New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick recently spoke highly of backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, and there have been several reports this offseason stating that the organization (not just Brian Daboll) is high on him. Belichick even praised Mallett’s accuracy, but accuracy was not on display for Mallett yesterday.
QB Ryan Mallett Down
If Ryan Mallett can put together a monster preseason, then that’s the ideal situation for the New England Patriots, because it would greatly shoot up his trade value. Some team is going to want to deal at least a second-round pick for him if that happens, and the Patriots aren’t going to deal the promising Arkansas product for anything less than a second after all they’ve done to develop him. Mallett didn’t have a good day of practice yesterday, as he threw two picks. The worst one was an overthrown pass that was cleaned up nicely by rookie safety Duron Harmon, who is quietly doing a solid job.
CB Aqib Talib Up
I’ve been critical of some of the praise given to Aqib Talib for his performance during the regular season last year, but there is no doubt that his play in training camp thus far points to a big year in 2013 from Talib on a one-year prove-it deal. Talib has all the tools to be a shutdown corner; he just needs to be more consistent. In training camp, Talib has been consistently great and probably had his best day yesterday and might have been the best guy on the field Monday. Tom Brady, like Mallett, threw two interceptions, but both of them were to Talib and one went for a pick six. As we saw last year against the Indianapolis Colts, Talib has the talent to take whatever he touches to the house. It should be noted, though, that both of Talib’s picks came as a result of errors by the receivers (Michael Jenkins in the end zone and Kenbrell Thompkins on a particularly bad gaffe), which shouldn’t take away from Talib (rather, it takes away any blame from Brady).
TE Michael Hoomanawanui Up
Lock it up, Michael Hoomanawanui is going to make the New England Patriots final roster, and he just keeps turning in good performances. Hooman makes his living as a blocker, but he is also an underrated pass-catcher who has made some big catches these days. He made a huge one-handed grab yesterday, and the fact that he can also play as an H-back just adds to his all-around ability. Don’t sleep on the Hooman heading into next season.
WR Kenbrell Thompkins Down
It’s kind of weird putting Thompkins in the “down” category after some amazing practice sessions in training camp to follow up his play in OTAs and minicamp, but Kenbrell Thompkins did not have the best of nights on Monday. He dropped passes and did not have the best of days. That said, I’m still very impressed with Thompkins overall, and he’s clearly ahead of his competition (Jenkins and Kamar Aiken are his closest competitors and also had underwhelming days).
DT Joe Vellano Up
A sleeper UDFA heading into training camp, Joe Vellano has a legitimate chance of cracking the 53-man roster if he keeps playing like this. On 1-on-1 drills, Vellano was 4-0, and the competition at DT for the fourth spot on the roster isn’t that stiff. Cory Grissom is the better UDFA player, but the run-stuffer has been out so far. Marcus Forston still has the edge, but I just get the feeling that he doesn’t have the upside that these UDFAs do.
Other good performances: Chandler Jones, Ryan Allen, Ras-I Dowling, Logan Mankins.