Patriots Defensive Tackle Casey Walker Quietly Making His Name

October 16th, 2014
No. 98, defensive tackle Casey Walker, has left a mark in his short stay with the Patriots. (NFL Game Rewind)

No. 98 – defensive tackle Casey Walker – has left a mark in his short stay with the Patriots. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Not much was known about Casey Walker when the New England Patriots claimed him off the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad.

He was the corresponding move to defensive tackle Sealver Siliga landing on short-term injured reserve. He was big, listed at 6’1” and 334 pounds. And he was a 2013 undrafted free agent by way of Oklahoma, where he played 33 in games, started 22, and finished with 49 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, two fumbles recoveries and two pass deflections.

For the rest, you’d have to dig a little deeper.

Walker did not have a Wikipedia page, nor did he have an NFL tackle on his resume. The 24-year-old had spent part of the 2013 season on Carolina’s practice squad, and returned for the 2014 preseason. He logged 95 snaps over the course of it, and received the fifth lowest Pro Football Focus grade among the Panthers’ 39 participating defenders.

Walker was waived during 53-man roster cuts on Aug. 30, subsequently rejoining the team’s 10-man roster after clearing waivers the following day. But there were no expectations when the Patriots filled the active roster with him on Sept. 27.

Even so, he has done his part to exceed the status of an enigma since then. Read the rest of this entry »


Jerod Mayo’s Communication Helped Patriots as Much as His Play

October 15th, 2014
Jerod Mayo's season ended on Sunday. But New England's defense will have to play, think, and communicate as if he is still on the field with them. (NFL Game Rewind)

Jerod Mayo’s season ended on Sunday. But New England’s defense will have to play, think, and communicate as if he is still on the field with them. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Anthony Dixon gained three yards before he met Jerod Mayo at the 7:37 mark in the second quarter of Sunday’s game in Orchard Park. Yet for the New England Patriots linebacker, a two-time Pro Bowler and five-time captain, his 53rd tackle of the season would not be like the rest.

It would be his last.

Mayo’s right foot planted and his leg buckled as he halted the Buffalo Bills running back in the left A-gap. His teammate, edge-rusher Chandler Jones, arrived to finish the stop to force 2nd-and-7, only the damage had been done by then. Mayo knew it. The Patriots knew it.

On Monday, the fears were confirmed. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the lower right leg injury Mayo suffered was indeed season-ending. Yet even on Sunday, it was evident on the field that New England’s defense had lost its communicator, its green dot, its “Mike” linebacker, only six weeks in for the second consecutive season. Read the rest of this entry »


Breaking Down Patriots Wideout Brian Tyms’ 43-Yard TD vs. Bills

October 14th, 2014
Brian Tyms’ first career regular-season touchdown catch arrived on Sunday. (NFL Game Rewind)

Brian Tyms’ first career regular-season touchdown catch arrived on Sunday. It was a memorable one. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ offense hurried to the line with a 13-7 lead over the Buffalo Bills. But what happened thenceforth in the Week 6 tilt was not by the numbers. In many ways, it was not what should have happened.

For Brian Tyms, it didn’t matter. Read the rest of this entry »


Saturday Slate: Week 7 College Prospects to Watch.

October 10th, 2014

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at South Carolina

NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa

Wow. WOW. What a weekend in college football. Week 6 saw huge upsets, thrilling conclusions to games, and with Katy Perry getting substantial ESPN TV time, everyone truly went home winners Saturday (Except you, Alabama fans). Week 7 poses some just as important big time match-ups, but first let’s recap quickly.

SEC Battle Royale: It was truly separation Saturday in the SEC. First, Mississippi State took care of Texas A&M, and in convincing fashion. MSU QB Dak Prescott looked like a Heisman contender, and even though Prescott’s counterpart Kenny Hill compiled nice stats, he didn’t play so well. His favorite receiver was MSU LB Richie Brown, who caught 3 interceptions. The prospect everyone is talking about, MSU OLB Benardrick McKinney impressed throughout. Great flow, great anticipation… I’ve officially bought into the Junior ILB/OLB’s hype. In what was one of the ugliest games you’ll ever watch, Florida remains a contender in the SEC East after outlasting Tennessee 10-9. UF DE Dante Fowler Jr. was an animal and dominated the under matched Volunteers’ line. Read the rest of this entry »


Scouting Report: Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska

October 9th, 2014

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Everything is right in the world again. The Patriots played well….like the Patriots. Hopefully that will continue throughout the season and draftniks will be trying to figure out who the Patriots will be interested in at pick #32. Depending on how the Patriots handle the contracts of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, one possibility will be drafting a running back, so this week I decided to give Ameer Abdullah a closer look.

Positives:

Abdullah is listed at 5’9″ and 190 pounds, but he looks and plays much bigger on film. He is a decisive runner and shows no hesitation in the backfield.  He has good vision, trusts what he sees, and explodes through the hole. Abdullah does not lose momentum when cutting. He has a compact frame, a nice combination of balance and power, and stays low. He is quicker than fast,does not try to bounce everything outside, and likes to run between the tackles.  He also hits defenders rather than being hit. His low center of gravity makes it difficult for defenders to wrap him up and get big hits on him. Even when there is not a lot of running room, Abdullah falls forward to maximize his yardage. Very rarely does he down on first contact or by a single tackler. He was not used a ton in the passing game of the games I watched, but he did look comfortable catching the ball and his stats in prior years indicate that he can be an effective pass catching option.  In the play I highlighted below, you can see several of Abdullah’s positive traits, including vision, decisiveness, balance, low center of gravity, and his ability to gain yards after first contact.

Negatives:
Abdullah has had a lot of carries in his career at Nebraska, which is always a little worrisome for running backs. He does not possess elite speed for the position and will never be a home-run threat in the NFL. Abdullah has also been fortunate to run through some very large holes, which have helped him rack up impressive numbers. Another aspect of his game that he must work on if he wants to be considered an every-down back in the NFL is his pass protection. Hopefully with coaching and a willingness to learn, he can improve this aspect of his game. In the play below you can see that his technique and effort are not great, which forced his QB to rush the throw.

Summary:

There is a lot to like about Ameer Abdullah so his game should translate well to the NFL. While he may lack elite size and speed, his other traits for the position are top notch. He plays much bigger than his size and has never had any major injuries.  Abdullah plays with a mean streak, always looking to run through defenders and fight for extra yards.  You rarely see him get tackled for a loss. He must work on his pass protection if he wants to be an every down back in the NFL. Because Abdullah lacks that home run threat potential that players like Guryley and Gordon have, I would not give him a first-round grade but he could be a nice addition to the Patriots beyond that.


Seven Targets: Revisiting Patriots Cornerback Darrelle Revis vs. Bengals Wideout A.J. Green

October 9th, 2014
Darrelle Revis and A.J. Green battled over the course of 51 snaps on Sunday night. Seven throws were the byproduct. (NFL Game Rewind)

Darrelle Revis and A.J. Green battled over the course of 51 snaps on Sunday night. And along the way, seven passes were thrown into their vicinity. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

On the surface, Darrelle Revis did not stand apart against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night. But when the five-time Pro Bowler left the New England Patriots’ secondary with four minutes left in the third, it only took one play for A.J. Green to illustrate his absence.

A crisp corner route by the 6’4”, 207-pound wideout netted a 17-yard touchdown as Revis headed to the locker room. Quarterback Andy Dalton delivered a well-placed ball, and there was little second-year cornerback Logan Ryan could do to prevent it from whistling over his shoulders.

There was little the Patriots could to prevent the difference, either.

But Revis did return to the field. He finished having played 51 defensive snaps. And he finished having played to his man-to-man strengths, holding Green to three receptions for 64 yards on seven penalty-including targets.

Here is a closer look at each one. Read the rest of this entry »


Players with Patriots Ties Continuing Football Journey in FXFL

October 8th, 2014
A former Florida Gator and Patriot, guard Jon Halapio will continue his football journey in the FXFL. (Kim Klement - USA Today Sports)

A former Florida Gator and New England Patriot, guard Jon Halapio will continue his football journey in the FXFL. (Kim Klement – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The Fall Experimental Football League is slated to begin its inaugural season on Wednesday, with the aim of serving as a developmental platform for the National Football League.

Founded by sports lawyer Brian Woods in May of 2014, the FXFL’s four-team circuit will provide a venue for former college prospects and recent NFL players to work back into the league of 32. And when the league kicks off its month-long schedule, at least eight players with ties to the New England Patriots will play a part in it. Read the rest of this entry »







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