Cameron McGrone should have been cold coming off the bench.

It was late November, after all.

Not to mention, McGrone hadn’t participated in a single NFL practice yet, even though the Patriots drafted him in the fifth round months earlier. McGrone’s ongoing recovery from a torn ACL had delayed his on-field debut through the spring and training camp and placed him on the non-football injury list. Now because of league rules, all he had was two weeks worth of regular-season practices to impress his teammates and coaches.

Mission accomplished.

“One thing that I noticed is that all the other guys on the field had been playing football for months, and then he had been coming off of a year or whatever of not playing football. And he really didn’t look, in any sort of way, out of place on the field,” Patriots outside linebackers coach and defensive play-caller Steve Belichick said Tuesday. “Which I thought was impressive.”

Despite his performance, the Patriots stashed McGrone on injured reserve for good in mid-December. Since then, mere mentions of the 6-foot-1, 233-pounder have spread smiles across the faces of several Patriots staffers this offseason.


After declining to add a linebacker in last month’s draft, director of player personnel Matt Groh said he was “really excited” about the Patriots’ current group. The first name he mentioned?


“Excited to see Cam McGrone was able to get on the field a little bit last year, excited to see him be in an expanded role,” Groh said. “He’s kind of an additional draft pick. … That all kind of counts to getting younger, getting faster, being a tough team.”

McGrone is a few inches shorter and 15 to 20 pounds lighter than linebackers have historically been under Bill Belichick, including one-time starter and current inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.

On Tuesday, Mayo described McGrone as a player “who can still fly around and make a bunch of plays in the run game and the pass game,” while cautioning the team must see how the 21-year-old performs this spring.

“Just an athletic guy who moves well. He’s able to do a bunch of different things,” Mayo said. “He’s able to cover, he’s able to play in the run game. But like I said, we’ll have to see what happens this year.”


Mayo added he expects McGrone to contribute inside his position room, which also includes returned starter Ja’Whaun Bentley, Mack Wilson, Raekwon McMillan and Harvey Langi.

New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork celebrates after Malcolm Butler intercepted Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015. Wilfork has been elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame. AP file photo

VINCE WILFORK, the former Patriots defensive lineman, was announced as the newest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame Tuesday, having been elected by a fan vote over fellow finalists Mike Vrabel and Logan Mankins.

Wilfork is the sixth Patriot to be elected in his first year of eligibility. The date and time of his induction ceremony has yet to be determined.

Wilfork spent 11 seasons in New England after the team selected him in the first round in 2004 out of Miami. He won two Super Bowls, earned five Pro Bowl honors and one All-Pro selection. After two ensuing years with the Texans, Wilfork returned to sign a one-day contract in Aug. 2017 so he could retire a Patriot.

Wilfork a key piece of several of the franchise’s best defenses. Coach Bill Belichick called Wilfork one of the best two-gapping defensive linemen in NFL history at his retirement press conference and later one of the best defensive linemen he’s ever coached.

Wilfork finished with 560 tackles, 16 sacks, five forced fumbles and three interceptions in 189 regular-season games.

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