Patriots Finalize Training Camp Roster

July 30, 2009

With the Patriots first training camp practice beginning in just a few minutes, I thought I’d take a look at a couple of roster moves the Patriots made over the last couple of days.

To start, the Patriots released two players; cornerback Jamar Love and offensive lineman Jermail Porter.  They finalized a four year contract with 2nd round pick Patrick Chung, as well as sixth round pick Jake Ingram.

The Pats also worked out one player, outside linebacker Stryker Sulak.  Sulak was a sixth round pick in this years draft, but was unexpectedly released by the Raiders last week.  At 6-5, 265 pounds, Sulak is an ideal fit as a pass rushing outside linebacker, although playing defensive tackle mostly throughout college, he could be solid in run support as well.

The Patriots also placed five players on the active/PUP list.  The players placed on the physically include Ty Warren, Shawn Crable, Rich Ohrnberger, Darryl Richard, and Mark LeVoir.  Rookie wide receiver Brandon Tate was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list.

That pretty much wraps everything up. The Pats’ first practice is beginning as I write this, so tune in tonight with my thoughts on what I saw today.


Willie Mac Update

July 26, 2009

From a recent Associated Press report:

Willie McGinest will consider playing another NFL season if he receives an interesting offer, and he would prefer to get it from the New England Patriots.The 37-year-old McGinest, the two-time Pro Bowl linebacker who won three Super Bowls with New England, acknowledged his interest Saturday during the Hollywood Stars celebrity softball game at Dodger Stadium.

“I do want to play, but only if the situation is right,” said McGinest, a Long Beach native who played at USC. “If not, I’m probably retired.”

McGinest, whose 16 postseason sacks are the most in NFL history, played the past three seasons in Cleveland after 12 years with the Patriots, who are thought to be thin at outside linebacker heading into training camp. McGinest had 56 tackles in 14 games with the Browns last season, his best performance since his final year in New England.

“There is a possibility,” McGinest said. “I’ve talked to (coach Bill) Belichick a few times. I’m not excited just to jump into camp, but we’ll see what happens.”

From the looks of it, it seems that both Willie McGinest and Bill Belichick are taking the wait and see approach to the situation.

I for one want to see how the young guys, Pierre Woods, Shawn Crable, and Vince Redd perform before the Patriots make any decisions on a veteran outside linebacker.  If no one shows up to play at the position by October, then I think the Patriots should look to bring in a veteran, be it a Willie McGinest or a Rosevelt Colvin.

Ultimately, I would be surprised if they brought in Willie.  I’m just not sure what he has left in the tank.  I would be less surprised if they brought back Junior Seau, whose play hasn’t declined much since the Pats signed him in August 2006.  However, as I said previously, I wouldn’t expect any decisions to be made on the vets until as early as September and as late as October, November, or possibly December.


2009 NFL Predictions (Records, Playoffs, Stats, Awards)

July 17, 2009

It’s that time of year; prediction season.  With mini-camps and OTA’s wrapped up, rosters pretty much finalized, and still a couple of weeks until training camp, I thought I’d take a look at what my predictions are for the 2009 NFL season.  The predictions are pretty intense and in-depth, as I included all records, playoff seedings, playoff results, awards, and major stats predictions.  Lets get straight to it.

NFC North

Vikings 10-6

Bears 9-7

Packers 9-7

Lions 4-12

NFC South

Carolina Panthers 11-5

New Orleans Saints 8-8

Atlanta Falcons 8-8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys 11-5

New York Giants 10-6

Philadelphia Eagles 10-6

Washington Redskins 9-7

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks 9-7

Arizona Cardinals 8-8

San Fransisco 49ers 6-10

St. Louis Rams 3-13

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5

Baltimore Ravens 10-6

Cincinatti Bengals 7-9

Cleveland Browns 5-11

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts 10-6

Tennessee Titans 10-6

Houston Texans 8-8

Jacksonville Jaguars 8-8

AFC East

New England Patriots 14-2

New York Jets 9-7

Miami Dolphins 7-9

Buffalo Bills 7-9

AFC West

San Diego Chargers 12-4

Oakland Raiders 6-10

Kansas City Chiefs 6-10

Denver Broncos 5-11

NFC

1. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

2. Carolina Panthers (11-5)

3. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

4. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)

5. New York Giants (10-6)

6. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

AFC

1. New England Patriots (14-2)

2. San Diego Chargers (12-4)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

4. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

5. Tennessee Titans (10-6)

6. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

Wilcard

6. Philadelphia Eagles 24 |  3. Minnesota Vikings 20

6. Baltimore Ravens 13 | 3. Pittsburgh Steelers 16

5. New York Giants 27 | 4. Seattle Seahawks 17

5. Tennesse Titans 10 | 4. Indianapolis Colts 21

Divisional Playoffs

6. Philadelphia Eagles 31 | 1. Dallas Cowboys 27

4. Indianapolis Colts 17 | 1. New England Patriots 30

3.  Pittsburgh Steelers 19 | 2. San Diego Chargers 20

5. New York Giants 14 | 2. Carolina Panthers 17

Conference Championships

6. Philadelphia Eagles 27 | 2. Carolina Panthers 21

2. San Diego Chargers 24 | 1. New England Patriots 27

Super Bowl XLIV

New England Patriots 31 | Philadelphia Eagles 20

SB MVP: Wes Welker, WR, #83

NFL Awards

League MVP: Tom Brady, Quarterback, Patriots

Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Defensive Player of the Year: DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

Comeback Player of the Year: Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinatti Bengals

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Michael Crabtree, WR, San Fransisco 49ers

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aaron Curry, OLB, Seattle Seahawks

Coach of the Year: Jim Mora, Seattle Seahawks

Passing Leaders

Drew Brees: 4750 yards, 30 touchdowns, 14 interceptions

Tom Brady: 4550 yards, 37 touchdowns, 11 interceptions

Carson Palmer: 4250 yards, 29 touchdowns, 18 interceptions

Jay Cutler: 4200 yards, 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions

Phillip Rivers: 4100 yards, 31 touchdowns, 13 interceptions

Peyton Manning: 4050 yards, 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions

Rushing Leaders

Adrian Peterson: 1650 yards, 9 touchdowns

DeAngelo Williams: 1550 yards, 13 touchdowns

LaDainian Tomlinson: 1350 yards, 15 touchdowns

Michael Turner: 1300 yards, 12 touchdowns

Clinton Portis: 1300 yards, 8 touchdowns

Receiving Leaders

Larry Fitzgerald: 108 receptions, 16oo yards, 14 touchdowns

Andre Johnson: 110 receptions, 1550 yards, 11 touchdowns

Randy Moss: 90 receptions, 1450 yards, 17 touchdowns

Calvin Johnson: 86 receptions, 1400 yards, 13 touchdowns

Steve Smith: 75 receptions, 1350 yards, 7 touchdowns

Wes Welker: 115 receptions, 1250 yards, 8 touchdowns


Patriots Sign Patrick Pass

June 5, 2009

The Patriots just made the second greatest move possible.  The first would be re-signing Antowain Smith.  But, well, yeah.

The Patriots have announced the signing of veteran running back Patrick Pass.

Patrick Pass: Hells yeah!

Patrick Pass: Hells yeah!

Pass, as you may remember, won three Super Bowls with the Patriots from 2000-2006.  His rookie year he was purely a halfback, but he later bulked up and was actually the Patriots’ starting fullback for the 2004 Super Bowl season (and part of 2003).

Patrick Pass can do a little bit of everything.  He can carry the ball on first and second downs as a tailback.  He can catch the ball out of the backfield.  He can both return and cover kicks, play third down back, and even line up at fullback.

Pass most recently played for the Giants in 2007.  He also played for the Texans.

Pass joins a backfield that includes Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk.  While he may have a hard time making the 53, his versatility should give him an added boost.

The Patriots also announced the release of four players; Angelo Craig, Kenny Smith, Omar Cuff, and Marcus McClinton.


Rodney Harrison to NBC

June 2, 2009

Although it has long been speculated, Rodney Harrison appears to be moving on from professional football.  The Boston Herald reports:

One of the most storied players in Patriots history, Harrison will be introduced as the newest member of NBC’s broadcast team during a conference call tomorrow, according to a source with knowledge of Harrison’s plans.

And while the possibility of a comeback can never be discounted, Harrison is already on record that when he walks away from the game, it will be for good.

“Whatever Rodney decides to do, he’ll be great at it,” said teammate James Sanders this afternoon at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots were holding an optional team workout.

Reached this afternoon, an NBC spokesman declined comment. NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol will hold a conference call tomorrow at noon to announce the network’s new talent, and Harrison is expected to be on that call.

“If that’s what he chooses to do, he’ll be great,” Sanders said. “He’s very photogenic. He talks well, carries himself well, speaks real proper. He looks like he was born for the camera.”

The 36-year-old Harrison won two Super Bowls with the Patriots and was a three-time first team All-Pro selection. He is the only player in NFL history to record 30 sacks and 30 interceptions in his career.

Harrison previously said that he would make a decision by June 1st.  He will hold a conference call tomorrow, so we’ll see if this becomes official.


2009 Patriots Final Roster Prediction Version 1.0

June 2, 2009

Here’s my first prediction of what the Patriots’ opening day roster will look like.  Keep in mind that it is just a prediction, and many of my predictions are pure speculation.

QB: 1. Tom Brady 2. Kevin O’Connell 3. Brian Hoyer

HB: 1. Laurence Maroney 2. Fred Taylor 3. Sammy Morris 4. Kevin Faulk 5. BenJarvus Green-Ellis

WR: 1. Randy Moss 2. Joey Galloway 3. Wes Welker (slot) 4. Greg Lewis 5. Sam Aiken

TE: 1. Ben Watson 2. Chris Baker 3. Alex Smith

T: 1. Matt Light 2. Nick Kazcur 3. Mark LeVoir 4. Sebastian Vollmer

G: 1. Logan Mankins 2. Stephen Neal 3. Russ Hochstein

C: 1. Dan Koppen 2. Rich Ohrnberger

DE: 1. Richard Seymour 2. Ty Warren 3. Mike Wright 4. Le Kevin Smith

NT: 1. Vince Wilfork 2. Ron Brace

OLB: 1. Adalius Thomas 2. Pierre Woods 3. Shawn Crable 4. Vince Redd

ILB: 1. Jerod Mayo 2. Tedy Bruschi 3. Paris Lenon 4. Gary Guyton 5. Eric Alexander

CB: 1. Leigh Bodden 2. Jonathan Wilhite 3. Shawn Springs 4. Darius Butler 5. Terrence Wheatley

SS: 1. James Sanders 2. Patrick Chung

FS: 1. Brandon Meriweather 2. Brandon McGowan 3. Ray Ventrone

K: 1. Stephen Gostkowski

P: 1. Chris Hanson

LS: 1. Nathan Hodel

PUP/IR: Brandon Tate, WR; Tyrone McKenzie, ILB;

Practice Squad: Myron Pryor, NT; Titus Adams, DL; Julian Edelman, WR; George Bussey, G/T; Eric Kettani, FB; Robert Ortiz, WR; Jamar Love, CB; Marcus McClinton, S

Tough Cuts: Tully Banta-Cain, OLB; Darryl Richard, DL; Antwain Spann, S;Vinny Ciurciu, ILB; Jarvis Green, DE; Mike Richardson, CB; David Thomas, TE; Ryan Wendell, G, Tank Williams, S; Billy Yates, G; Jake Ingram, LS; Matt Gutierrez, QB; Al Johnson, C/G; Matthew Slater, WR/S/ST

I thought I’d highlights on my thought process in shaping the roster:

  • TBC doesn’t make the cut.  It was down to him and Vince Redd, and I like Redd’s size and athleticism.
  • Darryl Richard gets cut after a stiff competition with Le Kevin Smith and Jarvis Green.  He gets claimed off waivers so Myron Pryor gets the practice squad spot instead.
  • David Thomas loses the battle at tight end.  I think the Patriots could opt to keep four, in which case, Thomas could make the team.
  • Matt Slater loses out to Sam Aiken as the 5th receiver/special teams ace.  If Slater shows good return ability, this could be switched.
  • Al Johnson loses out to Russ Hochstein as the C/G backup.  Why?  Hochstein’s ability to be a lead blocker.
  • Jarvis Green’s release was purely a salary cap move, as the Patriots have younger and cheaper options in Le Kevin Smith and Darryl Richard, and they recently re-signed Mike Wright to a big deal.
  • I penciled in Jonathan Wilhite as the #2 cornerback.  Why?  After going back and watching tape on him, I just think he’s that good.
  • Spann, Ciurciu, Tank Williams, and Yates are all tough cuts.  There just wasn’t room on the roster for all of them.

Patriots Sign ILB Paris Lenon

May 27, 2009

The Patriots have made a move to upgrade their inside linebacking corps with the addition of inside linebacker Paris Lenon.

Lenon has spent his entire career as a 4-3 middle linebacker, so he will have to make the transition to 3-4 inside linebacker for the Patriots.  Assuming he can make this transition, he could be a big boost for the Patriots.  Lenon, 31, recorded 118 and 121 tackles in his last two seasons with the Lions, and can add sure tackling, experience, and smarts to the Patriots.  Here is what ESPN’s Scouts Inc. had to say on Lenon prior to the 2008 season:

Lenon is a six year player coming off his best season as the second leading tackler for the Detroit defense. He has good height and has grown into his body nicely. He is a solid athlete, but not an explosive player. He runs well and shows good range in pursuit. He has burst to close and agility to slip blockers or change directions to get to the pile. He uses his hands well, while pursuing with proper angles to work through trash to stay in the fray. He is a solid wrap tackler, but needs to keep his pads over his feet better. He has improved his reactions and appears to be more instinctive over this past season. He has a good feel for route progressions and leveraging the ball as well as having enough athleticism to be an effective man coverage defender. He has worked himself into a starting position and should continue to improve given his intelligence, work ethic and durability.

While Lenon likely won’t be making any Pro Bowl appearances, he could easily push Bruschi and Guyton for playing time on the inside.  And if things turn out well, he could be an option for 2010 if Bruschi does retire.

The Patriots hosted Lenon on a visit last week.  Interestingly, they hosted former Rams inside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa this week as well.  Although with the addition of Lenon, I wouldn’t expect the Patriots to add Tinoisamoa.