July 6, 2022

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Patriots practice squad star suspended first two…

3 min read
Patriots practice squad star suspended first two...

After the departure of JC Jackson, the New England Patriots‘ defensive line is suddenly the strongest component of their defense. With the secondary lacking depth at cornerback and the linebacker room composed of unproven players, the line needs to step up as the lifeblood of the defense.

While Matt Judon needs a proper running mate on the edge, the Patriots are absolutely stacked on the interior. It’s unclear how the bottom of the depth chart will pan out, but Christian Barmore, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise and Davon Godchaux form a fearsome top-end of the rotation.

Having depth at DT is paramount in today’s NFL and it’ll pay dividends for New England to start the 2022 campaign. But part of that plan hit an obstacle for the Pats.

On Monday, news broke that Daniel Ekuale will be suspended for the first two weeks of the regular season. The reason for Ekuale’s suspension hasn’t been disclosed, but the fourth-year lineman will be unavailable to start the year regardless.

Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale has been suspended for the first two games of 2022

This might not seem like a big deal, but Ekuale saw frequent playing time as the most touted player on the Patriots’ practice squad in 2021. The 28-year-old was elevated to the 53-man roster eight times and notched five tackles (two for loss), two sacks and two QB hits in seven games. He was especially productive in the team’s Week 14 win against Buffalo when he recorded two tackles and a sack of Josh Allen.

It’s clear Bill Belichick and Co. think highly of Ekuale and you have to wonder what this suspension means for his future. Knowing the context of the ban would help, but it seems noteworthy the Washington State product’s previously been suspended for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

The Patriots are stacked at defensive tackle and Ekuale is expected to compete for a roster spot alongside Carl Davis, Henry Anderson, Bill Murray, Byron Cowart and rookies Sam Roberts (sixth round) and LaBryan Ray (undrafted).

The silver lining here is Ekuale will be able to participate in training camp and the preseason before his suspension kicks in, so he’ll still be able to stake his claim for a roster spot assuming the Patriots don’t cut bait with him.

Belichick canceled the final practice of mandatory minicamp and the final two sessions of organized team activities, so Ekuale better hit the ground running after summer break to get back in the head coach’s good graces.

Patriots practice squad star suspended first two games of 2022