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Raekwon McMillan ‘excited’ to show what he can do on Patriots debut


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McMillan tore his ACL before playing just one game with the Patriots in 2021.

Raekwon McMillan is expected to play his first game with the Patriots on Sunday. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Raekwon McMillan had a promising start to training camp in 2021 after the Patriots signed him this offseason. But the linebacker didn’t play a game last year, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during camp before he could make his official debut with the Patriots.

A year later, McMillan is healthy and part of a revamped Patriots linebacker corps that saw three notable veterans leave in the offseason (Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins). With the uncertainty at the position, McMillan’s received a good amount of playing time – both with starters and substitutes – during camp and pre-season.

There’s one thing that’s certain going into Sunday’s season opener. McMillan is set to play his first game in two years, against the team he was drafted for and played for in his first three NFL seasons.

“It’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited because I can do it in the first stadium I started in Miami,” McMillan said. “But I’m just excited to hang out with the guys, man, to show what I can do. Go ahead, have fun and play ball. Everyone writes about what I can do, what I can be, but I’m excited to go show it.

In his first full preseason with the Patriots, McMillan made multiple plays in all three games. He recorded 11 tackles (seven solo) and one quarterback hit, occasionally being used as a blitzer with some effectiveness.

McMillan is just one of many linebackers playing a role on this year’s Patriots team that didn’t have a role on last year’s team. Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings are used on the outside as pass throwers while Mack Wilson, who was acquired in a trade from Cleveland, played as inside linebacker and was used in pass coverage and as a blitzer during the pre-season. Jahlani Tavai also played a lot during the pre-season.

They join Ja’Whaun Bentley (New England’s 2021 top tackle) and Matthew Judon (New England’s 2021 top sacker), who are the only returning linebackers to have played a major role on the team. last season.

McMillan thinks the cast of linebackers around Bentley and Judon know exactly what their role is and how critical it is that everyone does their duty well starting with Sunday’s Week 1 game.

“I think we’ve done a good job of figuring out how each guy can help this defense in a particular way,” McMillan said. “…We have the same level of expectation for everyone. We run to the ball. We play hard. Starting with [Bentley], me, Mack and Tavai. We’re the guys there most of the time, and we’re doing a good job of helping each other out and learning this defense, because we have to show up in Week 1. It’s a big week.

As for playing with his former team, McMillan enjoys them very much. But between the first whistle and the last whistle, it’s business for him.

“It’s pure smoke when we first go there. I play for the Patriots now,” McMillan said with a smile. “I love ’em to death. I’ll probably dab ’em before the game. But when the clock starts ’til the clock ends, we’re [on] opposing teams. »

“We keep pushing and playing ball, man,” McMillan added.



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