Saturday, August 27, 2016, 5:20pm
When Jimmy Garoppolo was a rookie in 2014, the New England Patriots coaching staff announced early in the week that he would be the starter for the final preseason game, in part because they wanted him to experience what it was like to be the No. 1 option in the days leading up to the game, which included media responsibilities.
Might they do the same this year with rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, or at least give him more time earlier in the Sept. 1 preseason finale at the New York Giants?
Bill Belichick didn't dismiss the possibility in a Saturday conference call, as Brissett has played only in the second half of the first three preseason games (totaling 77 snaps).
"I think that's a good question, it's a fair question, it's one we really have to give some good consideration to," he said.
"As I've said before, I think whatever we do will benefit whoever does it. We want to get Jimmy [Garoppolo] ready to play for the Arizona game [opening the regular season Sept. 11].
"Tom [Brady] isn't going to be playing for a while, so it's kind of his last chance to play until he comes back after a few weeks.
The Patriots were clearly trying to suit his strengths, as they set him up on screens and swing passes, as well as stretch runs to give himself an opportunity to show off his speed and quickness.
“I felt great,” Foster said. “I was telling some guys that was the first time I’ve been hit since college. It felt good getting out there. The coaches gave me the chance to show what I can do.”
James White and LaGarrette Blount appear to be the two lead backs, but the team is an injury away from having to go down the depth chart, so Foster is a name to keep an eye on. The Patriots have never really been predictable with their RBs so it's not out of the question Foster has some kind of role, especially when you consider White hasn't really made an impact to this point.
Gronk has finished as the top overall tight end in each of the last two seasons, though Jordan Reed gave him a run for his money last year. The increased depth at the position make him a less appealing 1st round pick, especially given his injury history.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 9:55am
Tom Curran of CSN New England reports that veteran wide receiver Nate Washington has been cut.
Washington signed with the Patriots in March and was part of what coach Bill Belichick called “probably as good” a competition for roster spots at the position as the team has had during Belichick’s tenure. Washington never made his way to the front of that competition, catching one pass for eight yards in two preseason outings, and will now have to find another team if he’s going to play a 12th NFL season.
One wild card in the Patriots running back situation remains undrafted D.J. Foster of Arizona State, who hasn't played in the preseason because of an undisclosed injury but appeared to increase his practice workload on Monday.
Foster was a priority free-agent signing whose $30,000 in guaranteed money was second highest among the team's undrafted players. He fits into the "passing back" mold of Lewis and top replacement, James White.
The story mentioned Fred Jackson and Roy Helu but they fall more into the passing back category. The story also said the Titans could be a trade partner as they are deep with RBs DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry and Bishop Shankey. We had a story Monday that said Ronnie Hillman may not make the Broncos. The Pats could just be waiting for the next round of cuts, but they appear likely to add to the position and that player could have some fantasy relevance.
The New England Patriots released veteran running back Donald Brown on Tuesday, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates, as an early-camp injury ultimately doomed Brown's chances of sticking on the roster at a position where the club is thin.
Brown, who signed a one-year, $965,000 contract with the Patriots on March 17, was competing for a backup spot behind LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis, the latter of whom will open the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list as he will undergo a second surgery on his left knee.
Brown had pulled up in the fifth practice of training camp -- members of the athletic training staff appeared to be checking his hamstring -- and hadn't been a full participant in practice since. He didn't play in the team's first two preseason games.
By releasing him, the Patriots thin their ranks at a position that was already short on depth. Blount is the top power option, while third-year man James White projects to step in for Lewis as the top "passing back" until his return. The team also has Brandon Bolden (5th year), Tyler Gaffney (3rd year), Joey Iosefa (2nd year) and undrafted rookie D.J. Foster at running back. Yesterday we reported White is getting more running reps. Brown, if healthy, was an option to both run the ball and receive to keep defenses guessing a little.
Those absences continued a run of unexpected absences for Brady this summer that also include missing the first preseason game to attend a memorial service and missing the second game after he reportedly cut his thumb with scissors while working on his cleats. Coach Bill Belichick declined to elaborate on the reason for this absence and he shouldn’t have to answer any other questions about it on Tuesday.
Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports that Brady is back with the team for one of their last practices before Thursday’s game against the Panthers.
Belichick said Monday that he doesn’t view that game as a dress rehearsal for the start of the regular season, so we’ll see how they handle things in terms of getting Brady playing time or if Jimmy Garoppolo continues to do all of the work with the starters ahead of his four-game stint as the team’s starter in the regular season, the story said.
James White carried the ball 22 times for 56 yards, appearing in 14 games. He is a running back who, clearly, did very little running.
Expect that to change in 2016 as White fills in for Dion Lewis, who reportedly will begin the year on PUP.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday that White has been "very dependable, very consistent" entering his third year.
"I think he has worked on his role in the running game, carrying the ball, which he did a lot of in college and hasn't done a lot of here," Belichick said. "(He) was mainly a passing game player last year and didn't play two years ago, his rookie year. He was mainly a passing game player last year, but he has taken a more active role in the running game this year. So he continues to develop, had a good run on the two-point play against New Orleans."
As Belichick pointed out, White ran the ball plenty in college, carrying 221 times for 1,444 yards as a senior at Wisconsin. Belichick added White ran between the tackles but his run skills need refinement for the NFL, however, he's taking more reps running the ball. The Pats likely want the threat of the run while White is on the field rather than giving away the play is a pass if White remains a one-dimensional back.
This is the third straight practice Gronkowski has missed.
About the only positive in a day littered with bad injury news for the Patriots: Thus far in the preseason, White has displayed a consistent ability to make defenders miss in space, as we saw on a 14-yard screen pass against the Bears that probably should have gone for a loss.
With Lewis facing a second knee surgery, as first reported by The Globe's Jim McBride, White should be considered a roster lock. He'll have a significant role in the Patriots' offense until Lewis returns.
White can give the Pats maybe 60 percent of what Lewis provided purely as a receiver, but there is no one on the roster that will replace Lewis' production as a runner from spread formations. On 1st-and-10, the Patriots could put Brady in the shotgun, flank him with Lewis and trot out four wide receivers. And from that formation, they could either pass or run.
The story went on to say the Pats may have to show their cards now. When White is in the game, the Patriots are probably passing. When LeGarrette Blount is in the game, they're probably running. The story made a case for Donald Brown, who can be considered a mix of both runner and receiver and perhaps keep defenses on their toes. But Brown hasn't been able to stay healthy and hasn't practiced in camp nor played in a preseason game.
Running back Dion Lewis will be sidelined for another 8-10 weeks after he endures a second surgery on his left knee, according to a source. The ACL, which was repaired in November, is OK, but the Patriots’ medical staff determined they need to clean up an unspecified area in the knee.
The procedure is viewed as “relatively minor,” and Lewis has a good chance of playing in 2016, according to the source.
Assuming Lewis remains on the PUP list during the regular season, he can begin practicing at any point between Oct. 18 and Nov. 22. Once Lewis starts practicing, the Patriots will have 21 days to either promote him to the active roster or shut him down for the remainder of the season. The Pats could technically drag out that decision until Dec. 13.
It's good to hear that his ACL is "OK." Eight weeks would put Lewis back on Oct. 16, so he could conceivably return for Week 7 at Pittsburgh. The Patriots have a Week 9 bye, so the team could elect to give him an extra few weeks of recovery to return in Week 10 vs. Seattle. For now, we'll assume he misses the first eight games. James White should produce RB2 numbers in PPR and LeGarrette Blount should provide fantasy starter numbers when the Patriots don't face an elite run defense. The Patriots could add a running back as camp cuts continue. Lewis is worth consideration as a late-round pick, especially in leagues with deep benches and/or an injured reserve slot.
Sunday, August 21, 2016, 2:10pm
The New England Patriots drafted Boyce in the fourth round in 2013. He has appeared in 10 games with three starts. Boyce, 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, has compiled nine catches for 121 yards.
He spent most of this year with the Indianapolis Colts until they waived him Aug. 16.
Parks signed with the Browns on May 20 as an undrafted rookie. He's dealing with a knee injury.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Patriots add a big, young running back to the mix, but they may want to wait until other teams trim their rosters. The Chiefs and Titans, for example, have several young running backs that are in danger of not making the 53-man roster.
The story was about the team possibly picking up recently-released Bills RB Karlos Williams. However Williams was passed by other Bills RBs on the depth chart and remains out of shape despite an impressive rookie season last year. However, the Pats are probably seeing the last year of RB LeGarrette Blount, so Williams could at least be a project guy for the future.
This one stings, as Lewis was shaping up as a great value in the 4th/5th round after looking good in spring practices. It's not clear what sort of surgery Lewis needs. If it's a scope, he might only be out a month, but if they need to do a ligament repair, it will take longer. (Update: Adam Schefter described it as a "clean up" procedure, which makes it possible that he will return at some point in the season.) In the meantime, James White is likely to take his place in the lineup. White averaged 6.7 touches (including 4.7 catches on 6.4 T/G) for 53.1 yards and 0.57 touchdowns in seven games that Lewis was sidelined. That equates to solid RB1 numbers in PPR formats (RB2 in standard). He's not going to get the running work that Lewis would have, but he should take over the pass-catching role and turn in RB2 numbers in PPR formats. The news also gives LeGarrette Blount a bump, since he's likely to see a few extra carries assuming he remains in the "big back" role. Tyler Gaffney is pushing Blount for work, but Blount has run well in the preseason.
This is a defining week when it comes to the Patriots’ plans with running back Dion Lewis, who remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list as he rehabs from a torn ACL sustained Nov. 8.
Lewis’ rehab has gone well, he took part in the final practice of the spring, and if there were a Super Bowl to be played today, I believe he’d be on the field. At the same time, coach Bill Belichick always considers the big picture and builds his team in a way that positions it to be at its strongest when it counts.
With that in mind, and considering Lewis’ injury history, does Belichick see value in Lewis opening the season on the reserve/PUP list to give him almost a full calendar year before he takes the field again? Lewis would miss the first six games in that scenario. I believe Belichick is considering it, and if we don’t see Lewis on the practice field by the end of this week -- as the Patriots prepare for the “dress rehearsal” third preseason game at Carolina -- that scenario becomes a much stronger possibility.
This isn't the first time we've seen beat writers talking about Lewis staying on the PUP list and missing the first six games of the season. However, we've seen others who follow the team disagree as well. This sounds like it could be a big week for that decision so owners and potential owners want to continue to follow his progress.
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