The New England Patriots, who are one of the few teams in the NFL that still features the fullback position, sustained a blow to their offense Monday when James Develin was placed on injured reserve.
Develin, who was the AFC’s fullback in the 2017 Pro Bowl, had suffered a neck injury in the team’s Week 2 victory over Miami.
Teams can bring up to two players back from injured reserve during the season, and left tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot/toe) and wide receiver N’Keal Harry (leg) seem to be the Patriots’ top candidates, barring any setbacks. If that is the way it turns out, it would mean Develin’s season is over.
Develin’s work as a lead blocker was instrumental in the offense morphing into a power rushing attack late last season, a switch that helped spark the team to a Super Bowl LIII victory. Captain Matthew Slater said late Monday that Develin is as good of a teammate as he has had in 12 NFL seasons.
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Slater also praised Johnson, his replacement, for his work ethic after initially joining the Patriots on April 8 as part of the NFL’s International Pathway program.
Johnson was born in Stuttgart, Germany, played college football at Tennessee, and spent 2018 with the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League.
When Johnson was assigned to the Patriots on April 8, he faced long odds to stick around.
“He was not on our radar. I don’t think we would have ever signed him,” coach Bill Belichick acknowledged on Monday, adding that a recommendation by former Tennessee coach Butch Jones gave him some assurance that Johnson would be a hard worker. “I would say he definitely started out as the 91st person on the roster and had a long, long, long way to go. Back in the spring, I don’t think anybody ever envisioned him being on the roster at that point, or even being on the practice squad, to tell you the truth.
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