FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from Wednesday’s New England Patriots media availability at Gillette Stadium:
— Matthew Slater could be a politician one day.
When asked for his reaction to being voted to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl, the longtime Patriots special teams captain recognized 11 of his fellow special teamers in his response.
“I’m very humbled,” Slater said. “Obviously, it’s been a challenging year for myself personally, but to have your peers and the coaches that you go against every week and the fans vote you to that is a very humbling honor. So I’m just very thankful. And I feel like for me personally, I’m just a representative of a great group.
“I think about the guys who are part of our core (special teams) group, and really feel like we have the best core group in the National Football League. I think about a guy like Nate Ebner, Brandon Bolden — guys I’ve played with for six years each.
“I think about a guy like Johnson Bademosi, who has had a great career in this league, who has been consistent year after year.
“I think about Jonathan Jones, Brandon King — two of the best young players that I know I’ve personally played with over the course of my career.
“I think about Trevor Reilly, a hard-hat guy who just comes into work every day and does his job.
“I think about two young guys, Jacob Hollister and Nicholas Grigsby, and the potential they have to be great.
“I think about a guy like James Develin, who I think everybody on this team just loves and is happy for — the success that he’s had as a fullback, but what he does for us in the kicking game, as well.
“I think about Geneo Grissom, Jordan Richards — two guys who have just been so steady and consistent for us over the year.
“I feel like I represent that group, and it’s humbling for me.”
This might be Slater’s unlikeliest Pro Bowl nod, as injuries have caused him to miss seven of the Patriots’ 14 games.
“As the conversation went down (Tuesday) night, I was just blown away,” he said. “You never dream about these types of things happening to you as a professional athlete, and I’m really humbled that people feel that way about the game that I’ve played, not only this year, but over the course of my career. I’ve always tried go about the game the right way, respect the game, and I love the game. I’ve been around it my whole life. So it’s very humbling.”
Slater now is tied with Steve Tasker for the most Pro Bowl selections ever by a special teamer. Tasker, who played in four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s, is considered one of the best gunners in NFL history.
“(That’s) hard to put into words,” said Slater, who is tied for third on the Patriots with five special teams tackles this season. “I think about Steve Tasker, and he’s obviously the best special teams player of all time. Because of him, guys like myself have a job. To me, he’ll always be in a league of his own, but it’s certainly humbling have your name mentioned alongside Steve Tasker’s.”
— While Slater was addressing reporters at his locker, cornerback Stephon Gilmore called out “Hall of Fame” as he walked past the media scrum. With the exception of four kickers and one punter, no special teams player ever has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
— For the second time in three weeks, all five Patriots running backs — Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, James White, Brandon Bolden and Mike Gillislee — were recognized Wednesday as practice players of the week. New England spent last week preparing for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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