The New England Patriots defense looked solid in the preseason opener against the New York Giants. The second and third-stringers from the front seven were solid in the box, registering pressures and QB hits on the Giants’ signal-callers.
Also, the reserve defensive backs were active in coverage. That positive initial sign for the defense didn’t stop the Patriots from bringing back undrafted free-agent rookie cornerback Devin Hafford. The Patriots’ official Twitter account posted the news of Hafford’s return.
The Patriots originally signed Hafford in May, but he was released weeks after ahead of the start of training camp. New England has brought him back as they beef up the depth chart heading into the final practice days of training camp and the remaining two preseason matchups.
Who is Devin Hafford?
The 24-year-old Hafford hails from Tarleton State in Texas. He was the defensive player of the year in the Western Athletic Conference in his school’s first official year as a Divison I school.
Hafford was also a second-team All-American selection. Hafford was in school for a whopping six years gaining extensions on eligibility because of an injury suffered in what would have been his senior season in 2019. He gained an additional year after his school’s football season was impacted by COVID-19 in 2020. Thus, he returned for a sixth season with the school in 2021.
Overall, Hafford played in 56 games for Tarleton State. He amassed 243 tackles, 10.5 for loss, 12 interceptions (including six in 2021), and 4 fumble recoveries. Hafford also played in the USFL for the Pittsburgh Maulers, who shouted him out for landing back with the Patriots.
Hafford is a big corner, listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, so it will be interesting to see where he slots in for the Patriots.
There is already a ton of completion at corner with veterans like Malcolm Butler, Johnathon Jones, Joejuan Williams, and Terrance Mitchell. Young players like Myles Bryant and rookies like Jack Jones made their presence felt in the preseason opener. Bryant had 2 solid punt returns, Jones broke up two passes; and he perhaps had an opportunity to intercept one or both throws.
Patriots Notes and Quotes
- Former Patriots Lineman Makes His Return to WWE
Hafford isn’t the only player with ties to Patriots Nation experiencing a return of sorts. Former Patriots offensive lineman and practice squad member A.J Francis aka Top Dolla, made his return to WWE on the August 12 episode of SmackDown on Fox.
Francis, who had been signed with WWE since 2020, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, and B-Fab had established a faction called Hit Row. WWE had released every member back in November 2021, with most working independently since they were dumped, except for Scott, who quickly signed with rival promotion AEW.
In the most recent headline-making returns and major signings since creative control shifted from Vince McMahon (who retired amidst allegations that he paid women hush money to mask sexual affairs with WWE employees) to Jean-Paul Levesque, aka Triple H, the promotion brought Francis, B-Fab, and Adonis back to a mildly impressive pop in front of fans at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina.