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New England Patriots Mailbag: Pre-Training Camp Edition

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Second-year defensive tackle Chris Jones is entering his first training camp as a member of the New England Patriots. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The rookies report on July 20. The veterans arrive on July 23. And at 9:15 a.m. on July 24, the two sides of the New England Patriots spectrum will meet on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium for training camp.

NEPatriotsDraft.com will be there to provide coverage of the first week as it unfolds. Yet until then, as the final days of the Patriots’ 2014 summer unfold, there are some things left to cover in this July 18 mailbag. (more…)


Year of Growth: Revisiting the Rookie Seasons of Patriots Wideouts Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins made key contributions as Patriots rookies. And, in a sense, those contributions linked the wideouts together. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

One was a 21-year-old second-round pick out of Marshall, the other was a 24-year-old undrafted journeyman by way of Cincinnati and El Camino College. But while Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins traveled far different roads to Foxborough in April of 2013, their impact as New England Patriots rookies eventually merged them to the same one.

Early on, though, they appeared to be at different stages of development.

Dobson was on the field in the fourth quarter of preseason games, acclimating to the offense with players on the fringe of the 90-man roster. Thompkins, on the other hand, was on the sidelines after building chemistry with the first unit and quarterback Tom Brady.

Those initial glimpses weren’t solely rooted in talent, however. It was clear that Dobson’s ceiling was a high one, only the Conference USA product required a higher volume of in-game reps to reach it. His route tree with the Thundering Herd wasn’t the most assorted one. And Thompkins already had experience running an array of patterns versus future NFL cornerbacks in a basic yet rapid Bearcats hurry-up offense.

Still, both Dobson and Thompkins flashed promise during the summer’s four exhibition contests. The two wideouts had similar production by the end of August; Dobson netted 11 catches for 150 yards over his four games and two starts, while Thompkins netted 15 catches for 166 yards over his four games and three starts.

Even so, it was apparent that they were different players. It was apparent that they won in different ways. (more…)


Nine Glimpses: Josh Boyce’s Rookie Season in Patriots Offense

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Josh Boyce’s rookie season with the Patriots was one of glimpses. And in the offensive huddle, there were nine. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Nine.

It’s the number of games Josh Boyce played in during his rookie season. It’s the number of kickoffs he returned on special teams. And it’s the number of passes he caught in the New England Patriots offense.

It’s a number the former fourth-round pick is looking to multiply in 2014.

For Boyce, 2013 was a year that came to an end just as it got started. The Texas Christian standout landed on injured reserve in Week 17, after having tallied eight of his receptions over a three-game span in the final months of the campaign.

There were moments where he flashed, where he was able to make use of his 4.38-second 40-yard dash speed in the open field, where his 2,535 receiving yards and 22 touchdown grabs during his Horned Frogs career came to light.

Those moments were only that, however. No. 82 was an inactive for seven contests. He logged just 182 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He was targeted 19 times. But, those moments, they were there. (more…)


Beyond the Numbers: The Rise of Patriots Safety Devin McCourty

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Once a first-round cornerback, Devin McCourty has emerged as a first-tier NFL safety. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The initial decision was made on a Thursday evening in April of 2010.

After trading back twice in the first round of the NFL draft, the New England Patriots found themselves on the clock with pick 27 overall. And Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty found himself waiting for a call.

McCourty carried what the organization was looking for – 52 games of collegiate experience, six career interceptions, 33 career pass deflections, seven blocked punts and kicks, a 4.48-second 40-yard dash and a 6.70-second three-cone drill. Yet the lean, 5’11”, 193-pounder carried other traits as well.

Traits not as easily quantified. (more…)


After Five Yards: Studying Patriots Cornerback Brandon Browner

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Brandon Browner won’t be on the field for the first four Patriots games of 2014, but his physical impact will keep him on the field from Week 5 on. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Wide receivers can take Brandon Browner downfield, but they have to take at least five yards from him first.

It is there that the former Denver Bronco, Calgary Stampeder and Seattle Seahawk has overpowered his undrafted expectations. And it is because, right off the snap, his 6’4”, 221-pound frame has kept teammates close and opponents closer. (more…)


2014 Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Calm Before the Storm

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

A third-round draft selection in 2013, Duron Harmon is now running for a starting job in New England’s secondary. (Photo: Oliver Thomas)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

With organized team activities and mandatory minicamp all wrapped up, it’s officially summer for the New England Patriots. But come July 24, the rest and relaxation will be over for the 90-man roster.

It is then that training camp on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium will commence. It is then that the competition for roster spots will be heightened to a level far exceeding offseason workouts. It is then that head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and staff will start the clock.

Time will be of the essence.

By 4 p.m. on Aug. 27, the organization’s brass will have to whittle the roster to 75 players. And by 6 p.m. on Aug. 31, they’ll have to cut it down to 53. (more…)


A Different Mold: Examining Patriots Linebacker James Anderson

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Three months of NFL moves passed by as James Anderson waited to make his. In the afternoon hours of June 4, the 30-year-old linebacker finally did, signing with the New England Patriots. But his role remains uncarved. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The height of NFL free agency passed along with March, April and May, as over 470 incumbent players found themselves franchised-tagged, claimed off waivers, or signed to new teams.

James Anderson was not one of them. (more…)







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