The New England Patriots placed two tight ends on the active/PUP list to open up training camp, as both Rob Gronkowski and Jake Ballard were placed on the PUP. Gronk’s inclusion on the PUP list was obviously not a surprise, but Ballard’s was a bit of a surprise. He participated in most workouts during OTAs and minicamp, but he wasn’t a full participant and didn’t seem to be fully recovered either. Now that the Patriots best two TEs will be inactive for the start of training camp, that opens things up for veterans like Daniel Fells and undrafted free agents like Zach Sudfeld.
There is a strong possibility that Sudfeld is the best pass-catching tight end among the players behind Gronkowski and Ballard on the depth chart, and he is going to get plenty or reps his way. To start training camp, I bet he will run with the first team, because it seems like the Patriots really want to give as many snaps as possible to rookies. I mean, that was their reported reasoning for dropping wide receiver Donald Jones, so the same logic should hold at tight end, especially when the alternative is running players that are known commodities with the first team in Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui. Sudfeld won’t get all the first-team snaps, but I believe he will end up getting the majority of them.
Mike Reiss had an excellent piece on ESPN Boston about 11 things to watch in training camp, and he stated something interesting about slot corner Kyle Arrington. In lieu of the legal troubles surrounding Alfonzo Dennard after his arrest for a DUI and the fact that he is likely to be suspended, Reiss writes that “it wouldn’t be a surprise” to see Arrington line up on the outside and start as the CB opposite of Aqib Talib.
I really hope it doesn’t come to that, because Arrington is clearly not a fit on the outside. While he is a great slot CB due to his quickness, tackling ability, ball skills, and other tools, Arrington is horrific in coverage on the outside where he gets burned due to below-average long speed. As we saw during the first-half of the 2012 season, Arrington is just awful on the outside, but he has proven time and time again to be a very good slot corner. I would honestly rather see Ras-I Dowling start on the outside than Arrington, but giving Arrington some reps as an outside CB in training camp couldn’t hurt. I still doubt he suddenly turns into a good cover corner on the outside, though it is possible, but the added reps can’t hurt.