Patriots

First and 10: An appreciation of Rodney Harrison, Patriots Hall of Famer

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(Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)

Welcome to first and 10, a roundup of all the (mostly) Patriots-related news you need to start your Tuesday. Grab your coffee and let’s get to it.

For a young reporter, few things were as terrifying as losing your train of thought while talking to Rodney Harrison a few days after a blowout.

The Patriots had lost to the Bills a few days earlier, 31-0. That morning in the locker room, I found myself facing Harrison, by myself, trying to figure out a way to ask the question: How do you go about bouncing back from a blowout? Only problem was, I lost my nerve, and I sort of danced around things: "Uh, how do you ... is it possible ... can you..."

He stepped in: "How do you come back from getting your ass kicked?"

Thank you, I thought. "Yes. Yes. That. How do you bounce back from ... that?"

"Got to come in the next day, put the time in. Go to work. There are no shortcuts. I'm confident we can do it. It's just a matter of getting it done."

Of course, they got it done, just like Rodney said. You can watch the highlights and see the big hits and look at the stats, but for me, covering Harrison on a daily basis from 2003 through 2008, that was pretty much Rodney in a nutshell: No BS -- putting in work, getting the job done, and yielding results. And always something interesting to say along the way.

[caption id="attachment_498777" align="alignnone" width="1600"] In his playing days, Harrison (No. 37) was always at the center of the action. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)[/caption]

I've described myself before as a Harrison apologist, and I mean it. He was a blast to cover. Every day we walked into the locker room, he always had something interesting to say. (Honestly, that's one of the reasons why he's become so good on TV.) He always talked, win or lose, and you always knew he meant every word. Sure, he had all of the traits Bill Belichick yearned for in a player -- toughness, smarts, a knack for rising to the occasion in the biggest moments. But he also wore his heart on his sleeve. Everything mattered to him. That was one of the reasons why I was proud to nominate him for the Patriots' Hall of Fame on multiple occasions.

The truth of the matter is Harrison was the perfect player for that team at the perfect time, a catalyst that got the franchise through an uneven patch and back on the winning track, ultimately paving the way for back-to-back Super Bowls. On Monday, it was announced he was the 29th member of the Patriots' Hall of Fame, beating out Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel. Even though he might not have been around as long as Seymour and Vrabel, Harrison earned that red jacket -- a legacy of toughness, dedication and hard work got him there. It's a great honor for a great player, and I couldn't be happier for a guy who truly deserves it.

Now, on with the links...

1. The second wave of free agency starts Tuesday -- that's the deadline for free-agent signings to not count against comp picks for the rest of the offseason. There are a handful of intriguing possibilities still on the market, including a couple of guys in Jared Veldheer and Allen Bailey who have already made contact with the Patriots.

2. It was another terrific Monday afternoon Q&A with questions that ran the gamut. Check out the transcript here.

3. Here's the transcript of Harrison's conference call with the media Monday afternoon after the announcement. "I’m still kind of shocked because I didn’t expect it," he said. "Wow."

4. The Patriots made it official, adding free-agent wide receiver Xavier Ubosi from UAB. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder, played in 20 games during his two-year stint at Alabama-Birmingham and finished with 48 receptions for 1,065 yards and nine touchdowns.

5. Chad Reuter of NFL.com says wide receiver N'Keal Harry is is going to make his All-Rookie Team. "Harry won't get 80 catches this season," writes Reuter. "But his presence in the red zone and other crucial situations gives Tom Brady the tall, strong-handed target that he lost when Rob Gronkowski retired."

[caption id="attachment_503427" align="alignnone" width="1100"] Will Williams be a Day 1 starter? (Getty Images)[/caption]

6. With Deatrich Wise on the sidelines, this could be an opportunity for Derek Rivers.

7. Gregg Rosenthal has a look at the projected starting lineups for all four AFC teams on both sides  of the ball, and has Harry and JoeJuan Williams as starters. The strength of this team? The secondary. "The Super Bowl was a showcase for the Patriots' secondary depth, and the depth chart looks even better now," writes Rosenthal. "The nickel package above doesn't even have room for Super Bowl starter Jonathan Jones, safety Duron Harmon, undrafted find J.C. Jackson or last year's second-round pick, Duke Dawson. Few teams will be able to match up to specific receivers and handle spread offenses better than Bill Belichick's crew."

8. Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report says Chase Winovich will be the breakout rookie star for the Patriots in 2019. "While (N'Keal) Harry could come through as a rookie, we're instead looking at third-round pass-rusher Chase Winovich. The three-year Michigan starter is mature, polished and immediately fills a need on the New England's depth chart."

9. Time for an amusing anecdote: Speaking on "NFL Live" on Monday, former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum recalled what it was like in the New York draft room when the Jets passed on Brady in 2000. Bottom line? They were more worried about the Niners taking Gio Carmazzi instead of New England selecting Brady.

10. Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports looks at some potential landing spots for the remaining free agents. He has defensive lineman Corey Liuget penciled in for the Patriots. "Bill Belichick has a history with ex-Chargers defenders (see: Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau), and while Liuget doesn't carry the same weight (at least figuratively), he does fill a need for some interior help," he writes.

Extra Point: Still one of the all-time best GIFs.