With the trade of Duron Harmon and opt-out of Patrick Chung, the Patriots are lucky to have signed veteran free agent Adrian Phillips early in free agency.
A versatile former Charger who worked his way up from the practice squad to becoming a valuable tool in defeating some of the best AFC offenses, Phillips has potential to fill a number of spots in the Patriots defense.
Phillips couldn't join the team until the summer, but appeared to be fitting in well in training camp. "It was a unique transition but once I got here things went real smooth," said Phillips on Friday after practice via WebEx.
How did the former undrafted rookie climb his way from the practice squad, up the depth chart and toward a contract with the Patriots?
"Being an undrafted free agent, trying to find a way to get onto the team, you're doing special teams, they need people for scout team," said Phillips. "Then you're the first one out there and you say 'I can do that.' You go out there and you make a couple plays, it solidifies your role with the team. If you go out there and do what you're supposed to and they get the trust in you to start putting more on your plate, seeing how much more you can handle. I can handle a lot, so it just kept coming."
It's easy to draw parallels from what Phillips did for the Chargers and what Patrick Chung has done for the Patriots, but there isn't quite another defense like New England's.
"From the outside in, it looks like one thing but when you actually get here, it's a big puzzle," described Phillips of the defense. "Being a part of that and seeing how that works is really beautiful. It's like art.
"In some defenses, it might work out a certain way where people just learn spots but here it's kind of you look at the whole canvas. You see the whole canvas and you see yourself, you could be anywhere and be a part of that and being able to move around like that that's what makes it fun. Because you're not just learning your position, you're learning how to work well with other people. That's what makes the defense work."
Report: Gilmore gets a raise
Per a report from Adam Schefter, the Patriots handed Sephon Gilmore a nice raise today. As the first week of practice wraps up and Gilmore gets ready for a rematch with DeVante Parker, the move shows how much New England values the best cornerback in the league.
The Patriots secondary will be counted on this year as the front seven experiences turnover and Gilmore is up for any receiver challenge. After popping up on the injury report as limited with a hamstring injury on Thursday, he was taken off Friday's final injury report and appears to be fully ready to take on the Dolphins talented receiving corps.
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots wrapped up their final practice of the week in gloomy fall-like conditions. With Yodny Cajuste moving to IR, the team welcomed full attendance at the session. They look healthy in the key spots, but Gunner Olszewski was ruled out on Friday, a disappointing start to the season for one of the most improved players on the team. Four players are questionable.
OL Yodny Cajuste - Knee (DNP)
WR Gunner Olszewski - Foot (DNP)
No Players Listed.
TE Dalton Keene - Neck (LP)
LB Cassh Maluia - Knee (LP)
WR N'Keal Harry - Shoulder (FP)
DL Chase Winovich - Shoulder (FP)
WebEx Quotes of Note
Bill Belichick on opening day:
"I think opening day is pretty much the same every year. You have a lot of questions about your team and what you're doing. You have a lot of questions about what your opponents are going to do and the challenges they will present. So, it's a lot of unknowns and there are things to work through and everybody's better at the end of September than they are at the beginning of September. But, you just try and be the best that you can be at this point, knowing that there's still a lot of work to do and a lot of things that we're all going to have to improve on. Not just players and coaching staff, our communication our adjustments, the things that we have to do during the game, decisions, and so forth. We haven't done those in eight months, either. So, that'll be a challenge for all of us to be at our best on Sunday, and then to continue to improve on that and try to be even better, you know in succeeding weeks."
Isaiah Wynn on having his center back:
"It's definitely exciting just to have David Andrews back. You know he's a guy who really holds it all together, so just having him back it's exciting. We're excited to play with him and I know he's excited to be back."
N'Keal Harry on the fellowship of second-year receivers:
"It's just great to be around those guys. We've kind of grown together over the past year, we've become very close. So just having those guys around kind of just lightens the mood and you know it's just great to have people that you came in with and that are still here."