In a recent article, I broke down the struggles of rookies in the NFL and reminded readers that the Green Bay Packers have a solid track record of developing young talent. In my analysis, I focused on the rookie WRs for the couple of teams I covered in that piece, namely the New England Patriots. In this piece, I want to do the same thing, but for a more well-rounded rookie class.
In the month since the Patriots traded a first-round draft pick to the Rams for Brandin Cooks, New England has been as sharp as ever, racking up a league-best 14–2 record without star quarterback Tom Brady. As always, the Pats have gotten better as the season has gone on, and this year they have done it with a rookie tight end who has developed into one of the NFL’s most dynamic weapons. This past Sunday against the Steelers, the Pats featured TE Rob Gronkowski (at one point he led all players in receptions on the day) and rookie TE Hunter Henry, who played a huge role in the win.
The New England Patriots traded the 2017 NFL Draft’s first-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for the rights to former Southern California quarterback and current Tennessee Titans draft pick Jared Goff. The Patriots also sent a fourth-round pick to the Tennessee Titans for former Southern California wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, who was acquired for a third-round pick in the same trade.
Hunter Henry is starting a new career with the New England Patriots. The veteran was contracted as a free agent to bolster an anemic offense that contributed to New England’s first losing season since 2000. Henry and the Patriots know it’s important to come together early in camp to continue the tradition of winning. That’s a lesson the Green Bay Packers can certainly learn.
Hunter Henry takes advantage of the start of camp
Tight end Hunter Henry during a workout in the park on the 23rd. March 20, 2021 in Orange County, Calif. Henry is not required to practice with the Patriots during voluntary OTAs. He is a five-year veteran who has already established himself in the league. However, Henry wants to improve and get to know his new teammates after spending the past five years with the Los Angeles Chargers. He has only been a coach for a few days, but he has already familiarized himself with the team and its working methods. I love this culture.
I think it’s a perfect fit for me, and I’m looking forward to adapting and becoming a full-fledged patriot and understanding what that means, he said, according to WEEI. There is such a culture of winning here, he continued. There’s a tradition here. A lot is expected of them. So I think many of us, myself included, are quite happy to try to live up to those expectations and that culture. I’m looking forward to being here in this locker room and working with these guys every day.
Henry is not suffering from his injury from last season
Henry is one of two key free agents signed by the Patriots at tight end. The Patriots also brought in Jonna Smith, another explosive player who played for the Tennessee Titans. These two should open up the passing game, which was very difficult a year ago. Henry is coming off a season in which he caught 60 passes, including four for touchdowns. He had his best statistical season in his rookie year, with eight touchdowns and a record 13.3 yards per catch. He missed the entire 2018 season after tearing his ACL during training camp. This injury didn’t stop him from coming in earlier in the year.
Obviously I’m new to the team, everyone knows that, he said. But other than that, I really enjoy this time of year, Henry said. I’ve also had tough times at this time of year – one year I got injured and lost a season. But at the same time, this time of year is great for the team. In the beginning we build teamwork at a slower pace, then we move on. It’s a good time for training camp to get a lot of reps that we might not be able to get back. I love this place. It’s great to be with the guys and create a team atmosphere as we head into the season.
Green Bay Packers could take a cue from the New England Patriots
While Henry is taking the opportunity to bond with his new teammates, there isn’t much of that in the Packers camp. Aaron Rodgers, who has participated in the OTAs for the past 16 years, is not attending practice after telling some members of the organization that he no longer wants to play for the team. He hasn’t said anything openly about it, so it’s pure speculation as to why he feels that way. While Rodgers is spending time in Hawaii, his top five receivers aren’t in camp either. It’s rare for an entire position group to be absent, so this is likely a show of support for their quarterback. While unity of players can be beneficial, in this case it only harms the Packers. Without Rodgers, the team will have to turn to Jordan Love, the player who is so unfairly in the middle of this mess. The Packers made a first-round deal to get Love in the 2020 NFL Draft, which appears to be a big deal for Rodgers. The team admitted they should have handled the situation better, but the drama continues.
Last year, Love was not on the field when Rodgers won his third MVP. He wasn’t even a replacement. He still has a lot to learn, and he can’t deal with his receivers if they all do nothing. The Packers have come close to reaching the Super Bowl the past two seasons. Instead of working through it and getting closer to Love, the players decided to support a man who isn’t there. That’s why the New England Patriots continue to collect Super Bowl rings and why the Green Bay Packers hang NFC North banners. Louis Murphy is a member of the New England Patriots, one of the best teams in football. The Patriots acquired him from the Oakland Raiders earlier this year, and since their acquisition, he has been their top kick returner. However, he is not the teammate of the regular return man, Julian Edelman, who is arguably the best in the NFL. It is fair to ask why the Patriots would trade for a player like Murphy and not sign a player like Edelman, who is a better punt and kick returner than Murphy.