Morning Links

Looking at the roster

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston takes a look at the Patriots roster and identifies those that he sees as locks.

Here he takes a look at the RBs

Sure-fire locks: LeGarrette Blount, Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden

On the bubble: James White, Travaris Cadet, Dion Lewis, Tyler Gaffney

Analysis: Blount won’t count against the initial 53-man roster because he faces a one-game suspension to open the season, which strengthens Gray’s case to be in the “sure-fire lock” category even though his 2014 season ended with a lack of momentum. This also could help Gaffney, a slashing 220-pounder who spent last year on injured reserve after being claimed on waivers from Carolina. Meanwhile, Bolden lands in the “sure-fire lock” category because he is a valuable special teamer (Bill Belichick recently called him one of the team’s best offensive special teams players) who adds value as a backup who can fill in on first, second and third down. Perhaps most notable about the running back position is that White, Cadet and Lewis look to be closely bunched for the pass-catching role vacated by Shane Vereen at this juncture. As running backs coach Ivan Fears said in spring camps, the true test for them starts at training camp when there is contact and full-pads work. I could see that one going to either White, Cadet or Lewis based on what we’ve seen to this point, which is an incomplete picture.

Expectations

What are the reasonable expectations of rookie Malcom Brown? Erik Frenz of Bleacher report takes a look

Defensive tackle Malcom Brown was projected by many outlets (including CBS Sports and Walter Football) to be taken anywhere from the top-half of the first round to the late-teens and early 20s. So, when he fell to the Patriots at No. 32, there was obvious reason for excitement.

Above is a list of all the players drafted in the first round over the past four years fitting a similar mold to Brown (4-3 defensive tackle/3-4 defensive end hybrids). The Patriots aren’t the only team to put a premium on interior defensive linemen in recent years; the demand has skyrocketed for big men who can play in the trenches.

They are, however, one of the few teams that does not pigeonhole its players into one scheme or another, but rather asks them to play a number of different spots in different schemes on a week-to-week, series-to-series and even a play-to-play basis. The Patriots flow freely from 3-4 to 4-3 at any time, depending on the situation and the opponent. 

That makes it difficult to nail down a threshold for reasonable expectations. One week, they could be charging upfield and getting into the offensive backfield. The next week, they could be charged with holding their lanes and two-gapping so that the linebackers behind them can make plays. Under Bill Belichick, it’s usually a lot more of the latter than the former. 

That being said, most of the defensive linemen listed above pulled in between 20 and 30 tackles, 10 assists, three to five sacks, batted a pass or two at the line of scrimmage and forced a fumble. 

 

PS

On a personal note, Yours truly has been truly sorry for not being able to put up new content. The 20 hour days do not leave much time for football.I will try to be more frequent with the articles going forward. Thank you for your understanding and consideration.

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