The start to Patriots Training Camp is finally almost upon us as it is set to start in just under a week. One of the biggest issues the Patriots had at times last year was at defensive line, most notably in the Super Bowl where they couldn’t generate any pressure on Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, as well as being unable to stop the Eagles in the running game. The Patriots will return some of their main core on the defensive line, such as Trey Flowers, Malcolm Brown, and Deatrich Wise Jr., as welcome in a few new faces.
One of the new names that people should expect to see a lot from this season is defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Clayborn signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Patriots this offseason after spending the previous three seasons in Atlanta. In 2017 Clayborn finished with a career-high 9.5 sacks, and while that total looks good on the surface it’s worth noting that six of his sacks came in one game going against the Dallas Cowboys and backup left tackle Chaz Green. A former first-round pick Clayborn is a player who so far has not lived up to his full potential and hype around him following his career at Iowa, partly due to playing in three games or less in two of his four seasons while in Tampa Bay due to injury. If Clayborn can stay on the field and continue to build off maybe his best season as a pro in last season I would expect him to be a big contributor on the Patriots defensive line opposite Trey Flowers.
Another new face that should make a big impact on the defensive line this season is Danny Shelton, whom the he Patriots acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns this offseason. Shelton is a former 12th overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Browns, the same draft where the Patriots selected Malcolm Brown in the first round.
Both Brown and Shelton are true run stuffing defensive tackles and while Shelton had a down year in 2017, Brown is coming off his best year as a member of the Patriots in 2017. Having two big defensive tackles in Brown and Shelton in the middle of your line with a combination of Flowers, Wise, Clayborn, Lawrence Guy, and Derek Rivers as edge rushers, as well as having Vincent Valentine and Adam Butler to play in the middle, gives the Patriots lots of flexibility on all three downs and in all types of situations. If players are able to stay healthy and play up to their potential this Patriots defensive line is one that offers tons of flexibility and can cause problems for opposing offenses.
The Patriots are now on their third week of training camp and set to play their first preseason game later this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team has yet to make any roster moves outside of the retirement of veteran Rob Ninkovich. It may only be the beginning of August, but let’s take a look at what the Patriots 53-man roster could look like a month from now when the regular season begins.
Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett
Brady and Garoppolo are obvious locks to make the roster, there has been some talk on whether the Patriots hold onto Brissett and keep him on the 53-man roster or move on from the second year quarterback. Ultimately I think the Patriots hold onto Brissett, the team placed him on Injured Reserve with eligibility to return last year and traveled with the team during this time. There have also been reports on how much the team likes his toughness and leadership, both traits he showed last year as a rookie. Brissett still needs some time to develop and isn’t ready to be an NFL quarterback right now, but as a third round pick only a year ago shows a lot of potential and will stay on the 53 man roster, even though the team doesn’t necessarily need to carry a third quarterback.
Running Back: James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, James Develin
Gillislee and Burkhead were both signed this offseason and look to play big roles with the team, especially Gillislee who looks to take over as the feature/powerback role previously held by LaGarrette Blount. Super Bowl hero James White was also given a contract extension this offseason and is a lock to make the roster. Dion Lewis has played great for the team when healthy and is capable of playing a few different roles on offense and can contribute as a return man on special teams. Brandon Bolden misses out on the 53-man roster in this projection, Bolden plays primarily as a special teamer and contributes little to the offense throughout the season. The roster having as much depth as it does makes it hard for Bolden to make the roster as a guy who primarily contributes on just special teams, which the team already has several of.
Wide Receiver:Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell
Probably the easiest position on the team to project for. It’s fair to say that all five of these guys are locks to make the roster. One question could be is would the team consider keeping six wide receivers? Undrafted rookie free agent Austin Carr was the very last guy who didn’t make the roster when I was putting this projection. Carr has had a very good camp so far and looks to capitalize during preseason games and fight for one of the final roster spots on the final roster and is someone the Patriots might not be able to sneak onto the practice squad. I did not consider Matthew Slater as a wide receiver since he just plays special teams.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Matt Lengel
Gronk is back and has looked great and healthy so far during training camp. Allen has been inconsistent so far and have been some reports that he has struggled to learn the offense, but is far too talented at a weak position outside of Gronkowski to not make the team. The third tight end spot could easily be a few different people but I give it to Lengel for now. Lengel played in limited action last year after the injury to Gronkowski and has familiarity with the offense, and was a big contributor towards the end of the season and during the playoffs last year for the Patriots. Lengel can contribute both as a blocker and a receiver, which can help add multiple dimensions to the teams offense when he is in the game. James O’Shaughnessy and Lengel are the top two guys competing for the third tight end spot, but rookie free agent Jacob Hollister could be someone who could make an impression during the preseason as he would provide the offense with more of a receiver-tight end role compared to more of a blocking tight end role like Lengel or O’Shaughnessy.
Offensive Line:Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Tony Garcia, Ted Karras, Cameron Fleming
The starting five from last year are locks to make the roster, as well as Joe Thuney who was the top backup interior lineman last season and rookie Tony Garcia who will be the teams primary backup tackle. The last offensive lineman spot goes to Cameron Fleming, who was last year’s top backup tackle and has proven to be inconsistent throughout his career in New England and so far, in camp. In joint practices with the Jaguars, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was treating Fleming like a revolving door constantly beating Fleming in the absence of Nate Solder. Fleming gets the upper hand over LaAdrian Waddle, who was on the 53-man roster last season but was not active for a single game, and rookie Connor McDermott who the Patriots could look to put on the practice squad.
Defensive Line: Trey Flowers, Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers, Vincent Valentine, Kony Ealy, Geneo Grissom
Flowers, Branch, Guy, Wise, Rivers, and Valentine are all locks to make the roster based on last year’s production, draft spot, and contract received this offseason. Wise has had a great training camp so far and could look to start at defensive end opposite Trey Flowers if he continues to impress during preseason action. Kony Ealy and Geneo Grissom are two guys who could be fighting for one roster spot on the Patriots defensive line depending on how the rest of training camp and the preseason goes. Ealy was acquired in a trade this offseason with the Carolina Panthers and was expected to play a big role in the Patriots defense this season. The start of training camp hasn’t been a good one so far for Ealy though, he missed the first day of training camp for unknown reason and when asked was told to ask coach Bill (Belichick) about why he wasn’t out there. He has also had his struggles in camp and hasn’t been able to beat offensive tackles and generate pressure on a consistent basis. Both of these factors could end up in Ealy not making the final roster.
Linebacker: Dont’a Hightower, David Harris, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, Elandon Roberts, Harvey Langi
Hightower is an obvious lock and so is former Jet David Harris, everyone else there could be a case why they should make the team and a case why they couldn’t make it. Van Noy, McClellin and Roberts all saw a good amount of playing time last season, they all had their ups and downs and were inconsistent at times but have shown enough to make the roster again in 2017. Langi is an undrafted free agent who the Patriots were high on during the draft process partly due to his versatility of being able to play both inside and outside linebacker as well as being able to rush the passer as a defensive end. Langi has had a good camp so far and should be able to build on it during preseason games and earn a spot on the final roster.
Cornerback:Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones
Butler, Gilmore and Rowe are all locks to make the team and be part of a Patriots defense and secondary that should be one of the top in the league. Jonathan Jones played well in the slot late last season and so far, has the upper hand to be the teams nickel and slot corner and also contributes on special teams. Cyrus Jones had his struggles last season as a rookie and is looking to bounce back in his second season. Jones has a lot of talent and potential and was evident that his special teams struggles last season affected him mentally and on the defensive side of the ball. If the Patriots hold Cyrus off of special teams he could look to contribute in a positive way defensively.
Safety: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Brandon King
The only real question out of this group is Jordan Richards, who hasn’t played too much over his first few seasons in New England after being selected in the second round. Richards has looked good so far early into training camp before having some struggles during joint practices with the Jaguars. Ebner and King and mostly special teams players who occasionally play and contribute on defense, but will make the roster due to their special teams excellence. Six safeties seem like it could be too many to carry but Ebner and King being primarily special teamers could earn Richards a spot on the final roster in case of any injury that occurs.
Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Matthew Slater, Joe Cardona
The only real surprise when it comes to special teams is that the Patriots don’t have any one in to compete with Gostkowski who struggled drastically last season and missed two field goals during yesterday’s first joint practice with the Jaguars.
The Patriots take on the Jaguars Thursday night for their first preseason action of the year. As preseason and training camp goes by I’ll continue to update my 53-man projection based on players performances and team needs going forward.
The Patriots have been the kings of the AFC and the NFL for the past 15 years and will need this young defense to become elite to continue that in 2016.
It’s only August and the Patriots already have two major long-term injuries on the offensive side of the ball with news of running back Dion Lewis needing a second knee surgery to clean up his knee after a season-ending torn ACL last season and will stay on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season, and with offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer likely going to be placed on the season-ending Injured Reserve list. Both Lewis and Vollmer have been on the PUP list and yet to participate in training camp with the team prior to both these reports that surfaced Sunday.
Running back and offensive line were the two biggest issues the Patriots had last season and were still the two biggest issues the team faced heading into training camp, now these issues just got a lot worse before the season has even started. We all remember Marcus Cannon’s disasterous performance in Denver in the AFC Championship game and now it appears that Cannon will be the full-time starter at right tackle for the Patriots with the news of Vollmer likely going to be placed on IR.
On the surface many people will look to James White, LaGarrette Blount, Marcus Cannon or Cameron Fleming to try fixing these losses, but where you need to look is the defense. The Patriots have one of the youngest defenses in the league with loads of talent and loads of potential, and rather than a Marcus Cannon or James White, they are going to be what carries and powers New England through these injuries and to the top of the NFL yet again.
This Patriots defense has now drawn a lot of hype going into the season and is one that people don’t think of when discussing the top defenses in the NFL, and this year that will change. The Patriots have atlas five guys on this defense who could potentially make the Pro Bowl in Malcolm Butler, Jabaal Sheard, Jamie Collins, Donta’ Hightower, and Devin McCourty, the first four who are all in contract years which will give them a little something extra to prove. This is the core of the New England defense and should turn New England into one of the top defenses in the league, then you add second-year man Malcolm Brown who had a very good rookie season, corner Logan Ryan who is also in a contract year and played very well last season as the teams number two corner, Patrick Chung, Rob Ninkovich, Terrance Knighton, Duron Harmon and Cyrus Jones just to name a few guys and this is one of the best and talented defenses in the league with a lot of depth. This is a defense that shouldn’t allow more than 20 points per game at most and that is what will help and allow this offense to be successful, especially the first four weeks with Garoppolo under center.
The Broncos proved it last year, defenses win championships and had in my opinion, one of the best defenses of all-time. I don’t think the Patriots defense will be as good as Denver’s from last season and they don’t need to be. The defense has some questions as well at corner after Butler and Ryan but in my opinion are one of the most complete defenses in the whole NFl. They still have one of the top offenses in the league with Brady under center with Gronkowski, Bennett, Edelman and Amendola, but the losses of Vollmer and Lewis are huge and the way the Patriots will overcome these injuries and issues they face, as well as others that will come throughout the season is through the defense.
New England Patriot fans worldwide were worried that the 8-0 season was about to show a “1” in the loss column. After all, these were the NY Giants that ripped the heart out of fans in two Super Bowls as Eli Manning outperformed Tom Brady…they were kryptonite to Superman. Hell, the ‘Gints were the only team in the NFL the Patriots hadn’t beat since 2008!
With the game played in MetLife Stadium, the Patriots offensive line still in shuffle stage and JasonPierre-Paul confident he’d get to Brady to disrupt New England’s high-powered offense, an upset looked to be a given. Add in OdellBeckhams: ‘I’ve loved-hated the Patriots’ statement and you had the perfect setting for fans of the NY Giants…and then they started the game! It lived up to all the hype, as the final quarter determined the winner on the last possession as the clock ticked down. Patriots 27-Giants 26.
Scoring Streak Extended – First Quarter
Losing the coin toss (what’s going on here?) didn’t slow down the Patriots scoring streak as they drove 78 yards and ran off 14 plays in 8 minutes 25 seconds the first time they had the ball…culminating in a 1 yard TD pass to Scott Chandler. Split with 8 runs (including a 10 yarder by Tom Brady) and 6 passes, the TD extended New England’s scoring streak to 32 straight quarters, an NFL record.
It didn’t take Eli Manning and the Giants long to knot things up as the New York QB connected on an 87 yard TD pass to Odell Beckham Jr., who beat Malcolm Butler in single coverage as he scampered into the end-zone untouched. It was the longest offensive play ever against a Bill Belichick coached team.
After all the fireworks opening the game, things settled town with both teams going 3 and out before the Patriots took over on their 30 yard line with 3:29 left in the quarter. Following a short run by LeGarrette Blount, a 30 yard pass to Julian Edelman moved New England into NY territory as the quarter came to an end.
Another Quarter – Another Score
Edelman limped off the field with a broken bone in his foot, putting a big crimp in an already struggling offense. 3rd and 4 from the 8 yard line brought pressure up the middle, bringing Brady down with the 1st sack of the game. Stephen Gostkowski kept his perfect season alive with a 31 yard field goal, moving him into a tie for the most FGs in Patriot history and putting the Pats up 10-7.
The Giants proceeded to march down the field on their next possession before Manning was strip sacked by NFL sack leader Chandler Jones (10 1/2) and the ball was recovered by Justin Coleman at the Pats 16. With Edelman out of the game and the season long loss of Dion Lewis, the New England offense was stuffed. A critical Rob Gronkowski offensive pass interference call eliminated a 1st down and the Patriots were forced to punt from deep in their own end of the field.
After a 51 yard punt and an 11 yard run back the Giants had great field position on their own 46. After their drive stalled at the Patriot 19, Josh Brown hit his 19th straight field goal and the game was knotted at 10-10.
Reuben Randle grabbed a 31 yard pass from Manning at the Patriots 43 with a minute left in the half. Manning completed his 18th pass of the game to TE Will Tye and he rumbled to the 1 yard line. With 18 seconds left Eli lobbed a TD to a wide open Dwayne Harris and the Giants took at 17-10 lead into the second half.
Tom Brady vs Eli Manning
Manning had the most 1st half yardage of his career (251 yards) while completing 12 of 20 passes with two TDs. Brady, meanwhile, went 14-21 for 127 yards and 1 TD. History was rearing its ugly head as the Giants looked to continue foiling any bid New England had for a perfect season.
The Streaks Continue In The Second Half
The Giants received the 2nd half kick-off and once again exploited the Patriots secondary, including an interference call against Patrick Chung and another (highly questionable) by Malcolm Butler. The drive ended in a 38 yard FG by Brown (21 of 21) stretching the lead to 20-10, the largest deficit New England had faced this season.
Danny Amendola had a spectacular 82 yard punt return on their second possession of the second half as he brought the ball to the Giants 7 yard line. He was tripped up by a Patriot or would have had a TD. Blount ran it in from the 1 and the game got closer as the Patriots stretched their scoring streak to 34 quarters. Giants 20-Patriots 17
Josh Brown followed with a 53 yard FG, his 22nd of the season, putting the Giants up by 6, 23-17 as the 3rd quarter wound down.
Brady Turns The Ball Over
The Giants returned the favor they gave up in the 1st quarter with a strip-sack fumble of their own by Jasper Brinkley at the New England 39, but couldn’t capitalize on the turnover. The Patriots defense stepped up, led by a Rob Ninkovich sack, and forced the Giants to punt keeping the game within one score.
The stop looked to be the turning point of the game, as the Patriots took over after the punt deep in their own territory. Gronk stepped up and caught the longest pass of his career with a 76 yard TD. The extra-point was good and suddenly New England was ahead 24-23.
With the win staring them in the eyes, Tom Brady made his 3rd mistake of the quarter with a fatal interception at the Giants 1 yard line. Manning had his chance once again to stick a dagger in the heart of Patriot fans…and he did just that. On a 3rd and 3 he hit a wide open Harris for 30 yards at the Patriots 28…well within Brown’s range.
Another Manning to Harris pass put the ball at the Pats 5 with just over 2:00 left in the game. The Patriots caught a break when what was originally called a TD pass to Beckham was overturned on replay as Butler batted the ball out of his hands before he could establish possession. Brown kicked a 29 yarder with 1:47 remaining in the game and, once again, it would be a final possession game!
Needing a FG to win and under 2:00 to go with no time outs the pressure was on. Brady, who lives for these opportunities, was almost intercepted again but the ball hit the ground. Super Tom completed critical passes putting the Patriots at the Giant 37 with :06 left. Gostkowski was on the spot for a 54 yard game winning kick as NY called time out. The kick was good with 1 second left on the clock…and the Patriots remained undefeated, pulling out a hard fought 27-26 win.
After the game Brady commented “It always comes down to the end against them”
Although he was victimized by Beckham on the Giants 1st possession, Malcolm Butler played a solid game. His pass interference penalty was a bad call and he made a great play when he knocked the ball out of Beckham’s hands in the end zone in the 4th quarter.
The Giants came into the game with the worst TE defense in the NFL. They had done a decent job on both Gronkowski & Chandler until giving up the 76 yard TD in the 4th quarter
The Patriots entered the game as the least penalized secondary in the NFL, yet had 3 big interference calls
Brady fumbled twice and had an interception in the 4th quarter. The Patriots fortunately recovered his second fumble with over 9 minutes left in the game. That fumble was followed shortly by a 54 yard completion to Brandon LaFell at the Giants 15. His interception (3rd of year) came as the Patriots were looking to put the game away when Trumaine McBride picked him off at the 1 yard line with under 5 minutes to go
New York was 1 for 5 on TD attempts in the red zone
Jason Pierre-Paul had his 1st sack of the season called back on a hands-to-the-facemask call in the 4th quarter
The game ended with the Giants recovering a short kick and trying to pull off the miracle win as they shoveled the ball player-to-player before finally stepping out of bounds.
That question was answered with a resounding NO Sunday afternoon as Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and a host of others destroyed the Buffalo Bills “vaunted” defense, 40-32. Don’t be deceived by the final score, this wasn’t that close. The Bills scored 19 points in the 4th quarter, long after the winner had already been determined.
The Bills scored on their first possession and the Buffalo fans were in heaven. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long and many had left the stadium before they got a chance to get loud again. They may have pulled the comeback off if they were playing the NY Giants (sorry Giants fans. I hate to kick you when you’re down…) but nope, they were up against an angry (although they’ll never admit it) Tom Brady & Bill Belichick. Only one team in NFL history has come back from a 24 point fourth quarter deficit.
New England: What Went Right
I’m not sure where to start, but how about this…
Tom Brady was so good even ESPN had to admit it. No snide remarks about deflated footballs by anyone after this one was over.
Tom Brady is 1st player in NFL history to have all of these in a game:
- Throw for 450 yards
- 3 TD passes
- 0 Int
- 55 attempts
Nuff said! Lesson learned? Don’t piss-off Tom Brady! He’s playing like he has something to prove after all the off-season slander he put up with. Bet it will be a little tense if Commissioner Roger Goodell is forced to actually attend a Patriot game this year…or, better yet, give Brady another MVP Trophy.
Rob Gronkowski was, once again, unstoppable. It’s hard to believe, but so far he’s been better than ever. Check this out from old friend Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal
Through two games, Gronk is off to the best start of his career with 207 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.
The question of who will replace Shane Vereen (who?) has been answered with an unknown running back who no one wanted…and he isn’t named Gray. I know it’s only two games, and he has fumbled twice (lost one), but Dion Lewis (remember that name Rex Ryan) has been outstanding. Belichick had enough confidence in him that he put him right back in the offense after his fumble. That doesn’t happen very often, just ask former Patriot Stevan Ridley.
Lewis (that’s L-E-W-I-S Mr. Ryan) had 40 yards rushing and a TD on just 7 carries. You’re right, that’s OK, but nothing to rave about. How about this then, 6 receptions for 98 yards. Combine the two and you get 13 touches for 138 total yards. If you aren’t good at math Rex, that’s 10.6 yards per touch. Anyone think Ryan will remember his name when the two teams meet again in November at Gillette Stadium on Thursday Night Football (ESPN)?
I could go on and on about the offense, including the emergence of Aaron Dobson (7 receptions for 87 yards, one drop), THE catch of the day by Danny Amendola to seal the victory and the continued success of Julian Edelman (11 reception, 97 yards, 2 TDs), but the biggest surprise of the game was (drum roll please):
The Offensive Line. People needlessly worried about Tom Brady’s life/health coming into this game against Buffalo’s feared pass rush. Brady’s quick release certainly helped, but the youngsters held up just fine, allowing only two sacks…and that was without Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell. Can we all please stop holding our breath every time TB drops back to pass?
Yes, the defense gave up 32 points, but it actually was very good. Remember, 19 of those points were in garbage time, just as the 7 they gave up to Pittsburgh in the final seconds of game one. As is usually the case, when you give up that many points, people will point out your deficiencies. Well, how about these positives:
8 sacks against a very mobile Tyrod Taylor, who, fortunately, escaped without injury
3 Interceptions (Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon)
Held Buffalo to 3 for 13 (30%) on 3rd down
3 sacks from an unstoppable Chandler Jones & 2.5 for Jamie Collins
Kept Sammy Watkins to 6 receptions for 60 yards and 1 TD
New England: What Went Wrong
Patriots’ had 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 41 yard line in the 4th quarter and went for it. Going for it actually wasn’t a bad decision, but getting greedy and throwing an incomplete long pass to a covered Dion Lewis was not among the smartest things to do.
Brady was strip-sacked and the Bills scored in 15 seconds to make it 37-32 late in the game
The run defense continues to be soft. Despite trailing, Buffalo ran the ball 27 times for 160 net yards (almost 6 yards per carry).
Yes, they sacked and pressured Taylor the whole game, but he completed 23 of 30 passes and 3 TDs. Big lead or not, garbage time or not…that’s not very good. They did contain his scrambles (5 for 43 yds, 1 TD) fairly well, but still need the secondary to step up. Three int’s was nice, completion percentage was not.
It’s still a long season and, with 14 regular season games to go, anything can happen. The AFC East came back to earth with Buffalo’s loss and Miami falling to Jacksonville (you know that hurt). The Jets (2-0) kept pace with New England by beating the highly overrated Colts (0-2) Monday night.
The Patriots return to Gillette Stadium against the surprising (1-1) Jaguars Sunday. Bill Belichick doesn’t allow his players to enjoy wins for very long, but it will be hard for his team to “get-up” for Jacksonville after their dominance in Buffalo. It’s still the NFL and On Any Sunday…..”
Day number three of New England Patriots training camp has come and gone, and now the real football has begun. Saturday marked the first time that the team has worn full pads during practice, which could only mean one thing, contact! Of course since the new Collective bargaining agreement came out in 2011, the amount of hitting teams can do in practice is limited, but there was certainly still some popping in Foxborough on Saturday morning. Here are my three biggest takeaways and observations from day three of camp.
1. Blount and Easley Back In Action: On Saturday morning, media members and fans were delighted to see the return of both LeGarrette Blount and Dominique Easley to the practice field. After failing his conditioning test on Wednesday, Blount had to spend the following days getting himself in shape so he could get on the field and help his team.
It was evident that Josh McDaniels wasn’t going to just hand Blount all the reps, he had to capitalize when he had them. When it came down to it, he did capitalize. He doesn’t look like he has missed a step at all since we saw him in February. During a drill in which a linebacker had to cover a running back one on one on a passing pattern, Blount made a phenomenal move on Jamie Collins leaving him in the dust as he reeled in a catch from Tom Brady down the sideline. In addition, during goal line drills, Blount showed his power once again plowing through the defense into the end zone. Although, he was stopped on his second attempt by rookie first-rounder Malcom Brown.
There was a report on Friday, stating the Patriots coaching staff was going to be cautious with Dominique Easley. This did not appear to be the case on Saturday as Easley was full go. Even though he was mostly phased out of first team reps by veteran Antonio Johnson, Easley did impress during interior lineman three on three drills. The drill was simulated with a center, guard, and tackle going up against two defensive lineman and a linebacker. Easley really gave it to un-drafted rookie center David Andrews during the drill. The two were really going at it, that could stem from their Georgia versus Florida college rivalry days.
Rookie Offensive Lineman Jumping Right Onto First Team: With the left guard position wide open, and with Ryan Wendell still on the physically unable to perform list, rookie guards Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson have been able to see plenty of action over the past three days. Many believed that Jackson would have the best chance at the starting job based on his size, but Shaq Mason was the one that really stood out on day three.
Mason was in the left guard spot during live team drills, and he stood his ground giving up zero sacks of Tom Brady. Furthermore, during the interior lineman drill period, Mason made a fantastic cut block on veteran linebacker Jonathan Freeny, taking his feet from right up under him.
Miscellaneous Notes: The story with the quarterbacks was very much similar to what it was on Thursday when I was at training camp. Tom Brady took the majority of the reps with the first team with a little Jimmy Garoppolo mixed in. Brady was borderline flawless, and Garoppolo still needs to make quicker decisions. Brady went seven of ten during seven on seven drills, and a perfect twelve for twelve during live team action. Garoppolo also went seven for ten, and seven for nine during team action.
The defensive back group continues to put things together with some bumps in the road, as expected. The two quarterbacks for the most part carved up the secondary. Nevertheless, there was some bright spots on Saturday. Logan Ryan shined by breaking up multiple passes from Tom Brady. That is key because Ryan is the most experienced corner in the Patriots system, which is scary. Second round safety Jordan Richards also continues to impress the doubters.
On Thursday he had a very nice interception of Jimmy Garoppolo, and today he made a great play by knocking the ball out of Scott Chandler’s hands in a one on one drill. The 6-7 Chandler towers over 5-11 Richards.
Lastly, the play of the day for me had to go to one Aaron Dobson. During one of the seven on seven periods, Dobson made an outstanding grab on a post corner route from Tom Brady, over former college teammate Darryl Roberts, who was all over him.
I will also be in attendance at day four of Patriots training camp, so stay tuned for more updates.
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.
Your NFL news. A few laughs and hard nosed opinions and facts. What more could you want? It's a one stop shop.