Dion Lewis’ steady play caused the Pats to make a tough decision in cutting second year RB Jonas Gray. Although Gray showed flashes, he was never consistent enough as a runner or pass catcher this pre-season. Although it feels like a waste to cut him after a year, it shows that Belichick and McDaniels can ill afford to be prideful when it comes to owning up to a mistake quickly. Lewis will take the Vereen role, which might be the most overlooked and important part of this offense. It doesn’t hurt that Lewis is donning Kevin Faulk’s old number, who is probably the best 3rd down back of all time.
With FB James Develin going on season ending IR, it often comes back to the question: Will the Pats go get a fullback or stick with what they have? With the decision to keep 4 TE’s (Gronk, Chandler, Hooman and Williams), it shows that the Pats will go to more 2 TE sets to emphasize more of a 7 man blocking front. Hooman can go in the backfield as he has done in the past, but I wouldn’t be so sure that if a good FB appeared on the market, the Pats wouldn’t swoop him up (Note: Henry Hynoski of the Giants was just cut, couldn’t be a better fit)
The idea to keep Dobson is the smart decision when it comes down to the numbers. Dobson showed flashes of what made him a second round pick in 2013 this pre-season, but still missed some time due to his chronic injury issues. Even though Chris Harper clearly out played him, they already have quick route runners on their team with Edelman and Amendola. Dobson is the only legitimate deep threat the Patriots had on their roster and even if he isn’t someone that can play every game. He could be the way the Pats stretch the field this year and is someone who teams will have to keep an eye on.
The much maligned secondary is shaping up to be a liability but has some promise. Basically, they kept 2 zone CBs (Ryan, and Brown) and 2 man/press CB’s (Butler and Fletcher). This shows that they will be team specific when it comes to what they will do with their lineup weekly, but it looks like Butler and Ryan will start with Brown taking Kyle Arrington’s old spot at Nickle. The fact that they kept S Tavon Wilson over special teamer Nate Ebner was the smart decision overall. The former second rounder in 2012 looked much approved this preseason and has the ability to play both safety positions and corner and be a contributor on special teams. Belichick loves versatility with guys like Wilson, and that is why he got the nod.
Even though the team looks set going into the Pittsburgh game, there is still a chance that there will be some big contributors on this squad that isn’t on the team yet. They already brought in 8 players for workouts (none of note) and can still sign someone before Thursday. Also, the practice squad will be set and will make a difference who they will sign from other squads. Watching what positions they will sign will show what positions are issues and need depth beyond the 53 roster. For instance, if they sign 2 CB’s, that might mean that a man on the current roster is on the bubble and is trying to bring along someone throughout the year in their system that can replace him if he doesn’t play well enough initially. It’s something to keep in mind as the team sets up their practice squad. It can show more about the state of the team and what they want to do than you would think.