Monthly Archives: August 2013

Finalizing the 53…

Continuing on from the last post…filling out the defense, special teams and the various “lists”:

DE-(5):

  1. C. Jones–L
  2. Ninkovich–L
  3. Benard–L
  4. Francis–L
  5. Bequette

* No one has seen anything at all from Bequette yet.  But even though Bill has no problem cutting high draft choices, he may get one more year to prove himself.  Feel like he gets a spot because of that.  There’s a depth issue here too, as no one knows what to expect out of Benard or Francis, though the Pats seem to be high on the both.  Hoping that Chandler takes the next step up.

DT-(4):

  1. Wilfork–L
  2. Kelly–L
  3. Fortson
  4. Vellano

*Thin.  That’s an understatement.  Makes you wonder why they let Love and Deaderick go so easily a long time ago.  I know they expected Armstead to make some noise here, but who knows if he would?  Vellano is the 4th DT, but there were really no other choices.  Unless you count Cunningham, who played a little in that spot last year.  But he’s been MIA and I’m guessing he ends up on IR.  Not a big loss anyway.  So Vellano started last night, guess that gives him a leg up.  There will be some action here in the next week or so.

LB-(5):

  1. Mayo–L
  2. Spikes–L
  3. Hightower–L
  4. Collins–L
  5. Fletcher–L

*Another somewhat thin group, but the way I see it, Ninkovich and Benard can play a LB-type role as well, so there is some depth there.  Guys like Koutouvides and Rivera could likely be signed later (especially after Week 1, where some contract guarantees go out the window).  Possibly even Tarpinian, who never went anywhere last year when released and was able to land back on the practice squad.  The same will probably happen this year.  At least the upper end talent seems to be strong here.

CB-(6):

  1. Talib–L
  2. Arrington–L
  3. Dennard–L
  4. Ryan–L
  5. Dowling
  6. Cole

*Not sure how completely healthy Dennard is, or what the status is going forward about his overall availability.  But feel like he will still factor into the mix, even though Arrington apparently will go back to starting in the regular defense…at least for now.  I really wanted to cut Dowling.  But based on the fact that he is still around (though apparently still injured…surprise!), I really feel like they will keep him active and give him one more shot.  Wanted to cut Cole too, but with the uncertainty around Dennard and Dowling, and for his special teams value, felt he will find a way onto the roster…at least until there was a better option available.

S-(5):

  1. McCourty–L
  2. Gregory–L
  3. Harmon–L
  4. A. Wilson
  5. T. Wilson

*People keep trying to get rid of Gregory, but he is clearly the 2nd best option back there now…scary as that sounds.  Harmon is no great shakes it appears, but he is a 3rd rounder this year, so he sticks.  I have some questions about Adrian Wilson however.  I think he makes it, but I think the impact that he will have will be much less than what fans expected…or at least hoped for.  Tavon Wilson seems like a 2nd round bust from a year ago.  It was said at some point last year that he could surprise people.  But I have heard nothing but negative things about him this year.  He should get one more year, simply because again, there are really no options behind him.  But he is far from safe.

Specialists-(3):

  1. Gostkowski (K)–L
  2. Mesko (P)–L
  3. D. Aiken (LS)–L

*Gostkowski has had some trouble it appears this preseason.  But that could be partly due to the whole operation (snapper/holder) and not just him.  Most teams bring in another kicker in camp, to ease the burden at the very least.  But the Pats did not.  He is secure.  Mesko is in the final year of his contract and Ryan Allen is/will be much cheaper.  Plus Allen is an accomplished college punter.  But if there was a true competition in the preseason, Mesko still won.  Plus, Mesko has experience as a holder, Allen does not.  I think they like Allen, but not enough to give him the job…yet.  I think they try and put him on the practice squad.  Yes, a punter on the practice squad.  I believe the Pats have done it before.  They have another LS in camp (Zupancic), not sure why in this case though.

Injured Reserve-(3):

  1. Cunningham
  2. Ebner
  3. Grissom

*Cunningham hasn’t been around and I am not sure if they would just release him instead.  But I suppose if the option is there to put him on IR, they would.  Ebner hasn’t been around either and this could conveniently be a “redshirt” year for him too, since he hasn’t played much football in the past.  He has some ability and would be worth keeping around.  Grissom left the game the other night and went right to the locker room.  Which doesn’t seem good.  Don’t know much about him, but one scribe had him making the 53 before the last game, so it appears he would be worth stashing on IR.

Non-Football Injury-(2):

  1. Armstead
  2. Harrison

*I believe the rules for this list are the same as the PUP, where these guys would be on the shelf for 6 weeks, then be eligible to practice and then a decision would be made on whether to activate them, put them on season-ending IR, or release them.  Armstead signed for decent dough, so putting him here is a no-brainer.  Harrison they say has decent tools, but a checkered past.  No harm in leaving him here as well.

Physically Unable to Perform-(1):

  1. Gronkowski

*Always a chance he makes the 53 and plays in something like Week 4.  I have to believe the Pats proceed cautiously here.  Bill always likes to keep his options open as well, as far as keeping control of as many players as he possibly can for as long as he can.  Gronk may be a different case however, since he is a difference-maker (while in the past, they have used the PUP list for depth-type guys, it has seemed).  But I think they play it safe to start.

Practice Squad-(8):

  1. Buchanan (DE)
  2. Beauharnais (LB)
  3. K. Aiken (WR)
  4. Tarpinian (LB)
  5. R. Allen (P)
  6. Winn (RB)
  7. Reserve OL #1 (Kline, McDonald, Patterson, Schwab, Stankiewitch)
  8. Reserve OL #2 (Kline, McDonald, Patterson, Schwab, Stankiewitch)

*There is always the chance the top 2 make the 53, at the expense of someone like Bequette, T. Wilson, Cole or someone of that nature.  But since they were low picks, maybe they feel they can sneak them through the the practice squad.  They seem to have some affinity for Aiken, and he can play special teams, but there is no room at WR for him now.  He missed the last game, so there is also the possibility he lands on IR.  Tarpinian was here last year, so it is likely they could keep him here if they want.  I think they’d like Allen to be here, but there is always a chance he gets claimed.  The last 3 are total guesses.  The reality is, they will probably have 4 guys from the current camp make it down to the squad and getting the 4 others from the rest of the leagues’ cuts.

Just for fun, here are the 9 guys I don’t think will make it to the next game.  Total crapshoot, we shall see how many I can get right:

  1. Bartholomew (FB)
  2. Davis (S)
  3. Haggerty (WR)
  4. Landi (TE)
  5. Lewis (CB)
  6. White (DT)
  7. Winn (RB)
  8. Zupancic (LS)
  9. Grissom to IR

*I didn’t remember seeing many of these guys even during extreme scrub time the other night, so it seems convenient to pick them.  White was out there, and they may opt to keep a guy like him just so guys like Wilfork and Kelly don’t have to play against the Giants.  That’s why I see all of the 5 reserve offensive lineman sticking through this cut.  And corners like Justin Green and Brandon Jones too.  At this stage of the roster shaping, Grissom may have to pass through waivers to land on IR (like Mattes, Moe & Tyronne Green did, who are already on IR), so the Pats may opt to pick someone else instead in order to not risk losing him.  And if a veteran like Edelman, Blount or Adrian Wilson truly is not going to make the team, they may opt to show them respect and cut them now, to give them a better chance of sticking somewhere else.  But to me that is doubtful and it is probably too late for the “respect” angle anyway.

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Ouch…ugly…

I didn’t have many thoughts about the Patriots preseason game #2, other than Brady was great and looked like he had a connection with Amendola and that Tebow was atrocious.  Nothing else too high or low, so I didn’t write about it.  Just another practice really.  Last night?  Pretty bad, but you know what?  Not as bad as you may think.  The turnovers were troubling (including here the dropped 3rd down pass by Thompkins).  The offensive line was questionable…at best.  OK, they were awful, but at least take some solace that the Lions’ have a pretty good defensive front.  But the first team defense actually played pretty well, especially considering the positions they were often left in.  The only real negative was the screen pass to Bush that got out of hand.  Of course, the Lions did not have Calvin Johnson, so take everything with a grain of salt if you wish.  But in reality, it was the backup defense that was torched by the Lions’ reserves.  That is a concern to a degree, but hopefully not a lot of those guys will be playing much anyway.

Don’t have much else to add about the game itself, but here’s who I think will make the 53-man roster.  Hey, everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?  Now, it is obvious that I don’t go to every practice, watch film endlessly, know the specific upside of every young player, have any idea how bad the injuries are, etc.  I can only go on what I have seen in the games on TV (and one live Patriots practice I attended!), what I have seen reported and my general feelings on giving up on certain guys…recent high draft picks, for instance.  Also, it would not surprise me if they cut down to 50 or so and claimed a bunch of other guys on waivers once the cuts come in.  Defensive Tackle and Offensive Line seem to be really thin with the guys they do have, so there are probably better guys out there to replace the ones at the end of the roster now.  Unusual for it to be that way in recent years for the Pats, but it sure feels like the case now.  But what do I know?  There could be a minor trade or two near the final cutdown day too.

Anyway, here it is, by position of course.  An “L” designates who I feel is a lock.  They are in order of how I think the depth chart shakes out.  Some explanations below each group.  As an added bonus, I’ll throw guys out there I think they will try to get on the practice squad (recognizing they may get claimed by other teams of course) and who I think will start out on the other various “lists” (NFI, IR, PUP).  Just for reading, yours too FREE of charge, I will also add the 9 guys I think they toss when they cut from 84 to 75 next week.  Just cuz I want to.  And I wanted to feel like an infomercial for a split second.

QB-(3):

  1. Brady–L
  2. Mallett–L
  3. Tebow

*I’m sorry, I still think Tebow makes the team.  I suppose they could cut him and have him keep a playbook (you know he is trustworthy, right?!) and re-sign him if needed, since no one else will pick him up.  I know he doesn’t exactly fit the offense.  I know the Pats carry only 2 QB’s a great deal of the time.  But McDaniels saw something to make him trade a bunch of picks a few years ago to move up and take him in the first round, and he is a good defensive mind.  And Bill will take a guy only if he will help him win games, and Tebow seems to win games when he is involved.  I would never put him in for a healthy Brady…ever.  But something tells me he contributes in some way this year.  What I would do though is have someone drill him in practice and put him on IR for the year…redshirt him.  But that’s me.

RB-(5):

  1. Ridley–L
  2. Vereen–L
  3. Blount
  4. Bolden
  5. Washington

*I think they keep 5 to start, without a fullback, even though they historically usually keep 4.  Vereen hasn’t exactly been injury-free in his career, so that, in part, keeps Washington around.  Leon hasn’t impressed me on returns this preseason.  And he makes a few bucks.  So, he could be the odd man out at some point.  Especially since they have guys that can return kicks, including apparently Blount, who has been there the last 2 games.  Plus if they want to keep some more kids around, Leon’s spot could be expendable.  Blount has some skills and Bolden plays on a lot of special teams units, so I think they are actually close to locks.  I’m not buying the James Develin Experience yet.

WR-(6):

  1. Amendola–L
  2. Thompkins–L
  3. Dobson–L
  4. Edelman–L
  5. Boyce–L
  6. Slater–L

*About as airtight as you can get here.  None of the guys below them in camp are anywhere near enough to make a push on any of these guys.  There’s been talk about cutting Edelman, but I don’t see it.  He plays special teams, returns kicks, plays D (ok, hopefully not), is insurance for Amendola likely getting hurt again (hopefully these two aren’t both hurt on the same weeks…you know it’s possible), is cheap, knows the offense, etc.  I think he is not back to full speed from his foot injury as of yet, and that is why I think he has not shown much this preseason.  But he is a valuable piece of this team overall.  Slater is listed at WR by default, as everyone knows.  I don’t want him taking any snaps at receiver.  He can’t catch.  Hopefully Boyce takes his place on those bombs Brady has sparingly thrown recently.  But don’t be surprised if Boyce is a regular game day inactive…especially if he doesn’t play much special teams.

TE-(3):

  1. Ballard–L
  2. Sudfeld–L
  3. Hoomanawanui

*Probably one lighter than they’d like here.  But I don’t see Fells making it.  Makes good dough, apparently he is hurt and never really adapted…or something.  They could keep him.  Or Develin.  Or both of them in place of Hoo-man…primarily for blocking.  Because other than Ballard, the 2 others listed above may not block much.  There could be some activity here at the end of camp, with bodies shuffling around.  They may actually keep Gronk too, if they feel he can play before Week 7.  I’d be a little surprised if they did.  And personally, I’d give him more time to recover and help them at the end of the season, instead of missing the end, as he has the past 2 years.  But I have no idea where his rehab stands of course.

OL-(8):

  1. Mankins (LG)–L
  2. Solder (LT)–L
  3. Vollmer (RT)–L
  4. Wendell (C)–L
  5. Connolly (RG)–L
  6. Cannon (G/T)–L
  7. Svitek (T/G)–L
  8. Zusevics (T)

*Zusevics kind of makes it by default here due to needing a body.  The Pats seemed to be high on him last year.  Connolly and Cannon have been banged up, and who knows if one of those 2 don’t end up on IR at some point…though Connolly apparently played a bit last night.  None of the other dudes on the line (Patterson, Chris McDonald, Schwab, Stankiewich, Kline), seems to have generated any press, so I’m ruling them out, pretty much solely on that.  Cannon was supposed to push Connolly, due to being younger and cheaper, but he hasn’t been on the field.  And I don’t see Svitek playing G full-time, so Connolly keeps his starting spot.  Not to mention he would be the backup center too.  Watch for some late preseason activity here too.  Don’t be surprised if Nick McDonald resurfaces at some point as well.  They cut him because he failed his physical.  But to my knowledge, he hasn’t signed with anyone else.  He may just need more time to get healthy.  He was a fairly reliable backup.  Then again, Dante is amazing and seems to turn anyone into a reliable backup.  Maybe some of the 5 dudes above fits the bill.

Longer than I expected…let’s finish this up in another post…

 

AFraud/Dempster

A commenter wondered what I thought about the whole ARod/Dempster flap.  Well…I have a few thoughts:

*I had no problem with Dempster hitting ARod.  At all.  It was only the 2nd inning.  Leadoff batter.  Sox already had a 2-0 lead and CC looked hittable.  Should have been a harmless time to do it.  I was surprised that he wasn’t hit earlier in the series actually…especially after Lackey had been so public with his view that ARod should not even be playing while appealing his suspension.  It seemed to be only a matter of time.

*The Sox did not lose the game because Dempster hit ARod and that “galvanized” the Yankees.  That fired the team up to support ARod.  I don’t think so.  They lost the game because Dempster has been atrocious over his last several starts and couldn’t hold the lead.  Also because Farrell stuck with him probably too long.  He didn’t (doesn’t?) like his options in the 6th/7th innings now (Britton, Morales, de la Rosa (now Villareal) and Workman), so he tried to squeeze another inning out of Dempster.  Then Britton didn’t help matters by giving up the bases loaded triple to a lefty.  (Side thought:  Britton is a starter.  Has been pitching in relief only in the majors this year.  Maybe bringing him in with the bases loaded, even in a lefty/lefty situation wasn’t the smartest move?  Maybe start the 6th with him clean?  Or maybe that is a key spot for Breslow to come in and get the job done?).

*Girardi may have been right about it being “open season” on ARod if Dempster wasn’t suspended.  But maybe it will be open season on him anyway?  Not many people like the guy, including most players apparently.  He is the only guy on that Biogenesis list that appealed his suspension.  He allegedly ratted out other players.  Etc., etc., etc.  You think he might not take a few lumps anyway?  He has every right to appeal the suspension, but may have to have eyes in the back of his head going forward.

*I give Girardi credit this year, as this may be his best managing job ever, on the Yanks anyway.  They are still somehow in contention, despite using corpses such as Vernon Wells, Overbay and Hafner; giving journeyman such as Nix, Nunez, Cruz and Stewart waaaaay too many at-bats; having guys no one has heard of like Claiborne, Nuno, Kelley and Warren contribute to the pitching staff.  Injuries to Teixeira, Jetes, Granderson and others; CC and Hughes being atrocious.  But some of the stuff he was saying was laughable.  And he apparently forgets that Fat Joba used to throw at Youkilis repeatedly.  Plus maybe he should be suspended for almost punching the ump in the face, intentionally or unintentionally.

*Speaking of laughable, that the Sox, Farrell, Dempster…and everyone else trying to say that Dempster WASN’T trying to hit ARod.  Ok ummmmm…yeah.

*And people now coming out of the woodwork saying that Dempster had a personal agenda against ARod because ARod apparently blew him off at an event.  Well for one, almost everyone has a personal agenda against ARod.  So there is that.  But for two, even if did, for whatever reason he plunked him, personal, for the players, for the fans, Red Sox/Yankees, whatever, the situation in the game was probably the best he was going to get.  And again, to suggest that the HBP lost the game for the Sox is pretty ludicrous.

That about covers it I would say…

 

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