Aug 15, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Brian Tyms (84) reacts after a touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half during the preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 42-35. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
As with every year, the New England Patriots have their fair share of undrafted free agents, and journeyman players that impress throughout training camp and into the preseason. These players don’t have the greatest shot at making the team as they are looking from the outside in, but they always provide very interesting battles and could potentially bring something special to the table. Here are seven players through training camp and the first two preseason games that might just have a shot at making the roster if things break their way.
Roy Finch- RB
He had himself a very shaky start to his NFL career when he fumbled a return vs the Washington Redskins, but he brings something special to the table, and that’s why he’s gotten continuous looks. He’s just so incredibly quick, and no other Patriots back can bring that to the table right now. Shane Vereen is a great pass catcher, and an excellent dual threat back, but he just doesn’t have the same quick twitch, cut on a dime kind of speed and agility that Finch has. With the fourth running back spot up for grabs, Finch has made himself a good case, especially last game when he totalled seven carries for 37 yards, and two receptions for 34 yards, to go along with 52 return yards as well. Getting all these looks certainly cannot hurt his chance, and it seems that Belichick and the coaching staff has regained some trust in Finch. He’s going to be one player that you have to pay attention to the last two preseason games.
Brian Tyms- WR
Now for the man with the most hype surrounding him, Brian Tyms. He exploded in the first preseason game going for five catches and 119 yards with a touchdown from rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and showed off some nice athleticism with a good frame at 6’3. He wasn’t as great in game two vs the Eagles, but still pulled in three catches for 29 yards and another touchdown. Maybe what’s most important to notice is the fact that he got six targets vs the Redskins and then seven targets vs the Eagles. Clearly Belichick and the trio of quarterbacks have some trust in Tyms despite the little amount of time they have had to work with each other. When it comes to making the team, Tyms has a bit of an advantage in that because he is facing a four game suspension at the start of the season, he can stick around until then, and maybe the Patriots could sneak him onto the practice roster, or maybe even the 53 man roster if he impressed enough to outshine guys like Jeremy Gallon and Josh Boyce.
Jordan Devey- OL
Now we go from two very impressive showings in Finch and Tyms, to the polar opposite of that in Jordan Devey. Now you might ask why he’s on this list in the first place, but clearly he has a shot considering he’s started the past two games and has seen time throughout the entire game. He’s still a very raw player coming off the practice squad last season, but the raw size at 6’6 and 315, and the fact that he can play pretty much every position on the line, gives the Patriots a reason to give him looks. However, if he continues to get bullied around and commit bad penalties, he will quickly find himself looking for a job. The practice squad seems like a good spot for him again this season if they can get him there.
Jerel Worthy- DT
One of two defensive tackles sent over in the past week, Jerel Worthy clearly has a chance at making the team, or the Patriots wouldn’t have given up a conditional pick to get him. If he does make the team, then the Patriots owe the Packers a 7th round selection, so the Patriots will give him a lot of looks once he is ready to play to see if he can bring anything special to the table. He fits the Dominique Easley bill in that he’s a smaller defensive tackle, but specializes in creating interior pressure using quick bursts of strength and his quickness. If Easley can’t start the season on the 53 man roster, then maybe Worthy can grab his place. But until then, he really has to give good showings in these next two games.
Darius Fleming- LB
Darius Fleming didn’t have a ton of buzz around him when he signed with the Patriots this summer. After all, he did have two major ACL surgeries and hadn’t even played a regular season game with the 49ers. But, in his short time with the Patriots, he’s done some really nice things. He’s not a super explosive athlete, but has been a fairly sure tackler, and has looked alright in pass coverage. Normally just a nice performance wouldn’t get you a look on the roster, but the Patriots do have depth issues at linebacker, and Fleming could provide some quality player here and there, and contribute on special teams as well.
Malcom Butler- CB
Other than Brian Tyms, Malcom Butler has probably had the best performance of all the players in this piece, and definitely has been the best undrafted rookie so far. His aggressiveness has been on full display, totalling 13 tackles so far, two pass deflections and a forced fumble in these two games. With Brandon Browner out for the first four games of the season, there’s an extra spot at CB and Butler could fill that role well. He’s been playing with a ton of confidence, and it appears that the coaching staff has confidence in him as well. He looks like the undrafted rookie free agent with the best chance of making the roster, and the best on this list as well.
Travis Hawkins- CB
For a while in training camp, it looked as if Travis Hawkins would be the one undrafted rookie free agent to make the team, looking as impressive as pretty much anyone not named Revis or McCourty. But he has been outshines by his fellow UDFA Malcom Butler, and it has definitely hurt his chances of making the team. He got a lot of looks at safety the last game, and if he can play the position, it would definitely help his chances being able to play both positions, but right now, he has to show that he’s a better option that Butler, and that’s going to be hard to do in the final two games.
So which undrafted and journeyman players do you guys think have a shot at making the 2014 New England Patriots team, and which ones would you like to see get a real crack at making the team? Let me know in the comments below.