By: Ian Logue
If ever there was a nightmare scenario facing the Patriots on Thursday night, the one they’re currently in has to be pretty close to one of the worst they could have ever imagined.
Shane Vereen will now be sidelined until at least week 11.
(USA TODAY Images)
They’re already without Shane Vereen, who was placed on injured reserve yesterday with the designation to return, which means the earliest fans will see him back is now week 11 against the Carolina Panthers. Danny Amendola also appears to be a scratch after Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network revealed yesterday that after missing the walkthrough it appears the veteran wideout “is almost certain” to miss the Jets game, which is another huge blow. Rookie Aaron Dobson’s status for Thursday night is still unknown, and Zach Sudfeld’s hamstring injury may also sideline him as well.
Needless to say when Bill Belichick decided to revamp the offense and move in a different direction, it’s doubtful that he had any idea that the vast majority of his receiving core would all be injured by week two of the regular season.
They survived last week in Buffalo, having eked out a last second win on the backs of both Vereen and Amendola, who will be out tomorrow night. That leaves them with Julian Edelman, Josh Boyce, and Kenbrell Thompkins as the only sure bets at receiver, with Michael Hoomanawanui at tight end and Matthew Mulligan, who had previously been with the team before being released and was brought back yesterday.
If that ends up being the case, they’ll have just one experienced receiver in the offense, and of their two tight ends, only one of has ever caught an NFL pass from Tom Brady. From an outside perspective, it looks like an area of concern due to the lack of experience that will be on the field for Brady to target. However, the veteran quarterback told the media Tuesday that despite the injuries, he sees plenty of depth and didn’t seem too concerned.
“We’ve got a lot of good players in the locker room,” said Brady on Tuesday. “When people are injured, that’s why you have a deep roster. Guys that you have confidence in, that you’ve gained trust in, and I certainly have that at the skill position. We have a lot of good running backs, we have a lot of good receivers, we’re trying to do the best we can this week to go out and win a very challenging game against a very good team. ”
Hoomanawanui had one reception for 5 yards in Sunday’s win, and caught just five passes in all for 109 yards last year on seven targets. With Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on the field, Hoomanawanui wasn’t Brady’s “go to” guy by any stretch, having been targeted just once last year on 3rd down, although he hauled in a 14-yard pass that moved the chains.
Edelman had a strong outing Sunday and now has a national stage to show that he’s a top flight NFL receiver, having been re-signed this offseason to a one year deal. This is a perfect opportunity to raise his asking price after the season, and to take on a larger role in an offense that had seen him as more of a situational player in past seasons. So far through one game Edelman was targeted nine times for 7 receptions, but he was crucial on 3rd down after catching all three passes that were thrown his way, including two touchdowns. He was also effective on 3rd down last season, catching eight of the eleven passes thrown his way, including seven first downs.
From there, there are plenty of unknowns. The Patriots have always been a “next man up” kind of football team, so the most intriguing part about tomorrow night’s game is going to be, who is the player who comes up big? There’s no better stage than a nationally televised home game for a player to make a name for himself, and New England will hopefully see one of the rookies come up with a big performance.
It’s hard not to be a little concerned given all the issues they’re dealing with, but despite what anyone else might think, Brady couldn’t care less about the noise and feels they’re in better position than 16 other teams through week one.
“I think the guys that can control what we think in the locker room are the guys that we have. Coach talks about ignoring the noise, and I’m not really sure what’s out there. I mean, we’re 1-0. There are 16 teams that are 0-1. We’re in as good a position as any other team, so. We have a lot of football left. There is a lot of football between now and the end of the year, so we’ll see how it all plays itself out.”
RIDLEY GETS “THE TALK” FROM BELICHICK:
Running back Stevan Ridley obviously had a game he’d probably rather forget on Sunday, and after being benched by Belichick and seeing Vereen go out and rush for over 100 yards, there was certainly some question about whether or not he’d get an opportunity to earn his job back. Fortunately for him Vereen suffered a broken bone in his wrist that will keep him sidelined for at least the next nine weeks, which puts him back at the forefront of the Patriots running game. Belichick admitted on Tuesday that he’s talked to Ridley, and that his job remains the same as everyone else’s – be ready to play.
“I’ve talked to Stevan,” said Belichick. “Look, every player has the same responsibility every week: to be ready to play, to be ready to go. That’s their job. They can’t control coaches’ decisions, coaches’ decisions are coaches’ decisions. They can control their preparation; they control their performance when they’re in the game. That’s what a player’s job is. It’s all the same for everybody.”
Brady was also supportive of his teammate on Tuesday, saying his performance wasn’t perfect either and that Ridley is a mentally tough kid, and that he loves giving him the ball.
“We’re all pretty positive with one another,” said Brady. “I mean, we never like to see each other make mistakes, but they happen. We fumbled the snap on the goal line, I threw an interception. You’ve got to be able to bounce back from those things.
“Football’s not necessarily a game of perfect, it’s just you try to limit what your bad plays are so they’re just not really bad plays or really critical plays in the game. I think the mental toughness from all of us to try to bounce back, I know Stevan is a very mentally tough kid, and I love having him back there. I love giving the ball to him, watching him run. He’s done a great job with that since he’s got here. ”
STEVE GROGAN SAYS ALL THE TWEAKING HAS HURT TIM TEBOW:
Good stuff from former Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan, who was with us for this week’s opening edition of “Grogan’s Grade” (now available here). In the piece Grogan talked about Tim Tebow and one thing he believes has been his problem is the fact he’s had so many people working with him on his throwing motion. With so many changes he believes that Tebow’s gotten the point now where he’s thinking too much. The former Patriot points out that in college Tebow was a fairly accurate passer (66.4% career on 995 attempts) but obviously all of the mechanical changes he’s trying to make has affected that.
“I like Tim Tebow,” said Grogan. “I like the way he plays the game. In my opinion, I think he’s trying too hard to become a pocket passer, which is not his game at this point in life. He needs to run around and use his running ability more than he is. I also think he’s probably, over the past three or four years, had so many different coaches trying to change his throwing motion that he’s thinking too much when he throws the ball and that’s why he’s so inaccurate. He wasn’t that inaccurate in college, but he had a throwing motion that people said wouldn’t work in the NFL so he’s been trying to change it and when you start thinking about how you’re throwing the ball, then you don’t justWha let it go and that’s what I’m seeing from him.”
Grogan agrees with most people who feel some time in the CFL or Arena League would benefit him, and said that if his dream of playing in the NFL is still at quarterback, that’s his best route.
“Well, I’ve read that he has still this dream of being an NFL quarterback. But I really think it would do him some good if he maybe went to Canada and played a year or two, even Arena Football where you have to throw the ball 60-70 times in a game and be extremely accurate. I think he’d be better off doing that for a couple years and then trying to get back into the NFL once he’s got everything figured out and has got his throwing motion where it needs to be and maybe figures out what it’s like to play quarterback at the professional level and be the starter for a couple of full seasons. I don’t think he’s going to do that from what I’ve read, but that would be my advice.”
ON TO THIS MORNING’S LINKS:
Patriots vs. Jets matchup breakdown: WR Julian Edelman vs. CB Antonio Cromartie – Erik Frenz – Frenz has an interesting read on the potential match-up of Patriots receiver Julian Edelman against Jets cornerback Antonio cromartie, including some footage to go along with it.
Tom Brady is relishing Patriots’ opportunity vs Jets – Shalise Manza Young – Manza Young has an article on Brady, and writes that with all the hype heading into this game, insists he has no idea what’s being said about his Patriots, positive or negative.
ON FOOTBALL: Patriots uneven but successful in win over Bills – Ben Volin – Volin takes an in-depth look at Sunday’s win and breaks down each situation, including “When the Patriots had the ball vs When the Bills had the ball,” etc.
Hold on: Stevan Ridley’s back – Steve Buckley – Buckley writes that Thursday night’s performance might be one of the most important in Ridley’s career.
Amid injuries, Tom Brady needs others to step up – Jeff Howe – How writes that if Tom Brady is throwing passes and no one on the Patriots is healthy enough to catch them, can they beat the New York Jets?
Callahan: Belichick must upgrade Patriots offense now – Gerry Callahan – Callahan wonders why if the Patriots offense was relatively good, why Belichick felt the need to try and fix it this offseason.
Kellen Winslow looks fondly on time with Patriots – Dan Duggan – Duggan has an article on former Patriots receiver Kellen Winslow, who is now with the Jets but enjoyed the experience of playing in New England.
Julian Edelman a clone fill-in again – Adam Kurkjian – Kurkjian writes that last year Edelman was considered to be a Welker “clone”, and yesterday Rex Ryan Joked about Edelman also being an Amendola “clone”.
Chandler Jones familiar with rookie QB – Mark Daniels – Daniels has quotes from Chandler Jones, who spoke to the media yesterday and talked about his familiarity with Geno Smith, having faced the former West Virginia quarterback when Jones was playing at Syracuse.
Catching up with former Patriots, Week 1 – Mike Reiss – Reiss looks at some former Patriots and how they performed during week one of the NFL season.
Patriots practice squad reset – Mike Reiss – After a couple of transactions yesterday, Reiss updates the current practice squad.
Shane Vereen can return Week 11 – ESPN Boston – After placing Vereen on IR with a designation to return, Vereen is now out until at least week 11 against the Carolina Panthers.
Pump the brakes on panic regarding Stevan Ridley and ball security – Christopher Price – Price has a good article on Stevan Ridley, and notes that his ball security numbers aren’t any where near as bad as people think.
Julian Edelman proves his value in Patriots’ win – Rich Garven – Garven has an article this morning on wide receiver Julian Edelman, who he writes after watching his sure handed slot skills Sunday, the Patriots look shrewd for re-signing the free agent during the offseason.
Patriots may need Edelman to bring his ‘A game’ against Jets – Glen Farley – Farley writes that with all the injuries the Patriots will need a solid outing from Julian Edelman Thursday night.
PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK: Ridley’s been spoken to – Glen Farley – Farley writes that after benching him on Sunday, Bill Belichick and Stevan Ridley have talked things over.
ESPN NEW YORK:
Green Day: Will Rex punch Belichick? – Rich Cimini – Cimini has a quote from former Jet LaDainian Tomlinson, who recalled a quote from Rex Ryan where Ryan said he was going to, “meet Belichick in the center of the field,” and that he was going to ‘punch him in the face’. Just one more reason to hope he’s looking for work after this season.