NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
Which players on the roster bubble need to have a big game tonight? Is Andre Carter coming back? How do you feel about the wildcat? Great questions!
Those are some of the questions I’ll be answering in my weekly “Too Long For Twitter” Friday mailbag where I take questions from Twitter that warrant, deserve or need answers longer than 140 characters
If you have a question about anything, tweet it to me @DougKyedNEPD, and I’ll try to include it in the column on Friday. If you aren’t on Twitter, feel free to throw in a question in the comments section.
I realize I’m really going out on a limb here, but I’m gonna say Jesse Holley.
No, but seriously. At this point, I’d say that Donte Stallworth is probably the odd man out. He hasn’t looked as impressive lately as he did early in camp, and obviously Tom Brady has a really great rapport with Deion Branch. About half of the success of being a Patriots WR is getting the trust of Tom Brady. Without that, you’re Chad Johnson.
It will be very interesting watching Stallworth and Branch tonight against the Bucs. This game could definitely help decide that 6th WR spot. Both players are around the same age and have experience with the Pats starting QB.
I do, I think we’ll see a lot of Branch and Stallworth out on the field with Brady tonight. I’d expect Brady to play quite a bit tonight and I expect him to work with a rotation of the Patriots main targets. I’m still convinced that Stallworth has more in the tank than Branch at this point, but you can do worse than Branch as a 6th WR and at most 9th target behind Welker, Gronk, Hernandez, Lloyd, Gaffney, Ridley, Vereen and Woodhead.
I’ll do seven, just because:
1. Deion Branch/Donte Stallworth – these guys have been covered.
2. Brandon Bolden – Bolden has to show the team he can hang onto the ball and be dependable. I’d also like to see him explode for a big run against Tampa Bay and show what we’ve seen in training camp. Bolden should get a big opportunity to make the roster in the next two games, I’d love the Pats to carry him over a traditional fullback.
3. Dan Koppen – At this point, I can’t see him on the Patriots roster, so he’s got to show up big to pass guys like Nick McDonald, Donald Thomas and Dan Connolly. The Patriots offense has looked worse every time Koppen is on the field. That has to change.
4. Brandon Deaderick – I’d say he’s still got a great chance at making the team, but guys like Marcus Forston and Marcus Harrison have been impressive in limited time. I’m not sure if Deaderick is a great fit for this defense if he’s going to be forced to play DT. He’s undersized and doesn’t have the pass rush moves needed to play 3-tech in the Patriots four man front. Last year he and Shaun Ellis were used as 5/7-tech linemen, this year that role is going to more traditional DEs.
5. Jeff Tarpinian – The final linebacker spot(s) is another interesting puzzle to try to solve. Tarpinian has the most upside on this roster, but he has to pass Niko Koutouvides. The most important job of this player is to be solid in coverage and to be a guy who can contribute in every special teams set.
6. Will Allen – I’d love to have Allen on the team because of his versatility and experience, but Bill Belichick is obviously a very special teams oriented coach and Allen will not contribute there.
7. Alfonzo Dennard -We’ll be getting our first taste of Dennard down in Tampa tonight and while he’s very likely to make the roster, it’s still important he plays well.
The Pats are pretty loaded at defensive end right now with the inclusions of Chandler Jones, Jake Bequette and Trevor Scott, the return to health for Jermaine Cunningham and the position switch for Rob Ninkovich. If any of those guys go down, or if a linebacker goes down and Nink has to switch back to SLB, I could see the Pats bringing Carter back, but there’s word that he’s not fully healthy yet, which is why the Rams signed the awful Vernon Gholston over Carter.
Carter was probably the Patriots best defensive player last year, so there’s definitely a spot for him on this team, but he has to be at full health.
I’d love if the Pats could get either interior lineman from Alabama. Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones are both potential first round picks next year and both were very impressive from the games I analyzed last year. The Pats are having success with an Alabama prospect his year in Dont’a Hightower, hopefully they go back to that deep well of talent. If Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly or Nick McDonald step up this year, we may not need that position to be filled in the first round though. Marcus Cannon’s struggles at tackle may mean a position change to RG as well.
I will watch this movie and do this on Monday. I promise.
If you’ve missed my silly wildcat plays, check them all out here: Doug Kyed’s Wildcat Plays.
Here are my two latest inclusions:
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE