The New England Patriots obviously see something they like in linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
The 25-year-old, three-year NFL veteran tore his ACL in training camp, but the Patriots still elected to sign him to a contract extension on Monday, per ESPN’s Field Yates:
The extension serves as almost a do-over for McMillan and the Patriots. He signed a one-year deal with the team this offseason, but before he could get on the field, he suffered the injury.
The new pact will put McMillan in the same situation next season with an opportunity to prove he can become a factor on defense. Prior to the injury, McMillan had been impressing head coach Bill Belichick.
During a training camp press conference, Belichick said:
Raekwon’s done a real good job, I’ve been very impressed with his intelligence, his work ethic. He’s locked in every day. He works extremely hard both on and off the field. Does a great job of trying to get it just the way that it’s supposed to be, the way he’s been taught. He takes all that very seriously and handles a lot of responsibility in there, both with the front, the coverage and a lot of the time the linebacker adjustments by formation and so forth.
That’s the kind of glowing endorsement that leads to a much-needed mulligan. Perhaps he’ll be able to pick up where he left off in 2022. When you count Patriots rookie LB Cameron McGrone, New England will now have two young linebackers set to return to the field in 2022 after serious knee injuries.
The Patriots Reverted LB and Recent Practice Squad Call-Up
The stay on the 53-man roster Jahlani Tavai was a short one. Tavai was reverted back to the practice squad on Monday after playing in eight snaps on defense and six on special teams in the Week 3 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Tavai didn’t register a single tackle during his brief run with the active roster. The fact that he played 14 snaps after being called up shows New England may have some depth issues at inside linebacker. That’s a position McMillan would have been in had he not gotten hurt.
What’s in Store for the Inside Linebackers in Week 4?
While middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower has struggled to return to form through the first three weeks of the season, the veteran and three-time Super Bowl champion will need to be on his game on Sunday night. He figures to be matching wits with former Patriots QB Tom Brady.
If Hightower isn’t on the field, those responsibilities would fall in the lap of Ja’Whaun Bentley.
Beyond signal calls and middle linebacker duties against the opposing quarterback, the Patriots’ inside guys will also have to contend with a Tampa Bay running game that will be looking to get back on track after struggling to produce just 35 rushing yards in the Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Hightower and Bentley best be prepared.
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