Tag Archives: James Develin

Best Of Social Media: Reaction To Rob Gronkowski Retirement From Football

Robert Alvarez
March 25, 2019 at 6:00 pm ET

On Sunday night, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski formally announced over Instagram that he will be retiring from the NFL after nine professional seasons.

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It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.

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Since entering the league as the 42nd overall pick in 2010, Gronk compiled
521 catches for 7,861 yards with 79 touchdowns during his time in Foxborough.

Gronk earned five Pro Bowl selections over his career but dealt with
multiple back surgeries, a twice-broken arm and a torn ACL.

Despite the injuries, Gronk put together a career that all but assures him a place in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Check out all the best reactions from social media to the news below.

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Icon. #TheGronk

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Best Of Social Media: Sights And Sounds From The Patriots Championship Parade

Robert Alvarez
February 8, 2019 at 3:00 pm ET

On Tuesday the New England Patriots concluded their Super Bowl celebrations with a championship parade through the streets of Boston.

For the twelfth time since 2001, the 2018 New England Patriots became the latest Boston “Big Four” sports team to be honored with a duck boat rolling rally.

Check out all of the best social media postings from the Patriots, media, and fans below.

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Can I call you Gronky too??? @gronk

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6 #StillHere

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Still Dreaming

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Boston. You are insane. #LFG

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How. Do. We. Feel.

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#mvp #flashthat #slimeseason

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All the way live. #champs

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Rookie and the Vet

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World Champs!

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Patriots Report Card In AFC Championship Win Over Kansas City

Steve Balestrieri
January 22, 2019 at 7:00 am ET

Well… That was a wild finish to that game. The fourth quarter and overtime were exactly the way we described it in our pregame matchup piece, an instant classic. A low scoring game for three quarters exploded in the final 20 minutes of the 4th quarter/OT.

The Patriots went on the road in a very tough place to play in front of a very raucous crowd and were able to pull out a very impressive win to capture their third straight AFC championship and for the Brady/Belichick legacy, this is their ninth Super Bowl appearance since 2001.

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s blowout win:

Quarterback: A

Tom Brady came out of the gate and led the Patriots on a beautifully called opening drive where the Patriots went 80 yards and ate up eight minutes of the first quarter before the Chiefs even touched the ball. They went back down again with a chance to go up 14 and Brady threw an interception on the end zone on a poor decision. Late in the half, he threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett on a really nice pass to the corner of the end zone.

Brady ended up completing 30-46 for 348 yards with a TD and 2 interceptions, the other going off Edelman’s hands and right into the hands of the defender. But after the Chiefs found their offensive mojo and came to take the lead, the Patriots needed Brady’s magic. He gave it to them in spades.

In the last eight and a half minutes of the game, (3:32 in regulation and about 5 minutes of OT) Brady led the Patriots to three touchdown drives. He was vintage Tom Brady and checked all the blocks: Throwing into tight windows? Check. Zipping the ball downfield? Yes for certain. During those last three drives, Brady was 11-16 for 147 yards.  And a perfect 5-5 on 3rd downs. In Overtime, the Patriots converted three 3rd and 10s.

Lucky? Why are we still even having this drivel asked anymore?

Running Backs: A

The Patriots were once again led on the ground by Sony Michel, the rookie had another very productive day, grinding out 113 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns. He was spelled late in the game by Rex Burkhead who ran 12 times for 41 yards and two touchdowns including the game winner in Overtime.

James White didn’t have a big a role as we envisioned carrying just six times for 23 yards. The Patriots rolled up 176 yards on the ground. They did exactly what was asked of them, they set the tone early in the game and then late when the Chiefs were selling out on their pass rush, they gashed them for three late scores.

Wide Receivers: A-

Julian Edelman was once again the Patriots leading receiver with 7 catches for 96 yards and he was immense in the game-winning drive converting two huge 3rd and 10 scenarios with a 20 and 15 yard gain. But he was nearly the goat. He had a pass bounce off his hands and right into a Chiefs linebacker’s (Sorensen) for an easy interception. But he more than made up for that during crunch time. With the hits he took down the middle Edelman once again proved he is as tough as woodpecker lips.

Chris Hogan chipped in with five catches for 45 yards including a huge third-down conversion where he dove and pulled the ball into the crook of his arm for a catch that was challenged but upheld. White had four catches for 49 yards including a huge 30-yard screen pass that set up a score. Phillip Dorsett had just one catch but it was a big one, a 29-yard touchdown. Burkhead had four catches for 23 yards, Cordarrelle Patterson had two for 18, James Develin added in one for nine.

Tight Ends: A

Rob Gronkowski once again dominated in the running game. He, Dwayne Allen, and Develin unleashed the backs with some crushing blocks on the linebackers and edge players. But the Chiefs decided to single cover Gronkowski mostly with a single safety (Eric Berry).

Gronkowski had a big game in the passing department as well hauling in six passes for 79 including the huge 15-yarder over Berry that set-up the final runs by Burkhead that gave them the win. It was an almost vintage-like Gronkowski performance and a well-needed one.

Offensive Line: A

The offensive line had another dominant performance. The Patriots rolled up 524 yards of offense, they ran 94 offensive plays and had only one play (1) go for negative yardage. The kneel down by Tom Brady at the end of regulation.  Kansas City had a very good group of pass rushers who tallied up 52 sacks in the regular season.

Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney dominated Chris Jones last night and not only did he not get any pressure on Brady, but they also pushed him around a lot in the running game.

This was magnified by the Patriots being on the road in a very loud stadium. So the Chiefs could anticipate the snaps from Brady without having to worry about a hard count. Brady was pressured on only seven of 46 dropbacks. Outstanding.

Defensive Line: B+

The Patriots defensive line had a very big game. The Chiefs running game was registered as an afterthought gaining only 41 yards on 12 carries. The defensive line did a great job of mostly containing Patrick Mahomes in the pocket and bringing pressure.

Trey Flowers was terrific on the edge and Lawrence Guy and Malcom Brown were stout inside. Flowers had a sack, a tackle for a loss and two QB hits. Guy split a sack with John Simon.  Adam Butler came on in passing downs and helped push the pocket.

Linebackers: A-

The Patriots much-maligned linebacking corps had another big day. Kyle Van Noy was outstanding, making plays all over the field. He had a pair of sacks, six QB pressures, and five run stops. He was a pain in the ass for the Chiefs offensive line all night.

Dont’a Hightower had another strong game playing 100 percent of the snaps and providing some pressure up the middle. John Simon saw more snaps than Elandon Roberts and had another under the radar strong game. He had a half-sack, and three QB pressures.

Secondary: A-

Wait you say. They gave up 31 points and 24 in the fourth quarter??? Well, look at the job that the secondary did on shutting down Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Those two combined for just four catches for 65 yards. No one held them under 100 yards all season and the Patriots did it in Arrowhead. Hill was doubled by Jonathan Jones/Keion Crossen with outstanding help over the top by Devin McCourty. Big Mac was terrific.

Sammy Watkins had 4 catches for 114 yards but his big one, 54-yarder was one play where Mahomes had all day to throw and Watkins finally shook free from Stephon Gilmore. The Pats moved Gilmore over to Kelce in the second half and he smothered him.

Rookie J.C. Jackson was the victim of several flags and was beat by Kelce (with a push off) for a touchdown.

Special Teams: A-

The only potential bad play was the almost muff by Edelman on a bouncing punt. It was a near and potentially game changer. But Edelman was very good in the punt return game returning three for 38 yards. Patterson had three kick returns for 80 yards including a nice 38 yarder. The coverage units did a much better job time around.  Ryan Allen was solid and Stephen Gostkowski hit a difficult 47-yard field goal considering the conditions.

Coaching: A+

Bill Belichick had an absolutely masterful game plan and the players executed it flawlessly in the first half. The Chiefs were shut out at home for the first time all season and they held them to just 32 yards of offense. They would adjust and finally explode with a huge fourth quarter but that allowed the Patriots to play with the lead all game.

Josh McDaniels called another strong game. He knew where the Chiefs’ weaknesses were and the Patriots offense rolled up 524 yards while having a more than double time of possession advantage (43:50 to 20:53).

Brian Flores called another very good game as the Patriots defense held Kansas City to under 300 yards of total offense. Penalties hurt but those are part of the game. We’re on to Atlanta and Super Bowl 53.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as our writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

Best Of Social Media: AFC Divisional Playoffs Chargers vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
January 15, 2019 at 5:51 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered the AFC Divisional Playoffs against he Los Angeles Chargers seeking to continue their long standing success against the franchise under quarterback Tom Brady.

With a win, Brady would move to 8-0 lifetime against the Phillip Rivers led Chargers and advance to the AFC Championship game for the eighth consecutive season.

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Into the fire…

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January football. #LFG

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In the first quarter, the Patriots got the ball first and immediately got to work with the running back corps.

A one-yard run by Sony Michel put the Patriots up 7-0 early after an impressive seven minute drive.

However the Chargers would respond quick after this breakdown by the Patriots secondary.

Seven all thanks to a 43 yard pass from Philip Rivers to Keenan Allen.

It would be the last mistake Gilmore would make all game.

Looking to regain the lead, Sony Michel continued to tear up the Charger defense for his second score of the quarter. 14-7 Patriots after one

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In the second quarter, the Patriots began to pull as Brady found Phillip Dorsett for a 21-7 lead.

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A career high 40 yard run by Michel setup the Patriots fourth touchdown of the half. A 28-7 Patriots lead midway through the second.

After four scoring drives to open the game, the Chargers defense finally forced a punt, only to immediately give it back to the Patriots.

Who else but Sony? The running back would cash in on the turnover for his third touchdown of the half an unprecedented 35-7 Patriots halftime lead.

The 35 first half points tied a franchise record set in the 2011 divisional round against the Tim Tebow Denver Broncos.

While the Patriots defense continued to keep the Charger offense off the field, Brady continued to attack their defense.

A Stephen Gostkowski 38 yard field goal pushed the lead to 38-7.

A Melvin Gordon touchdown gave the Chargers their second touchdown of the game to make it 38-14 Patriots after three.

A Stephen Gostkowski 30 yard field goal made it 41-14 Patriots to open the fourth quarter.

With the Patriots leading by 27, Gillette Stadium broke out in song led by Jon Bon Jovi.

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Phillip Rivers found Virgil Green for six and converted a two point attempt to make it 41-22 with seven minutes to go.

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With the Chargers still trailing by multiple scores, Rivers found his old tight end Antonio Gates for an eight yard touchdown in what may be his final NFL game.

The Chargers failed to convert a two-point attempt as the Patriots took over to put the game away on a few kneel downs.

The New England Patriots advance to their eighth consecutive AFC Championship game in Kansas City against the Chiefs next Sunday night.

https://twitter.com/NBCSCameraGuys/status/1084607472172707840
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Respect.

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W

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How we feeeeeeeel! #Brotherhood #TeamWin

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Let’s go! On to KC.

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Just a guy and his back. #LFG

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PHOTO: James Develin Becomes Father Of New Baby

Robert Alvarez
January 2, 2019 at 6:01 pm ET

James Develin’s 2018 season just got a bit more special.

On his Instagram account Wednesday, Develin shared news that his wife was to be expecting their third child.

“Adding another member to this crew in a few short hours. The strength and selflessness I’ve seen in @jennydevelinthese past few years has been incredible. Can’t even begin to tell how proud and appreciative I am for all you’ve done for us. We absolutely adore you. NOW LETS GO HAVE THIS BABY!!”

As a result of the impending pregnancy, Develin missed practice on Wednesday to be with his family. It is the third time this season a Patriot has had to leave the team due to paternal matters, Rex Burkhead was late to practice in November for the birth of his son and Trey Flowers missed practice in December for the birth of his daughter.

Develin finished the 2018 season with a career highs in receptions (12) and rushing touchdowns (4).

Congratulations to James and Jenny!

Best Of Social Media Week 13: Vikings vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
December 4, 2018 at 9:11 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered their Week 13 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings looking to keep pace with the Kansas City Chiefs for the top seed in the AFC Playoffs and continue their December dominance into another season.

The Patriots came in at 8-3, while the Vikings, who continue to battle for an NFC Wild Card spot, were 6-4-1.

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Lets get it!

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In the first quarter, the Patriots struck first from an unlikely source, fullback James Develin carrying the ball in from the one for a 7-0 lead.

Another week, another new Tom Brady milestone, and this one was a long time coming.

A Brady five yard gain to put the quarterback over 1,000 rushing yards for his career.

The score remained 7-0 Patriots after a quarter as kicker Stephen Gostkowski added to the lead with a 20 yard field goal to extend it to 10-0 midway through the second.

Despite the Patriots having full control of the game and time of possession, the offense struggled to pull away and the Vikings got back in the game with an Adam Thielen touchdown reception. 10-7 Patriots at halftime.

The score was made possible by a gutsy third down challenge call by Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

In the third quarter, former Viking Cordarrelle Patterson tormented his former team with a big gain.

Unfortunately the Patriots offense continued to scuffle as the Vikings would tie the game at 10 with a Dan Bailey 39 yard Field Goal.

Needing to grab back momentum, Josh “Flash” Gordon came up big.

17-10 Patriots after three quarters.

Leading by seven into the fourth, the Patriots defense continued to dominate the Kirk Cousins offense.

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With 11 minutes to go in the game, the Patriots offense padded their lead when James Develin again scored to push the separation to 24-10.

Under five to play, the Patriots defense forced two big turnovers to end the Vikings night and a 24-10 victory.

By beating the Vikings, the Patriots extended their own NFL record for most consecutive winning seasons to 18 straight (2001-2018), the team also moved to 9-3 through 12 games, for the 13th time under Bill Belichick and the eighth-straight year that the team has started the season with a 9-3 or better record.

Seven of those 13 times, the team has advanced to the Super Bowl.

The Patriots will travel south to take on the 6-6 Miami Dolphins at 1:00 next Sunday.

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Persevere. #TeamW

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W

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Four Patriots Earn Pro Bowl Selections

Robert Alvarez
December 20, 2017 at 9:47 am ET

On Tuesday night, the NFL officially announced its Pro Bowl rosters for the game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL on January 28th 2018, the week before the Super Bowl.

Four Patriots were selected as part of the voting process, Quarterback Tom Brady, Fullback  James Develin, Tight End Rob Gronkowski and Wide Reciever/Special Teams Matthew Slater were all selected to represent the Patriots. The Patriots have now had at least four players selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last nine seasons.

Brady’s 13th Pro Bowl selection in 18 seasons continues a team record, including nine consecutive beginning in 2009. He has now passed Guard and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah (1978-85) for most consecutive Pro Bowl selections in franchise history. Brady heads into Week 16  leading the NFL in completions (346) and passing yards (4,163), and he is third in touchdown passes (28).

Per the Patriots offical press release, “Develin has earned his first career Pro Bowl invitation and is the first Patriots fullback to earn a Pro Bowl nod since Sam Cunningham in 1978. An Ivy League defensive lineman standout at Brown, Develin changed positions to fullback and had stints in the Arena Football League and the United Football League before breaking into the NFL with Cincinnati’s practice squad in 2010. He was released by Cincinnati at the end of training camp in 2012 and joined the New England practice squad shortly after and was added to the 53-man roster late in the 2012 season. Since then, Develin has appeared in 63 games with 19 starts at fullback. Though he is utilized mainly on offense as a lead blocker, Develin also plays a role as a core member of the Patriots special teams units.”

Tight End Rob Gronkowski earned his fifth Pro Bowl selection, “he also earned a Pro Bowl invitation following the 2011, 12, 14 and 15 seasons. Gronkowski has started all 12 games he appeared in this season and leads all tight ends in receiving yards (1,017) and yards per reception (15.9). He is coming off a career-high 168-yard receiving performance in the win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. This season, Gronkowski joined Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten as the only tight ends in NFL history with four 1,000-yard seasons. He also moved into the top 10 all-time for receiving yards by a tight end and currently sits ninth with 7,112 career receiving yards.”

Lastly, “Slater earned his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl selection as a special teams player. Slater’s seventh Pro Bowl nod as a special teams player matches Steve Tasker (1987, 90-95) for most special teams Pro Bowl honors in NFL history. The former fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA earned a roster position with the Patriots as a rookie in 2008 with his contributions on special teams. Entering the 2011 season, teammates elected him as their special teams captain. That year, he was also selected to his first Pro Bowl. Since then, he has earned special teams captain honors to start each season and been voted to the Pro Bowl at season’s end. He has led the Patriots in special teams tackles for five of his nine seasons.”

While the selections come as an honor and even money bonuses for some players, because the Pro Bowl will be played the week before the Super Bowl again, should the Patriots make it, none  will participate in Orlando.

VIDEO: “James Develin Tribute – The Engineering Meathead Fullback”

Robert Alvarez
October 11, 2017 at 7:58 pm ET

A member of the New England Patriots for six seasons, fullback James Develin doesn’t often get the attention of the cameras or the stat sheet, but has become a valuable blocker for the running backs that have passed through Foxboro during his tenure.

Once in awhile, he sneaks in a pass or two like he did against the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago.

For his career, Develin may only have one touchdown pass to just 16 total receptions, but one Patriots fan wanted to give him a tribute video for all of his hard work that may go unnoticed to the casual observer.

YouTube user Von Wolfwood put together the following highlight reel of Develin’s time in New England since he first arrived in 2012, a career that has seen his teams play in the AFC Championship at minimum, every season.

Video Courtesy Von Wolfwood.

Final New England Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 4.0

Steve Balestrieri
August 28, 2017 at 6:30 am ET

As we’ve been saying all summer, the New England Patriots will have many difficult decisions to make when the final 53-man cut down is due after the Giants game. The hour glass is running out and if players are going to make a move, they have a week remaining to convince the coaches that they’re worth keeping.

With some serious injuries to Derek Rivers and Julian Edelman, that will open up two spots that we had as locks. Ditto for the release of Kony Ealy. So, despite that, we can expect that the Patriots initial 53-man roster will change rather quickly as they’ll probably pick up a player or two via the waiver wire. I wouldn’t rule out a trade for an edge player either as they are really thin there right now.

With that in mind, we’ll take our final crack at the roster here on Sunday night with time to digest and re-watch the Lions game.

First up is the offense…

OFFENSE (24)
QUARTERBACK (3): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

Out: None
New England has traditionally kept two QBs on their roster. Last year they kept three because of the crazy Brady suspension. I didn’t expect Brissett to push Garoppolo for the #2 slot this season, but his play has been really disappointing. He holds the ball far too long and his arm, though cannon-like has the accuracy of an old smooth-bore musket and not where it should be.

But I just don’t see them cutting bait with Brissett yet. Is it possible? You betcha, but not this year. I think they will stick with three but Brissett isn’t a lock by any means.

RUNNING BACK (5): James White, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James Develin

Out: D.J. Foster, Brandon Bolden, Glenn Gronkowski, LeShun Daniels
No changes here, I really wanted to find a way to keep both Foster and Bolden. Foster is going to be on a roster somewhere on Opening Weekend. If it isn’t here, it will be somewhere else. I thought of keeping only two TEs and utilizing him in an RB/Slot receiver mode where Devlin and an extra tackle can help in the blocking. And they still may do that.

Bolden is a superb STs performer but with Gillislee back and looking healthy, I don’t see how they keep him without cutting from somewhere else.

TIGHT END (3): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnessy

Out: Matt Lengel, Sam Cotton, Jacob Hollister
While he’s played well the past few weeks, O’Shaughnessy’s slot is still tenuous at best. He’s a better blocker but not as good as a receiver as Hollister. The UDFA rookie from Wyoming had a big game against Jax and then was barely used after that. It is obvious the team likes O’Shaughnessy and wants to keep him. Lengel, who is banged up didn’t show enough to warrant keeping him around.

WIDE RECEIVER (5): Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, Austin Carr

Out: Julian Edelman (IR), Matthew Slater (IR), Devin Lucien, Cody Hollister, Tony Washington, K.J. Maye
Julian Edelman’s injury opens the door for the Patriots to keep Austin Carr, who to me has just barely edged out Devin Lucien for the final spot at the position. Both Edelman and Slater go to IR, Slater will return later this season, which will make for another interesting decision. The top four are locks and will be needed to step up a bit more.

INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE (4): David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras
Out: Jason King, James Ferentz, Chase Farris

No changes here. Center David Andrews and guards Mason and Thuney were all starters last year, are locked and have played well this summer. Karras gets the nod over Ferentz who will be a primary practice squad candidate

OFFENSIVE TACKLE (4):  Nate Solder, Antonio Garcia, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming

Out: LaAdrian Waddle, Conor McDermott, Cole Croston, Max Rich, Andrew Jelks (IR)
The good news is that Nate Solder is back at practice and although he didn’t make the trip to Detroit, he should be ready for the Chiefs game on Opening Night. Garcia has been banged up, does his injury preclude him from making the roster and going on IR? That may open the door a crack for Conor McDermott or LaAdrian Waddle (also banged up) to step in. But it appears that Solder, Cannon, and Fleming are locked in right now.

Next up in the defense.

DEFENSE (25):
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (5): Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, Adam Butler

Out: Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Josh Augusta,
With the lack of enough edge players and the release of Kony Ealy, this opens the door for another player to step up inside and that is Adam Butler who has had a very solid camp. He’s shown the ability to penetrate inside and disrupt things in the running game. Branch, Brown, and Lawrence Guy are locked. Guy had a solid camp and with Butler, the team may opt for more of a 3-4 look with the bigger bodies inside.

Hamilton, Kilgo, and Augusta played well this summer and are victims of numbers more than anything else.

EDGE RUSHER (3): Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Geneo Grissom,

Out: Derek Rivers (IR), Caleb Kidder, Keionta Davis
Ealy was released early…which means that he was in no way in their plans for 2017 after an up and down training camp. Depth has become a serious issue here. Wise will be looked to now, to provide the pressure with Trey Flowers. Grissom right now is my 53rd player on the roster. He could be replaced somewhere else but sticks around for his STs play. But he’s been virtually invisible on defense and that isn’t a good sign.

Look for the linebackers to provide help in this realm. Dont’a Hightower, Van Noy, and Langi will all be utilized as edge rushers as well. This is an area they may cherry pick off of the waiver wire and/or swing a trade. I think Davis will go to the practice squad and possibly play a factor down the road sometime in the future.

LINEBACKER (6): Dont’a Hightower, David Harris, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, Harvey Langi, Trevor Bates

Out: Elandon Roberts (IR), Jonathan Freeny, Brooks Ellis
I had the team keeping just five linebackers all summer but with the dearth of edge players, they keep an extra LB and those guys will help out on the edge as well. David Harris is an early-down inside run stuffer who is a liability in coverage (see Roberts). But the difference is, he’s a guy who is an established, smart veteran and will be rarely out of position. Hightower is a guy who can play inside or on the edge as a rusher, as well as Van Noy.

Langi and Bates, the last addition to the linebacking crew both had a good summer and training camp. Langi was a bit overaggressive at times as a pass rusher, but he’ll learn to temper those tendencies. Bates noses out Belichick favorite and STs standout Freeny and Roberts goes to IR.

CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Kenny Moore, Cyrus Jones

Out: Justin Coleman, DJ Killings, William Likely
The top four are locked and ready for the season. Gilmore had, in my opinion, a terrific summer. He’s adapted extremely well to the Patriots system and should be an outstanding addition. He and Butler promise to be a dynamic pair of corners on the edge. Rowe and Jonathan Jones have split the nickel corner duties and will continue to do so, depending on the matchups. Both played well this summer. Kenny More displayed a nose for the ball all summer and just beats out the veteran Justin Coleman. Cyrus Jones, for now, is a corner in name only. He’s the primary Kick returner but the team may ultimately decide to go with Dion Lewis/Amendola, in which case he’d be expendable.

SAFETY (5): Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Brandon King, Nate Ebner

Out:  Jordan Richards, David Jones, Damarius Travis, Jason Thompson
The top three of Chung, McCourty, and Harmon have been solid and are locked. The team has depth for those two with Nate Ebner and Brandon King who are mainly special teamers, neither of whom plays much defense although Ebner has played in spots in the past.

Jordan Richards is a favorite of Belichick and the team is trying every way of keeping him around. They switched him to the linebacker position in the “Big Nickel” look, the Pat Chung role and he was as inconsistent as he’s been elsewhere. Too slow, too stiff with a penchant for taking bad angles. Jones was hurt all summer, Travis played well in spots. Both may be candidates for the practice squad.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona,

Out: None
A good solid group who have had a good camp thus far. Gostkowski still seems to have a mental block for extra points. But is solid on his field goal attempts and his kickoffs which are outstanding at getting the team great field position on defense. Allen has had a very strong camp. We haven’t mentioned Cardona much at all….which tells you his snaps have been right on the money.

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New England Patriots Free Agent Profile Brandon Bolden

Steve Balestrieri
February 28, 2017 at 6:58 am ET

The Patriots will enter the beginning of the 2017 league season with several important decisions to make in regards to free agency. While the team has the third most salary cap room in the NFL this season, they have a slew of free agents including several who are either starters or important role players.

We’ll be doing profiles on each of the free agents in the upcoming days and give you our take on whether they return or move on. One of the players facing free agency is the reserve running back Brandon Bolden.

The Patriots signed the running back as an UDFA from Mississippi in 2012 and Bolden the 5’11, 220-pound running back has been a fixture of the Patriots special teams ever since. But the Patriots need some depth at the position with Bolden, LeGarrette Blount, and James Develin all free agents this season. They also have two backs (James White and Dion Lewis) in the final year of their contracts.

Brandon Bolden takes a handoff in training camp in August of last year.(SBalestrieri photo)

Bolden’s roster spot has always been tied to his being a core special teamer who could contribute when needed on offense. With the overall health of the backs better this season he had the least production of any year of his career in 2016 with just one carry for four yards and two receptions for 15 yards.

The 27-year old, however, is always prepared to enter a game when needed and play some important snaps on offense when his number is called. That’s why he remains a trusted teammate and player on the 53-man roster.

Why Bolden Will Return: The Patriots have always valued Bolden and his versatility. He’s a good runner that can show power, a good pass receiver out of the backfield as well as a core special teams player that plays on all four units in the kicking game. Bolden’s versatility to fulfill multiple roles is a reason he’s always active on the 46-man game day roster. He frees up the coaches to use another player elsewhere.

The Patriots know his usefulness and should be able to re-sign him easily back to the team without breaking the bank. He’s still young at 27 with very little tread wear on his tires and could be counted upon to continue his role for the next couple of seasons.

Bill Belichick has always valued his special teams’ performers and Bolden is one of the standout every season. He logged special teams tackles in the divisional playoff win over Houston and the Super Bowl victory over Atlanta.

Why Bolden Won’t Return: There is a chance that the Patriots will want to upgrade and get younger at the running back position overall in 2017. This year’s draft class is deep and there will be a number of prospects both early and in the middle rounds that could be of interest to the team.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss pointed to Rams’ RB Benny Cunningham may be on the Patriots radar again as a free agent. As a restricted free agent last year, he took a visit to New England. Like Bolden, he’s a core special teamer with good return ability and at 26, is a bit younger. He’s also an upgrade offensively as he’s a bit better as a runner and much more productive as a receiver.

Bottom Line: The Patriots and Belichick have always valued Bolden’s STs ability and his versatility. He’s been a key ST’s member of two Super Bowl winning teams and comes from a football background. His grandfather played in two SBs with the Chiefs, winning SB IV over the Vikings.

His versatility and the low cost of retaining his services make Bolden an attractive target to re-sign this spring. There will be little demand for his services as a Special Teams’ performer although there may be a team that really needs a boost in that department and would be willing to pay. Houston with former Pats STs standout Larry Izzo as their STs coach could be a destination. Especially with their dreadful showing in the playoffs.

With a deep crop of running backs in the draft, look for the Patriots to either pick one or two up with their picks or signing one as an UDFA in an attempt to get deeper and younger. Bolden’s chances of returning a bit better than 50/50 in 2017 but he should see some competition this spring and summer.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.