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Archive for August, 2012

Reaction: Thoughts On The Patriots Roster Transactions

Another NFL cut down day has come and gone. The Patriots, once again, did not disappoint with a few more surprise transactions on Friday. After cutting 22 players and placing running back, returner Jeff Demps on injured reserve, New England’s roster stand at 52 players, which means they still have room to sign an additional player. For a list of all transactions, click here.

Here are a few thoughts on Friday’s roster moves:

- The Patriots made their first surprise cut with the release of backup QB Brian Hoyer earlier Friday afternoon. The move, which I noted may happen in my final roster projection, did surprise many as only two signal callers remain on New England’s roster. With Mallett still progressing, Hoyer’s spot was too valuable for Belichick not to have depth at another position. Strictly a numbers game in my opinion.


Explosive return man and running back Jeff Demps was placed on IR Friday night, ending his 2012 season. (FILE:USPresswire)

- Deion Branch was another cut that caught Patriots Nation by surprise. The 33-year-old receiver had a solid year last season registering¬†51 catches for 702 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also averaged 13.8 per reception which is a great year for any wideout. I thought he was a lock for the 53-man roster, but it still wouldn’t surprise me if either he or Gaffney was back sometime in the near future.

- Jeff Demps being placed on the team’s injured reserve list was announced shortly after the 9 p.m Friday deadline.¬†Under the new IR rule, the player has to be on the roster Friday until after 4 p.m September 4 in order to be brought back later in the season. If I interpreted the rule correctly, we will not see Demps this season. He did injure his knee, leg during Wednesday night’s pre-season finale against the New York Giants, but it did not appear to be season threatening.

- Eric Kettani’s release means the Patriots are planning on not carrying a fullback for the upcoming season. This could change, but both Brandon Bolden and Aaron Hernandez could take over the duty if need be. Not to mention tight ends Daniel Fells or¬†Visanthe Shiancoe. I expect Kettani to land on the team’s practice squad, but it was clear coming into Friday he did not do enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

-¬†The only Patriots draft pick released was Jeremy Ebert. After cutting ties with Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney and Deion Branch, I thought Ebert had a chance for a couple of hours. In all likelihood, I expect Ebert to return to the team’s practice squad as he needs more time to develop. After all, I expect the team to bring back a veteran receiver very soon.

- James Ihedigbo being cut didn’t surprise me. He wasn’t terrible last season and played great on special teams, but rookie Nate Ebner¬†made an impact this pre-season and seems to be around the ball constantly. He has made a much smoother transition to NFL defensive back than first thought. He has looked fluid, seems to know his responsibilities and doesn‚Äôt look lost on the field.

-¬†Defensive lineman Marcus Forston might be the biggest surprise to land on the 53-man roster. He flashed at times, but didn’t nearly stand out as much as fellow rookie defensive lineman Justin Francis, who also made the team. Both should offer some depth along the line and¬†Belichick was probably afraid of losing them if he tried to sneak the two onto the practice squad.

- All and all, the Patriots roster is still in a state of flux.¬†As WEEI.com’s Christopher Price points out, last year the Patriots picked up Brian Waters, Danny Aiken, A.J. Edds and Dan Gronkowski between final cuts and start of regular season last year. Expect more moves in the coming days.

For Patriots updates in an instant, follow me on Twitter: @PatriotsHaven!

Patriots Roster Prediction 3.0

My third and final 53-man roster prediction for the Patriots 2012 season. Here’s how it breaks down:

Quarterbacks - Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer

Running Backs РStevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Jeff Demps, Brandon Bolden

Wide Receivers РWes Welker, Brandon Lloyd,  Deion Branch, Julian Edelman,  Matthew Slater

Tight Ends - Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells

Offensive Line - Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen,  Marcus Cannon, Ryan Wendall, Nick McDonald, Donald Thomas

Defensive Line - Rob Ninkovich, Kyle Love, Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Jermaine Cunningham, Jake Bequette, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Justin Francis, Trevor Scott

Linebackers - Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Bobby Carpenter, Jeff¬†Tarpinian

Cornerbacks - Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, Sterling Moore, Alfonzo Dennard, Marquise Cole

Safeties - Pat Chung, Tavon Wilson, Steve Gregory, Nate Ebner

Specialists - Stephen Gostkowski (k), Zoltan Mesko (P), Danny Aiken (LS)

Practice Squad – Jeremy Ebert (WR), Alex Silvestro (TE), Matt Kopa (OT), Marcus Forston (DT), Eric Kettani (FB), Kerry Taylor (WR), Malcolm Williams (DB).

Roster Notes:

  • I thought long and hard about Brian Hoyer being cut and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was for depth at another position. Even if he makes the 53-man roster initially, he could be on the way out if the team wants to roll the dice with only two quarterbacks.
  • After being activated from PUP, tight end Daniel Fells should have the inside track to the team’s third tight end position.
  • Undrafted rookie Justin Francis secures a spot on the defensive line and showed flashes of potential in Wednesday night’s loss to the Giants.
  • Jeff Tarpinian lands on the roster after Dane Fletcher’s ACL tear against the Saints as well as his special teams ability.
  • I expected Alfonzo Dennard to make the team going into training camp, but he hadn’t been able to stay on the field. Wednesday night Dennard flashed and made several plays, including¬†stripping the ball from Giants running back Andre Brown in the fourth quarter.
  • Nate Ebner made an impact this pre-season and seems to be around the ball constantly. He has made a much smoother transition to NFL defensive back than first thought. He has looked fluid, seems to know his responsibilities and doesn’t look lost on the field.
  • I still expect Brian Waters to return to the team in the next few days and if he does, I would expect one of the interior lineman to lose their spot on the roster.
  • On a final note, Jabar Gaffney could re-sign with the team after he gets healthy. After having a high level of competition going into camp, the wide receiver position is a little thin going into the season.

For Patriots updates in an instant, follow me on Twitter: @PatriotsHaven!

Upcoming NFL Dates

The NFL recently released dates for the league year. Here are some upcoming key dates for the 2012 season. -

Aug. 24 — Patriots at Buccaneers preseason game

Aug. 29 — Patriots at Giants preseason game

August 27 — Roster cutdown to 75 by 4 p.m. ET

August 31 — Roster cutdown to 53 by 9 p.m. ET

Sept. 1 — Practice squad (maximum of 8 players) can be formed at noon ET

Oct. 16 — First day players on PUP/NFI lists can start practicing

Oct. 16 — Trading deadline at 4 p.m. ET

Notes:

- Looking ahead to Friday’s pre-season game against the Buccaneers, Greg Schiano, former Rutgers head coach and first-year Tampa Bay head coach, will face off with friend Bill Belichick. Every year Belichick seems to do joint practices with another team. It will be interesting to see how the two coaches run the two joint practices leading up to the game.

- The final game of the preseason, is really no surprise. This is the eighth straight year the Patriots and Giants have met in the preseason.

- Just a random thought. Last year the NFL lockout was looming, most certainly a stressful time for the league and the fans. It was refreshing to not only focus on the team’s off-season activities, but also not have to worry if we will be able to watch league action on Sunday’s this season. Something many people had to deal with just one year ago.

- With so many talented players on the Patriots roster so far, it will be even more difficult than usual for the coaching staff to trim the roster down on Aug. 27 (75 players) and then to the final 53-man squad four days later on Aug. 31. For my latest roster prediction, click here.

-       Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Patriots Roster Prediction 2.0

My second 53-man roster prediction for the Patriots 2012 season. Here’s how it breaks down before training camp opens:

Quarterbacks - Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett

Running Backs РStevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, Danny Woodhead, Jeff Demps

Wide Receivers РWes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch, Donte Stallworth, Julian Edelman,  Matthew Slater

Tight Ends - Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells

Offensive Line - Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Ryan Wendall, Donald Thomas, Nick McDonald

Defensive Line - Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Kyle Love, Jonathan Fanene, Brandon Deaderick, Jake Bequette, Justin Francis

Defensive End / Linebackers - Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Dont’a Hightower,¬†Rob Ninkovich, Bobby Carpenter,¬†Niko Koutouvides

Cornerbacks - Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Sterling Moore, Ras-I Dowling

Safeties - Pat Chung, Tavon Wilson, Steve Gregory, James Ihedigbo, Nate Ebner

Specialists - Stephen Gostkowski (k), Zoltan Mesko (P), Danny Aiken (LS)

Roster Notes:

  • Spencer Larsen had a good shot at making the roster, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. With rookie tailback Brandon Bolden lining up at both running back and fullback at practice, I could see him landing a roster spot.
  • I’m not sold Julian Edelman will make he team, but until Jeff Demps proves he can be the explosive returner he was his freshmen year at Florida, Edelman should make the squad.
  • After being activated from PUP, tight end Daniel Fells should have the inside track to the team’s third tight end position.
  • Undrafted rookie Justin Francis secures a spot on the defensive line and edges out defensive tackle Ron Brace. Gerard Warren could suit up at some point in the season, but I don‚Äôt expect him to be on the roster coming out of camp.
  • Niko Koutouvides lands on the roster after Dane Fletcher’s ACL tear against the Saints.
  • I expected Alfonzo Dennard to make the team, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land on Injured-Reserve for a hamstring injury and return next season.
  • Nate Ebner has made a much smoother transition to NFL defensive back than first thought. He has looked fluid, seems to know his responsibilities and doesn’t look lost on the field. I think he lands a spot on the roster.

For Patriots updates in an instant, follow me on Twitter: @PatriotsHaven!

Some Thoughts On Olympic Sprinter Jeff Demps Addition

On Friday morning, several media outlets reported Olympic silver medalist and former Florida running back, Jeff Demps, has agreed to terms with the Patriots. The story¬†was first reported by Kevin O’Donnell of Fox 13 in Tampa Bay.


Could the addition of Jeff Demps put Julian Edelman’s roster spot in jeopardy? (FILE:USPresswire)

Demps, 5-7, 191, is an undrafted free agent from Florida. In 12 games last season, he made five starts. He had 98 carries for 569 yards and six touchdowns in those games.

The Patriots, who showed interest in Demps prior to the Olympics, were among a handful of teams trying to sign the Florida athlete after the announcement he would return to football was made official.¬†He¬†did not take part in February’s NFL Combine so he could train for the United States in the recent Olympics. He won a¬†silver medal in the 4×100 relay in London.

The addition of Demps adds yet another offensive weapon to New England. Whether the sprinter is lined up at running back, receiver or as a returner, he has dynamic playmaking ability.

I see his role on the team primarily as a returner, but also in the “gadget back” form. In the backfield, split out wide or in the slot, Demps is a player you want to get the ball to in space. I don’t believe this will have a very big impact on tailbacks Shane Vereen or Stevan Ridley, but Demps’ special team ability should fill the void the team has had at returner since the departure of Ellis Hobbs.

Demps’ agent, Nohemy Baltodano, came out and said publicly he had not yet signed. Although, Demps is expected to in the next 24 hours and was reportedly in Foxboro on Thursday.

For Patriots updates in an instant, follow me on Twitter: @PatriotsHaven!


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