I wanted to write about the Patriots this afternoon, but what can I say?
Its great to have them back. It's great to know that real football is right around the corner.
But the excitement just isnt there. Not yet. Of course, once pre-season kicks in (THURSDAY) and fantasy drafts start up (AUGUST 28!), I'll need massive doses of Vicodin to hold off the NFL bug, but for now . . .
Heres a video of Usain Bolt attempting a windmill dunk show before a game at the Garden last year. (ht to HoopsHype)
You know, I always thought that Bolt would make a great NFL wide receiver. And why not, right? He's 6-foot-5, and the fastest man in the world. Give some pads and teach him to run a post-route. But after seeing this video, I'm changing my tune.
Honestly, when I hit play I was expecting one power dribble, a jump step and a dunk reminiscent of 1987 Dominique Wilkins. Instead . . . isn't he a little awkward? I think it's the weird, right-legged skip at the start of his approach that gets me. I'm not sure his coordination is quite up to speed with what you're looking for in an elite NFL wideout. I don't think he's got the hands for it.
Of course, that's fine for him, since he's already the fastest and very likely coolest athlete in the world. Sucks for my dream of one day seeing him in the NFL.
Although maybe the Pats should bring him on board anyway. Would definitely give us something to write about.
Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine
Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.
The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.
Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.
Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.
The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.
The Patriots were represented all over the country on Thursday at various pro days in order to scout potential draftees. They had a scout at Stanford. Bill Belichick was seen at Ohio State. And defensive coordinator Matt Patricia traveled to South Bend in order to get a closer look at some of Notre Dame's best players.
The biggest name working out was quarterback DeShone Kizer -- who threw passes to former Patriots running back Jonas Gray -- but Patricia was probably spending the majority of his energy getting a grip on what the defensive players present could do.
He was seen spending a few extra minutes off to the side with linebacker James Onwualu, who served as a captain last season for the Fighting Irish.
Onwualu checks in at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds and projects as someone who could contribute immediately on special teams as a pro. A former receiver, he has good quickness and experts say he has an unrelenting motor, but his size makes it difficult to envision him as an NFL starter. He made 76 tackles last season, including 11.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Here are a couple of the other Notre Dame defensive prospects Patricia may have had his eyes on . . .
Jarron Jones, defensive tackle: Jones has great size (6-6, 316 pounds, 35.5-inch arms, 10.5 inch hands) and athleticism, but Lance Zierlein of NFL.com spoke to one NFC scouting director who called him a "character flag." Will he be motivated enough to capitalize on his physical gifts as a pro?
Isaac Rochell, defensive tackle: A team captain along with Onwualu last season, the 6-4, 280-pounder was close to an every-down player each of the last three years. Zierlein compares Rochell to newly-acquired Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy since he's a little bit of a 'tweener but a high-energy guy who may have the ability to play multiple positions up front. Could be worthy of late-round consideration for the Patriots.