears (running backs): “If I were to say anything that [my late] mom [Martha] left us, or mom gave us, it’s that family was everything. That’s the only thing we had, growing up poor. Family was everything.”
Chad O’Shea (wide receivers): “I’d say most of the lessons I’ve learned in life have been from my [late] mother [Annette]. I grew up in a household where my dad, like [many] coaches, was away from the house a lot of the time, especially during the football season. Obviously, she was the one that was there, and I think the most valuable lesson I learned was mental toughness. Throughout her life, she was very mentally tough. I saw it on a daily basis and it’s one I talk to a lot of our players about, and I try to live by.”
Josh Boyer (cornerbacks): “The main thing I learned from my mother [Rachelle] is hard work and her determination to do the right thing. My mother was 18 when she had me. She was working multiple jobs up to the day I was born. She put herself through college with two young kids. She graduated, and moved on to a management position, and always took my sister and me to all our sporting events. She was a great example of how hard work pays off.”
Nick Caley (tight ends): “My mother [Patty] has a big heart, she’s a loving human being, and always wore her heart on her sleeve, and always would do anything for my three sisters, myself, my father and or extended family. That’s one thing I take -- being very unselfish and wanting to extend to everybody.”
Brendan Daly (defensive line): “I’m fortunate that my mother [Anne] is coming to town this weekend, so I’ll get to spend some time with her. What I took from her was an unbelievable work ethic, an unbelievable attention to detail and planning. She is a phenomenal advance planner, looking into the future -- long-term, short-term and detail-oriented. It’s been great for me in my life.”
Joe Judge (special teams): “I definitely learned mental toughness from my mother [Denise]. There were a lot of times growing up when things weren’t the best, but she never let us as children know that maybe our family wasn’t in the position that maybe we thought we were. Every day, she worked as hard as she could for us, to give us a better opportunity than she had.”
2. One leftover from an entertaining Friday media session with veteran Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia: He’s never coached an offensive lineman as big as 6-foot-8 Trent Brown, whom he said weighs 380 pounds. Brown was listed at 355 on the 49ers’ roster last season, although rosters are seldom updated when a player's weight fluctuates. One recent example of that in New England was with defensive tackle Alan Branch.
3. The best part of Scarnecchia’s meeting with reporters? When asked about the importance of arm length for offensive tackles -- a hot topic with first-round draft pick Isaiah Wynn not fitting the prototype at the position (6-foot-2 6/8 and 33 3/8 arm length) -- he used a reporter as a blocking dummy and explained why “that s--- is way overrated.” The 70-year-old Scarnecchia then pointed out that longtime Patriots tackle Matt Light (2001-2011), a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame this year, had 33-inch arm length.
4. A trickle-down effect of the Patriots drafting LSU’s Danny Etling in the seventh round is that I believe it effectively ends the team’s exploration into Johnny Manziel. In recent months, it’s safe to say the team did its due diligence on Manziel, at one point even considering an additional meeting and/or workout with him outside of the University of San Diego pro day that he had participated in (with a Patriots scout among those in attendance) before plans changed. The Patriots usually carry three quarterbacks and currently have Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer and Etling on the roster.
5. Fears, the Patriots running backs coach, said one of the things that stood out to him scouting first-round pick Sony Michel was how when Georgia wanted to do something with a back at the end of the game, Michel usually got the ball. Fears referred to Michel as a “playmaker," before noting his size (5-foot-10 5/8, 214 pounds) and ability to gain yards in different ways: “He’s a very physical guy for a guy that’s very good in the open field. Most of those guys are scat-back guys [but] he has some stout to him. He’s not a little guy. He’s broad-shouldered. He’s a size player that can pound it away and can make things happen in the open space.”
6. Did You Know: Former Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain (1998-2004), who gave Tom Brady some fits opposite Sam Madison early in Brady’s career, just finished his first year as head coach at Michel’s alma mater, American Heritage High School. When Michel played at American Heritage, one of the head coaches he played for was former Dolphins offensive lineman Jeff Dellenbach.
7. Ben Roethlisberger’s remarks about being surprised that the Steelers drafted quarterback Mason Rudolph -- “I thought that maybe in the third round, you can get some really good football players that can help this team now” -- reflected the narrow-minded view of a player and also had a natural tie-in to the Patriots’ decision to select quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 draft. The Garoppolo pick is a good example to highlight to Roethlisbeger how an ascending backup truly can help the team right now. Among other things, Garoppolo pushed Tom Brady to a higher level from 2014 to 2017, the Patriots won two Super Bowls in his time with the team, and it’s not a stretch to say that his work in practice raised everyone else’s level around him. Bill Belichick once said the way Garoppolo ran practice was similar to Brady.
8. No surprise, but Patriots special-teams coach Joe Judge sounds optimistic about what Cordarrelle Patterson might bring to the team as a kickoff returner. What has stood out to Judge most? “He comes to work with a good energy and enthusiasm and he’s definitely buying in to what we’re doing,” he said, while also cautioning that the on-field work the team has done at this point has been limited.
9. Some Rutgers-based fun from the Patriots jersey-numbers department:
In giving up 30, Harmon ensured that Rutgers alum Jason McCourty, in his first year with the team, would be able to wear the number he’s had over his 10-year NFL career …
But before switching to 30 in the NFL, Jason McCourty wore No. 32 at Rutgers, which is what his brother Devin has donned with the Patriots since being selected by them in the 2010 first round.
10. Voting for this year’s Patriots Hall of Fame inductee ends Monday, with Matt Light, Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel the three finalists. Only one gets in via the fan vote. When I recently asked longtime Patriots receiver Deion Branch (a teammate of all three) what he thought, his answer reflected a theme I’ve heard from many this year: How do you possibly choose just one? Branch relayed that all three are worthy, so it’s more a matter of “when” than “if.”