Harmon looking to become a more complete player, maybe add weight

Harmon looking to become a more complete player, maybe add weight

Because of the prevalence of the passing game in the NFL, and because of the reliance on nickel packages to defend the passing game, good safeties -- even ones who aren't considered starters -- are as valuable as ever. 

Duron Harmon, for example, doesn't typically start for the Patriots. However, he's played in over 50 percent of the defensive snaps for Bill Belichick in each of the last two seasons, and he re-signed with New England last week, coming to terms on a four-year contract that will pay him $9 million in base salary over the life of the deal. 

Typically the team's choice in the deep middle of the field on passing downs, Harmon acknowledged in a conference call Friday that he'd like to become a more well-rounded player as he begins his second run with the Patriots.

"I think, I would say, the run area is a key [area] where I feel that I can grow in," he said. "My tackling could be a little bit more aggressive, and I think that’s going to come with putting on a little bit more weight, being able to bang down there. So I think that area is key and could be an area I could grow a lot in, I believe."

Harmon is listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds but said he'd try to gain two or three pounds and see how it feels as he gets ready for the regular season. 

"I’ll try it out maybe in OTAs and minicamp and just see how I feel, and how I like moving around a little heavier," he said. "Maybe like 207, 208."

Harmon makes up a safety group that is among the team's most experienced along with Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. McCourty typically thrives in the deep portion of the field on early downs, but he can be used in a variety of ways in coverage and against the run. Chung often plays in the box, providing effective run support and blanketing tight ends. 

If Harmon adds weight and finds the level of aggressiveness he's looking for, perhaps he can become a more versatile chess piece to help keep opposing offenses on their toes. 

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."