By all accounts, New England Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater is in good health. However, the nine-time Pro Bowler can rest easy knowing he’s got Joe Judge — his former coordinator — in his corner. How much might you ask? Well, should Slater ever need a kidney for whatever reason, the New York Giants head coach has already preemptively offered his up.
“In terms of my relationship with Matt, I have a lot of relationships with a lot of players on this team that I’ve coached,” Judge told reporters prior to the start of the Giants’ second joint practice with the Patriots in Foxborough. “Obviously, my loyalty right now is with the Giants, but I would say if Matt needed a kidney tomorrow he’d have it tonight.”
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Judge Gushes Over Slater
While Judge isn’t foreign to offering up praise when he sees fit, the second-year head coach has typically kept the majority of topics close to his chest since taking over the helm in East Rutherford. Yet, Judge couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to heap some praise in Slater’s direction this week.
“He made me a better coach every day,” said Judge. “When you have a player of that caliber, you’ve got to know that you’ve got to come into the building every day you’ve got to be ready to make them a better player. With someone so accomplished as Matt is and works as hard as he does that you’ve got to bring it every day. You can’t have an off day. You walk in slopping around and think you’re just going to give them some plate of whatever, they’re going to look at you and you’re done. That’s just the reality of what it is. You’ve got to come every day and be ready to coach these guys and get them better.”
Judge & Slater’s Relationship
Slater, who will turn 36 years old on opening day of the regular season, was a fifth-round pick for the Patriots way back in 2008. Since landing in New England the “wide receiver” has logged no greater than 3% of the team’s offensive snaps in any singular season. He’s also hauled in just one reception for 46 yards over his 13-year NFL tenure. Instead, the UCLA product has carved out a lasting career as one of the league’s most prolific special teamers — plenty of which came under the tutelage of Judge.
The now-Giants coach served on Bill Belichick’s Patriots staff for eight seasons, all overseeing special teams in some matter. During Judge’s time with Slater, the duo went on to capture three Super Bowl trophies, while the latter earned four of his five First-Team All-Pro selections and seven of his nine Pro Bowl berths.
The two reunite this Sunday, albeit from opposite sidelines. The Giants welcome the Patriots into MetLife Stadium at 6:00 p.m. ET for their final dress rehearsal of the preseason before they kick off the regular season on September 12th against the Denver Broncos.
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