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Idle thoughts - TC - the early days

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by patfanken, Jul 30, 2012.

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  1. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    Haven't had one of these in a while and I thought that a day off at TC would be a good time to put a few random and unconnected thoughts on "paper".

    1. Its one thing to give props to Jeramaine Cunningham for winning one of the 10 parking spaces for his off season excellence. Its another thing to hear his name being mentioned in the same breath with terms like "burst" and "turning the corner". :eek:

    I don't think enough credit was given to Cunningham for his first year here. Its been well documented that the transition from a college DE to a 2 gap - 3-4 OLB is one of the most difficult. It took guys like Vrable, Colvin, and Ninko 4 or 5 years to fully grasp the position and become impact players. The fact that Cunningham was forced into a starting position so early and wasn't a liability is a compliment. That Mike Reiss mentioned, that he had 23 QB pressures was even more impressive, given that he didn't seem to have that "burst" that excites us all in our pass rushers.

    Cunningham can only blame himself for last year's lost season. Clearly, left on his own, he didn't respond well to the lockout. He came into camp out of shape, got injured, was passed by Anderson and Carter, and wound up on IR midway through the season. He deserved the results he created by his own lack of professionalism. What he didn't deserve was for fans to ignore his rookie accomplishments and their dismissals for his 2nd season failures Its one thing to be "disappointed" with a player's season, but its another to dismiss him simply because he screwed up early in his career.

    So while we all (myself included) revelled in our shinny new toys like Jones, Hightower, Bequette, and Scott, Cunningham was quietly busy learning the lessons of the 2011 season and grinding away in the Pats new weight room. The end result being a "new" Jermaine Cunningham. The guy who can NOW be associated with terms like "sudden" and "burst"

    Now this is a development that isn't earth shaking or impactful to the Pats overall success this season. But it IS a nice redemptive story and adds depth to a position that is so full of promise, yet has little proven success. It bares watching.

    2. In a very similar vein, its interesting to read that Ron Brace has been "flashing" early on in the first 2 days of padded practices. This will be Brace's 4th season as a Patriot. The first was utterly disappointing for a 2nd round pick. His second was much improved and on the rise until he was cut down by an injury late in the season. An injury that carried over into last season, severely limiting his progress and production.

    This truly is a do or die season for Brace if he wants to continue with the Pats. Its a good sign that he's "flashing" somewhat. We need some big bodies in the trenches

    3. I know he's been the subject of much debate already, but it WILL be interesting to see if Julian Edelman can become something more than "just" a special teams, jack of all trades player. He's the 3rd player that we've heard about, who has "flashed" to observers thus far, that we didn't expected much from going into camp

    TC is very important to him to show that he has made the leap from QB to WR, because, barring an injury to Welker, its very unlikely that he's going to get many snaps at the slot position. Still it would be good to see him have a productive preseason. It will quiet the haters, comfort us knowing we have good depth at the position, AND let the Pats know that they may already have an adequate replacement for Welker after this season.

    4. Speaking of pleasant surprises. I'm happy to hear that Chandler Jones has already started to stand out in camp. Its come earlier than I expected or was led to believe.

    5. Less surprising but no less comforting, are the reports of Donta Hightower looking like a man among boys early in camp. It will be interesting to see where and how the Pats will use this weapon because that's what he is going to be.

    6. Last season the Pats ranked 14th in sacks with 40, just 2 sacks away from being in the top 10. That was an excellent performance give the Pats had just 3 guys that one would consider legit Pass rushers (Carter, Anderson and Ninko) THIS season Reiss, in a recent report named 10 though 4 were more inside pocket pushers than true rushers ( Vince, Deadrick, Brace, and Love)

    However in Ninko, Jones, Bequette, Scott, Cunningham, Fenene, and Hightower there are now 7 guys who can be considered or at least have the potential to be legit pass rush threats, and add Carter in late August and we've almost tripled the number of pass rush options than we had last season

    7. So what is left to find out over the next 5 weeks? Well the most critical element IMHO is the secondary. A hard area to evaluate when you aren't in a game situation I think the joint practices with the Saints will be a good place to start.

    8 Other nice surprises thus far....according to those who have watched the practices

    a. Will Allen looks good at safety and still very fast as such an advanced age.

    b. Nate Solder looks bigger and stronger and ready to take the next step as the Pats new LT

    c. Lloyd is everything we've hoped for so far

    d. the "screen" is back, baby

    e. Hard to believe, but Aaron Hernandez looks even better

    9. Other interesting things I'm looking forward to seeing over the course of next month

    a. Is Ryan Mallet just a strong armed kid who can't process fast enough to make good decisions, or will he win the back up job and become the next pawn in BB's plan to restock the draft machine

    b. Can Brian Hoyer show enough to worth a draft pick to someone.

    c. Who gets to stay among Branch, Stallworth, Davis, and Gaffney

    d. Who among the RB's emerges, and which FB survives

    e. A Daniel Fells sighting.

    10. Pet peeves

    a. I love Greg Bedard, but I still can't figure out how he can so definitively grade those one on one battles from so far away. I have to believe someone is slipping him the practice tape

    b. The Concussion suits. - Every time I see a new entry to this money grab, I can only think of the Casablanca scene when Louis says to Rick, "I am shocked to find out that there is Gambling going on in this club".....and then accepts his winnings.

    To think that Players didn't know that large men running at high speeds into one another didn't hold some potential long term health risks aren't being honest. No one is THAT stupid. Just another example of our need to blame someone for everything. Another example of not taking responsibility for our own actions, AND another example of the misuse of our legal system (which needs reform badly) to make a money grab.

    c. People who make judgments based on just 2 practices with pads ;)
  2. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Interestingly enough, I think the 2012 Patriots sack leader will be someone you didn't even list......... a certain Tenn alum who had a cameo in the Three Stooges movie this summer.

    BB will use him as he hasn't yet been allowed to use him - - because he doesn't have to be the babysitter of the LB corps anymore.
  3. PatsFan37

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    9a. Most everyone else we learn more about during the regular season. Now is the only time we get to learn about mallet (I hope!)
  4. reflexblue

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    Cunningham just showed too much promise in his first year to be a fluke. Something happened last year whether it was the lockout, immaturity, or a nagging injury. Maybe a combination of all of these and some we don't know about. While a lot of fans have written him off as a bust i haven't. I think he'll show something like he did in his first year. The only question i have is its awfully crowded at that position, so will he have real chance to show what he has.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2012
  5. fnordcircle

    fnordcircle ( o Y o ) PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This is a gross oversimplification. It's reminiscent of the same glib comments people would make about the McDonald's Coffee lawsuit. Which was a lawsuit where a woman was burned so bad she needed skin grafts on her groin because the coffee she spilled on herself was hotter than McDonald's own policy.

    Simply put, despite the fact that it is a violent game players have no say in what equipment they wear. That is handled by the NFL via their endorsement deals with Reebok, etc. Did you know, for instance, that the foam used in NFL helmets is not the best foam that could be used to reduce impact trauma?

    Your argument is no different than saying 'Flying is a dangerous thing so airline pilots have no right to sue if they find out that their airline is cutting costs at the expense of flight safety.'

    Beyond that if you do not find the NFL's treatment, or lack thereof, of veterans who played through multiple concussions and end up having major problems later in life (Corwin Brown, Junior Seau) absolutely repugnant then I question your priorities.
  6. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't know where to put this, so I'll stick it under your "Idle Thoughts" thread, Ken. NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal lists "5 leading rookies" of interest at this early juncture. Two of them play for the Pats:

    Dont'a Hightower, Doug Martin among leading rookies - NFL.com

    Not too shabby.
  7. BlueThunder

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  8. peterforpats

    peterforpats Rookie

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    re: players lawsuits
    not all lawsuits are "money grabs" some have merit. ithink the treatment of former players is a real stain in the record of the nfl. like everything, it is just my humble opinion, but all leagues don't do enough vis-a-vis the older past players. i don't begrudge them trying to get more after years of providing for our entertainment. i know how everyone thinks they all made a "ton" of money, but not all did(especially the old-timers).it is too easy to forget how important they all were for creating the popularity of their sports.the greatest team sport athlete in history- bill russell- made $100,001 in his best years. think about that and think what a benchwarmer makes today!!:confused:
  9. PATSYLICIOUS

    PATSYLICIOUS Rookie

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    Always enjoy your posts Ken.
    Be awesome if Cunningham and/or Brace could contribute this year. Both were disappointing after holding their own when being thrust into early action (remember Brace did start a game in late '09 @ Buffalo). Would really help the front 7 depth.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  10. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    I don't doubt that some of the law suits could have merit. And I don't doubt that a lot of older players who are participating in the class action suits are doing so because of the shabby treatment given to them by the last few generations of players who benefited from their efforts.

    While the NFL should share some of the blame in this, the greater blame should be heaped on the NFLPA who have squandered multiple opportunities to solve those problems in the last few CBA negotiations. Each time the NFLPA chose immediate benefits to their current players at the expense of their former colleagues.
    p
    The league should have done more. The "union" definitely should have done more. But also some of the players themselves should have done more to prepare for their own retirements. The league shouldn't be responsible for taking care of players for the rest of their lives. Especially when you consider the kind of money that even the lowest paid players are getting.
  11. jsull87

    jsull87 Rookie

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    Yeah I was reading this earlier as well. Hightower really seems to be turning some heads this camp, can't wait to see how he goes this year as we may have e makings of a really solid LB core if Hightower, Spikes and Mayo can stay on the field for 16 Games.

    Bolden popping up really has put a spanner in the RB works and hopefully all this competition will allow for one of Ridley, Vereen and Bolden to grab it and hopefully we can catch lightning in a bottle and get a real stud RB emerging this season.
  12. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan On the Roster

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    Reminds me of the story about the two libidinous young attorneys ogling the female puchritude at a singles Bar. One viewing a particularly cute young female said:

    "Boy Would I love to screw that pretty young thing..."

    To which his inquisitive partner inquired:

    "Out of what...???"
  13. Kasmir

    Kasmir Rookie

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    Cunningham actually came into the league with a quick first step. After we drafted him, I watched replays of nearly every Florida game so I could see him, Spikes, and Hernandez. In college, he tried to beat everyone with his quickness ans speed, and rarely if ever did I see him win with finesse or strength. Still, he tied for the team lead in sacks with Carlos Dunlap -- and had a lot more hurries.

    When he came into the NFL, he discovered that it's very hard to beat OT's if all you have is speed and no finesse or strength. Still, we saw him get lots of hurries, and even get his hands on the QB a few times, but he lacked the strength to convert those to sacks. He had a mediocre but promising rookie year.

    Everyone has already commented on the puzzling lost year for him that was 2011.

    But when he gets an off-season preparation award, one can only hope he's worked on his upper body strength. With his speed, even a modest increase in strength would allow him to set up his speed with occasional strength moves.

    Even more promising was hearing reports that he's developed a spin move, which I never saw him use at either Florida or with the Patriots.

    He already had some burst and quickness; if he's added strength and finesse to his game he could be a much improved pass rusher.
  14. supafly

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    Yes, definitely...Bolden has been a very plesant surprise so far, and is certainly one to keep an eye on.

    Nice grab there, mayoclinic.
  15. mgcolby

    mgcolby Woohoo, I'm a VIP!!! PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That is only true in the sense of the brand. And ironically you picked the one brand that has nothing to do with safety. Riddell has the NFL contract for helmets and they also happen to make two of the three highest rated concussion reducing helmets on the market the Revolution 360 (#1) and Revolution Speed (#3, #1 a year ago), yet many players choose to use a helmet that Riddell doesn't sell to the public anymore because "it looks better".

    The Riddell rep that handles our youth team also fits NFL rookies for several teams and stated every year its the same thing. The rookies sit through an information session explaining everything about the helmets available to them, including what helmets grade out IAW VT's helmet rating and internal Riddell testing, and the majority of them pick the old school helmet (VSR4) with a one star rating. They put the 360 or Speed on, look in the mirror and say they look stupid.

    Yes, the NFL could/should put a policy in place that all players need to use a 4 or 5 star rated helmet. But the NFLPA would and probably did fight it from being included in the CBA. Either way, at the end of the day the college educated athletes were presented their options, along with all of the supporting data and the majority consciencely choose style over safety.

    I bought my freshman son a 360, I want him protected as best as possible. The facemask on the 360 has give to redirect aproximately 70% the impact to the front of the helmet to the sides, away from the front of the head, where most concussions incur. With the options presented by Riddell there is no reason why every NFL player should not be equipped with a 4 or 5 star rated helmet.

    http://www.sbes.vt.edu/nid.php
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  16. peterforpats

    peterforpats Rookie

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    do you even remember when players worked real jobs in the off-season to make enough money ? they worked insurance, real estate, and other jobs. to say they were overpaid is absurd. plus, blaming the union is also misguided- how long did it take to just get free agency? i find it ironic that people heap blame on the union on one hand and also want unions to go away because the"are no good". for all the faults of the union, the players are still better off than they would be if left to the whims of the owners.:confused:
  17. PatsWickedPissah

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    Most of the union crit here has been that the union is not focused on the true welfare of its members but focused instead on just the $ and especially just on the big $ for the top echelon names, and decidedly not so much focused on bucks for majority of JAG members. Money is just part of player welfare especially in a profession where you risk your physical well being every day. Well maybe not so much on walk thrus. :)
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  18. KontradictioN

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    This is the year that he needs to show something. I'll give him a tough transition period from one gapping 4-3 DE at Florida to two gapping 3-4 OLB in the pro's. But this is a transition back to where Cunningham is more comfortable, a transition to his hand being in the dirt and using the variety of moves that he flashed at his disposal during his time at the Swamp (specifically the swim and spin moves) that he's beginning to show again in TC. If it can translate into the regular season, I'll be more than happy to admit that I was wrong about him and have been ever since his selection (he was the pick that I was the least excited about at the time). If he can't, then do we honestly lose much when you look at the rest of the LB's and DE's?
  19. Sicilian

    Sicilian On the Roster

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    If this pans out, it would go a long way to alleviating my safety concerns this season. I like Chung and I think Gregory will fit in nicely here, so the starters are comfortable for me. My worry has always been depth at safety, since Chung is likely to miss a few games here or there this season.

    Given that Tavon Wilson hasn't looked "out of place" according to most training camp reports, I'm getting more comfortable with him in the rotation, at least as the #4 safety and occasional corner. If Allen can step up and be another veteran presence over the top, I think that would make a HUGE difference in coverage this year. Having reliable safeties covering deep will only make our young CB's better and more confident.
  20. patfanken

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    Pete I had 2 shots at making the NFL - This was back in the early 70's. At the time I was a guy looking to make the bottom end of a 45 man roster. In other words a guy looking to make the minimum. The minimum at the time was round $15K/yr (IIRC). Don't feel bad, because THAT was big money to a school teacher who made $7400 his first year. :eek:

    So yes many players had 2nd jobs as insurance salesmen, or with car dealership etc. Tommy Heinson a basketball HOFer, made much more money with his insurance business than he ever did as a professional athlete.

    As to unions, I have very mixed emotions. I was a union member and involved in 2 strikes back in the day. Unions do important work in certain areas. Unfortunately they also can be used to protect poor workers and eventually become more about the union leadership than the union membership. The NFLPA is a good example

    While it did yeoman work in getting FA for players, they've spent the last 20 years making sure the "leadership" is well paid and that the top 5% of the players in the league get the maximum amount of money, and not enough time on things like the kind of surface they play on, the working conditions, and equipment. Important things, but very unsexy.

    But I didn't want this thread to be a discussion about concussions OR unions. Its just a personal pet peeve. The discussion should be more about the players and football.
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