Patriots veterans impressed by Mac Jones
Patriots veterans Matthew Slater, Jonnu Smith and Matt Judon talk about rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
Mark Daniels, The Providence Journal
Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots has caught passes in practice from Tom Brady. Been in the wide receiver room with Hall of Famer Randy Moss and is coached by Bill Belichick, the NFL’s second-winningest coach.
With a resume of one pass reception for 46 yards during his 15-year NFL career, it is not his hands that have kept him on the field, but his play on special teams.
After being selected out of UCLA by the Patriots in the 2008 draft. Belichick told Slater he was brought in to help with the kicking game, and the position he played did not matter.
Slater has turned it into a career worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Former Raiders punter Ray Guy is the only player to make it into the Hall of Fame as a specialist. Former Buffalo Bills special teams ace Steve Tasker was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times during his career and has been a semifinalist in Hall of Fame voting.
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“I can’t think of very many little kids that grow up thinking they’re going to be the next Steve Tasker,” Slater said. “I wanted to be Randy Moss, Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin when I was a little kid. That was not my dream to be a special team player as a young player.”
As a kid, he remembers coming back to Jackson, and watching his dad’s work ethic during preparation for the NFL season. Jackie Slater would run sprints in the heat of the day, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees. Then workout with high school and Jackson State players while trying to perfect his technique and get in the best shape.
“It was so hot and humid in Jackson,” Jackie Slater said. “I felt like if I could run 10 100-yard sprints here, I could run 20 when I got to training camp. The weather was so much different here than at training camp. Back then training camp was brutal, the last players standing were the ones that played in the pros.”
On Sunday, Matthew Slater moved into second place for most games played (215) as a Patriot, trailing only Brady with 285. He’s won three Super Bowls (XLIX, LI, LIII), been selected first- or second-team All-Pro five times (2016-17 and 2019-21) and named to 10 Pro Bowls (2011-17, 2019, 2021).
He’s been honored by making the Patriots’ 2010’s team, New England’s All Dynasty team, and winning the Bart Star Award in 2017, following his father’s victory in 1996 for the award given annually to an NFL player who best exemplifies character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.
Jackie Slater said he has been very proud of his son for the career he has had, and the man he has become.
Matthew Slater stated when coach Belichick says, ‘Do your job’- he means it. Each player on the team understands what his job is and what is being asked of him. Identifying the roles, communicating, and letting each player know what is expected.
“He will go up there, in the kicking game,” Belichick said, “with (Tom) Brady on offense and (Lawrence) Taylor on defense. So, I feel very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach all the players, but I’d say those three in particular.”
The best advice his father has given him was to keep God first and live for something bigger than himself. Faith is the thread that holds the Slater family together. If Matthew Slater is elected to the Hall of Fame, that would be the first African American father and son in the Hall of Fame. Jackie Slater was elected in 2001.
“I have been in the NFL for 32 years,” Patriots director of media relations Aaron Salkin said. “You meet some great people. Matthew is not real. He is exceptional in every way possible. Just an incredible person first and foremost – a Hall of Fame player is another part of his being but fails in comparison to the type of person he is.”
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