Like everyone else, we spent the day Tuesday scouring the internet and Twitter watching for news of a possible trade or two that would boost the depth of the Patriots for the stretch run of 2015.
Two areas, cornerback, which is the thinnest on the roster and offensive tackle due to a myriad of injuries seemed like the most likely areas to address. However it takes two to tango and despite interest in the Titans Jason McCourty, they weren’t able to get any deals done.
But the team is getting a boost on both defense and offense despite making no trades at the deadline and those are in the form of players coming back from injuries.
Center Bryan Stork is coming back from IR designation to return after concussion issues sidelined him in training camp. And linebacker Dane Fletcher as well as defensive line Chris Jones have started practicing after starting the year on PUP.
Stork will present an interesting dilemma along the offensive line as UDFA rookie David Andrews has played in every snap thus far this season and done well. Stork however if healthy is an upgrade at the position, watching the tape of games at the end of 2014 would bear that out.
One possible scenario would be to leave Andrews as is for the time being and plug Stork in at guard. Although he didn’t play at all there last season, it probably isn’t too big of a stretch to think he wouldn’t do it and play well. With Tre’ Jackson getting injured in the Dolphins game and Josh Kline have missed considerable time with an illness, Stork would lend an extra level of toughness there.
Regardless, it is a good problem to have, with an abundance of quality players for the interior of the offensive line, and it will bear watching how this plays out.
Chris Jones may have a tougher nut to crack on the defensive line as they have notched up their play in recent games and have done a nice job the last two weeks. Against both the Jets and Dolphins, teams that like to pound the ball, the interior defensive line of Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Dominique Easley, Akiem Hicks and Sealver Siliga were at their best this season. They held the Jets to 89 yards rushing and the Dolphins to only 15, numbers far, far below their averages.
Fletcher was signed to return to NE after going to the Bucs in free agency, but he’s yet to take the field. But his familiarity with the system and his special teams value make him another nice addition at the midway point of the season.
So the clock is ticking… with Jones and Fletcher the Patriots have 21 days to make a decision to put them on the active roster, release them or place them on season-ending IR. Some other roster moves will have to take place for them to be activated so this will bear watching as well.
As disappointing as not getting McCourty was, and talking on Tuesday night with CSNNE’s Mike Giardi on a podcast, they were close to a deal, it isn’t the end of the world. Can they repeat as Super Bowl champions with the roster they currently have? Yes but you’d always like to see them add depth.
Another thing to keep in mind, since the season started the Patriots and Bill Belichick have already swung numerous trades and those have brought in players Akiem Hicks, Keshawn Martin, Jon Bostic and Michael Williams. All of whom have had impact thus far this season.
Would we have loved to see the McCourty twins in the Patriots secondary? We won’t lie, you betcha… but that wasn’t in the cards, at least this season.
We’re on to Washington…
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