Kevin Faulk, a former New England Patriots running back who is now in the NFL Hall of Fame, sees something special in rookie running back Mac Jones.
Kevin Faulk is a former NFL running back who played for the New England Patriots from 2000-2009. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2014 and has been seen as a key player that helped lead them to three Super Bowls.
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS — Quick thoughts and observations on the New England Patriots and the National Football League:
1. Recognizing similarities: Patriots Hall of Famer Kevin Faulk got a good look at Mac Jones, the team’s future quarterback.
He didn’t like what he saw in one way. In another, he was enamored with it.
Last December, Faulk, who is in his second season as LSU’s running backs coach, stood on the sidelines and watched Jones lead Alabama to a 55-17 victory over his Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Jones’ performance (20-of-28 for 385 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions) gave rival coaches sleepless nights, but it also gave Faulk reason to be optimistic about the future of the only NFL club he ever played for (1999-2012).
“Very perceptive. Doesn’t make a lot of poor choices. I was able to figure out what the crime was. I believe he understood what he needed to accomplish as the starting quarterback, and I believe the same will be true here “Jones, Faulk said last week at an autograph session in Massachusetts. “For him, the circumstances are comparable.”
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Faulk, 45, shares the excitement of many Patriots fans in seeing how the quarterback situation develops, starting with the first training camp session on Wednesday. Jones was not selected No. 15 overall by the Patriots with the goal of becoming a backup, so the issue is how long veteran Cam Newton can keep him off.
“Very intrigued,” Faulk said, “because [Jones] has the potential to be a very effective player in this scheme if he’s who he’s shown and proved to be in college — the one year he played.” “He hadn’t played much in prior years, but you could see he was paying attention last year.”
Faulk also mentioned Alabama defensive lineman Christian Barmore, the Patriots’ second-round selection, who was difficult to block for LSU.
“Can’t wait to see what he accomplishes,” he added. “He’s really disruptive in the SEC, and we always say the SEC is a level below the NFL.”
Faulk and LSU are aiming to bounce back after a 5-5 season in 2020, and while in the weight room last week, he sparred with new Patriots defensive lineman Davon Godchaux, a former Tiger who also uses the college’s facilities.
Faulk, who played four seasons with the Tigers (1995-98), said watching LSU graduates join his old NFL club brings him joy.
So it’s no surprise that one of the first things he did after arriving in town last week was pay a visit to Patriots headquarters, particularly to get some new gear from the team’s Pro Shop.
“When I arrived there, it felt like home,” he added.
Will Mac Jones play for the Patriots in his old No. 10? Photo by Mary Schwalm/Associated Press
2. Vaccination rate: One of the most often asked topics from fans is where the Patriots are on vaccines and whether or not they have achieved the 85 percent mark for players. Being at 85 percent is likely to provide competitive benefits, such as influencing how teams can meet. The NFL also warned clubs that failing to comply with immunization requirements may result in serious repercussions. The Patriots aren’t disclosing their immunization information publicly, as is common with health-related subjects, but I get the impression they’re close, if not already there.
3. The next stage for Gilmore is to: The most important Patriots news from the last week was cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s return to rehabbing players on Thursday after missing the required minicamp in June. That ruled out the prospect of a strike, which was a long shot anyhow since it might have resulted in daily penalties of up to $50,000. Gilmore, who is currently recuperating from a partly torn quad, is listed as physically unable to perform at the start of training camp. In terms of what his coming implies for the future, I believe it was a crucial first step toward a potential contract settlement. It’s difficult to see the Patriots reaching to that position without first bringing Gilmore in-house.
4. OL coach shuffle: The Patriots’ decision to part ways with co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich in 2021 over the COVID-19 vaccine and NFL guidelines is significant in that Popovich, who is entering his seventh season with the team, was groomed under legendary Dante Scarnecchia and was a dependable staffer. However, the way Bill Belichick built up the staff after Scarnecchia’s retirement after the 2018 season — with veteran Youngstown State offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo sharing responsibilities with Popovich — mitigates the team’s loss. Billy Yates, a general assistant on staff and a former Patriots offensive lineman, can also help out.
Jarrett Stidham will compete for a place on the roster throughout training camp. Getty Images/Bob Levey
5. Jarrett Stidham’s status: The Patriots have started eight players on the active/physically unable to perform list, including quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is not cleared for practice despite having fully participated in all spring sessions (and even organizing players-only workouts before that). That’s usually a sign that a player has been dealing with a lingering illness for a while, rather than sustaining a fresh injury in the last month or so. If this is the case with Stidham, his situation will become one of the week’s most interesting stories. Will he be on the field for Wednesday’s first practice? If he isn’t, the spring media buzz about how the club divides QB reps four ways soon becomes irrelevant. Newton would next take the field, followed by Jones and veteran Brian Hoyer.
6. Waiting for Mac’s number: It’s probable Jones will still be wearing the unusual No. 50 when the Patriots hit the field for their first practice on Wednesday. As previously said, Belichick places the rookies in various numbers as a kind of reminder to concentrate on more essential things than numbers, colored gloves, and so on. He can do that until the first preseason game, so August 12th, when the Washington Football Team visits town, is the day to note on your calendar for official jersey numbers (Jones’ college number 10 is still available).
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7. Consistent culture: Former Patriots safety Patrick Chung isn’t convinced that the team’s culture has changed after Tom Brady’s departure. In certain circles, trade demands (N’Keal Harry) and contract disputes (Gilmore) have prompted such idea, but not in Chung’s, who stated: “Bill will ensure that the culture remains the same. Bill is like that. Regardless of who is there or absent, he will ensure that those players are prepared to compete.”
8. Saints are short-handed: Top wide receiver Michael Thomas reportedly had ankle surgery in June, putting him out for the first month of the season, and starting defensive tackle David Onyemata was suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances just over a week ago. The Patriots, who visit the Saints in Week 3, will take advantage of the double-dose of bad news for the Saints.
9. Krafts and 18: Jimmy Murphy, a producer for local Boston television station WBZ, a broadcast partner of the Patriots, died recently. Robert and Jonathan Kraft, owners of the New England Patriots, each contributed $18,000 to the GoFundMe campaign supporting Murphy’s family, along with a personalized Patriots jersey and a handwritten message. The number 18 means “life” in Hebrew, and their generous gift honors Murphy’s memory.
10. What If I Told You… After the New England Patriots’ 19-year run of finishing.500 or better came to an end, the Pittsburgh Steelers currently have the longest streak at 17 years. Since 2003, when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was selected in the first round, the Steelers haven’t finished with a losing record. The Cowboys (1965-1985) had the longest winning run in the NFL (21 years).
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