Sep 25, 2014; Auchterarder, Perthshire, SCT; A sign at Gleneagles offering fans porridge and coffee during practice for the 2014 Ryder Cup at The Gleneagles Hotel-PGA Centenary Course. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Grab your coffee. Skip the sports section in your archaic newspaper. Don’t bother going anywhere else online for your New England Patriots news, analysis, and opinion.
Here at MusketFire.com we have your Morning Coffee with all the vital information you need to stay on top of all the Patriots’ going-ons in the time it takes to enjoy your first cup of joe:
Aug 28, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Reggie Wayne starts a pass pattern covered by Carolina Panthers cornerback Bene
The two big moves that caused waves were the release of wide receiver Reggie Wayne and running back Jonas Gray. Wayne did not impress and had asked for his release according to reports. Patriots’ radio announcer/Foxboro Insider Scott Zolak tweeted that Wayne had problems with the “work environment”.
Mark Daniels at the Providence Journal was the first to break the news of Gray’s release (I saw a couple of sources credit Mike Loyko at NEPatriotsDraft.com but it seemed he was the first to retweet Daniels’ tweet). Gray did not play against the Giants on Thursday night in the final preseason game. I (and many others) just assumed it meant he was safe and was resting with the week one starters.
Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray (35) celebrates a first half score against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Travaris Cadet and Dion Lewis both made the roster meaning that James White or Brandon Bolden may start at running back. Quite simply, I think head coach Bill Belichick felt that Bolden gave him similar value to Gray and also is a core special teams player. Gray’s value is low after week one when LeGarrette Blount returns.
One final point on week one. When New England played the Steelers in week nine in 2013 they were without third down back Shane Vereen. They used Bolden as the third down back and only managed to put up 55 points against the Steelers. There was a lot of two-tight end offense and Aaron Dobson had 5 catches for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tom Brady threw for 432 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Steelers could not cover tight end Rob Gronkowski (9 catches for 143 yards and 1 touchdown). Danny Amendola was the third receiver to have 100+ yards as he hauled in four passes for 122 yards.
Dec 14, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert McClain (27) reacts after a broken up pass in the first quarter of their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Georgia Dome. The Steelers won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots also cut veteran cornerback Robert McClain. He was just plain beat out by veteran Tarell Brown for the slot cornerback role. McClain could return after week one if no one signs him when his salary would not be guaranteed for the season.
Fan favorite and undrafted free agent wide receiver Chris Harper is still on the roster. Here is hoping that the blond mohawk stays in New England for the entire season. Harper declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season at Cal rather than returning for his senior year. He is just 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, but has good hands and did a good job picking up the offense. He also adds depth as a kick and punt returner. With Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman vital parts of a shallow wide receiver group, Harper may need to return punts and kicks to keep the two veterans off of special teams to keep them fresh and healthy.
Sep 21, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (85) runs onto the field before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
With Brandon LaFell on the PUP, the depth at wide receiver seems to scream for another player. Maybe Josh Boyce returns? Just a note, Kenbrell Thompkins is still out on the street as a free agent if New England need another outside wide receiver who knows the offense.
Expect to see a lot of Scott Chandler and Rob Gronkowski in two tight end sets together on offense until LaFell is back to health. With no fullback look for Michael Hoomanawanui to step in as the H-Back and oversized tight end/tackle Michael Williams to be the eligible receiver/blocker who does not have to report to the referee as an eligible receiver.
Undrafted free agent David Andrews made the team and gives the Patriots six interior blockers. Who starts inside is the next question.
Linebacker Eric Martin beat out James Morris in a surprise. Martin did not play much and Morris led all defensive players with 201 snaps played in the preseason (per PFF). Linebacker Jonathan Freeny is another special teams player who stuck because he showed he can be a depth linebacker in the preseason.
Remember, the Patriots will make a lot of moves in the next two weeks at the back-end of the roster. They may bring players back after the first game so as not to guarantee their salary for the season. They will be up all night going through the waiver wire looking for players they think can help. Players safe this morning could still be let go in the next week or so.
IT DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING, BUT…
Sep 3, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; A general view of a football and a New England Patriots helmet during the second half of a game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
It does not mean anything, but it was interesting to see that ProFootballFocus.com’s Overall Team Ranking on offense for the preseason had the Patriots sixth in the league. It is a pretty meaningless stat for meaningless games, but interesting to see nonetheless.
The Patriots were middle of the pack for passing and rushing offense grades, but the offensive line represented well ranking near the top in run and pass blocking. As usual, they did not commit many penalties and were near the top of that grade.
Defense was ranked middle of the pack but graded well in run defense and pass rush. Predictably, the pass coverage grade was low and they made far too many penalties. Special teams were strong as well.
Sep 3, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots fans hold up a sign supporting quarterback Tom Brady during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time since January there is no news.
For the foreseeable future the only “DeflateGate” talk will come from the whining losers when the Patriots beat them in the regular season.
OK, I need a second cup of coffee now.
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