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MORSE: 15 Thoughts Taking a Look at the Patriots’ Roster Maneuvering

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
2 weeks ago at 10:49 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: 15 Thoughts Taking a Look at the Patriots’ Roster ManeuveringEric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some thoughts following the Patriots’ cutdowns, along with a look back at my roster projections:

1) How did I do with the projection?  The trade for Verderian Lowe had a big impact on how the overall roster played out.  Who would have thought the Patriots would keep 11 Offensive lineman?  I did state that Riley Reiff would go on IR after he had made the 53-man roster.  He and Connor McDermott’s knee injuries were more serious than anyone let on.  The Patriots aren’t exactly up front with medical information.  Those two injuries were the reason the Patriots had to make the two trades for backup Tackles.

2) McDermott ended up on season ending IR.  I also didn’t anticipate Calvin Anderson coming off the Non-Football Illness list.   Anderson has been in the position group meetings all year and attending some practices so he will be familiar with the plays and the play calls.  However, nothing replaces the reps that he has missed.  He will have had no physical contact, and running plays in practice doesn’t replicate the speed of the game.  With that said he is way ahead of Wheatley and Lowe in understanding the plays.

3) An Offensive line of Trent Brown (LT), Cole Strang (LG), David Andrews (C), Michael Owenu (RG), and Calvin Anderson (RT) has the potential to be a formidable unit.  Rookie 4th round selection Sidy Sow was asked to play Tackle, which is not the position he played in college. He was overwhelmed in the pre-season, but he did gain valuable experience.  You could see his potential, but he was just not ready to play at this level.

4) Two more rookies, Center Jake Andrews (4th 107) and Guard Antonio Mafi (5th 144) showed some good things in the pre-season, but like Sow, they are just not ready.  Mafi, and his mauling style, may be closer than the other two.  If needed, he could fill in and play in the phone booth and be less exposed.  He is strong and stout.  The former Nose Tackle has only been playing on the Offensive Line for three years.

5) Chasen Hines was on my final roster but was waived by the team.  He decided not to resign with New England and has taken his services to rival Miami Dolphins.  The Patriots made a mistake waiving Hines.  Another player waived on Tuesday was Bill Murray.  The converted DT signed on with the Chicago Bears Practice Squad.  The Pats did sign Andrew Steuber, Kody Russey, and James Ferentz (why?).   Ferentz could easily be let go and just stand by the phone as part of the shadow roster.  No team is going call on him.  Steuber missed all last year, and this is really his rookie year.

6) With the trade of Pierre Strong I felt that the team would go with just two Running Backs.  Montgomery is back with the team, signing on with the Practice Squad.  Kevin Harris also resigned with the Practice Squad.  JJ Taylor status is unknown, but he was given an excused absence from the last practice on Monday which may have affected his ability to resign to the Practice Squad.  The Patriots announced 15 players have signed which would give them one opening.   They will also gain two roster spots when Reiff and Thornton are put on IR.

No one saw Zappe being waived coming. (PHOTO: Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK)

7) No one saw the Patriots cutting both Malik Cunningham and Bailey Zappe.  The waiving of Zappe was a shocker.  He did not play well, but given the poor play of the Offensive Line, I could have looked past that.  However, Zappe was also holding onto the ball too long and not very accurate when he did throw.  Both players made their way to the Practice Squad.  A report (probably from his agent), from Tom Pellisero of NFL Network said that Zappe had seven teams contact him with offers to join their Practice Squads.  Both players will be eligible to be elevated from the Practice Squad three times to the 53-man roster then returned to the Practice Squad.  I would say that is the plan for the Patriots the 1st three weeks of the season.

8) Look for the team to bring some veteran QBs in for a look such as Carson Wentz, Nick Foles and Colt McCoy.   A wildcard might be AJ McCarron who played for Bill O’Brien at Alabama and most recently played in the XFL for the St. Louis Battlehawks.  In his final game with St. Louis, he completed 28 of 35 passes for 420 yards and 6 TDs.  He was named the league MVP.   I could see a scenario where Bailey is elevated from the Practice Squad even after the team has signed a veteran QB.  Bailey would be the #2 QB and the veteran the emergency QB because they haven’t got the reps or practice time with the team.

9) Tyrick Pitts and Ty Montgomery signed with the Practice Squad, bolstering the Wide Receiver corp.  Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated Monday Morning Quarterback stated that JuJu Smith-Schuster’s knee is mush and that he could go down at any time.  Add to that info on Smith-Schuster was Davante Parker’s absence from the media portion of practice.

10) At Tight End the Pats only kept two TEs as predicted.  They will use the Practice Squad recall liberally with Mat Sokol and newly signed Pharoah Brown.  At 6’6” 258 lbs. Brown is a big target.  The 6-year veteran has played for the Raiders, Browns, Texans (for Bill O’Brien), Browns again and was in the Colts camp this pre-season.  The former Oregon Duck is a good blocker but a rather slow receiver.  Tyrone Wheatley, the Tackle acquired from the Browns was a TE in college (not a Tackle).  I could see Bill O’Brien using him as the third TE in blocking situations.

11) On the defensive side, I had Lawrence Guy getting cut and then resigned as one of the two spots opened from the players going on IR.  That didn’t happen and Bill Belichick kept 7 Defensive lineman with Trey Flowers on PUP.  Keion White can switch between the edge and DT.  That would make for better balance on 6 DL and 4 Edge players.  Sam Roberts was the one I didn’t have making the final 53.  His play in the final pre-season game made up for the stupid mistake of roughing the QB sliding in the Green Bay game.  Ronnie Perkins played very well in the Green Bay game but hasn’t been healthy missing almost two years.  He cleared waivers and resigned with the Practice Squad.  Mark Daniels from Mass Live reported that Jeremiah Pharms was resigned but he was not part of the press release from the team and not spotted at practice or in the locker room.

12) I didn’t realize Calvin Munson was vested veteran.  I had him on my final 53 but he was cut.  I didn’t know he had the 4 accrued years that made him an instant Free Agent.  I was glad to see him signed to the Practice Squad and could see him as a game day call up or one of the added players to the 53-man roster outright because of his Special Teams contributions.    Joe Giles-Harris was signed to the Practice Squad.

13) The defensive backfield was pretty locked in except for Isaiah Bolden.  He was placed on season ending IR.  I thought they would push him through the 53 and then IR him later so that he could be activated and play this year.  Consequently, Ameer Speed made the final 53 instead of Bolden.  Perhaps Speed beat Bolden out and it was a way for the team to protect Bolden from waivers and give him a red shirt year to fully recover from the concussion.  You know how much Bill Belichick likes his Special Teams players.  The team listed Chris Board and Speed as Special Teams players.  Joshuah Bledsoe was signed to the Practice Squad.

14) I don’t understand the signing of Punter Corliss Waitman to the Practice Squad!  Bryce Baringer had a tremendous Pre-season punting and can be a real weapon when it comes to changing field position.

15) The Patriots haven’t officially put Reilly Rieff and Tyquan Thornton on IR yet.  When they do, it will open up two roster spots.  I have seen reports that the team is still exploring a possible additional QB to back up Mac Jones.  I also think they need a running back.  JJ Taylor has not signed with anyone yet.

These roster maneuvers will go on for the next 10 days until the day before the game on the 10th.  The Patriot did not retain an UDFA on their roster so far.  If they don’t before the 1st game, it will be the first time in 19 years they have not, and the streak will end.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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    David Goldner
    David Goldner
    10 days ago

    I’m surprised by your statement that the O line could be very good. The last two years they weren’t. This year they don’t yet have a proven right tackle Could be even worse than last years line

    Scotty B
    Scotty B
    Reply to  David Goldner
    9 days ago

    Having Adrian Klemm vice Patricia coaching the o-line is the huge upgrade you seem to be overlooking. That zone-blocking scheme they started off with last year proved to be disastrous. The starters barely payed this preseason so I don’ think that is a good indicator of this unit’s potential effectiveness…

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