Posts Tagged ‘Film Breakdown’

Madison to Foxboro: The Game of Patriots Rookie James White

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Rookie running back James White has emerged from the pack in Patriots training camp. It hasn’t been for his size or speed, but for how his game translates. (Photo: Oliver Thomas)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

It’s never been about size or straight-line speed for James White. For the 5’10”, 205-pound running back, who clocked a 4.57-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, it’s been about what’s not measured by tape, scale or stopwatch.

Vision, patience and balance.

Those are the tools White countered with when the competition caught up. He may never again be the most powerful player on the football field. He’ll likely never be the fastest one, either.

In a sense, he doesn’t have to be.

The 22-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native has a way of seeing rush lanes before they present themselves. And whether it be on a handoff, a direct snap, a reception or a kick return, he has revealed the timeliness, the low center of gravity and the short-area quickness to get through them.

The fourth-round draft pick has continued to get through them as a member of the New England Patriots this summer. (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…)


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…)


Will Smith Could Bring Sub-Package Power to Patriots Defense

Monday, June 16th, 2014

After missing the 2013 season with a torn ACL, veteran pass-rusher Will Smith is vying to return to form in a new uniform. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

An ACL tear during the 2013 preseason brought Will Smith’s 10-year run with the New Orleans Saints to an unceremonious end. But the former Pro Bowl pass-rusher is looking to start anew with the New England Patriots in 2014.

He just may not start.

It’s an understandable reality for the 32-year-old, released by New Orleans in early February. Despite the 120 starts and 139 regular-season contests under his belt, expectations for the five-time defensive captain are as tempered as the one-year, $855,000 contract he signed in May.

A stark contrast from the $3 million in base salary he was due in 2013, Smith is no longer the player who amassed 33.5 sacks over his first four NFL campaigns. He is no longer the player who forged through left tackles for 13 sacks along the way to a Super Bowl victory in 2009.

Yet for head coach Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Patriots defensive front, what Smith currently is could be enough to make a difference.

Situated behind defensive ends Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and their Pro Football Focus-leading 2,256 snaps in 2013, the 2004 first-round pick has an opportunity to excel under a lesser capacity than the one he’s accustomed to. He has an opportunity to earn a title unlike the one’s he’s earned before.

Sub-package rusher. (more…)







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