A long-anticipated NFL debut for a speedy Patriots linebacker has arrived in Arizona for Monday Night Football.
The Patriots have elevated second-year linebacker Cameron McGrone and veteran Jamie Collins from the practice squad for Monday night's game against the Cardinals. This marks Collins's second standard elevation of the season, while McGrone makes his first appearance on the game-day roster.
As a fifth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Michigan, the Patriots were hoping that McGrone would bring an influx of speed and athleticism to the second level of the defense. However, a torn ACL in his final collegiate season forced McGrone to remain on the non-football injury list in his rookie season. But the team remained hopeful that he'd contribute this season now that he's a full year removed from the knee injury.
"When he [McGrone] was practicing, it was really exciting to see him out there. One thing I noticed is that all the other guys on the field had been playing football for months, and then he had been coming off a year not playing football, and he really didn't look in any sort of way out of place on the field," top defensive assistant Steve Belichick told reporters last spring.
Unfortunately, training camp didn't go as planned for McGrone, who failed to flash consistently and was behind veterans Ja'Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai, Mack Wilson, and Raekwon McMillan on the depth chart. McGrone was waived at the conclusion of camp and eventually re-signed to the practice squad.
With the Patriots facing dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray this week, McGrone finally gets the call and could have a role on defense spying the very mobile Murray on passing downs. Unlike last week's opponent, Josh Allen, Murray runs with elite quickness and burst like a scat back rather than a punishing style of a bigger mobile QB.
Murray's rushing style would be too elusive for the Pats typical spy, Mack Wilson, opening the door for McGrone to step into that role this week.
As for Collins, most of his defensive snaps in his lone appearance this season came on the edge in Week 7. Collins gives the Pats another athletic player to set the edge on early downs, with the option run element likely a major part of Arizona's game plan on offense.
Based on these moves, the Patriots focus to finally corral a mobile quarterback seems to be getting their most athletic front seven on the field.
The Patriots will face the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium at 8:20 pm ET on Monday night.