All posts by Jake Mackey

New England Patriots: Assessing The Extension Of Ryan Allen And The Addition Of Tarell Brown

With less than a week away before the start of training camp, the New England Patriots are finishing up their final offseason transactions. This past week, the Patriots added veteran cornerback Tarell Brown and locked up punter Ryan Allen with a three-year contract extension, that has the option to renegotiate after two seasons.

Tarell Brown is an eight-year NFL veteran, spending his first seven years with San Francisco only to cross the bay to Oakland in year eight. He was a starter on three very successful San Francisco defenses in the years 2011-2013. He was a key contributor to their NFC Championship squad in 2012, when they fell short against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

Brown will immediately compete for a starting role on the Patriots defense, given the lack of experience on the depth chart. At 5-11, 190 pounds Brown is smaller, but his savvy will certainly be beneficial for the Patriots. Their is a multitude of young cornerbacks on the Patriots roster that look to have ability, but experience is what is cause for concern right now.

Heading into his ninth season, experience certainly won’t be an issue for Tarell Brown. In his time he has intercepted eleven passes, with fifty-nine passes defended. Last season Brown played in fourteen games with the Raiders, while giving up 42 receptions on 67 targets for 571 yards and one touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus.

brown sf

His season was cut short due to a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve. The only question now is whether or not that injury will slow down his start to the 2015 season.

The contract extension for punter Ryan Allen came as a real surprise because it is so out of the ordinary for Bill Belichick to extend his punter long-term.

There have been two constants for Bill Belichick’s punters over the past fifteen years; They are left-footed and they are only wanted for three seasons. Ken Walter, Josh Miller, Chris Hanson, and Zoltan Mesko all produced fairly well for the Patriots, but none were worthy of contract extensions.

Even though he has only been in the league for two seasons, Ryan Allen is already starting to show more ability than any of the previous punters in the Belichick era. Since coming to the Patriots as a free agent out of Louisiana Tech in 2013, the two-time Ray Guy Award winner has averaged 46.1 yards per punt with a net average of 40.2.

In 2014 he landed 25 of his 66 punts inside the 20-yard line. In addition, Allen launched the longest punt in Super Bowl history against the Seahawks with his 64-yard boot. Furthermore, Allen has been a very good holder for kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

allen sb49

To conclude, the New England Patriots have continued to add to their roster heading right into training camp this Thursday. With the addition of Tarell Brown, the Patriots will have a veteran cornerback in a meeting room that will be full of young and inexperienced players. His veteran intellect may be a key part in helping young players such as Darryl Roberts, Jimmy Jean, and Malcolm Butler grow.

With the extension of Ryan Allen, Bill Belichick now has his three key pieces of the special teams unit locked up for the next four years with Allen, Stephen Gostkowski, (who just received a four-year extension) and long snapper Joe Cardona signed through 2018.

Three Rookies That Will Surprise Patriots Fans In 2015

One of the most exciting parts of training camp every year is getting to see the new rookies on your team. You have spent hours watching game tape and highlight reels of their college careers, now it is time to see what they look like playing against the big dogs.

For the New England Patriots, the only rookie that fans are expecting to shine is first round pick Malcom Brown. The remaining rookies are all question marks. Most first-year players go through a huge transition year, and it is hard for them to truly show their abilities as a rookie. Here are three Patriots rookies that I believe will contribute in 2015.

Geneo Grissom: Drafted at the end of the third round out of Oklahoma, Geneo Grissom has all the physical attributes to be a successful defensive edge player in the National Football League. Bill Belichick praised Grissom the night he drafted him, preaching about his versatility. ” He didn’t play like a linebacker in there. You probably wouldn’t think he’s that light. You wouldn’t know by the way he played.”

Grissom at Oklahoma played predominately as a defensive end with his hand in the dirt. ” He was way undersized at 260 pounds, but he competed well. ” Another compliment from Belichick on draft night. In 2014, Grissom moved to more of an edge outside linebacker role, where you have to think is where he will spend most of his time in New England. With a lack of depth at linebacker, Grissom will have his chances to prove himself in game situations.

Photo: boston.cbs.local.com
Photo: boston.cbs.local.com

Tre Jackson: If any Patriots rookie were to jump right into a starting role this season, fourth round pick Tre Jackson would be a very solid candidate. With Dan Connolly now retired, the Patriots are left without a starting guard next to Ryan Wendell. Veterans like Josh Kline and Jordan Devey most likely won’t get the job done, therefore Jackson may have the best chance at starting.

In 2014, Bryan Stork took over the starting role at center almost immediately. Stork was a teammate of Jackson’s at Florida State playing under offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who has been a long-time friend of the Patriots organization. Tre Jackson is much bigger than Patriots guards of the past. He is a powerful space eater, as opposed to a more nimble player like Ryan Wendell.

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Darryl Roberts: The Patriots cornerback depth chart as of right now is paper thin. All players right now are on an equal playing field, which could help seventh round rookie Darryl Roberts. A Marshall product, Roberts is a very athletic and physical corner. He played up on the line in college and loved to get his hands on the receiver. Much like Brandon Browner, it would be to a fault at times.

Roberts has the size to be a pro cornerback at 6-0, 182 pounds. In addition, his pro day numbers were very impressive as he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and a 6.7 three-cone drill. Had he been invited to the combine he would have ranked second among all cornerbacks in those categories.

Roberts like many other cornerbacks, has been labeled as very confident. His self-proclaimed nickname is, “Swagg.” Furthermore, his college defensive coordinator Chuck Heater seems to think that his seventh round selection will give him extra motivation. ” He’s fighting every day. That’s a great attitude to have. It’s an edge.”  Many already think that Roberts was passed over too many times in the draft. The analytical powerhouse that is Pro Football Focus had Darryl Roberts as their fourth biggest steal of the draft.

In conclusion, all three of these rookies will have success in some way, shape, or form in 2015, but Darryl Roberts will soar above the rest. Much like Malcolm Butler last season, Roberts will shine during training camp and it will lead to significant game time in the regular season. With game time comes chances to make plays, and when given those chances you can win your team the Super Bowl. Just ask Malcolm Butler.

New England Patriots: Pre Training Camp 53 Man Roster Projection

With training camp rapidly approaching, Patriots fans are getting ready and anticipating the upcoming battles for roster spots that makes the month of August so exciting. This year more than in recent years, there will be an abundance of Patriots competing for jobs. With so much upcoming competition, it is time for the annual 53 man roster projection before training camp. Here is how I think the roster will look come week one against Pittsburgh.

Quarterback: Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Flynn.

The expectations seems to be that Tom Brady will miss some game time in 2015. Whether it is four games or one game, odds are he won’t be on the field opening night. He will need to hand it over to Jimmy Garoppolo, with Matt Flynn providing solid insurance behind him.

Photo: masslive.com
Photo: masslive.com

Running Back: Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, James Develin, Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray.

For most of the season, LeGarrette Blount will be the main running back in the Patriots offense, but in week one he will be suspended for violating the league’s drug policy. Behind him will be a plethora of running backs fighting for game time. Brandon Bolden and Jonas Gray will battle it out for touches in the, “power back” category, along with Travaris Cadet and James White fighting for the, “Pass catching back.” Tyler Gaffney is an unknown right now, he seems to have the ability to contribute in both roles. James Develin as always is the reliable fullback/tight end hyrbid. I see a rookie like Dion Lewis landing on the practice squad.

host.madison.com
host.madison.com

Wide Receiver: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Brandon Gibson.

Not many surprises here. Aaron Dobson will make the roster, now that he is fully healthy he can really show his ability. Brian Tyms gets chopped here because of his lack of versatility. He can run one route and that is about it. You can’t make a living off the go route unless your name is Randy Moss. Brandon Gibson has shown that he can provide a little bit more of a spark than Tyms.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, AJ Derby.

I have seen Michael Hoomanawanui as a player that has been on the chopping block all offseason. I personally thought he would be gone by now. Maybe their method is to let, “Hoo-Man” play out training camp and try to prove himself. If he shows anything, theres a small possibility they get a draft pick for him. If not he gets cut. A 1.5 million dollar cap hit is too much for a run blocker. James Develin can take over that role. Jake Bequette will be interesting to say the least, however I don’t believe he will impress enough.

Tackle: Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming.

With Tom Brady’s ascending age, the Patriots ability to protect him will be pivotal in their success. With two top tier tackles they shouldn’t have a problem. In addition, Cameron Fleming is a rising talent on the offensive line. I’m not sure why Cannon is still on the team, but they love him in Foxborough. He is their utility guy that can do it all.

Guard: Ryan Wendell, Tre Jackson, Josh Kline.

With Dan Connolly gone the Patriots need insurance at the guard position, something they didn’t have when they let go of Logan Mankins last year. That was almost a detriment to the season. There will be a battle back up between Josh Kline and Jordan Devey. Neither have impressed too much over their careers, but Kline has shown at times he can step up, and Devey never has.

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Center: Bryan Stork, Shaq Mason.

Bryan Stork has his starting job locked up, now he has a little back up behind him with rookie Shaq Mason. He plays both guard and center coming out of Georgia Tech. It is hard to think that Ryan Wendell will go back to center at any point given the limited amount of talent at the position.

Defensive End: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom.

There will be a lot of rotation at defensive end this season with the addition of Jabaal Sheard. It will finally give a player such as Rob Ninkovich the chance to catch his breath as oppose to playing about ninety percent of the snaps. Also, rookies Flowers and Grissom should be intriguing prospects. Grissom in particular given his athleticism he reminds you of Jamie Collins in a way. Look for Zach Moore to land on the practice squad.

Defensive Tackle: Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley, Chris Jones

Another spot were there will be plenty of competition because of the loss of Vince Wilfork. Furthermore, reports have been that Zach Moore has put on significant size so look for him to receive reps at defensive tackle during camp. Joe Vellano gets cut for the second year in a row.

via blog.masslive.com
via blog.masslive.com

Linebacker: Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Dane Fletcher, Matthew Wells.

Many believe that Dont’a Hightower will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list. However, many have reported that he is ahead of schedule in his rehab leading me to believe that he will be ready. Also, keep an eye on the health of Jerod Mayo as he recovers from a torn patellar. If he doesn’t prove to be healthy look for Belichick to pick up a veteran that was cut from another team.

Cornerback: Malcolm Bulter, Logan Ryan, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, Darryl Roberts.

It is simple, with such as lack of talent the Patriots need all the bodies they have at cornerback. Expect all five of these players to see the field often early on as rotation will be key in figuring out which player belong on the field. Much like the offensive line at the start of last season.

Safety: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner.

It was very clear on May 1st when the Patriots drafted Jordan Richards, they were drafting Tavon Wilson’s replacement. He is a guy that struggles in pass coverage, can play the run, and is great on special teams. Exactly like Wilson. Expect Devin McCourty to be on the field about one-hundred percent of the defensive snaps, and for Chung and Harmon to rotate depending on the situation.

Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Chris White.

After Stephen Gostkowski just inked his new contract with the Patriots should once again be in the tops of the league in special teams. Joe Cardona was the top rated long snapper in this year’s draft and his snaps have been clocked at over 40 miles per hour. That is certainly worth noting.

Patriots Training Camp Battles: Matt Flynn Vs. Jimmy Garoppolo For Back Up Quarterback

Now more than ever in the past fifteen years, the Patriots back up quarterbacks will be assessed during training camp this summer. With Tom Brady’s four game suspension currently standing, you have to believe there is a good chance that Brady will miss some game time this season. With that being said, Matt Flynn and Jimmy Garoppolo will be two players to keep a close eye on throughout camp, and they are the newest installment in our training camp battles.

Matt Flynn is going into training camp this summer with virtually zero pressure or expectations. The vast majority of Patriots fans and media are all aboard the, “Jimmy G” hype train. Nobody is giving Flynn a legitimate shot at the back up job. The reality is, he should have just as much of a chance to land the job as Jimmy Garoppolo. Flynn is a much more proven pro quarterback.

Now Matt Flynn is no superstar himself. He has made a boat load of money over his career based off one spectacular game in week seventeen of the 2011 season. Against the Detroit Lions he went 33 of 49, for 518 yards, and six touchdowns. That lead to Flynn inking a three-year, 26 million-dollar deal with Seattle, only to be beat out in training camp by rookie Russell Wilson. After 2012 Flynn bounced around from Oakland, to Buffalo, and eventually back to Green Bay were he once again proved to be a reliable fill-in for Aaron Rodgers.

This summer, Flynn will have to prove that he can digest another teams playbook, which he has had trouble with over his career. He can move around the pocket well, his decision making and ability to control the offense will determine whether or not he can take over the back up role. Reps in the pre season will be huge for Flynn. In addition, he is familiar with Brandon LaFell as they were both apart of the 2008 BCS National Championship team at Louisiana State. Just something to keep an eye on.

Jan 1, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn (10) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Photo: cbssports.com

Jimmy Garoppolo on the other hand, has a lot of pressure on him going into training camp. He has barely seen any NFL game time and most fans are proclaiming him as the second coming of Steve Young. Garoppolo can move around the pocket well and take off when the pocket collapses. It is a skill that Tom Brady doesn’t have, which could be key with a young offensive line.

However, his flashes last season of making plays with his legs masked the fact that he had difficulty throwing the ball down field and making smart decisions. For the most part when his first read is taken away, he just runs around like a chicken with his head cut off.

Luckily for Garoppolo he has three huge things going for him in 2015. He has spent the most important offseason of his career healthy, he has had more than two months already to prepare as a starter, and his targets on offseason are some of the best in the league. When you have a unanimous All-Pro tight end in Rob Gronkowski, and an elite receiver such as Julian Edelman it is tough for any quarterback to not have success.

Photo: masslive.com
Photo: masslive.com

All in all, Jimmy Garoppolo will end up winning the back up job at the end of training camp this year. The reasoning for this is for multiple reasons. The most important being he is Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels special project. They drafted him high with the expectations that he could start one day. He is the type of player Josh McDaniels has always liked at quarterback.

Also, Matt Flynn has never proven that he can win a quarterback battle. He couldn’t do it in Seattle when he was given the money, or in Buffalo. Even in Oakland he was shipped out for Matt Schaub and Derek Carr. Patriots fans should feel uneasy if either of these players have to start early in the season, but Jimmy Garoppolo will give them the best shot to stay in it.

Patriots Training Camp Battles: AJ Derby Vs. Michael Hoomanawanui For Third Tight End

For the New England Patriots, their tight end situation as it is currently constituted has two definite starters with All-Pro Rob Gronkowski and newly acquired Scott Chandler, along with multiple players fighting for the third spot.

Jake Bequette is trying to make the transition from defensive end to tight end to help salvage his career. It is hard to believe that he will be anything more than a fourth string tight end if he makes the roster. The real competition for the third tight end spot will come between veteran Michael Hoomanawanui and rookie sixth round pick AJ Derby.

image: boston.cbs.local.com
image: boston.cbs.local.com

 

Michael Hoomanwanaui has been a very accountable player since he joined the Patriots in 2012. He is one of the best examples of a Patriot that follows the model, “Do Your Job.” When asked to be a fill-in fullback he can do that, also he can be a serviceable blocking tight end.

However, “Hoo-Man” has for the most part been irrelevant in the passing game during his tenure with the Patriots. He has good hands but is very slow and runs stiff routes.

His inability to be open for Tom Brady has been the reason for his lack of targets. In addition, Hoomanwanui has a 1.5 million-dollar cap hit for 2015. That number is high for a blocking tight end. The Patriots can fill his role with James Develin at a cheaper price.

AJ Derby will be one of the more intriguing players this summer. Drafted 202nd overall out of Arkansas by the Patriots in this past draft, Derby looks to have the athletic ability to play tight end, but his skills are still raw due to his lack of experience at the position.

 

image: nflmocks.com
image: nflmocks.com

Derby was a middle linebacker turned quarterback for most of his time in Fayetteville, only to switch to tight end in his final season. In the Patriots system, I can picture Derby playing in a, “move tight end” role given his 6-4, 255 pound frame.

He doesn’t have the size or strength to be an in-line blocking tight end, although he has the hands and speed to catch the ball all over the field. Josh McDaniels will give Derby his chances during training camp, he may just be a work in-progress because of how little he has played at tight end.

In the end, AJ Derby will end up winning this battle because Michael Hoomanwanui’s price tag is too high. Hoo-Man is a replaceable player, and Derby could be a late-round gem. Stay tuned for more training camp battles as we get closer to July 30th.

(Photo: boston.cbslocal.com, nflmocks.com, nepatriotsdraft.com)

New England Patriots Training Camp Battles: Malcom Brown Vs. Sealver Siliga For Nose Tackle

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After eleven seasons of patrolling the middle of the Patriots defense, Vince Wilfork has taken his talents to Houston to play under former defensive coordinator Romeo Crenell.

With his departure the Patriots are now left with a literal huge hole to fill at the nose tackle position. There will be plenty of competition during training camp this summer and two players that will be going at it for a starting role will be Malcom Brown and Sealver Siliga.

Going into his rookie season, Malcom Brown will have a huge transition period this year. At only twenty-one years old, Brown will be one of the league’s youngest players.

Brown is extremely strong and much like Vince Wilfork applies pressure in the backfield by pushing the guard backward into the running backs.

Brown doesn’t get after the quarterback so much, but he does collapse the pocket well with his extreme size. Bill Belichick is not afraid to start a rookie if they can grasp the system. How well he adapts will determine whether or not he becomes a starter as a rookie.

Sealver Siliga has been a nice surprise since he joined the Patriots in 2013. At 6-2, 325 pounds Siliga takes up a ton of space in the middle of the defense. He is very difficult to move, which makes it difficult for other teams to run up the middle.

Many believe that Siliga can take over the role of Vince Wilfork. It would be very difficult due to the fact that Big Vince is much more athletic and quick on his feet. Siliga is very statue-like in the center.

What has derailed Siliga’s career thus far has been injuries. He spent of last season on temporary injured reserve. If he stays healthy throughout the summer, he will more than likely be the starter come week one. However, that is a monumental if.

In conclusion, rookie first-round selection Malcom Brown will most likely be the starter at nose tackle come week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The reasoning for this is because Brown seems to have all the raw talent and maturity players need to succeed at the pro level. Siliga should be able to take over the position, but once again his inability to stay on the field and his ability to stay accountable will hurt his chances.

Patriots Training Camp Battles: Malcolm Butler Vs. Logan Ryan For Number One Cornerback

Images from profootballspot.com and sportsspyder.com
Images from profootballspot.com and sportsspyder.com

For all of Patriots Nation right now, the cornerback position on their team is a touchy and sensitive subject. With the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, and Alfonzo Dennard this past offseason, Bill Belichick is left with veteran cast-offs and unproven young players to work with this summer.

It is a scary thought for all fans that support the red, blue, and silver with cornerback arguably being the second most important position in the game.  With the Patriots having so little experience in their defense with their corners, players such as Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan who have experience will be essential pieces in the secondary rebuild process. The only question now will be which player will take over the number one cornerback spot, Butler or Ryan?

Before February 1st, 2015 the casual fan had never heard of the name Malcolm Butler. Now he is making every social appearance he can to soak up his fifteen minutes of fame after his Super Bowl heroics. Nevertheless, Super Bowl XLIX is in the past and it is time to focus on how the Patriots can repeat, and Butler could be a key piece.

During the 2014 regular season, Malcolm Butler showed that he belongs in the National Football League. He was the surprise of training camp, and Bill Belichick was not afraid to put him in key veteran like situations.

For example, in week nine he spent significant time covering both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders of the Denver Broncos. Furthermore, he matched up against Mike Wallace in both contests against Miami. Every time he held his own ground, showing that pitbull like nastiness that earned himself a spot on the roster.

This year, the microscope will be focused in on Butler. The margin for error will be so small any little mistake will be criticized by Patriots fans and most importantly his head coach. However, based off what we’ve seen from Butler in his very short career, he will be ready to take on the challenge.

Logan Ryan has been the opposite of Malcolm Butler, a disappointment. In his rookie season he flashed at times intercepting five passes. However, the interceptions masked the fact that he was consistently getting beat by his receivers.

In his sophomore campaign, Ryan only digressed. Whenever he was on the field in 2014, the opposing quarterback attacked him and instantly and picked him apart. Most notably in week thirteen against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

So far this season, Ryan has received the most amount of reps due to Malcolm Butler’s absence from OTA’s. Players are in only shorts and t-shirts at OTA’s, but based off reports he impressed the most out of any of the cornerbacks.

Ryan has shown nothing yet that proves he can be a number one cornerback on a elite team. Although, he is the most experienced cornerback in the Patriots system so the job may be his for the taking. That should scare Patriots fans big time.

In the end, the battle for the number one cornerback spot on the Patriots roster this summer will most likely be won by Malcolm Butler.

He is far from a proven cornerback in the National Football League, but his ceiling seems to be higher than any of the players on the depth chart. Logan Ryan has only decreased as his career has gone on, leaving me with little hope that he can be an every down starting corner.

 

Patriots Training Camp Battles: Travaris Cadet Vs. James White For Third Down Running Back

Images from Apkfun.co and Real Saints Nation
Images from Apkfun.co and Real Saints Nation

Over the past fifteen seasons in New England, Patriots fans have gone into each season knowing that their team has a reliable pass-catching running back on the roster. Whether it was Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, or Shane Vereen,Tom Brady has always had the luxury of having a solid running back that he can dump the ball off to. Heading into the 2015 season, Tom Brady and the Patriots do not have the same luxury with Shane Vereen signing with the New York Giants this past offseason.

There is a multitude of running backs on the roster that seem to have the ability to take over the role, but they are all for the most part unproven. Two players that will be competing for the role are veteran free agent Travaris Cadet, and second-year back James White. 

Travaris Cadet has spent his first three seasons in the league with the New Orleans Saints, catching passes from Drew Brees. Cadet was basically irrelevant in his first two seasons, catching only seven passes, for 49 yards, and one touchdown. In year three Cadet took a miniature jump onto the NFL scene finishing with 38 receptions, for 296 yards, and one touchdown. 

Much like Shane Vereen, Travaris Cadet spends a lot of his time playing in the slot. At 6-1, 210 pounds Cadet is built like a running back-slot receiver hybrid. Also, with his size and physicality Cadet is able to pass protect for the quarterback, which is huge when playing for Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick. Cadet just doesn’t seem to have that burst potential. His spot on the roster is fairly safe, barring injury, and his ability to digest the playbook will determine whether or not he will earn a starting job.  

James White was one of the more interesting players in training camp last season. Throughout July and August, White received first team reps and performed well during practice. However, when the bright lights came on he couldn’t deliver. 

White was mediocre at best in preseason games. He never flashed in the passing game like he was labeled, and in the run game there was not much physicality or burst. His lack of production in the summer lead to his limited game action during the regular season. 

Going into training camp this year, White needs to show that he can really be a playmaker like Shane Vereen was at times during his tenure. He needs to play in the slot and also pass block, two essentials for a running back in the Patriots offense as fans have learned over the past couple of seasons. 

In the end, James White will most likely come out on top in this training camp battle, given his familiarity with the Patriots system. Nevertheless, in time Travaris Cadet will become more acclimated to the offense and take over the position. 

In addition, a change will be necessary due to that fact that at 5-10, 194 pounds James White will easily get exposed pass blocking and will get knocked down easily when running the ball. Cadet is better equipped physically to take over the job. The only way James White remains a starter is if he really flashes and becomes an essential piece to the offense. It is tough to imagine that happening in 2015.

Patriots Training Camp Battles: Tyms Vs Dobson for #4 WR

Images via NESN
Images via NESN

As it stands right now, the Patriots have their top three wide receivers on the depth chart set. Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Danny Amendola seem to be locked in as the the primary three starters. Then there is the fourth wide receiver spot that is up in the air as of right now. Free agent acquisition Brandon Gibson reportedly received solid reps during OTA’s, but the real competition for the fourth spot will be between Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms.

Aaron Dobson’s Patriots career started right out of the gate his rookie season. Due to a severe lack of wide receivers, Dobson was thrown into the fire right away, and it took him a while to become acclimated to the complex Patriots offense. As time progressed, Dobson became comfortable and he became one of the league’s best rookie receivers in 2013 finishing with 37 receptions, for 519, with four touchdowns in only 12 games. During the most important offseason of his career, (year one heading into year two) he spent his time rehabbing from ankle surgery, which killed his progression. The ankle continued to bother Dobson, and it lead to him playing in only three games in 2014, along with a hamstring injury.

After a full offseason in which he was healthy, Aaron Dobson has had time to get back on track. He spent much of his time at the highly acclaimed Fischer Sports Institute in Arizona, which is famous for helping players recover from surgery. Dobson’s biggest asset is his size. He is one of the tallest receivers on the team, and he has great athletic ability. Dobson showed his rookie season that he has the ability to stretch the field, and be valuable in the red zone. Strength and health is his main issue. For his own sake, he needs to prove in training camp that he can stay healthy, be a solid run blocker, and shake free of corner jams off the line, because if he doesn’t he may be out of a job.

The Patriots re-signed Brian Tyms this offseason, to basically a one-year make or break deal. With virtually zero guaranteed money, it won’t be a difficult decision for the Patriots to cut Tyms if they decide to at the end of camp. Although, many reports from OTA’s and minicamp have been that Tyms is getting the majority of first team reps, over Aaron Dobson.

Of course, it is never the best idea to read into minicamp reports because players are in shorts and t-shirts, but it is something to keep in mind when training camp starts next month. With Dobson being injured for the majority of last season, Tyms received his chances to really take control of the fourth receiver spot, but he failed to truly capitalize. He finished the year with only five receptions on twelve targets. He made one significant play and that was the 43-yard touchdown reception in Buffalo during their week six contest.

In order for Brian Tyms to secure his spot on the Patriots roster, he will need to prove he can be more than a, “one-trick pony. ” At 6-3, 210 pounds Tyms runs the vertical route with the same look as Randy Moss, who was his mentor of his in San Francisco. However, Tyms doesn’t run with nearly the same speed, and the, “go-route” is the only weapon in his arsenal. He will need to show that he can be effective in more than one way.

In conclusion, the training camp battle for the fourth wide receiver spot on the Patriots roster will most likely be won by Aaron Dobson. What it comes down to is who has more raw talent, and Dobson certainly wins that contest. When fully healthy, Aaron Dobson can stretch the field and also catch the ball over the middle of the field. In addition, the strength and physicality is there more with Dobson, and of course the most important thing is he has more trust from Tom Brady. Tyms is a little awkward when running routes, and hasn’t shown yet that he can valuable in any situation. With only twelve targets from Brady last year, the trust doesn’t look to be there. It will certainly be one the more interesting competitions to keep an eye on in Foxborough this summer.

By: Jake Mackey