Ivan Fears spoke positively about the second-year man."

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The New England Patriots surprised many last April when they invested their second
of two first-round draft picks in the running back position: with the 31st
overall selection Damien Harris Jersey Boys , the team chose Georgia’s Sony Michel to help fill the void created by Dion Lewis’ free agency departure. While a stylistically
different player than his de facto predecessor, Michel was able to establish
himself as the early-down back Lewis used to be in 2017.In that role, the rookie
appeared in 16 of the Patriots’ 19 games in 2018 — including all three playoff
contests — and finished the year with a combined 1,276 rushing yards and 12
touchdowns on 280 attempts. Despite having to work his way back from two
separate knee injuries suffered in training camp and half-way through the
regular season, respectively, Michel produced one of the better rookie seasons
in New England’s recent memory.Needless to say that expectations are high for
the 24-year-old heading into his second year: he has proven himself a key cog in
the Patriots’ offensive machinery last season, and is now looking to make the
famed second-year jump. One person who sounds optimistic about Michel’s
abilities to succeed at improving his game even further is running backs coach
Ivan Fears, who spoke about his protégé during a recent media availability
session.“He’s got a lot of time now to learn about the things that he can do a
hell of a lot better,” said Fears. “You can always improve, everybody can
improve. He’s got to take that next step to build on what he started and that’s
what we expect of him. We expect him to learn, we expect him to grow as a player
and as a teammate. Sony’s going to work hard, no doubt about it. I’m excited
about what we expect to see from him next year.”Fears is one of the more
outspoken members of the Patriots’ coaching staff Infant Damien Harris Jersey , so hearing him express his excitement about Michel’s outlook entering 2019 is noteworthy — but reasonable nevertheless
considering how his rookie campaign went: Michel was trusted with a heavy
workload and significant role early into his NFL career, but regularly appeared
to be able to meet the coaching staff’s expectations.He therefore can be seen as
a role model for other players coming to New England, as Fears pointed out:
“He’s definitely a guiding light when it comes to that situation. Everybody can
see that you can play and you can produce as a rookie, but you’ve got to put the
work in. You have to put the work in. It’s not going to be given to you. You
have to come in and you have to earn it. If they want to see an example of a guy
who’s done that, he’s the guy.”Entering his second year as a pro, Michel and the
Patriots will hope not just for a repeat performance of his solid rookie season
but for further growth as one of the league’s most intriguing young running
backs. If that happens, New England’s ground game — one that also saw the
addition of third-round draft pick Damien Harris this year — could become even
tougher to defend than it already was for stretches in 2018.Fears, however, has
his eyes on the task at hand: getting the Patriots’ rookie class up to speed
quickly and the veterans like Michel ready via the club’s offseason workout
program. “You’ve got to love this, you’ve got to love what you do, you’ve got to
have a passion for the sport,” the coach said. “This is where you start building
your championship team. If they’re not loving this right now Damien Harris Jersey Draft , move on, get out of the way, because this is where it all starts.”For Michel specifically, the offseason program is the foundation
upon which he will build his 2019 campaign — and potentially the starting point
for yet another productive season as the Patriots’ top running back option. The
NFL’s 100th season will be kicked off at Soldier Field in Chicago."In 2002, the
NFL introduced the concept of the Kickoff Game. Instead of multiple afternoon
contests opening each new season simultaneously, the league would have one prime
time game do the trick moving forward. It was the New York Giants hosting the
San Francisco 49ers back then, but the league quickly moved to a more attractive
idea — one still in place to this day: the Super Bowl winners would host the
first game of the season.Since 2004, when the New England Patriots beat the
Indianapolis Colts 27-24, the reigning champions have opened every single season
— always on Thursday, almost always at home (the 2013 Baltimore Ravens had to
travel to Denver due to a scheduling conflict with the MLB’S Orioles). This
year, however, will be different as the NFL announced as part of the currently
ongoing owner’s meetings earlier today.The Green Bay Packers will visit the
Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field to kick off the 2019 season and commemorate the
league’s 100th anniversary. The two teams Damien Harris NFL Jersey , of course, are founding members of the National Football League and have one of the most storied rivalries in all of American sports. The
decision to have them open this anniversary season therefore makes sense from
the league’s perspective even if it is a change from tradition.So where does
that leave the Patriots, winners of Super Bowl 53 in early February? They will
get to open their season and unveil their sixth championship banner on prime
time nevertheless — only three days later: the Patriots will player their first
game of 2019 on Sunday Night Football against a yet to be determined opponent —
with the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants or Pittsburgh
Steelers the most realistic candidates to visit Gillette Stadium that day.Of
course, the NFL might also pick one of the Patriots’ other four home opponents —
the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, or New York Jets — to travel
to Foxboro on September 8. We will have to wait until mid-April’s schedule
announcement to definitively find out.
Posted 02 Aug 2019

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