FOXBOROUGH, MASS. — Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and the NFL:
1. Advance Recruitment: When longtime Princeton football coach Bob Suarez got a call from Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh a week before the 2023 draft, he noted a last-minute check-in on receiver Andre Iosivas (sixth round, Cincinnati Bengals).
To his surprise, that was not Gro’s primary intention.
Instead, Grow sought information about one of Suarez’s behind-the-scenes staff members: director of football operations Maya Ana Callender, who had emerged as a leading candidate for the entry-level scouting assistant job in New England.
Over the next 45 minutes, Suarez gushed to Groh about her “fantastic” performance, which led to the sensational hiring a few weeks later — Callender, a 2016 graduate of Utica College, believed to be the first full-time female scout. 64 years history of Patriots.
Suarez points to Calender’s 2021 training-camp fellowship with the Philadelphia Eagles, part of a broader NFL initiative aimed at giving women more exposure and opportunities, as a key turning point.
“Her whole background is operations and she’s really good, but they gave [fellows] There are different areas of the organization to work on and one of them is the scouting piece. She called me from Philadelphia, and I could hear the joy in her voice,” Suarez recalled.
“It’s almost like ‘You really like this [operations side]And you saw where your career was going, but you didn’t know there was this other opportunity.
When Calender returned to Princeton for the 2021 preseason, she prioritized covering everything from booking team travel and hotel accommodations to coordinating coaches’ meeting times and field schedules, in addition to her primary operations job.
“She was able to devote time almost every day to practice the skill of evaluation. She watches NFL games, evaluates players and learns scout-speak — the language of someone’s reach, length, production, how they use their hands. … She has a pad at our practices, takes notes,” Suarez said.
“She became our pro/NFL liaison, so every time a scout came — it was probably 50 times last year, every team came at least once — she set them up. She talked about the players, their injury histories, how they evaluated their performances. Then, by the time the scouts came to me, they didn’t have a lot of questions. I was out of touch with it, it was a new thing for me. She was amazing.” …
Suarez has been Princeton’s coach since 2010, with a career record of 91-50. Before that, he was an assistant offensive line coach with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2002 to 2009.
As a young Bengals assistant, Sures said he studied the Patriots and noticed a policy of hiring “very smart” candidates who didn’t always come from the highest level of football “but had this hunger to succeed and learn and grow.”
He tried to do the same at Princeton, which is how Callender was initially hired on the recommendation of Princeton alum and former NFL executive Mark Ross.
“We’re not the NFL. We have a short staff, so they are given a lot of duties. For some of them, like Maya, they rise to the top,” Suares said. “To her credit, she started from the ground up and really put herself in a great position to take this next step.”
According to the NFL, 33 full-time female scouts will be hired by teams in 2022.
2. Preview of OTAs: The Patriots entered the third and final phase of their voluntary offseason program this week, when organized team activities begin. Members of the media will attend Thursday’s OTA, which is traditionally when quarterbacks address reporters.
Receiver Tre Nixon was one of the best OTA performers last year, and considering he won’t appear in a regular-season game in 2022, it’s a reminder to put non-padded spring practices in perspective. The Patriots’ goal in general is to create a learning environment and foundation for players so when they return for the start of training camp in late July, they are in the best position to compete.
3. Status of Onwenu: A source familiar with starting right guard Mike Onvenu’s status said he could be on the field during voluntary OTAs after undergoing offseason surgery on a lingering ankle injury from last season.
Onwenu was on course to play every snap last season until the fourth quarter of the final game when 317-pound Bills defensive lineman Daquan Jones landed behind his legs. Onvenu, who was already playing with an ankle injury, collapsed in a heap. That caused him to miss six snaps of the season and eventually into the early offseason.
4. Boutte = digs? NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell, who is an analyst on ESPN’s “NFL Matchup” show, told the “Inside the Birds” podcast that he is intrigued by Patriots sixth-round pick Kyshawn Bout, a wide receiver from LSU.
Acknowledging that the 187th overall pick in the draft isn’t even a lock to make the 53-man roster, Cosell studied the bout and said: “If he can reach his ceiling and play [his physical] All the while traits, I thought I’d make a Stefon Diggs comparison. Remember, Diggs was a fifth-round pick out of Maryland and the 146th player overall. That’s what I compare him to, other than Stefon Diggs in years past, who was arguably a top-five receiver in the NFL. Diggs was a fifth-round pick and the 146th player no one expected. Bout is a fascinating player.
5. Bot in Premier: Bout is the only Patriots draft pick invited to the 29th annual NFL Players Association Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles from Thursday through Sunday. There are 45 draft picks across the NFL who receive invitations, based on factors such as college performance, draft status, position and marketability. Considered the top talent as a freshman at LSU, Boute has seen his stock slip over his final two seasons, becoming the second-lowest draft pick to receive an invite, behind Cowboys running back Deuce Vaughan (sixth round, No. 212). )
6. Don’t forget the tie: Retired Patriots running backs coach Evan Fears said Ty Montgomery, who is limited to one game in 2022 with a shoulder injury, is watching closely as a Patriots player. Fears is still a common presence around the team, and Montgomery said on the “6 Rings and Football Things” podcast: “I think he has a great opportunity to be a third-down back and take some of the load off Ramondre. [Stevenson]So [Rhamondre] He can be fresh when he really needs to be on first and second downs carrying the ball as a featured guy. We need some help for Rhamondre and I think Ty is pretty good right now. He is healthy. “
7. The Wynn Agreement: Patriots 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn landed with the Dolphins last week on a one-year deal with a base value of $2.3 million and a max value of $2.7 million. The Patriots paid him $10.4 million in 2022 after picking up the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, which, as the math suggests, is a reward for a player who hasn’t lived up to expectations. On a related note, 2019 Patriots first-round pick N’Keal Harry is unsigned after spending last season with the Bears. The Patriots are without a player from their 10-man 2019 draft class on the roster after waiving offensive tackle Yodney Cajuste on Thursday.
8. Covington Accelerate: The NFL’s spring meeting is scheduled for Sunday through Tuesday in Minneapolis, and Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington will be in attendance as part of the league’s Coach Accelerator program. That gives Covington, entering his seventh season with the Patriots, an opportunity to connect more with owners and executives with an eye toward future career growth by interviewing for the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator job in the offseason. Patriots pass-rusher Josh Uche (11.5 sacks in 2022) said of Covington: “It’s the integrity he has — in the meeting room and out of it. [Me] Being able to play more freely and having more confidence definitely flows from him.
9. Brotherhood: The Patriots signed San Diego State undrafted defensive tackle Justus Tawai — brother of New England linebacker Jahlani Tawai — making the Tawais the fifth set of brothers to play together in New England. The others were DE Whit Canal/OL Justin Canal (1968); WR Clarence Weathers/RB Robert Weathers (1983-84); TEs Rob Gronkowski/Don Gronkowski (2011); and DBs Devin McCourty/Jason McCourty (2018-20). Ahead of April’s draft, Jahlani said: “It would be great if we match up against each other.”
10. Did you know?: The Patriots and Giants had met in 17 straight preseasons prior to this year, the first time the teams have not faced each other since 2004 (no preseason in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The Giants remain the team’s most frequent preseason opponent in franchise history (31 times), behind the Eagles (24) and Commanders (23). The Patriots’ preseason slate includes the Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans.