There might not be a more unsung member of the Patriots than FB James Develin. The former Ivy Leaguer can play half back, full back and tight end and is a tough, heady player. His injury hurts, but there are silver linings: First, it’s a clean break, so he’ll be out 6-8 weeks. If he was put on the PUP, it means that either the Colts game or the Cowboys game is an option. By moving Michael Hoomanawanui to Fullback will allow a better chance for Asante Cleveland, acquired from San Francisco last week, a better chance to make the team. With that being said, it might have secured Dion Lewis’ roster spot. After a strong game, he is making a strong case to be New England’s third down back. With Brandon Bolden being able to focus on special teams and be a power back in the place of Develin early, the Pats can see if Lewis’ resurgence can carry over into the regular season.
Lewis’ success might have been one of the few bright spots last week on offense, but while the struggles of the offense was disconcerting, there has to be perspective there. Wendell just came back from injury, no Edelman, LaFell or Gronk. Brady looked rusty, but this mimics what happened last year. The offensive line last year was terrible until they started Stork after the Chiefs game and the team took off. There’s a lot of youth on the team and with the pre-season, continuity is an afterthought. It will be a rough first month regardless if Brady plays or not. Keep all that in mind and brace yourself for some struggles.
The defense looked A LOT better, most notably Tarell Brown and Malcolm Butler. Both were stout and made some aggressive plays. They look like the starting tandem going into Week One. With Logan Ryan and Robert McClain as the reserves, the CB position might not be so dire as once was thought. Even if was against the receiving starved Panthers, they showed enough promise to keep going. With how stout the front seven is, this means that the defense will be better than we all thought going into Week One. It’s nice to remember that Hightower and Mayo have just suited up this week, and there’s promise on the field.
All in all, the starters look pretty much set, but Week 4 will determine who will be the 3rd TE and solve the back end of the running back competition. Also, the LG spot is still being battled for between Josh Kline and Ryan Groy. It will be a non-factor for a lot of teams and it’s also nice to think that the Patriots have a mini bye after Week One with the Pats playing on Thursday and not playing until the following Sunday. If there are huge issues after the Pittsburg game, getting an extra 3 days could do wonders for the team.