Sunday, June 26, 2022

Patriots DT Lands in Hot Water with NFL: Report

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New England Patriots’ Daniel Ekuale appears to be having trouble with the NFL. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Ekuale will be suspended for the first two games of the 2022 season. The reason for Ekuale’s suspension has not been made public.

The reason for that suspension isn’t known, but in 2018 — while with the Cleveland Browns — Ekuale was suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. This suspension lasted for four games. If Ekuale is handed a second ban for violating the program’s parameters, it could be a blow to the rest of his career.

In 2021, the Patriots lifted Ekuale off the practice team on numerous occasions. The 28-year-old Samoan and former Washington State standout has played three seasons in the NFL.

During that time, Ekuale has played for the Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Patriots. In three seasons, Ekuale has played 23 games from 5 starts. Ekuale is primarily a run stuffer and has racked up 3 sacks. Two of those sacks came in a Patriots uniform in 2021.

New England signed Ekuale to a futures contract in January. We’ll soon learn if that latest suspension cost him a spot on the Patriots’ regular-season roster.

Hunter Henry led the Patriots in TD receptions in 2021 with 9. However, that wasn’t enough for Pro Football Focus to consider the veteran tight end among the elite boys at his position in the NFL.

PFF’s Anthony Treash recently wrote a tight ranking article that dropped Henry into the Best of the Rest category behind guys like Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, Darren Waller of Las Vegas Raiders and Marc Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens.

In the raw standings, Henry is 10th on the list, just behind Detroit Lions’ TJ Hockenson. While it might be considered an insult not to be called elite, it’s hard to find fault with Treash’s rankings.

Henry would appear to be in the right spot at No. 10, and there’s still a chance he could step up with another strong season for the Patriots in 2022.

It’s obvious that sophomore quarterback Mac Jones will be the team’s most important player. As he goes in 2022, so will the Patriots.

The Patriots need strong defense play to support Jones. However, if you want to narrow things down to one player, offensive tackle Trent Brown is a solid pick as the second most important player on the roster.

Here, Brown was ranked by Sportscasting.com’s Stephen Sheehan. One man’s often-injured and at times dominant mountain will anchor the Patriots’ offensive line if he is healthy and on form in 2022.

The 6-foot-8, 380-pounder has missed 24 games over the past three seasons. That includes nine missed contests in 2021. When Brown plays well and performs well, the Patriots’ offensive line looks strong. Brown, Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews, Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu could rival any unit in the NFL — on paper, at least.

Unfortunately, if you take Brown out of the lineup or downgrade his game, the O-Line tasked with protecting Jones and paving holes for running play doesn’t look as effective. A healthy and productive Brown is an important key for New England in 2022.

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