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With Competition Heating Up, Keshawn Martin a Player to Watch

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
5 years ago at 7:33 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

With Competition Heating Up, Keshawn Martin a Player to WatchJames Lang - USA TODAY Sports

Missed a lot of time and needs to show he’s ready

Keshawn Martin will be one of the key players to watch this Friday when the Patriots take on the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte on Friday night.

With the cuts in the 90-man roster (Patriots are already down to 81), looming to 75 next week, the Patriots still have an on-going and intriguing battle for the fifth wide receiver position. The team has Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and rookie Malcolm Mitchell as roster locks. Danny Amendola seems close to returning from the PUP so he’d be #4. That leaves a single spot unless the team opts to carry an extra WR at the expense of a position elsewhere.

Martin was an under-the-radar pickup for the Patriots in mid-September last season. The 5’11,195-pound wide receiver was an inactive player for the first two weeks of the season with Houston. The Patriots sent a fifth-round draft pick to the Texans and received Martin and a sixth-rounder in return. He quickly proved his worth and showed nice versatility in working his way in with the Pats seamlessly.

Martin-beats-Coleman-deep

Martin appeared in 11 games in 2015 and caught 26 passes for 326 yards and two scores as the Patriots third wide receiver. He also returned 12 kickoffs for 302 yards and 8 punts for 92 yards. The Patriots gave Martin a $600,000 signing bonus as part of his new 2-year deal worth $2.975 million dollars and immediately his status for the upcoming season improved to a near roster lock.

In June, Martin spoke to the media about excited about the opportunity to have an entire offseason in the Patriots system and working with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. But training camp hasn’t been a smooth one for Martin. He’s missed some time with an injury and when he was on the field, he was outplayed by Aaron Dobson.

Now he’s back on the field and taking full part in the practices which are very good signs that he’ll play against the Panthers in the third preseason game this week. He needs to, the competition is heating up for that fifth and final wide receiver spot on the Patriots roster.

On our latest 53-man roster projection from last week, Martin was still penciled in as our choice for the final wide receiver but there is still plenty of opportunity for that to change.

Dobson had a very strong camp but his production in the first two preseason games hasn’t been eye-popping. DeAndre Carter and Chris Harper have both had their moments during training camp and have been consistent, hard workers who’ve been answering the bell every day, something that can’t be overlooked. Devin Lucien seems a long-shot at this point and would be a practice squad candidate.

Martin brings the veteran presence, the prior production, and the special teams’ versatility to the table when discussing his chances. If he’s healthy and able to generate any kind of offensive production, he’s still the favorite to land on the 53-man roster. Because Carter, Harper, and Dobson all will be trying to turn heads themselves against one of the better defenses in the league.

So in watching the game within the game this week, keep tabs on the Patriots wide receivers, especially Martin. Five players are vying for one roster spot. And time is running out on the opportunities to show what they can do.

My money is still on Martin, but don’t rule anyone out just yet.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

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Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2016 Patriots Roster 53 Man Roster Projection Aaron Dobson Bill Belichick Chris Harper Chris Hogan Danny Amendola DeAndre Carter Devin Lucien Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman Keshawn Martin New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots Training Camp Photos Patriots wide receivers Tom Brady


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