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Camp Battles: Special Teams

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Metaphors, Jul 14, 2008.

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  1. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    Locked Down Roster Spots
    K: Gostkowski
    P: Hanson
    WR: KWashington
    LB: Woods

    Candidates (4 spots available)
    RB: Evans, Eckel
    WR: Aiken
    TE: Spach, Stupar
    LB: Izzo, Alexander, Ruud, Redd, Guyton
    CB: Richardson, Wilhite
    S: Spann, Ventrone
    Other: Slater, Paxton

    Camp Battle
    Paxton vs Other for Long Snapper

    About all you have to know about Paxton is that a) every snap is on target and b) no kicks get blocked from pressure up the middle. The only reason this is a battle is the yearly need to evaluate the wisdom of tying up a roster spot on a long snapper. I'm not aware of the other candidates on the roster, but I'm sure there are a couple.

    Camp Battle
    Slater vs Other for Returner

    Slater did a fine job at UCLA. This battle is less about Slater and more about risking injuries to the other candidates (Maroney, Hobbs, Faulk, Welker, CJack)...all of whom will be heavily counted on in their primary roles. Slater also has experience at UCLA on coverage teams and losing Andrews makes Slater's skills even more needed.

    Camp Battle
    The Rest of the Field for Remaining ST Spots

    Izzo is the captain, though he may be surviving more on reputation than production at this point. Evans and Alexander were on multiple ST units. Spach, Spann and Ventrone mucked in as well when they were on the roster and active.

    Aiken is a ST ace from Buffalo. Eckel and Stupar have probably spent time on ST as well but nothing noteworthy. Ruud has the skills (straight line speed and excellent tackler) to contribute and Redd/Guyton are prime candidates for the UDFA to stick on the roster. Richardson and Wilhite are more likely to be developmental corners than ST contributers.

    Metaphorically Speaking

    Got 4 spots available and lots of great candidates. There are a lot of skills at the bottom of this roster which is a great sign. Given this, it is really difficult for me to give a valuable spot to Paxton. I'll do it, but I can only hope that someone else can eventually take his responsibilities. Nothing against Paxton, just not big on one-trick ponies...even if that trick is pretty important.

    Almost put Slater as a roster lock. This team needs a returner and he is the guy. He can play on return and coverage teams...and also serves as an emergency WR and S. Unless he flakes out on or off the field, he gets a spot.

    Like Paxton, would like to see Izzo's spot on the team challenged by someone like Alexander or the rook LBs. I get the sense that he is still effective enough and provides needed locker room intangibles. Give him the spot.

    It is likely one of Evans or Eckel gets the last spot on the active 45. Eckel seems like a better runner, but Evans gets a lot of work on different ST units and is a solid blocker at FB. Advantage Evans.

    Aiken and Alexander are tough cuts. The rest move on to battle for the remaining gameday inactive spots and possible practice squad/shadow roster.

    Roster So Far...
    1-2: QB Brady, Gutierrez
    3-5: RB Maroney, Faulk, Morris <Evans>
    6-9: WR Moss, Welker, CJackson, Gaffney <Washington>
    10-11: TE Watson, DThomas
    12-18: OL Light, Mankins, Koppen, Neal, Kaczur, O'Callaghan, Hochstein
    19-23: DL Seymour, Wilfork, Warren, Green, Wright
    24-29: LB AThomas, Hobson, Mayo, Vrabel, Bruschi, Crable <Woods>
    30-33: CB Hobbs, Bryant, Wheatley, Webster
    34-37: S Harrison, JSanders, Meriweather, TWilliams
    38-45: ST Gostkowski, Hanson, Paxton, KWashington, Woods, Evans, Izzo, Slater
    Gameday Inactives
    46: QB O'Connell
    47-48: OL Britt, Yates
    49: DL LSmith

    Cut or Traded: Cassel, Pollard, Ross, Mruczkowski, SThomas, LSanders, Aiken, Alexander
    Battling for Inactive Spots:
    RB: Eckel
    TE: Spach, Stupar
    LB: Ruud, Redd, Guyton
    CB: Richardson, Wilhite

    Final spots and adjustments up next...
  2. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady On the Roster

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    I think you can put Paxton in the lock category. I agree with the other locks. That makes 5 ST both Washington and Woods IMO will play more of a role this year (bold prediction but I bet Washington catches more passes this year and Woods seems to be coming along). Anyway I digress, that leaves a few more STs spots not many. Frontrunners Evans, Eckel (because they have played great STs for us in the past and one will stay for sure to be the FB) and Izzo (also because of his pat play). After that I am real interested to see what Slater and Aiken can offer to the unit.

    Wow this position is really crowded. There are a lot of sters on this team that alot of us are real interested in. There are a lot of guys fighting for a few of the last positions on the team.
  3. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    BB's been tying up a spot on the 45 with Paxton for a while now, so I don't see that changing: Paxton is just that good. IIRC, Dave Thomas was a part-time long snapper in college.

    That sounds similar to my view; that said, don't underestimate Eckel's ST contributions; he seems to be around the ball a lot. [FWIW, I could see them trying this preseason to work Eckel in more; supposedly they were trying to get him more involved in goal-line offenses towards the end of the season.]
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
  4. PatsFan37

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    What's the deal, M? You've gotten awfully prolific lately. Are you on deadline? Taking over for Reiss? Kidding aside, these are great, great posts. I always open them first. Thanks!

    STs are always hard to evaluate, for me. It's almost the opposite of line play, which I also find difficult to evaluate. Everything takes place lickety split in a wide area where you're lucky to figure out who hit who.

    One thing about Izzo is he's like the safety. You'll see him ready to assist and on plays where someone's getting away, he has the experience to see it happening and make the stop. His STs tackles are tied for 2nd with Washington.

    That said, Rodney's slippage as starting safety could be the biggest impediment to Izzo's chances. I could easily see Rodney as filling Izzo's role. He has similar size to Izzo, superior tackling, and has obvious value to the defense, even if Sanders takes on Rodney's starting role. Rodney is already a big factor on STs, though I don't where to find a specific breakout of STs tackles, so I can't back that up.

    In a team looking to squeeze the most out of each roster spot, and where Rodney is being paid an awful lot to be less than a full-time safety, this may be a way for him to help out.

    Okay, so maybe I'm crazy on this one. One of the things Izzo does is go to all the STs meetings and make sure all the players (many of them rookies) are in the right positions. That's a lot to ask of a guy who also has to play significant defensive snaps. More likely, Slater becomes the next Izzo.
  5. BelizePats

    BelizePats Rookie

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    I agree and will go a little further and say that Slater is a lock to make this team!
    Its highly unusual to say this about a rookie 5th round draft pick but the circumstances are very beneficial for Slater making the team.
    As mentioned above, we really do need a return man this year. The guys who have done it for us in the past are just too valuable in their primary roles. Additionally, Andrews is gone. And they did trade up to get Slater. Andrews had already been popped for herb when the draft took place and as the draft progressed in the 5th, when BB and SP saw that Slater was still there, they pulled the trigger to move up and get him. I'm pretty sure they were thinking return game when they made this pick!
    If anyone else out there cringed with fear as much as I did when Welker was returning punts (with visions of season ending injury dancing in my head) Slater will be so very welcome on this team.
    This kid has the skills to add a much needed element to the team (a viable and consistent return game) and the fact that he can also play some D and O in a pinch, spells a roster lock in my opinion.
  6. bbabin

    bbabin Rookie

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    I suppose every camp has some exciting battles, but it seems that this year especially we will see a lot of young players looking to make their mark both on special teams and defense. Many of them have a good chance to make the team as well. I can't wait!
  7. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady On the Roster

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    They may have been thinking return when they drafted Slater but I think they were thinknig kick return. I doubt he is the punt returner. I think that will go to Welker again as he was really good at it and the timing on punts is such that you want someone really reliable who you know wont fumble as you can be hit a split second after the catch unlike in the Kick Return game.

    to be honest I didn't cringe as much as get out of my seat as I was expecting a good return everytime.
  8. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    All of this is true, but remember that the trade for Slater only came after they weren't able to get Zackary Bowman. [In other words, Bowman was their first choice, but Slater was a more than welcome consolation prize.]
  9. Pats726

    Pats726 Rookie

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    It's interesting to look at ST spots..but it's a bit more complex after the usual 3 (kicker, punter, long snapper). The parts are not exactly interchageable...I think if one went with only 3 RBs or 4 WRs...it would not be the best...which is why it's a bit harder too look at these players as MOST serve as a backup role as well. Few are really St non-positional players. Thus said, I think there are a number of battles here and all will be interesting.
  10. signbabybrady

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    There certainly is an added dynamic there. Sometimes you have to make a decision what is more important to the team a Sub role/depth or a STer.
  11. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    Actually, I was trying to get the camp battles exercise done in the time Reiss was away. He does something similar that will take up the last couple of weeks before camp.

    You may notice that the Camp Battles: Safety thread disappeared. I had nothing to do with that and don't have the energy to do it over.

    As for Rodney, I hadn't thought of that. I doubt it will go down the way you describe, but it actually makes a lot of sense. He could take the ST leadership role and he has significant experience on coverage teams. Rodney would still have enough left to be a situational specialist on D. That opens a spot for Alexander, Aiken or Santonio...all of which are tough cuts.
  12. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Just to say "thank you" for another great post/thread.

    I agree with others: I would be shocked if Paxton were cut, because we have had such a clear signal, year in, year out, that they are prepared to use a roster spot for a reliable long snapper. Nice work if you can get it, but I won't second guess BB!

    What's very interesting to me is the situation with KR/PR. In my opinion, Hobbs, Maroney and Welker are all terrific in those jobs -- but I agree that they are too valuable in other roles to do it on a regular basis. So it's Slater plus A.N. Other? Looks a little thin, doesn't it?
  13. ctpatsfan77

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    Would you rather we have a replay of 2000, when BB couldn't find 53 NFL-quality players for the roster? ;)
  14. bradmahn

    bradmahn Rookie

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    For me, and I think for most, the value of Izzo is not worth the roster spot. At best, Izzo is the third best teamer (behind Washington and Woods) and I'd argue Alexander is at least comparable but here's the difference: both Woods and Alexander offer another role or the potential to develop. At worst, for instance, Alexander is a special teams stud but he could also develop into a capable back up (and no matter how small that chance is, it is still greater than the odds that Izzo suddenly becomes a backup ILB). There are lots of young, developmental players who provide the same thing as our aging special teams captain.

    And on this team, Izzo doesn't deserve a spot because of leadership or teaching ability - there are plenty of other leaders and a great coaching staff. It simply isn't worth it.

    I'm really high on Ruud for his attitude and willingness to do anything. He also has size to bulk up and was a versatile player at Nebraska. He's a project, nonetheless, but a project that could provide the same thing as Izzo while also having upside.
  15. Rob0729

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    I do agree that Rodney is starting to slip especially in coverage and if Meriweather locks down the FS spot and Sanders and/or Tank Williams can take more of a role at SS, Rodney will be used more sparingly on defense. But I don't know if I agree that he will be used more on special teams.

    I think they will approach with Rodney much the way they did with Ted Washington back in 2003 and Junior Seau prior to his injury in 2006 - purely as a specialist for certain downs. I think using Rodney on special teams would be counterproductive since, at his age, his value may be best used if he can stay fresh by only playing on first and sometimes second downs depending on situations. Harrison seems to be best used if he is primarily used on run downs, rushing the passer, and coverage on shorter routes. I don't think he can be as effective in spaces.

    I think you won't see Harrison play special teams at all and see his reps on defense decrease. I think, barring injuries, his production will increase because of it.
  16. WhiZa

    WhiZa Rookie

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    There are no other ST leaders. With the influx of youth into ST I would say Izzo's role is more important. Are you going to make Washington or Woods ST captain?
  17. signbabybrady

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    I think you should send this post to Rodney see what he says about it:D
  18. Rob0729

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    I ain't doing it. You do it. Hey, let's get Mikey! Hey Mikey!

    I'm sure Rodney wouldn't be happy with this scenario, but he drinks the Patriots cool-aid and would do what it take to win a championship. I don't think he would be as happy to ride the bench and not play or be inactive on Sunday. But if Belichick or Pees told him that they were going to reduce his role a bit to be more effective, I don't think he would make a fuss.
  19. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I actually can't wait to see what Slater is going to do with the return role. Almost moreso than seeing what Mayo will do with the starting ILB role.
  20. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Well, Heath Evans is another guy on the list who is a highly respected veteran and A+ locker room presence.

    That said, Izzo keeps making the team despite fans' annual predictions of his demise.
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