Competition Abounds at Patriots Wide Receiver Position


NEPD Staff Writer: Craig Cusson

As the Preseason has neared the halfway mark, there are still a handful of question marks regarding one key position. Who will Tom Brady most rely upon? Will the Patriots have enough offensive fire power to make it back to the promised land? After all, in order for Giselle to get upset about Tom “throwing and catching his own balls”, wide receiver establishment must be made.

Here is how it shakes out with two weeks left.

Lets start by recognizing the locks. Julian Edelman a one time college quarterback of Kent State has completely turned his career around from a mere fifth or sixth receiver option a couple of years to go to Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the passing game; let’s be honest this guy doesn’t get enough credit his hands are made of crazy glue and his route running is pristine. Danny Amendola with a huge contract and even bigger shoes to fill in Wes Welker he started off “Guns a blazin'” last season throughout camp and into week 1, until an injury gave him major setbacks the rest of the way through.  

Amendola is again healthy and is again having a great camp; if he can beat his odds and stay healthy he is poised to have a great season in Josh McDaniels offense who loves to spread the ball around. Mathew Slater an emergency receiver rarely called upon for his catching ability , has a skill set unmatched in special teams he is also a roster lock.

With three spots taken, Next up a log-jam, Recently signed receiver Brandon Lafell, Second Year Receivers Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Kenbell Thompkins, and free agent signing Brian Tyms all fighting for roster spots. Jeremy Gallon just cleared for practice will most likely end up on the practice squad baring a crazy next two weeks of production; which might land him on the practice squad if you catch my drift. Aaron Dobson the second round pick from  a year ago and recently participating in practice from foot surgery seems like a near lock unless something bizarre happens, rarely is a second round pick that has produced cut in just less than two years, the investment is there and so are the numbers.

Dobson, had 37 catches for 519 yards his rookie campaign out-performing stars such as Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, and Brandon Marshal in their rookie years and posting similar numbers to Dez Bryant.

A key addition this offseason the big bodied Brandon Lafell started camp extremely slow but has since caught a head of steam, so much as to Bill Belichick recently suggested that Lafell has recently carved a roll out in the Patriots offense and the roll could be a big one. I think this could suggest the possibility of being the Primary “X” receiver in the offense or at least splitting time at that position. His route running has improved drastically along with his knowledge of the offense.

Kenbrell Thompkins is another interesting receiver who most recently showed his big time play ability by snagging a back shoulder touchdown catch in the Patriots preseason game against the Eagles from Tom Brady continues to have a high ceiling. His spectacular grabs such as this most recent one and the catch everyone remembers to win the Saints game last year are human highlight reals; but his inconsistency at time shows. He is one that is going to have to figure out what receiver he ultimately wants to be; one who can potentially be great or one that shows up from time to time and eventually fizzles out. Thompkins also, had an above average rookie campaign.

Josh Boyce might be in need of the biggest surge the next two weeks. His up and down play continues; Boyce was almost invisible in the first preseason game, and his inconsistent play in the second a solid nice couple of grabs followed by a key drop and penalty make it a difficult decision come cut time. His special teams might factor in; does he field punts? or kickoffs? Do Belichick and company feel like his upside is greater than he is showing remains a huge question.

Finally, Brian Tyms In most peoples eyes signed on as an extra body to make it through camp and preseason grind nobody expected him to make the 53 man roster. Tyms is by far the offenses most surprising player of the preseason and maybe camp in general. He has displayed a great work ethic and a knack of making spectacular grabs in camp and in live game action. His asset is his 4.4 speed and his ability to create last minute separation and high point the ball before bringing it down. He has really made it hard on the coaching staff thus far to cut him outright. One could make an argument he should be starting along side Edelman and Amendola based on his production throughout camp.

The third and most telling preseason game is almost upon us and it will be interesting to see if Tyms Gets any playing time with the first unit. One thing that might be actually in his favor is his four game suspension to start the season due to adderall use. This might give the coaches a little more time to evaluate not only him but the roster in general and also gauge any injuries to the position leading up to it.

Will the Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick end up keeping eight wide receivers seems highly unlikely but one could argue that this is now the deepest position in camp. It is going to be very interesting to see this battle pursue and with a little over two weeks left, let the best men win! This should make Tom and Giselle both proud, after-all its true you “can’t throw it and catch it yourself.”


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93 Responses to “Competition Abounds at Patriots Wide Receiver Position”

  1. DMC413 says:

    It was good to see Aaron Dobson out there last night, he looked excellent running his routes and he appeared to have shed the rookie outer-layer of skin as he stepped into his sophomore year as a pro last night. So if the old adage is true that the biggest leap in a player’s career is from year 1 to 2, well I like lasts nights tune-up game and what I saw from AD.

    For the most part I was done with this whole Twin-TE set thing… and moved on… However this Tim Wright guy looked very impressive last night for only being with the team a day in a half. I know it was the meaningless last pre-season game in the meaningless pre-season but you can either catch or you can’t and he answered that question last night for us.

    Last year was his rookie season and he played in all 16 games (started in 8) which IMO is the most important thing in bringing a player along in their early NFL career in that did they have a chance to get acclimated to the game. It’s apparent that Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson are better today because of the heavy dose of NFL experience they saw last year so im making the case TW may be more polished as well in his second year due to the volume of football he played last year.

    In a crack-head-type mode I salivated for an immediate replacement for the old # 81 which never materialized. And often I have a habit of thinking in order to replace a player that the replacement has to fit the exact physical make-up of the player being replaced. So at first look I automatically said TW at 6’ 4 and 220 lb is to light to replace you know who… But the reality of the situation is can that player bring to the table what the other did? And in this case IMO I think TW can. He is not known for his blocking and has recently drawn criticism from Coach Love which may have been a small fraction of why they were willing to part ways with him but “MR. im gonna sign a 40mill contract and kill people too” wasn’t the greatest blocker either.

    So when it comes to blocking with the “JOKER” the question is, “is there a DB or LB on him?” and that should determine pass or run when trying to exploit the defense and because TW has and did last night in answering the call, Def cord have to pick their poison in covering him.

  2. GM-in-Training says:

    Is it my imagination, or are the Bucs the tallest team in the NFL?

    They have a pair of 6’5″ stud WR (Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson), and 6’5″ TE (Austin Sefarian-Jenkins). That’s a lot of high-point ability. They also have a 6’9″ tackle, QB Mike Glennon is 6’6″. Their DL are all around 290, and their LB are all around 230, so built to stop the pass, not the run. Their safeties look pretty good (Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron). The only place they seem undersized is their top 3 CB are all 5’10”. I guess the strategy against them is run it down their throats with good FB and TE blocking, or get your tallest receivers and TE in mismatches against their CB.

  3. acm says:

    2013 rookie season highlights of Patriots’ latest roster addition – TE Tim Wright:

    Some pretty good hands and route running there. Could turn out to be what the Pats have been missing since losing AH.

  4. Jack says:

    My initial concern about the trade was of course – whither the protection for TB? A weak interior line group just got weaker.

    But after going over the media reports and fan reaction etc., I’ve come to the conclusion that this has got to be one of the better moves BB has pulled off in his tenure. The pluses appear to strongly outnumber the minuses. For example, the Pats had a lot of money locked up in Mankins. For a 32-year old player who’s on the back 9 of his career and who gave up 13 sacks last year (maybe not all his fault, but still), and who won’t renegotiate his contract, that’s a lot.

    In any case, I guess Mankins was a free agent next year, so he was likely to walk, anyway. Now, if pass-protection were his strength, it might be tougher to swallow. But run-blocking was his forte, and my biggest concern is protection of TB.

    So, with the freed up cap-space – Revis extension, here we come! At least, it increases the odds of it. Same with re-signing guys like McCourty and whomever else is coming up in the next year or two.

    A far as replacing Mankins, the Pats have Kline who stepped in and did a reasonable job last year when Mankins slid to tackle. So, maybe the dropoff there isn’t so huge, especially in terms of pass-protection.
    The Pats also have Cannon, whom the Pats seem to think is more of tackle, but still. Then take your pick of Wendell/Connelly/Stork at center, or maybe back to Wendell/Connelly as the center/guard and hope Wendell had an off year last year. But now the Pats do have extra depth with Stork and Fleming and Halpio from the draft. So, no, the O-line is not going to be great, but I’m thinking/hoping they will be ok.

    And of course, they picked up pretty good move tight-end for cheap. 51 catches and 4/5 TDs for a rookie? That’s just outstanding. I saw a highlight posted by Lokyo and he looks great. And he fills an area which is a huge need, probably their greatest. With the possible exception of interior OL, but we’ll forget about that for now.

    And the fourth-rounder is a real sweetener. You can find a good player with a fourth rounder. It’s ver likely more than we’re going to get for Mallet!

    A slight downside is Lovie Smith’s negative comments about how he hasn’t been catching the ball and hasn’t been blocking in camp. As far as catching, I don’t think that’s a problem from based on the 51 he made as a rookie. As far as blocking, he’s not a huge guy like Gronk, he weighs 230 or so, so in the Pats offense he won’t be asked to do that as much as maybe Smith was asking from him. Also, he was expendable in TB since they have ASJ and a couple other guys. Perhaps Lovie was setting up the trade for the fan base.

    So, old for young, $$$ for cheap, fill an are of need with an up-and-coming move TE, and pray for the best in the interior OL. Were any good OLs cut today, btw?

    • Jack T says:

      Great post, Jack. I’m dazed and confused. Think I’ll shut my mouth and let you guys prognosticate for the next five days or so.

      Hats off to Tampa Bay. They’re putting it all on the line and they don’t have anywhere near the surplus capex to spring for players the Pats, NY and CA teams can muster.

      Goodbye Logan. You got a raw deal on your contract early in your career. You deserve to have the klieg lights shining on you center stage for once in your life, brother.

      Bill did it. He’s burned his bridges. Holy bat guano is all I can say. I’m absofreakinglutely stunned.

      • Jack says:

        Thanks, Jack T. Yeah, BB will leave you stunned every once in a while. There are some times it pays off, some times it doesn’t. I hated to see Asante Samuel go, for example. That really killed the Pats defense for years. Richard Seymour had many good years left, IMO, which is the only reason they landed a #1 for him which they converted to Solder. But those guys could have made a difference. The same with goes for David Patton, SB MVP. What did the Pats get for him? Anything? I forget. Not to mention the absolutely daft move of drafting of Tavon Wilson, which confounds me to this day.

        The risk here is that Mankins has been hurt and could be primed to turn in great year, the so-called “all-in” year. He’s still only 32. Btw, I’m not necessarily a fan of going “all in” in a given year. You could end up doing something dumb. Look at Buffalo.

        But, anyway, at his age, he’s clearly in the category of “aging veteran”. For the Pats to land a promising young TE, a fourth rounder *and* achieve a massive salary dump all in one fell swoop, it’s got to be considered a near steal.

        Btw, correction – I believe Mankins is signed through 2015, not a free agent next year. Which makes the salary dump component even more important.

  5. Kevan says:

    Hey look at that patriots traded for a TE haha

    • DMC413 says:

      Ok, ok-ok, you were right!! You sure did call it. I for sure didn’t see this one coming.

    • DMC413 says:

      Ok, ok-ok, you were right!! I for sure didn’t see this one coming.

      • Kevan says:

        Mankins was somewhat surprising, but it’s always better to be a year early as opposed to a year late. He was the second highest cap charge on the team, and really wasn’t playing on a level deserving of that kinda money. We know he is proud and wouldn’t be willing to restructure. With all that being said it is sad, Mankins is as tough as they come and has been on the team for awhile. I am excited for the offense though, Wright played well as a rookie with sub par quarterbacking. Pats can take that extra cash and lock up Revis long term, maybe. Good stuff though DMC 413, Goooooooooooo PATRIOTS!

  6. Nuf Ced says:

    Wilson Van Hooser cut… I know that is shocking to a few here.

    Why that is shocking I don’t know

  7. steve earle says:

    So guys, who gets the start at LG now?

    • Jack says:

      Hey Steve,

      I heard Mike Lokyo on 98.5 the other night, and he was saying that the tape on Devey isn’t very good – e.g. he gave up most of the pressures in the last game. So, I would say, hopefully *not* Jordan Devey.

      I don’t know too much about Kline, but apparently he spot-started there last year? So maybe he’s the guy?

      • DMC413 says:

        Kline’s play was horrible last year so hopefully a year in the system have turned that around.

  8. GM-in-Training says:

    They traded Mankins to Tampa for a 2015 4th rounder and TE Tim Wright (6’3″, 219, 4.65 40, 7.27 3-cone, 36″ vertical, 19 reps bench press) who had 49 receptions and 4 touch downs as a rookie. Hello move TE. His salary is only $463K, so the Pats should get a lot of cap relief. The question is, can Josh Kline step up?

    • DMC413 says:


      I actually drafted this kid in Fantasy Football last year when I was looking for a backup for my starting TE (Cameron). Just so happened he had a 3 to 4 wk time frame where he lit it up. Vincent Jackson was drawing double coverage and TW stepped up and produced. Then all of a sudden he just fizzled out. Mostly because their QB Glennon was a rookie and his play was up and down.

      Glad to see we have an additional TE on the roster but not sure losing Mankins was the answer. Our O-Line allowed Brady to receive more attention than anyone would like last year… but I don’t think it was due to Mankins not pulling his load. Coupled with the fact this is our first year under a new O-L coach, I just don’t know!!!

      • DMC413 says:

        But then again BB knows when to pull the trigger! i.e. Wes Welker, no pun attended.

      • acm says:

        It seems to me TE Wright was more of a makeweight in this trade. That is, they didn’t trade Mankins to bolster the TE group but because he was getting up there in age and his production has been on the way down for a couple of seasons now and will only get worse, while being the highest paid player on the roster behind Brady and Revis. They would desperately need the cap next year for Revis, Dmac and Solder down the road too, for example.
        The most they would miss at first would be his leadership on and off the field, not so much his production. BB must really believe in the younguns at OL; let’s hope they figure it out quickly.

        • steve earle says:

          If memory serves didn’t Kline get some time at LG last season and held his own. Also the rookey Devey got alot of game time the last three games so BB must have seen enough to think he’s at least a backup.

        • acm says:

          yeah, vs the Ravens in Baltimore, when Solder was out and Mankins moved to LT.

    • steve earle says:

      Wow ! I thought Mankins would finish his carear as a Patriot. Wow ! So Okay I’m glad we got another TE, so what else has Bill done while I was out?

  9. acm says:

    Surprise, surprise – a surprise move by the Pats: OG Mankins traded to the Bucs for TW Tim Wright (a 2013 Rutgers UDFA) + a pick.
    That’s one way to bolster the TE position and open up a lot of cap room at the same time. Sad to see Mankins go but he was already showing signs of slowing down and that salary …
    They must really believe in the new crop at OG. J. Devey may have just made the squad.

  10. J H TARBORO says:

    The Dallas Cowgirls just released the “Wrecking Ball” LSU FB JC Copeland and i think it would be time to move FB James Devlin to TE! Go get Copeland, he would be a great asset to our run game, he’s an explosive blocker and catches well out of the backfield. For those who don’t know who he is youtube him. Also the lead blocker for Jeremy Hill at LSU.

    • acm says:

      you know, JT, sometimes it’s alright to let go of things 😉

    • steve earle says:

      Copeland would be a nice pickup if Bill could manage it. So now what the heck lets trade Mallett too, might as well go all in…. Well kind of all in…. get our feet wet anyway.

      • acm says:

        said it before, gonna say it one last time – JC copeland was fine for the college game but at the NFL level, he is just too one-dimensional of a player as he’s too big to be relevant in the passing game. No way in hell would BB waste a roster spot on a 1-D FB, considering having a flexible FB like Develin on the roster is already a luxury in and of itself.

        The one player in that position I regret they didn’t get was Trey Millard, instead of Jemea Thomas. He is a player who has everything to have a role in all facets of the O game and would have been an upgrade on Develin, imo.

      • steve earle says:

        amc your right that copeland is one demensional but a very powerful one demensional blocker. Goal line and short yardage he could come in realhandy. I do suppose your right that picking up a pure blocking FB would be to limiting. Besides a backup OT/OG could fill that roll. I get greedy sometimes … Ok most of the time.

  11. Russell says:

    I’m hearing the Rams are ready to start developing a QB < as Bradfords future is in Question. So would not be surprised to see Mallett, go to the Rams. Bill may then Pick-up QB Kevin Kolb.

  12. GM-in-Training says:

    About half the teams in the league have already announced 10+ cuts. I haven’t seen any interesting TE yet.

    • Bobthebuilder says:

      It’s the first cutdown, we’ll probably have to wait till the second for interesting guys.

    • Jack T says:

      Steelers will have to shed a couple. They’re down to 81 players with 6 TEs, 4 QBs, 8 WRs and 6 RBs remaining on their roster. Already released two RBs this morning – Blount & Houston still onboard.

    • Jack T says:

      Giants have a bunch too but they must not be very good. Daniel Fells is their #2 on the depth chart out of the 6 TEs they’re carrying. Both BB and Coughlin are waiting til the last second to reveal their cuts.

    • Jack T says:

      Would Coughlin elevate Fells to his #2 TE to fake everyone out? It doesn’t make sense. He’s 30 yrs old, slow, and took a year off last year. He had four catches for us the year before. Coughlin signed him in January. Sounds as though Fells is a stalking horse to disguise someone the Giants like they want to keep under the radar, cut and bring back.

      • Jack T says:

        This has to be the guy – Adrian Robinson. Giants drafted him in the fourth round. He was hurt and never played last year. 6’4″ 264 lbs, runs a 4.5. Giants have him listed last on their depth chart.

      • Jack T says:

        Steelers are in. No more TEs released but another RB named Poole cut. Blount and Houston will play Thursday night.

  13. J H TARBORO says:

    If we still have holes to fill after the cut down to 75, it will be a lot of good players to be had. Go Pats!!!

    • acm says:

      I would say it would be the next cutdown, to 53, that the Pats may be looking forward to.

      Have to say I am surprised to see Kelly cut just now, with so many injury-related questions thruout the DL corps. He had reworked his contract and I thought he did well in the last two preseason games and didn’t seem to get injured vs the Panthers.

      Not surprised to see Smith let go and never thought Anderson did enough to win his roster spot either – had he stayed, it would have been more due to other LBs failing to impress. Hope Anderson’s early release means some of the young guns at LB are coming into their own.

      • steve earle says:

        I agree about Anderson cut, only had him on my list for lack of other options currently on roster. Hope your right about young guys but nothing jumps out in my mind to make me think so. Then my old brain sometimes misses things. If I’m right Bill will have to look for help from upcoming cuts. A couple guys that intrest me are Taylor Mays and Marquis Flowers now with the Bengals. Both these guys are big SS’s but are playing the hybred S/LB position in Cincy’s def. Reading that reporters there expect one or other will be cut, my thinking is Bill should try to make a trade for on of them. Perhaps they might have an intrest in Boyce, what do you think?
        As for more triditional LB’s I also read that the Giants might be cutting Mark Herzlich. I think that would be a mistake on their part and was surprised to read that but I’d love to get that kid here.
        This subject has tons of possabilitys guys, any other ideas out there?

        • acm says:

          LB/SS Flowers was a player I was hoping they would go for in late 6th. Mays for me is an athlete, not a football player, so he is everything BB would not look for to strengthen his team, imo.

          LB is just one position they could look to improve from impending roster cuts, with TE and RB being two others, imo. When it comes to the RB position, I think they could really use a vet player for a power RB next to Ridley – Green Ellis could get cut, for example. I think they are set at change-of-pace RB but as far as power runners go, Bolden is the only one that I can see sticking around with all the youngsters seemingly better suited for practice squad duty than anything else, imo.

      • steve earle says:

        Okay if Flowers is your preferance no problem only Cincy may keep him and cut Mays. So if I understand your point you would rather Bill not take Mays at all. In that case have you got a alternitive in mind?

    • Cannon says:

      Hahlalujel! I needed this-you’re my savior.

  14. steve earle says:

    Going out on a limb here and trying to predict who makes the 53.
    OL : Solder, Mankins, Connelly, Cannon, Vollmer, Kline, Stork, Flemming
    QB : Brady, Mallett, Garoppolo
    WR : Dobson, Edelman, Amendola, LaFell, Tompkins, Tyms, Slater
    TE : Gronkowski, Hoomanowanui
    RB : Ridley, Vereen, White, Gray, Finch
    FB : Develin

    DL :Wolfolk, Kelly, Ninkovich, Jones, Easley, Siliga, C.Jones, Moore, Buchanan LB : Hightower, Mayo, Collins, Anderson, Beauhavnais
    DB : Revis, Ryan, Browner, Dennard, Butler, Arrington, McCourty, Harmon, Thomas,
    ST : Gostkowski, Allen, Aiken

    • Jack says:

      Nice job, Steve. I would be ok with that, as it’s got all my favorites on it. Do you think it’s possible BB will go with only a couple of QBs?

      • steve earle says:

        Not at first Jack but if a chance to trade Mallett for decent value came along, no telling. The other thing in play would be how much confidence BB has in Garopollo right now and will that confidence grow fast enough to make him comfortable with a rookie back-up? My thinking is that Bill will go the safe route and keep Mallett or in case of a trade sign another vet QB.

    • steve earle says:

      Well it didn’t take long for my prediction to get blown out of the water. Kelly released, didn’t see thst coming. Must mean Easley is ready to play. Maybe !

  15. J H TARBORO says:

    The Eagles just released TE Blake Annen, remember he runs in 4.4s for a TE. Kenbrell Thompkins former teamate in college at Cinn.

  16. J H TARBORO says:

    If you look back 2-3 months ago in the NEPD archives, i explained my case why a FB was important in our type of offense and now fastforward to the present in the preseason how the FB position has accounted for 3 of our offensive TDs. Going forward this is position that should be focused on rather than bringing in another free agent TE that must learn the system and taking a gamble to see if that person works out. The FB is this years secret weapon, most teams don’t carry a FB anymore, it’s out of the box thinking at it’s best.

    • steve earle says:

      Just a little confused, are you saying Bill should or should not claim Annen off wavers?

      • J H TARBORO says:

        Possibly he’s an option but if we don’t go in that direction, I would still focus on the FB position IMO.

    • MaineMan says:

      Recently converted Pats LB, Taylor McCuller, has caught 4 of 6 targets for 38 yards and a TD this pre-season.

      Tommy Bohanon, Jets FB, had 17 rushes for 62 yards, 11 catches for 69 yards last season.

      Ravens FB Kyle Juszczyk is leading the team in preseason receiving with ten catches for 90 yards.

      Steelers FB, Will Johnson, has had 23 catches for 178 yards and 2 TDs over the past two seasons.

      Bengals picked up two rookie FBs on draft weekend this year – Ryan Hewitt and Nikita Whitlock (converted DT).

      That’s just two of the eight divisions. FBs are maybe a bit more common around the league than most folks realize.

  17. Jack T says:

    Early takeaways from a few of the 3rd week’s games of the 2014 preseason –

    Garappolo and Tyms – I know it was against 2nd and 3rd stringers but right now I’d bet there are a half-dozen teams who would be willing to trade their first born for that tandem.

    McCuller continues to impress. He made himself a contender to make the team last night and may be a better LB than FB too. Gray too has improved the more he’s played. Thompkins++. Vareen’s stretch TD was beyond spectacular.

    That wasn’t the Panthers. It was Rivera throwing Newton into the fire. He had said he planned to in an interview the day before but I didn’t think he meant it to the extent we saw. Said he had to see if Cam would trust his mended ankle and run out of the pocket. He didn’t. Last week the Panthers used the run to set up the pass. This week just the opposite. Cam started straight out of the box throwing long pass after long pass, looking for the bomb. He hung around and waited until his pocket broke down and pretty much ignored his short outlets most of the night.

    It wasn’t that difficult a test for the defense, and they got plenty of rest watching Tom wear Carolina’s D down. TB was sharp and decisive. Edelman was unbelievable. We finally got to see a variety of screens mixed in.

    Don’t think because of the score the Giants had their way with the Jets. Jets dominated that game most of the night. Pats will have their hands full with them this season. The End. I’m all out of clichés.

    • MaineMan says:

      Jack T –

      If you’re really out of cliches, I heard that ESPN is having a clearance on their 2012 stuff.

      Anyway, I agree that the Panthers weren’t much of a test for the defense. Newton was practically a statue in the pocket. Brady probably could’ve out run him. I think his ankle may have been worse than Rivera let on, but the Pats obviously had it figured out – they weren’t really covering him at all as a running threat. The one time he did go for it, Collins pretty much walked in front of him to make the “tackle” (Newton just fell down).

      Newton’s OL was patchwork. They couldn’t run-block for squat and they all probably played the best game of their lives in pass-pro. At least three of their starters probably wouldn’t even make the Pats’ PSQ. The only legit pass-catching threats Newton had were Olsen and Benjamin. I might’ve been able to cover Avant.

      I mean, I think the defense *did* play well – they had very good communication/cohesion, played their assignments well, got good run fits, didn’t bite on play-action much (even Chung!), etc. They just weren’t challenged very much.

  18. Daniel R. Martin says:

    There was very little not to like about the performance of our team in all three phases last night against Carolina. The Pats certainly seem to be firing on all cylinders now. From the three sacks by two defensive ends that occurred within ten minutes of gameplay, to the 60 yard field goal, to the interception and strong return by a linebacker, our team seems primed for another deep playoff run. One of the players I’m most excited about is RB Gray. I have a sneaking suspicion that he could be a powerful rushing weapon.

    There was a lot of vitriol being spewed on this site in the weeks following the draft. Much of which was being asserted by people that hadn’t contributed much if anything to the discussions on this website in the months leading up to the draft. It seemed anyone even mildly critical of the decisions made by the Patriots’ front office was lambasted by a very vocal few who seemed to think anyone with a dissenting opinion was a “know-it-all,” or a “wannabe GM.” Well, I don’t want to rehash that. I doubt doing so would be any more beneficial to the discourse held by our atypically knowledgeable fan base on this site now than it was in May. However, I will admit for the sake of intellectual honesty that I was very vocally frustrated by the draft selections. To an only slightly less extent I remain disappointed by our picks now.

    Do I think we have the capability to win it all this year? Absolutely. Hell, the team almost went to the Superbowl again last year while missing half of the offensive and defensive play makers. Of course the sky is the limit this year, barring another disastrous turn of poor fortune. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have went all in to build the most overpowered team we could for the next couple of seasons.

    I’m not saying I would have preferred to see BB mortgage the intermediate to long term future of the team for immediate success. I’m simply saying Tom Brady has been asked to carry his team for years without having any great down field receiving targets, or other marquis caliber offensive weapons. Gronk, Moss and Welker withstanding, of course. I just feel as though it would have made more sense to give Tom Brady, who I do legitimately believe is the greatest QB to ever play in the NFL, the weapons needed to outgun Manning and to run over Seattle this year and next year, as opposed to drafting a player who will hopefully never see the field during a regular season game for the entire length of his rookie contract.

    However, Garoppolo has shown me more in just a handful of series than Mallet has the past few years. Garoppolo has had months instead of years to learn the Pats system, and he seems to have done a far better job. Personally, I don’t want to see Mallet taking up a roster space that could go to a fringe weapon like Finch or Gray. I’m very high on Garoppolo. I was wrong to be so critical of him. But I wasn’t and am not wrong to hold the opinion that a top flight Tight End receiving target, with good blocking skills, would have been a better way to go. I certainly think that getting a quality TE who can actually get and stay on the field, unlike Gronk, would have been a better selection than a defensive lineman who is already demonstrating the same propensity for injury. Additionally, there was a lot of over reaching for offensive linemen in the draft this year. Most of whom are also MIA thus far in preseason.

    I’m glad Garoppolo is on the team. But there is no replacing Tom Brady. I believe Garoppolo has tremendous upside and the potential to be a great player and leader on our team in the future. But, if you believe as I do, that Tom Brady is a once in a generation caliber player, then you’ll understand why I feel this way. Again, I’m glad that Garoppolo is on the team because I do think he will prove capable of taking the reins. However, understanding that Tom Brady is the Joe Montanna of this generation, and his equal may not be seen for some time in subsequent generations, I would have rather seen an all out effort to help him win now. Especially considering he will most likely have only a couple of great years left. That being said, I’d have prefered the selection of a TE in the first round and Garoppolo in the second, as opposed to taking Easely.

    I’m excited about the fact that the Pat’s trucked a playoff team of last year, and did so missing Mayo, Vollmer, Gronkowski, Dobson, Easely and others. I have a couple of other unrelated comments/questions.

    I think Mayo will put this defensive unit over the top. I am concerned about him missing from practice and games, and am wondering if any information has been disseminated concerning the nature of his injuries. The last I heard he had dispelled rumors that his absence was not injury related.

    I am wondering if Browner is not shaping up to be the star player we had hoped he’d be. I noticed him playing deep into the second half last night, and thought I saw him get abused by second and third string receivers on a couple of plays.

    I am really hoping Boyce is kept on the active roster. I was of the opinion that he had tremendous upside potential last year. With his speed, I’d like to see him used in the slot receiver position.

    • steve earle says:

      Yes Dan I agree we should have taken a TE (ASJ) in the first rd in May, no doubt in my mind still. Even so I agree Garoppolo is looking very good. But for WR’s, as much as I was hoping Boyce would have had a good camp it just hasn’t worked out that way. I’m guessing and hoping our WRs will be Dobson, Edelman, Amendola, LaFell, Tompkins and Tyms. Develin keeps making plays & blocks whether from FB, TE, or H-back which my be the future of NFL FBs. It works for BB. AS for the bashing you and I and a few others took after the draft I think we can now say, we told them so.

      • Kevan says:

        How can anyone say I told you so at this point? Really it’s the same as I said before, no one knows about a draft for a couple years. The other point I made as an opinion was it’s pointless doing mock drafts as a pats fan. People that get paid for this scratch their heads after the pats pick, that’s how BB rolls. An atypical pats fan would know this. I wasn’t the one spewing venom either, that was Mr. Dan Martin. As for right now it’s just childish to bring something up months later in a round about way. I don’t kno I’m done with this horse crap kid shit. Enjoy the season go pats.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Steve can you shed some light on what is going on with Mayo? Is he injured? Also, what are your thoughts on Browner? I’m beginning to think we may have been sold a bill of goods.

        • steve earle says:

          On Mayo I think Bill is just bringing him along slow and easy so he’s at or near full speed when he comes back full time. Also he has to test the back-ups in order to know if they will be okay if forced to step up or else he’ll need to be looking seriously at the wavers for LB’s. That’s my best guess but only BB knows why he does what he does.

        • Daniel R. Martin says:

          I hope you are right about Mayo, Steve. Concerning Browner, I am really hoping he steps up and starts flashing signs of being the Corner he was brought in to be.

        • steve earle says:

          Browner may just be adjusting to Bill’s def, hope so anyway. Thing about him is he’s a very phyisical CB and new rules tend to limit his skill set so that too may be in a state of adjustment. How this plays out I think BB will find a way to use him where it most helps the team even if it’s as a hybred S/LB type though not expecting that, just saying. Another thing is with the suspension pending he may be holding back during preseason, don’t know, have to wait and see I guess.

    • Kevan says:

      I don’t want to rehash things but I’m going to rehash things said in the past. Haha

    • Kevan says:

      I was workin 80 hrs a week the months leading up to the draft I’m really sorry I couldn’t contribute. I would have been wrong as well.

  19. steve earle says:

    What we saw last evening from our defense is very incouraging. Coverage sacks and pressure all over the place. liked what I saw. On offense three young guys stood out, Garoppolo, Gray, and Tyms. so what else is new? These three have made an impression on most of the fans and hopefully the coaches. Sure their working with the second units against second units but are preforming much higher then the competition they are playing against. That has to be noted and reconized. I doubt anyone of these three would clear wavers so hopefully they all make the 53.

  20. Dan says:

    On Mallett coming in for Brady:

    No, I don’t feel this was “just” a situational football decision to make sure the “backup” is ready at any moment during the game. Yes, that could be part of it, but I’d say it also was a great time to do this so the rest of the league could possibly see Mallet with the first team and moving the chains. And, he did ok. To think that Mallett isn’t being shopped hard is pathetic. He could be cut and that is a loss to the Pats, and they had one last game, maybe some garbage time next week, to have this kid show that he has some value and get ANYTHING for him before he’s cut. I highly doubt they want to carry 3 QB’s….not the way Jimmy G is playing…it seems pretty freakin obvious one guy can actually play and the other isn’t so good.

    The biggest clue, besides the obviousness of all this going down, was Belichick actually said that it was a situational football move to make sure the backup was ready. When does he ever tell the truth, or even answer the question asked??? My god, he’s obviously trying to bait some sucker into thinking he’s got Mallett as the clear #2, ahead of the kid tearing it up clearly. It’s a ploy…clearly!

    Having to listen to the clowns talking about Mallett being #2 because of this is just pathetic across the board. Doesn’t anyone see the obvious in all this.

    My guess is nobody takes Mallett, but I’d bet my life that Belichick would jump at a 5th rounder for him in a second and be done with it…cut bait and move on. That roster spot is gold, and they are making a solid run at this Super Bowl bringing in Revis and others….they aren’t playing around this year, great to see, so they want that spot for someone like Butler, or a REAL player. We all know how BB has learned his lesson on depth. This is a game of attrition and 3 QB’s is a problem. They may be able to tool around with the roster and keep 3 for a few weeks, hope some team loses a QB to injury, but I’m not sure how long they will be able to keep all 3, and my guess is they would prefer to just get something and move on and that’s why Mallett was really in the game at prime time.

    Keep in mind also that Mallett knows his situation also, and Mallet has a guy called an agent, and they may be pushing hard to get out of town; so, this may be a combined effort to make this happen….make everyone happy.

    • steve earle says:

      Not sure your theroy holds much water right now Dan? It’s possable Mallett is being shopped but even more likely it was a situational exercise, after all Bill is famous for that and why should that not include backup QB’s? Besides, not sure who if anyone is looking for a backup right now. Best case scenaro is if some team’s starter goes down for an extended periord and becomes desperate. That would be when Mallett would have the highest potential value. The other element here is, is Garopollo really ready to be the #2 QB? Is he in BB’s mind ready for that? Only Bill knows.

  21. Dan says:

    Completely off topic…very sorry, but not really:

    Ok, I’m sick & tired of football announcers, especially ex-players (Matt C. tonight) acting as if they have no idea what’s going on with the illegal hands to the face and any kind of head contact. This would have flown about 5 years ago, but isn’t it very clear what’s going on with this multi-billion dollar sport? The league is riding the crest of a wave, but that wave is crashing around them because of law suits regarding REAL head injuries. Guys are killing themselves and donating their corpses to science! The league has been sued and it cost them a ton, but the real issue is will parents allow their kids to play this sport any longer…will the talented kids stay with other sports and keep their sanity?

    I’m tired of the ignorance over this. Football causes head injuries, the league just rounded up mothers of kids with the kids to teach them and the coaches how to tackle more safely. This is front page news…this is a league/business trying anything to keep this sport’s future alive. So, of it shouldn’t be a surprise at all that the league will insist that the officials (in preseason) throw a flag every time someone goes near another players head. The message is loud and clear: THE HEAD IS OFF LIMITS…DEAL WITH IT.

    The league and sport will go away in 10-20 years, and/or have a huge drop off in talent, if it doesn’t make every effort to avoid more lawsuits, and to convince mothers (and fathers) that this sport is ok now…problem solved…smoke and mirrors really, but this is the reality.

    • Bobthebuilder says:

      The announcers were not confused at all about what was happening with the hands to face penalties. They were complaining about how the rule was in place for player safety, and what the refs called on that particular paly (and generally this pre season) was not a danger to player safety. And it isn’t. Yes there are times where a DL really drives up into an O-lineman’s face and that should and will be called. But this pre season the refs have been calling every little bit of contact on the facemask, and then some. Multiple times there have been hands to the face penalties on guys that have hit the collarbone, under the facemask. And often when the offender does actually make contact with the facemask, it is not a danger to player safety and should not be called. Like the play that Matt Chattam was really complaining about last night. The DL tapped the facemask. No chance of a concussion, or of whiplash, no chance of hurting the OL, not even an affect on the play, just incidental contact. As we have seen with the penalties, almost every play a guy makes contact with another guy’s facemask with their hand. And very few of those contacts are a danger to player safety. The Deacon Jones headslap is not what’s happening here. A little love tap is. Let it be and play the game.

  22. J H TARBORO says:

    Miami just waived former 3 round pick TE/FB Michael Agnew.

  23. J H TARBORO says:

    I know we have only 2 more preseason games, I think everyone has forgotten about WR Jeremy Gallon. He’s off the pup list and I still think he’s better than Josh Boyce and a better playmaker given the chance. I really hope he plays on Friday. The roster I would like to see is
    (B.Tyms) i really like Tyms! but suspended for 4 games but if we can keep him, keep him!

    • steve earle says:

      Have to take your word on Gallon JH as I didn’t follow him at all last year. I do think Boyce is now on the bubble so if Pat’s keep seven then perhaps Gallon has a chance to make some plays in the next two games and pratices enough to stick. Just have to wait and watch.

      • GM-in-Training says:

        With 3 quarter backs and so many iffy-but-talented defensive linemen, I think it will be hard for the Pats to keep 7 receivers. With 10 slots on the practice squad, it is going to be even harder for rookies like Gallon to justify a spot on the 53-man roster.

    • Larry says:

      You have six recievers on your list (7 if you add Slater) they are not keeping that many recievers………….Gallon is destined for the practice squad along with Tyms if they make it thru waivers…………………..

  24. MaineMan says:

    Based in good part on what I saw in person at practice against the Eagles:

    Edelman is seriously wicked good. He ran and caught passes on every route and made it look easy. It was like he was toying with the defenders.

    Amendola isn’t at Edelman’s level, but he’s not all that far behind, either. He also runs every route effectively.

    It would be unwise for anyone to pigeonhole either of these guys as “just slot receivers”.

    LaFell is smoooooth and sneaky good. He plays much faster and quicker than most DBs appear to think he can.

    Thompkins plays angry and leaves everything on the field on every play. His route-running, in both timing and subtlety, is vastly improved over last season.

    That’s a very solid top four, IMHO. Perhaps the most solid since I can’t remember when. Yeah, the Pats have maybe had a couple-three guys who were, individually, maybe better than anybody here, but not all on the roster at the same time.

    Dobson had just started cutting at that practice and, physically, he looked at least as good as everybody else in drills. Still a bit of a question mark, though. Tyms definitely knows what he’s doing and is far ahead of either Van Hooser or Johnson.

    Boyce, though…. although he did show very good athleticism and flashes of good technique, my consistent impression of him on every single drill was that he’s just not trying very hard. He just looked lazy. I don’t care how good he *might* be, if he can’t bring himself to “get after it” like Thompkins and Tyms and, well, everybody else was, I can’t see the use in keeping him.

    Personally, I’d go with

    and keep an extra guy at another position (maybe Finch) while Tyms is suspended and defer the decision about him until week-5.

    No, I’m not cutting Slater. He’s just NOT a “real” WR, regardless of his nominal position designation, and, therefore, not relevant to this discussion.

    • Jack says:

      Great comments, Maine Man. You have some very professional observations, way above my league. Do you have experience as a scout or player or what is your background, if you don’t mind my asking?

      • MaineMan says:

        Umm, thanks! But , no. No scouting experience. Played a bit as a kid. Grew up across the street from a guy who was a California HS all-stater a couple years running and watched a lot of ball with him. This was in the Detroit suburbs and, in an early career (fine wine broker), I was in a position to get to know a few of the Lions’ players and front office guys – saw how that organization worked (or didn’t work). Lived off-and-on in Ann Arbor from ’70-2000 and go to know some of the guys in that program. Saw Brady’s whole college career and moved to Maine the day after his last game with Michigan. Pretty cool to be able to say “yeah, he followed us to New England” (heh). When Brady took over for Bledsoe in 2001 and all my co-workers were pre-emptively bemoaning a “lost season”, I told them, only half-jokingly, that Brady would probably win the SB for them. That’s ONE off-the-cuff prediction that worked out okay, anyway.

        Picked up a background in programming and comp sci in HS in the late 60’s. Studied organizational theory and international politics at Mich. Ended up in careers where similar patient observation, data-gathering, a knowledge of history and science, and understanding how things integrate into ecologies were all extremely helpful – the wine biz, and later, greenhouse management/landscape gardening, then finally network and system security (wrote a LOT of end-user documentation, too).

        Beyond that – I ran cross country in HS, but was out of athletics until my late 30s when I picked up marathoning. Kept at it for about a decade until I tore a meniscus doing speed work. Quit for two years, then got back into 5k-10k races for another five years. So, maybe a bit of personal feel for training (and injury recovery). IDK. I guess just a lot of study of football history, organizations, strategies, stats. I tend to watch most teams closely, not just the Pats. BB’s depth of knowledge and approach is a real inspiration and I feel like I don’t know even a tenth of what I need to know in order to understand what’s really going on. Without having any access to what BB and his staff are seeing or thinking (that none of us can), most stuff is just a (somewhat) educated guess. What I really need to get good at all this is to become Ernie Adams’ apprentice.

        Doesn’t seem like much to me in the way of “qualifications” and most of the time I feel like a blind squirrel who’s tripped over an acorn, but, y’know, so far – so good.

        • MaineMan says:

          Just occurred to me that maybe the most important thing I gained from my collective careers and studies that feels crucial to whatever I might have come to understand about football – and maybe everything else – is a gut-level appreciation for how all things – organizations, plants, technologies, business models, strategic thinking, consumer trends – grow, evolve, adapt (or don’t).

        • Jack says:

          That’s an interesting and impressive background, MM. One reason I think your observations are so astute, besides the organizational insight, is you just have a lot of interest in and experience watching and studying the game overall, and not just from the Pats perspective, as opposed to someone like myself who more or less focuses on just the home team. That, plus what seems to be a natural flair for evaluation.

          Btw, when I saw Brady make his first start, I was shocked and amazed at how good he was. I didn’t make a super bowl prediction, though.

  25. Jack T says:

    Your point on Tyms is spot on. He and Garappolo found their groove. Doesn’t mean he’ll have the same rapport with Brady.

    • DMC413 says:

      Jack T, I have to agree with you on Tyms.

      The statement of “One could make an argument he should be starting along side Edelman and #80 based on his production throughout camp. ” really caught me off guard. I have seen both of his PRE-SEASON games, like I said Pre-Season and have been impressed not to mention his ties to Randy Moss(I miss that Tom B to Moss days). But if he is doing enough in camp and scrimmages for people to have that sentiment about him then I would caution my fellow PAT fans to pump the breaks before they run into a “SUDFIELD”.

    • steve earle says:

      I keep coming back to this post and finally realized what keeps nagging at the back of my mind about it. You guys are right that Tyms and Brady aren’t in sinc like Garopollo and Tyms are but I’m thinking it wouldn’t take very long to get there from what I see from Tyms. He looks like a natural to me, he gets open, has good speed and hands, seems to know the routes, picks up the nonverbals from Garopollo and must have been studying Brady throughout camp. I could be wrong but don’t think I am.

      • DMC413 says:


        My thoughts were more on the lines of I would like to see him against tougher competition, first and second string-guys rather than just third stringers before I “Crown Him”.

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