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Patriots Talk: Who Are The 5 Players That Have the Most To Prove In 2017?

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Patriots Talk: 5 Players That Have the Most To Prove In 2017?

There are a lot of players in the NFL that want to prove they are worth the money. Some will go to different teams to get the chance to win a championship, others want to get the most money they can while they are young and healthy. However, the Patriots have a lot of players under their banner that are going to need to prove themselves this upcoming season. The question is: Which one to start?

 

Rob Gronkowski

 

Let’s start off with the player that many of us are all concerned with going into the 2017 season. Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots both know that his injuries are becoming an issue. No matter how much he can bounce back, any further wear and tear on his body will likely mean the end of his NFL career. He is effectively a ‘glass cannon’: explosive and powerful, but fragile and breakable.

 

The reality is Gronk is coming off a severe back surgery that he suffered during the Week 9 game from Seattle Seahawks [Free Safety], Earl Thomas. Gronk also now has a newly restructured contract, that if he plays to his full ability, will make him the highest paid Tight End in the NFL. Everybody who has watched Gronk play, knows he is the best TE in the league and arguably one of the most lethal offensive weapons in the game. As of now, Gronk has a lot to prove to the team that he is worth the money and 2017 is his year to do so.

Cyrus Jones

Cyrus Jones (24)

Cyrus Jones was the Patriots highest pick in the draft last year (2nd Round, No. 60) and yet he struggled throughout his rookie campaign. His whole rookie season he was mainly on special teams: only returning 11 punt returns for 46 yards total and 8 kick returns for 180 yards total. Nothing speculator to-day the least. According to reports from training, he is still has the same struggles as before, and likely will need further work.

 

Cyrus coming off a bad rookie season is always difficult. (I don’t even want to imagine how much pressure Jared Goff from the Los Angeles Rams is feeling!)  However, Cyrus was a player that was brought in to potentially play defensive back. (to fulfill Logan Ryan‘s shoes before he went into free agency and went the Tennessee Titans) As of now, Jones needs to prove himself before Week 1 or he could be warming the bench before the season even begins.

 

Julian Edelman

It would seem odd to see Julien Edelman on this list as he is coming off Super Bowl LI with one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history. (It was so unexpected that it made the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title ‘The Comeback’) Many would say that he is secured as anybody on the Patriots roster, hell he was the safest target in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.

 

 

Edelman is already turning 31 alongside his teammate, Danny Amendola, who just restructured his whole contract with the team. However, Edelman has been seen as the Patriots #1 receiver for the past few seasons but with the addition of Brandin Cooks, its become clear that the Patriots are loaded at the roster right now. With players like Malcolm Mitchell who is coming off a stellar rookie campaign, Cooks showing promise already on his first week of OTAs, Edelman will need to step up to separate from the crowd. The current wide receiver core consists of:

  • Julian Edelman (11)
  • Devin Lucian (13)
  • Brandin Cooks (14)* – Traded from the New Orleans Saints
  • Chris Hogan (15)
  • Andrew Hawkins (16)* – Free Agent
  • DeAndrew White (17)
  • Matthew Slater (18)* – Special Teams Captain
  • Malcolm Mitchell (19)
  • Danny Amendola (80)

With about eight total receivers, players will be not be fighting for roster spots, but rather where they will rank on the depth chart. Lucian and White are practice squad players (or camp bodies). Slater is the special teams captain and his role is too crucial to the team as he is the best gunner in the NFL. However, Hawkins is a player who is both a new player that will likely warm the bench since he is just as old as Edelman and Amendola. Chris Hogan has become one of the main stays for the team going forward. Mitchell’s development will be important here if he continues to improve off his rookie season and the same is true with Brandin Cooks likely becoming the Patriots’ new #1 target.

 

Edelman will stay, that is not a question but after 2018 he will be an unrestricted free agent. He will likely not be resigned after 2018 unless he feels that he can maintain his performance past the age of 32. Right now, Edelman’s focus will be keeping his competitive drive as he will need to prove his worth in 2017.

 

Malcolm Butler

 

Probably one of the biggest free agent signings this off-season, Gilmore has become a big topic of discussion during practices. Despite Malcolm Butler being the #1 corner seemingly going forward, Gilmore has shown early on that he is capable of being a top corner in the league. Butler is now playing under his tender for only 1 year for almost 4 million. His window is running short on making a big pay-day.

 

Butler right now, is coming off a good season where he was a starter for all 16 games during the regular season. He was available for 1,009 of possibly 1,044 defensive snaps (which is 96.7% second most on his team). Including his three additional starts in the post-season and was on the field for 185 of 187 snaps (98.9%). Most of these times, he was asked to cover the number 1 receiver for the opposing team. (Julio Jones was probably the only exception)

 

Right now, Butler is fighting for not only his roster spot as the top corner on the team, but he also is fighting for his NFL career if he doesn’t resign with the Patriots. Butler is turning 27 this season, and cornerbacks are one of the positions with the most limited time frame in the NFL. Butler will need to make an even bigger impression going into 2017.

 

And now finally the one I am sure many already know…

 

Tom Brady

 

Many all knew this, but it needs to be said: Tom Brady is getting old. He is going on 40 years of age in the next few months. Many players by this age typically fall off and many NFL critics have overstated this. Brady believes he can play till he is 45 or older which is pretty incredible but after what he did in Super Bowl LI, some are starting to believe.

 

However, some people over the last month have started the rumor that he might make a surprise retirement after 2017? It starts with his wife, Gisele talking about Brady having concussions without telling protocol and Jimmy Garappollo is a free agent next season and his leave could be potentially be a big issue. It’s all kinds of crazy going on, but I believe Brady truly does want to play till he is 45.

 

The only issue is if Belichick believes as well. Brady has done everything that one could have ever imagined from him. Brady’s story is one that will be talked about in NFL history books, and will be further solidified when he is eventually accepted into Canton someday. But right now, Brady going into 2017 is riding off a huge amount of hype. He just elevated himself from his long time idol, Joe Montana, from being one of the all time greats to being the G.O.A.T.

 

Right now, Brady is playing the best football of his career and the question isn’t if he can keep it up, its whether can still play football at the same level he has always been playing at? Brady’s greatest strength has been his consistency and many are wondering just how long he has left. Personally, Brady could retire tomorrow and he will be called the greatest quarterback to ever live but I believe he will stick longer than everybody is giving him credit for.

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Patriots Win Means It Is Business As Usual

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The New England Patriots defeated the New Orleans Saints 36-20 on Sunday to pick up their first win of the season. The win brings the Patriots record to 1-1. Notching this win against Drew Brees and crew means it is business as usual at Gillette Stadium.

Despite having some players knocked around the Patriots offense showcased a number of different looks and was very effective against a piss poor Saints defense.

New England attacked the Saints defense with their running backs starting the game with a power style of running behind fullback James Develin. Like CBS color analyst Tony Romo pointed out, this style felt old school 2001 Patriots. This allowed the Patriots to run the ball right at the Saints front seven and then later open up the field in the passing game.

With the wideouts being battered, Tom Brady relied on his receiving backs like James White who snagged 8 catches, and Rex Burkhead who had 4 catches of his own including an opening drive touchdown catch. Brady also relied heavily on tight end Rob Gronkowski who had 6 catches en route to 116 yards and a 53-yard touchdown on the second Patriots drive of the day.

The first quarter was the one of note for Brady as all three of his passing touchdowns on the day game in the first quarter. it was the first time in the future hall of famers career that he had a first quarter with three passing touchdowns. His final line of the day was 30-39 with 447 passing yards. This was the 10th time in his career that he has eclipsed the 400+ passing yard marker.

Defensively the Patriots held a Sean Payton offense to 20 points. A solid effort with the defense limiting the big plays that cost them in their first game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

While it was key not to overreact to the Patriots week 1 loss, it is also important to not overreact to their week 2 win. The Saints defense is bad, really bad. And the Patriots are truly battered at the receiver position with now Gronk and Burkhead dealing with injuries in addition to Julian Edelman who is out for the year along with Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola who will return at some point.

Brandin Cooks, the newly acquired receiver was quite against his former team. To me, the injuries paired with Cooks lack of a breakout game is still a concerning matter. But seeing the Patriots defense remain strong and hold Brees and the Saints to 20 points is huge.

Eyes must now point forward to next Sunday’s matchup against the Houston Texans.

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Patriots 1st Win For the Season In New Orleans 36-20

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It was an exciting day inside the dome.  Of course I’m talking about the Patriots playing in the Super Dome, against the New Orleans Saints.  They played well today on [Sunday] and seemed to be well prepared in the 10 Day week.  Here are some take aways from the game on Sunday’s [36-20] Win:

Rob Gronkowski was huge.  Tight End Rob Gronkowski had a huge game against the Saints.  He had a 50+ yard Touchdown in the 1st Quarter.  It was spectacular, to say the least!  This is a guy who refuses to get tackled.  Gronk got open on the sideline and evaded the tackle for the TD.  It was just what they needed at the right time.  He would go on to catch over 100+ yards for the game.  Although he went out of the game with a Groin Injury.  Hopefully he’ll be back for next weeks game.

Chris Hogan had a good game.  He made a TD reception in the end of the 1st Quarter.  It was a beautiful pass to the corner of the field.  It could have been called back because of a pick play at the line of scrimmage but luckily the Officials got the call right.  They gave them the touchdown and boy was every TD score important.

Tom Brady had a great game on Sunday.  He threw for 3 TDs in the 1st Quarter of the game.  Which was a first for him, I mean have a game will ya!  TB12 was laser sharp today.  He was quiet inside the pocket as Tony Romo pointed out.  He has a quiet on your feet type approach.   Something we have come to identify from Tom Brady.  He holds on to the ball as long as possible before making a play.  He shifts slowly in the pocket to get room to throw.  How he does it is masterful.  I mean this is a guy who isn’t effected by defensive pressure.  He steps in the pocket and is calm, cool, collective while throwing a pass.  He is just automatic!

The Defense came to play!  Yes, the defense made some fantastic stops against a Drew Brees Offense.  It was something that we have come to expect from a Bill Belichick Team.  They button down the mistakes and learned from last week.  This week the Defense made the Saints’ Running game non existent.  It was great!  Adrian Peterson was held to just a few yards.  They played against him just perfectly and forced the Saints’ to throw the ball more.  Their stops on 3rd and long were just incredible.  And their stops in the Red Zone were particularly impressive.  The Saints had to settle for Field Goals, which didn’t help against a Brady led offense.

The Patriots went old school on New Orleans.  New England lined up several times with the Fullback in the I formation.  With injuries at Wide Receiver, the Offense used the back field a lot more.  They weren’t afraid to use Devlin in the back field or as a wide out.  Yep, it was old school offense from 2001.  And you know what?  It worked!  The Pats found a way to work around their lack of slot receiving.  Their line ups exploited what coverage their opponent’s Defense was.  It was a way for Tom Brady to audible before the snap.

In all I’d have to say that the Patriots did everything right.  Look for their Backfield to get more Receptions.  As they are looking to replace their Slot Receivers of Julian Edtilman and Danny Amandola.  Their next game is Sunday, September 24th against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium, at 1pm ET on CBS.  With today’s Win they should be good to go!  Hopefully Gronk and Amandolo will be healthy for it.

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Patriots Talk: Injury Reports heading into Week 2

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Patriots Talk: Injury Reports heading into Week 2

 

The New England Patriots are, in under an hour, going to be facing off against the equally win-less New Orleans Saints. Belichick and the team are going to have some serious adjusts today according to Mike Reiss, ESPN Reporter around the New England Patriots. He reported that team captain and Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who was sidelined last week against the Kansas City Chiefs with a minor MCL sprain, sought a second opinion on his injury from Dr. James Andrews.

 

While many assumed that the injury was merely minor, it could be something likely worse. Dr. Andrews has connections within the Pats organization, specifically with Patriots’ medical director, Dr. Mark D. Price, a former colleague in Alabama years ago. If Ian Rapoport’s initial report was from Dr. Price’s personal diagnosis on Hightower, then we can hope that Dr. Andrews agrees and Hightower’s injury is nothing severe. Many athletes in this sport know injury leads to lost minutes to play on the field, which means lost income. Hightower being on the sidelines for today’s game and possibly into next week depending on the severity of the injury, is a blow to this team’s defense no matter what is said.

 

And among the current inactives list for the New England Patriots heading into this game:

 

  • LB Don’ta Hightower (Defensive Team Captain)
  • WR Danny Amendola
  • OT Cole Croston
  • ST Nate Ebner
  • ST Matthew Slater (Special Teams Captain)
  • DT Vincent Valentine
  • OT LaAdrian Waddle

 

The New Orleans Saints inactives list is also available:

 

  • LB Stephone Anthony
  • OT Terron Armstead
  • WR Austin Carr
  • CB Ken Crawley
  • QB Taysom Hill
  • DE Al-Quadin Muhammad
  • OT Zach Strief (Offensive Team Captain)

 

 

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