When guard RJ Prince was in New England for training camp last summer, I became close friends with the former UNC Tar Heel. Although he was released during roster cuts, he’s remained in in close contact with me, and I had the ability to ask RJ a few questions about his time as a Patriot.
Q: You worked out with New England back in January, but weren’t signed until late into the summer. Walk me through that process.
A: “They brought me in back in February for a workout. I worked out, they didn’t want to do anything at the time. Fast forward to mini-camp, they brought me in. I guess I impressed them enough to at least give me a shot at training camp.”
Q: You spent time in Pittsburgh and Baltimore before coming to New England. What was something here in Foxboro that was completely new to you?
“I would have to say the complexity of the offense and the entire system. On top of that, the blocking schemes and techniques of how they want their offensive linemen to block took a bit of time to get down because ever since college and my first three years in the NFL, each OL coach taught the same technique. Pass protection I can simply say is like a systematic mathematical equation.
“Along with identifying the Mike, each protection has its own rules. One might be a weak slide protection, the others may be a strong side dual, strong slide protection, 5/6/7 man protection, is the RB, FB, or TE in the protection or not … it’s very detailed. Easily the most advanced pass protection scheme I’ve been studied.”
Q: You were part of this 2021 team during the preseason, which featured the QB battle between Mac Jones and Cam Newton. From a lineman’s perspective, how did those two guys perform in your eyes?
“And still the big elephant in the room somewhat. All I can say is, both of them had their ups and downs in camp. Both of them have/had their own weaknesses and strengths, but both can run the offense and the system and bring productive results. The only guy that had a complete understanding of the offense and every intricacy within it was Brian Hoyer.
“The thing about Mac is, he has a crazy level of being able to retain information, and as he kept learning, his poise, moxie, and confidence just grew and grew; it was fun to see. Cam’s command and swagger was just unbelievable; great to block for him. All the stuff that happened with Cam departing, all I can say is, the NFL is totally unpredictable and it can be a cruel and unforgiving business. But in the end, business is business. That rumor that Mac was teaching Cam the playbook and all that, just don’t believe everything you read or hear. I’m shooting that down.”
Q: Do you have any predictions for this current New England Patriots squad?
“All I can say is don’t count them out. The offense can be very productive when hitting all cylinders. And the defense can keep them in any game. Matt Judon is still his same old self. Being with him in Baltimore, he’s the one you can always depend on to make an impact. The Patriots are THE dark horse to make a run.”