New England Patriots Back-end of Roster Moves Highlight Their Weaknesses

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Jul 24, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (51) following training camp at the team practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots made some surprising moves at linebacker as the team released veteran linebacker and special teams mainstay Chris White. Further depleting the ranks, the team traded rookie sixth round draft pick Matthew Wells to the Chicago Bears.  Wells was a coverage linebacker looking to compete with veteran Dane Fletcher for the role filled by Jonathan Casillas last year.  

One positive sign from the roster moves is that veteran Jerod Mayo is showing he is rounding into form. With Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower locked in place as the top two linebackers, the Patriots will have trouble finding snaps for Mayo when the base defense was the nickel the past two seasons and Collins and Hightower were the only linebackers on the field.

Fletcher is still on the physically unable to perform list and has not practiced this season. Removing his competition shows he may be in danger of losing his snaps to Mayo in 2015. In addition, it gives a boost to backups Eric Martin, Darius Fleming, Dekoda Watson, James Morris, Cameron Gordon, LJ Fort, Rufus Johnson, and special teams ace Jonathan Freeny. For the backups at linebacker, removing two favorites from a crowded group gives hope to the players still there that a job on the final 53-man roster is ready to be won.

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