by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
September 8, 2009 (UPDATED at 1:06 PM)
Discussing the practice squad in light of the Richard Seymour trade to Oakland feels like telling a woman with her hair on fire that she’s got a nice manicure: There are larger issues in play here.
All we can do is comment on what’s happening with the final 53 and the plucky additional eight (or seven, as the case is as of Tuesday morning). Herewith, some notes …
That’s Tight: New England said goodbye to tight ends David Thomas and Alex Smith, opening the door for the Brobdingnagian Michael Matthews, a third-year player from the Giants.
In reviewing the Patriots/Giants scrimmage from last Thursday, Matthews demonstrated his ability with on-line blocking (Not to speak ill of former Pats, but a certain tight end could have used some pointers). Beginning midway through the first quarter, Matthews alternated sides and went into motion on occasion. In his one-on-one battles, he managed to keep Pierre Woods or Rob Ninkovich in check. During the third quarter, Matthews blocked on a kickoff return and bobble-caught a one-yard pass. According to New York play-by-play man Bob Papa, the Patriots wanted to sign Matthews as a rookie free agent.
So now they’ve got him, and – with Chris Baker and Benjamin Watson – a well-rounded trio of tight ends. We’ll see how much Matthews plays in the next couple of weeks as the roster continues to develop.
Guarded At Best: New England signed former Steeler guard Kendall Simmons over the weekend, adding to what many saw as a pile-up in the middle of the offensive line. At 30, Simmons has a wealth of playoff experience with Pittsburgh and could provide valuable insurance to Stephen Neal, no stranger to the training room tub.
Better Lockett Up: Cleveland-Brown-for-five-minutes Bret Lockett had nine tackles this preseason. That, plus his 61 stops at UCLA last season proved enough to entice Coach Belichick to put the strong safety on the active roster after the Browns waived him. If you like to watch grainy highlight video roughly the quality of your average Sasquatch film, check out Lockett in college.
Adding Some Class: As of this writing, no fewer than nine rookies had made the active roster, including eight draft picks and an undrafted free agent (QB Brian Hoyer). If you add the two draftees on injured reserve (linebacker Tyrone McKenzie and lineman George Bussey), one on the Non-Football Injury list (receiver Brandon Tate), and one on the practice squad (Darryl Richard), that accounts for every rookie of the 2009 draft. That must be some kind of record.
Now, on to the practice squad, as of Tuesday morning, based on the indispensable Mike Reiss’ blog. Readers, be prepped to change Mr. Reiss’ bookmark next week as he’ll be moving to ESPNBoston.com. (As if you didn’t know.)
Going On A Terrence: Who else let loose a sigh of relief when Terrence Nunn got the call for the practice squad? After Matthew Slater’s elbow bent back like a windswept umbrella (I was going to post some video here, but the mental image is gruesome enough), it looked as though Nunn would stick around. Yesterday’s release of receiver Greg Lewis didn’t hurt his cause, either. Maybe Nunn’s training camp consistency (plus three catches for 64 yards and a 49-yard kickoff return vs. the Giants) helped New England with that decision.
Roll Out The Darryl: Coming in to a team stocked at defensive line (even without Seymour), the aformentioned Richard stays with New England as a future candidate for the active roster. Richard had two tackles and half a sack against New York last week. He figures to learn quickly, as the Georgia Tech product earned the top Wonderlic score of any incoming D-linemen.
Remember The Titus: At six-foot-four, 305 pounds, Titus Adams has looked strong on the inside, albeit against backup offenses. Adams had 12 tackles this preseason, including a sack against Washington. This is the Nebraska product’s second trip to New England’s practice squad, having spent most of last season there.
Making The Grady: Coming out of Louisville, rookie defensive tackle Adrian Grady had to battle the “undersized” label (of course, at 6-1, 298, he’s about as small as a kiosk). At the combine, Grady had a top-seven bench press (31 reps of 225) and could have some flexibility in the Pats’ multiple fronts. In October of 2008 he was named Big East Player of the Week for his two-sack game vs. South Florida.
So … three defensive linemen on the practice squad? Anything you want to tell us, Coach?
Stanback, Stanback, In The Middle Of My Room I Did Not Hear From You: (You know what’s next … a Stevie Nicks video! His awesome name notwithstanding, back in the 2007 draft Isaiah Stanback caught the eyes of some Pats fans looking for a mobile backup quarterback. After a frustrating attempt to move to NFL receiver, Stanback will have a shot to play QB at Foxboro (and, we assume, imitate Miami play-caller Pat White). Ranked in the top 10 of many offensive categories at Washington, Stanback ran a 10.48 in the 100 meters. Plus, he’s got a myspace page. This guy won’t be boring to watch.
This Ain’t Patrick’s Day: Or maybe it is. A rookie out of Central Florida, offensive tackle Patrick Brown got cut by the Panthers on Saturday and ended up in New England. Last year the 6-5, 292-pounder made second-team All-Conference USA for the Knights. Though he’s battled injuries of late, at one point Brown had 46 consecutive starts at left tackle.
Ready, Willingham Able: It’s taken DeAngelo Willingham a little while to get here. According to Adam Schefter, the Patriots put in a waiver claim on the free safety when he was cut by the Buccaneers August 31, but the Cowboys and their higher waiver spot beat them to it. Though he didn’t start at Tennessee until his senior season, Willingham opened scouts’ eyes with a better-than-average pro day.
One more spot to be filled on the practice squad. We’ll chime in on that and any major roster adjustments.
Email Chris Warner at [email protected]