Troy Brown spent time with Navy's Reynolds at Shrine game

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Troy Brown spent time with Navy's Reynolds at Shrine game

While Bill Belichick and his coaching staff prepare for the AFC Championship Game, the pre-draft process has kicked into another gear with Saturday's the East-West Shrine Game.

The Patriots are without a first-round draft pick this year -- one of the penalties handed down by the NFL after it alleged the team was illegally deflating game footballs during last year's AFC Championship -- but the Shrine game features rosters with plenty of players who will be taken in later rounds.

One of those players, someone the Patriots are already quite familiar with, is Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick grew up around Navy's football program -- where his father Steve served as a long-time scout and assistant for the team -- and he still keeps a close eye on the Midshipmen.

Over the last few seasons, Reynolds has stood out to anyone watching as he finished his career with an NCAA record 88 total touchdowns. He also broke the record for career rushing yards by a quarterback set by Michigan's Denard Robinson.

Reynolds won't be drafted as an NFL signal-caller, but he worked out as a running back before the Shrine game, and some believe he has a chance to find success as a slot receiver. (Reynolds did not participate in the Shrine game due to tightness in his back.)

Given Belichick's willingness to draft players without clear-cut positions and his appreciation for the Naval Academy, Reynolds has already been deemed a potential Patriots pick. Former scout and front-office executive Gil Brandt, who now writes for NFL.com, thinks New England would be the best fit for Reynolds' skill set.

"He cannot play the quarterback position in the NFL," Brandt wrote. "But because of his off-the-charts quickness, speed and athletic ability, he might be a Wes Welker-type of player, a slot receiver, for the Patriots. Belichick has the patience and creativity to find a spot for this outstanding player."

NFL Network's Mike Mayock has compared Reynolds to Patriots wideout Julian Edelman. In his eyes, both left college as undersized but athletic college quarterbacks who could fill a variety of roles in the slot, out wide, as running backs or kick returners. All those spots are new to Reynolds, though, and at this point he's just trying to get a feel for lining up somewhere on the field that's not behind center.

At the Shrine Game, Reynolds got a chance to hone some different skills with a pair of Belichick's friends in former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and former Patriots receiver Troy Brown. Weis was the head coach for the East team while Brown acted as the receivers coach and reportedly showed Reynolds the ropes when it came to returning punts.

Brown returned 252 punts and 87 kickoffs in his Patriots career, and he may be able to relay back to those at One Patriot Place just how quickly Reynolds picked up on some of the tricks of the trade.

Bill Belichick issues statement following Patriots kneeling

Bill Belichick issues statement following Patriots kneeling

Bill Belichick issued the following statement on Monday, a day after 16 Patriots took a knee in protest of racial inequality and Donald Trump's comments against the NFL:

“I have immense respect and admiration for our players, for how they conduct themselves professionally as New England Patriots and for how they represent themselves, their families and community as men.  I have coached football for over four decades and one of the greatest things about being in this environment is the diversity of people, backgrounds, viewpoints and relationships we are fortunate to experience.  As with any large group of people, there is a variety of perspectives and opinions on many topics.  Discussions occur between myself, individual players, groups and the entire team on an ongoing basis.  They concern the team and other issues surrounding the team.  I am going to keep the specifics of those conversations private.  I will do what I feel is best for the team in my role as head coach and collectively, we will work together to find the best way to proceed.” 

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