September 25, 2016

Practice Squad Predictions

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

This week will see the roster cut down twice, on Tuesday to 75 and Saturday to the 53-man roster. You’ll see a few moves after that before opening day (I believe that both the Richard Seymour and Lawyer Milloy moves actually both came after the 53 man rosters were originally set.) By next Sunday, players will be eligible for the eight-man practice squad.

Working off of the excellent work done by ESPN Boston Student Assistant Mike Rodak, we came up with the following squad.

Zac Robinson

The list will not be 100% accurate, as you can be pretty sure that they will grab a few players that are released from rosters around the league, perhaps seeking an developmental outside linebacker or defensive lineman that might fall by the wayside. Keep in mind also that players released by the Patriots could also be grabbed up by other teams, either to the active roster, or to that team’s practice squad.

  • QB Zac Robinson – The seventh round pick seems an obvious candidate, but could also be grabbed by another team.
  • RB Thomas Clayton – It would seem logical that the team would want to keep another running back around as well.
  • TE Rob Myers – With just the three tight ends on the active roster, keeping another stashed away makes sense.
  • OL George Bussey – The second year lineman has been hurt this camp. He was an offseason award winner, so he might get to stick around if not placed on IR.
  • OL Ted Larsen - Could make the team, but seems more likely to be a PS candidate.
  • DL Kyle Love – A defensive line project.
  • LB Dane Fletcher – Inside linebacker project.
  • S Sergio Brown – The safety from Notre Dame has had his moments in camp. He’s a long shot to make the team, but if cut, I think the Patriots will look to retain him.

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Patriots Daily, along with thousands of other websites (including PatriotsLinks.com) all hosted by the same company were recently the target of an automated attack by hackers. So no, this was not an attack originated by jealous Jets fans or anything like that (though the attack did originate from a site in New Jersey – hmmm).

The site is now clean, though you will likely continue to receive the warning until Google has a chance to re-scan the site and declare it to be safe. In the meantime, added security measures have been implemented in an attempt to keep the site safe from future attacks.

If you believe your computer may have been infected, please visit MalwareBytes.org and run their free scanning and removal tool. They’re the best.  (Its probably a good idea to do this occasionally anyway.)

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Take A Lap – Defense

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

Spikes Lost His Man For This TD

Alrighty then. What in the name of Dean Pees was that all about?

That was ugly. You almost hope this was a product of not taking the Rams seriously, and getting a little cocky after the press clippings of their first two performances. That can be corrected. If not, we might be seeing 36-35 scores in the regular season as well. Some of the youngsters, after looking so good in the first two games, came down to earth a bit last night, especially first round pick Devin McCourty, who seemingly hadn’t made a mistake the entire preseason, suddenly looked like an exposed rookie on the field at times. Brandon Spikes was okay in run coverage, but got beat when he had to drop into coverage, one of the few concerns that people had about him.

Things were so bad that Bill Belichick left the first team defense in the game for a whole lot longer than he wanted to, I’m sure, just to see if they could get themselves straightened out. It didn’t happen. The Rams’ second, and then third string offensive players had much the same success as the first string did. Have we mentioned yet that the first string was led by a rookie quarterback getting his first extended action of the preseason?

To make matters worse, two of the players who could be labeled bright spots last night, much-maligned defensive lineman Ron Brace and fighting-for-his-roster-spot Terrence Wheatley both had to leave the game with injuries. Both had made some decent plays last night, especially Brace, who showed good power at the line, and ended up with a sack  as well.

The unit as a whole has a lot of work to do before the season opener with the pass-happy Bengals.

Watching Patriots/Rams Tonight at 7:30PM

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

Dated Pictures, We Know.

Tonight’s third preseason game will be broadcast on the Patriots Preseason Television Network, meaning we get another dose of the dynamic duo of Don Criqui and Randy Cross. Aren’t you excited?

OK, maybe we’re excited by the game, but not with the announcers. Since the Krafts put a lot of pride into their operation, I’m hoping that they can consider bringing in some new announcers for next preseason. Watching a lot of the preseason games from around the league on the NFL Network, I see that other teams lure some of the bigger names to call their preseason games, and I’m hoping that the Patriots can do better. On the CBS NFL broadcasting depth chart, Criqui is on the seventh broadcast team (out of eight) and Cross is on the eighth team.

Scott Zolak will again be the sideline reporter.

If you miss the game tonight, or are living outside of the coverage area of the Patriots Preseason Network, you’ll have three chances to watch the game on the NFL Network, the first one being tonight at 11:00PM.

Thursday, August 26

11:00 PM – NFL Preseason Game: St. Louis Rams at New England Patriots (HD)

Friday, August 27

10:00 AM – NFL Preseason Game: St. Louis Rams at New England Patriots (HD)

Monday, August 30

8:00 PM – NFL Preseason Game: St. Louis Rams at New England Patriots (HD)

 

Worry Wart – Preseason Game Three vs. Rams

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Preseason games usually lack much significance, but 2010’s friendly contests mean more than before. With two dozen draft picks over the past two years and countless new players (and by countless, I mean like six), fans are watching these games with the attentiveness of an overcaffeinated Where’s Waldo? addict.

Last Thursday’s outscoring of Atlanta kept our tempered optimism moving. Going into Scrimmage Three (Thursday vs. the Rams), or what has traditionally been the last sighting of starters during the preseason, the Patriots still have a few things to get straight before the games count.

Can Maroney Flash Heisman Form?

Pay Full Price, Get Halfback: After BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Fred Taylor started at running back against the Saints and Falcons, respectively, Laurence Maroney expects to step onto the dance floor (so to speak). While Maroney has had his chances – what other Patriot gets five years to reach his potential? – let’s give him one more: if he carries the ball 10 times and gains 40 yards over the Rams, we promise to leave him alone. At least until week two of the regular season.

Why The Hurry? There’s No Rush: Though the score didn’t indicate it, the Falcons gobbled up yards like Jets coach Rex Ryan eats M&Ms (Seriously, if you enjoy watching runaway trains, check out “Hard Knocks.” You’re telling me Charlie Weis needed a gastric bypass and Ryan doesn’t?). Give QB Matt Ryan (noooo relation) credit, but New England needs a pass rush. Will Tully Banta-Cain play this week, or will Marques Murrell step up? How close is rookie Jermaine Cunningham to returning? And when will Derrick Burgess actually show this “improvement” we’ve all been reading about?

Swing Logan, Sweet Chariot: Left guard Dan Connolly has performed well in place of Logan Mankins, but with Nick Kaczur out for a long time – the man had back surgery, for the love of St. Pete! – this line looks about as healthy as Rex Ryan (sorry, had to). As the Patriots continue to play smaller defenses with four-man fronts, it becomes harder to predict how the big guys up front will execute against the apartment-sized defenders in the AFC East. If the Rams stop New England’s running game, then yikes.

Get More For Wes? We hope not. Although it made us happy to see Wes Welker back on the field, every time a defender got near him it felt like my innards were hosting a gymnastics meet. Maybe one series vs. St. Louis, maybe one catch or two, but save Welker for Week One. Let’s check out more of what receivers like Taylor Price and Brandon Tate can do. A repeat of Tate’s Pardon-Me-I-Have-A-First-Down-To-Make move where he shook four defensive backs wouldn’t hurt.

All Aboard The D-Line: Okay, Vince Wilfork mans the middle and Gerard Warren has taken Ty Warren’s spot at left end. Mike Wright has started at right end, giving up too much yardage on the ground. Last week second-year player/conditioning phobe Ron Brace did solid work on the D-line, albeit against Atlanta’s B team. Time to see if the heftier Brace, Damione Lewis and rookie Brandon Deaderick can take reps against the starters.

I Get No Kick From Sham Games: No, these preseason scrimmages don’t count, but it still frays one’s nerves when Stephen Gostkowski misses a field goal attempt. This shank got overlooked due to a roughing-the-kicker penalty against Atlanta that featured less contact than my first date, but it still warranted concern. We’ll look for the Ghostkicker to have more success at Foxboro this week.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

On Mankins, McKenzie

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

These are two guys whose situations couldn’t be more different, but both have been on my mind quite a bit this week.

First, lets talk for a minute about Logan Mankins.

Neither Mankins nor his agent are doing themselves any favors these days. After rejecting the Patriots offer earlier this summer, one that is reported to have been a seven year, $45.5 million deal ($6.5 million average). Mankins considered that a slap in the face compared to what Jahri Evans got from the Saints – a seven-year, $56.7 million deal ($8.1 million average). More than that, Mankins expressed outrage at what he felt was a betrayal and that he had been lied to by the team and ownership.

The Patriots have wisely been silent on the matter, but Mankins’ agent and friends have spoken up several times, such as to Ian Rapoport in today’s Herald.

The latest ploy appears to be Don’t think Logan needs money! He doesn’t spend money! He’s got every dime he made in his career! He has a fully paid for, sustainable farm! (How’d he do that without spending money?) He’ll sit out the season without hesitation! He’s got the money!

Yet, I thought this wasn’t about money. How about these huge offenses that the Patriots have allegedly committed against Mankins? Will they ever come out? All Rapoport alludes to is a supposed promise to pay Mankins more than Evans. But it’s not about the money! He doesn’t need the money!

Whatever. Mankins can sit out the season and hope that the new CBA makes him a free agent, but I don’t think that is likely to happen. He’s only damaging his own earning power with this stance.

**************************

Tyrone McKenzie

Tyrone McKenzie is a guy you want to succeed. His story is well-documented by this point, you’re aware of his college career at three schools, and working nights to care for his sick mom, and the knee injury that wiped out his rookie season. We’re big fans of McKenzie because he gave Patriots Daily an exclusive interview – before he talked to the mainstream press this offseason.

McKenzie has been healthy this preseason, and has played in the two preseason games thus far, but in the eyes of many reporters covering the team, he is on the roster bubble. Most seem to be basing this on when McKenzie has come into the two games. He’s been among the latter linebackers to enter the game, even behind the immortal Eric Alexander this past week.

When making their assessments, reporters are placing a lot of emphasis on the special teams ability of players like Alexander and the versatility of a player like Thomas Williams, who has lined up at fullback a few times in camp.

I’m not fully on board with those assessments. In the Bill Belichick era, finding young players who can play inside linebacker has been a constant challenge. In the first part of the decade, it wasn’t so much an issue with Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson and Roman Phifer here. We knew in the back of our heads that those players were getting along in years and that replacements would be needed, but none could be found until Jerod Mayo was drafted in 2008. The media spouted the thought for several years that “Bill Belichick doesn’t drafted linebackers early” – until of course, he did. Some free agents were tried out (Monty Beisel, anyone?) and failed.

Clearly, finding talent at inside linebacker is a challenge. McKenzie appears to have talent. He also seems like a pretty smart player. I can’t swear to it, but I believe he’s been seen wearing the green dot on his helmet, indicating that he is the one receiving the defensive calls when he is in the game. I really, really don’t think that the Patriots are going to discard a player with potential at such a key position on their defense simply because some other guys can play special teams or line up at fullback.

As for why he’s coming into the games so late, I think it is a combination of things – he is still coming back from a severe knee injury, he’s being eased back into game action after not having played a real game in nearly two years, the team clearly wants to give Brandon Spikes as much playing time as feasible in the preseason to get him ramped up to be the starter on opening day, and the green dot – I think they want to have him learn the play calls, but putting him in at the end of the game perhaps makes it a bit easier to get some practice in with doing it.

I still think the Patriots will find a way to keep McKenzie on the team.

The Running Back Issue

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Some call it running back by committee, or RRBC. Some see it as proof that no one really sticks out. With a recent Sports Illustrated cover story on the fast decline of feature backs (not exactly news – remember Marion Butts’ time in Foxboro?) it seems that the Patriots have found a temporary solution to an ongoing problem.

Though effective this preseason, the RBBC approach has done little to allay concerns about New England’s backfield for the long haul. For clues as to what Coach Bill Belichick is thinking (or maybe more confusion), let’s review previous preseason games to see how the carries were divvied up.

Kevin Faulk’s rushing numbers are not included here (the man has a better-defined role than Sylvester Stallone). Also excluded are fourth preseason games due to projected starters resting. The running back with the first carry of each scrimmage is noted thusly.*

PRESEASON 2010

Bill Belichick seems to be making a concerted effort this year to highlight the performances of certain backs in each game. If this trend continues, expect Laurence Maroney to get the nod vs. the Rams this week.

Saints (box score): Chris Taylor 8-39; *BenJarvus Green-Ellis 11-34; Maroney 8-30; Thomas Clayton 4-13.

Despite averaging just over three yards per carry, Green-Ellis helped the Pats establish their running game vs. the Super Bowl champs.

Falcons (box score): *Fred Taylor 11-54; Sammy Morris 6-52;  Green-Ellis 7-12; Clayton 4-(-5).

Taylor started and showed flashes of THE Fred Taylor. Morris continued that trend, albeit against a team with about as much tackle in it as an empty fishing boat. (On a side note, speaking as the self-appointed driver of the Thomas Clayton Preseason Bandwagon, my boy TC got screwed.) Look for the rushing emphasis to continue Thursday against yet another faster, lighter NFC defense.

PRESEASON 2009

You know, when this article began, I assumed that Maroney had started all of last year’s preseason games. Some research proved me wrong. (I know, I know: hard to believe.)

Eagles (box score): Morris 12-45; Green-Ellis 4-31; *Maroney 6-14.

Last year the Pats’ starters could not run against the Eagles’ D, making Maroney’s preseason debut a rough one. Green-Ellis’ stats made matters worse for LoMo.

Bengals (box score): Green-Ellis 10-44; *Fred Taylor 7-26; Maroney 3-6.

Taylor’s consistency and Green-Ellis’ 4.4-yard average only added fuel to the Maroney-hating fire, though no one on New England’s offense could have been proud of a 7-6 loss to Chad Ochocinco’s extra-point kick.

Redskins (box score): Green-Ellis 6-49; Chris Taylor 4-25; *Fred Taylor 7-20; Maroney 7-16.

Though Fred Taylor started against the Redskins, he had only one carry in the first offensive series (gaining one yard) before Maroney took over on the ensuing possession. In that series, Maroney caught one pass for nine yards and carried twice for two yards, recovering his own fumble on the second carry. Disappointing, but only in the way the maiden voyage of the Titanic was disappointing.

To recap the 2009 scrimmages, Maroney had 16 rushes for 36 yards (2.25 ypc). In his defense (and as an indictment of last year’s running game), Taylor had 14 runs for 46 yards for about 3.3 ypc.

PRESEASON 2008

Two years ago, New England took a more traditional approach to playing time, starting and sticking with Maroney in the first three games. Below each stat line is the optimistic point of view at the time.

Ravens (box score): Lamont Jordan 19-76; Green-Ellis 1-8; *Maroney 6-6.

One yard per carry for Maroney. Even I can do that math. But that’s alright: it’s the first friendly, and the Ravens always have a stout defense.

Bucs (box score): *Maroney 7-15; Morris 5-10; Green-Ellis 2-8.

An absolute clusterhump of a game (Pats lose, 27-10). But really, it’s okay, the Bucs are going to be a solid defensive team for a long time. Right?

Eagles (box score): Morris 5-24; *Maroney 5-18; Green-Ellis 5-6.

It’s okay. It’s a passing offense. Tom Brady will get them to the playoffs, unless he gets hurt in the first quarter of the first gameohdamnitalltohell.

THE (POSSIBLY CRAZY) THEORY

In the wake of the 2007 offense, the Patriots looked to rely on Brady’s arm again. This failure to emphasize the running game came to a head last season, when New England couldn’t get yardage it needed to run out the clock or to score in the red zone. Coupled with a deteriorating defense, 2009 ended quickly and badly.

Sure, this month Belichick wants to get a different look at different backs, and wants to give each starter several carries to establish a rhythm. But there’s another theory, one that hinges on Maroney’s status with the team. In August 2008, Maroney carried the ball 18 times for 39 yards, or 2.17 ypc. In 2009, he tallied an almost equally abysmal 2.25-yard average. Based on these numbers – and on public reaction – Belichick decided to protect Maroney from preseason failure.

That’s not the primary reason for RRBC, of course; the coaches really do want to see how each player performs against a starting defense. And few coaches care less about what the public thinks than Belichick. But let’s consider: which Patriots running back is most self-aware of his image? Which one has seemed most willing to comment on the “haters” and how he is perceived?

Correct or no, fair or no, Maroney’s preseason performances have made him the target of trade speculation (and, for many fans, trade hopes). Having him score a TD on his first carry against New Orleans obviously got the guy excited. A strong performance vs. the Rams on Thursday (number 29 in total defense last year) can only boost the former first-rounder’s confidence going into the season.

We can speculate all we want about who’s going to start this year, but we all know that – barring a trade – Maroney will figure prominently in this offense’s plans. RRBC? Great. Maroney looking to contribute without feeling the pressure? Even better.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

PD Game Ball – ‘Backs and ‘Ends

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

Two rushing touchdowns of 20 yards or more, and two touchdown passes to tight ends?

Fred Taylor Takes It In Against Atlanta

These aren’t the 2009 Patriots.

The 2009 Patriots were entirely too reliant on passing to Wes Welker and Randy Moss, and while they had a decent running game, too many times they couldn’t get into the end zone. Outside of the opening night win over the Bills, when Benjamin Watson caught two late TD passes from Tom Brady, the tight ends were really not a factor at all last season.

Last night was encouraging from a play calling perspective, despite the tepid defense of the Falcons. While Brady did look to Welker early, it was to get him into the game and established. When Fred Taylor broke a 28-yard TD run, bouncing to the outside after a hit, he looked more like the Fred Taylor of the early 2000’s than he did the 2009 version. When Brady threw a TD pass to Aaron Hernandez in the exact right spot, and Hernandez caught it and got his feet down, he was more wide receiver than the brand of tight end we’ve become accustomed to here in New England in the Belichick era.

Later in the game, Sammy Morris broke free for a 20 yard TD run, and Brian Hoyer tossed an absolutely beautiful, perfect spiral to Rob Gronkowski, who caught it in stride and had a couple of defenders bounce off him as he entered the end zone.

Just four plays in all, (and in a preseason game against a pretty soft opponent) but they should encourage us that things might be a little different on the offensive side of the ball this season.

PD Tickets, Powered By TiqIQ, Shows You All Your Options

There are a ton of ways to purchase Patriots tickets these days, and the secondary market is loaded with sellers, whether it is Ace Ticket, StubHub! eBay or whomever. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool that showed you all your purchasing options, plus integrated it with some cool data and stats?

Well, now you have it. Patriots Daily Tickets, powered by TiIQ launches today, and with it, you have the power to see all of your options, see what trends are developing, and what your best deal is going to be. You can sort by the price you want to pay, where you want to sit, how many tickets you want, and any combination of those. It will even tell you if your selection is a good deal or a bad deal.

From the main page, you can drill down to individual games, such as the home opener against the Bengals, and get more information on what sections are hot, and where the seats are available. You can also look at the entire home schedule to see which games are the best deal.

The graphic below shows you some information on what are the top home games of the 2010 schedule as we speak. 10/31 against Brett Favre and the Vikings, 11/21 against the Colts (wait, we’re playing the Colts at home this season?) and Monday night December 6th against Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

Occasionally as the season goes on, we’re going to post a graphic on the blog here that will give you information on an upcoming game, and what trends are developing over the course of the season. Check out the site, see what you can find, and hopefully we can add something of value to your experience as a fan.

Note: Please be aware that the ticket prices and associated fees originate with the seller (Ace Ticket, StubHub!, etc) not with Patriots Daily or TiqIQ, but by purchasing through Patriots Daily Tickets, you will be supporting PD, and helping us continue to bring you great Patriots content. (Not to mention help pay Chris Warner’s phone bills in the spring from talking to all those prospects.)

Where To Watch Patriots/Falcons Tonight…and Beyond!

(Sorry, my son is very much into Buzz Lightyear these days.)

The New England Patriots will travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons at the Georgia Dome in a nationally-televised game on FOX on Thursday night.

TELEVISION: This week’s game will be broadcast by FOX and can be seen in Boston on WFXT-TV Channel 25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman providing color. Pam Oliver will serve as the sideline reporter.

New NFL on FOX rules analyst Mike Pereira makes his much-anticipated NFL on FOX debut during Thursday’s game when he joins Buck and Aikman in the booth. He’ll join the broadcast in the third quarter and also contribute and educate viewers if circumstances warrant a rules interpretation or explanation.  FOX NFL SUNDAY host Curt Menefee welcomes fans live from the Georgia Dome and is joined by new NFL on FOX analyst Jim Mora Jr. Together they handle pregame, halftime and postgame coverage.

If you miss tonight’s broadcast, the game will be shown again at the following times on the NFL Network:

Friday, August 20

1:00 PM – NFL Preseason Game: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons (HD)

11:00 PM – NFL Preseason Game: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons (HD)

Saturday, August 21

10:00 AM – NFL Preseason Game: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons (HD)

RADIO: 98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 34th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. Santos and Cappelletti are celebrating their 27th season as a tandem.

Worry Wart – Preseason Game Two At Falcons

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

After wringing our hands all summer over myriad aspects of New England Version 2010, the home boys came to play last week, gaining a 17-7 lead over the Saints on their way to a meaningless-yet-enjoyable 27-24 win. This week, the locals have trekked down to Atlanta to share a practice field and a scrimmage.

Now that some kind of a bar has been set, we’re looking forward to watching how the fighting Foxboroughites (is that it? I have no idea) handle the Falcons. Along with the excitement, of course, come a number of concerns.

Murrell, Banta-Cain Took Down Brees (Photo by Matt Stone)

On Your Marques: Any people who say they expected to utter the words “Marques Murrell on the sack” before last Thursday are flat-out fibbers. After all, the man’s stats don’t exactly instill fear the in hearts of quarterbacks. To the delight of the home crowd, Murrell and Tully Banta Cain provided significant pressure. This week Derrick “Sorry I’m Late But I Had This Thing” Burgess joins the squad and should see some time with Banta-Cain and rookie Jermaine Cunningham reportedly missing the trip. If pass-rushing consistency continues, okay then. If not, we shall re-commence fret mode.

It’s Not Easy Being Green-Ellis: Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis started vs. the Saints, but what the heck does that mean? We can assume that veteran Fred Taylor was getting some time off (he’s about 68 in halfback years), but why did Coach Belichick rest erstwhile starter/over-exuberant celebrant Laurence Maroney most of the first half, only to run him in the second? Should Chris Taylor get a chance to run against a starting defense? And with a backfield of Methuselahs, why the heck didn’t New England draft a running back this year?

Sorry. Old business. Let’s move on…

The Warren Omission: With defensive end Ty Warren hitting injured reserve with the hip of an octogenarian, it’s up to veteran Gerard Warren to man the left end spot. That right end position now has more questions than the SATs, with no one yet filling in the blanks. While Mike Wright has done yeoman work as a sub and pass-rusher, he has been less than stout at the point. Meanwhile, second-year man Ron Brace has returned to the field, with all the hoopla and fanfare we might expect (read: zilch). With veteran Damione Lewis not expected to play, the onus falls on rookie Brandon Deaderick to answer some questions about this area of the defense. And that’s a heavy onus.

Oh Thank Devin: Though special teams allowed a kickoff return for a TD, they also gave a glimpse of the production of rookie cornerback/returner Devin McCourty, who shot the lanes like a pro bowler (two returns of 50-plus yards). Let’s hope that continues, especially after Atlanta has had a chance to review game film.

Double Dog Darius: Former UConn Husky Darius Butler has high expectations placed on him, as many – heck, all – see him as a starter at cornerback. Let’s see how he does in hostile territory against Matty “Heisman” Ryan (who has a somewhat unspectacular facebook fan page).

The Pros And Connolly: Guard Dan Connolly did solid work against the Saints, springing Green-Ellis on his first TD run. But before we kick Logan Mankins out the door, Connolly has to demonstrate his prowess on a regular basis. If he can block with some attitude on short-yardage plays, then we’ve got something. If not, the issue at left guard remains, well, an issue.

Middle Management: Rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes reminds me of the new football season in that he’s fresh, yet familiar, and he makes us glad he’s here. Will he play most of the game again, or will second-year ’backer Tyrone McKenzie get a chance to show what he can do?  Will rookie upstart Dane Fletcher (possible injury) have anything to say about this before the preseason ends? Plenty of options, with too many questions on each.

Heart And Zoltan: Nice punts, nice holds. Zoltan Mesko barely got a mention last week. Let’s hope he keeps it that way.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Roster Reset, Preseason Week Two

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

So we spent quite a bit of time doing those positional previews heading into the start of training camp, but we already need to make a few adjustments. There are several players we talked about in those previews, who are already not going to be a part of the 2010 Patriots, and some others who have their status in doubt. Let’s review.

The Patriots Need Something, Anything, From Ron Brace

G Logan Mankins – Holdout

The bombs continue to be lobbed by the Mankins camp, but they look less and less powerful and more and more desperate as the days go on. Mankins situation is not garnering the public sympathy that perhaps his agent had counted on, and unless there is an adjustment in their camp in terms of demands, it seems the Patriots are prepared to go into the season without Mankins.

LB Shawn Crable – Waived

After two years of not being able to get onto the field, the third year linebacker from Michigan apparently showed up out of shape and unable to pass the conditioning test. He was cut the day before training camp started. At the time, Bill Belichick left the door slightly open for a return for Crable if he got himself in shape. Given that the team is already thin at outside linebacker and has some guys banged up, I don’t see them giving him another shot. This third round pick is a complete washout.

WR David Patten – Retired

The likable veteran had a memorable retirement press conference, stating that he just didn’t have the love and desire that he felt he needed for the game. He was a longshot to make the roster, but he likely saw the strong performances and potential of guys like Brandon Tate and Taylor Price and saw the writing on the wall. He went out on his terms.

OL  Nick Kaczur – Injured

Projected to fill the void left by Logan Mankins’ holdout, Kaczur suffered a back injury that has kept him off the field. It seems inevitable that he will be placed on IR, but the hasn’t made it official just yet. Dan Connolly has been serviceable in the guard spot, and whether they can find another veteran guard might determine Kaczur’s fate for the season.

DL Ty Warren - on Injured Reserve

Michael Felger would like to blame Warren’s injury on the defensive lineman’s decision to finish up his college degree this offseason, marking perhaps the first time a player has been criticized in the media for doing so. Warren suffered a hip injury that requires surgery. He was placed on IR, and his loss is a big blow to the team. Gerard Warren looks to take his place in the starting lineup, but who will be on the other side of Vince Wilfork?

WR Torry Holt – on Injured Reserve

The veteran receiver was brought in as insurance against Wes Welker’s return and the development of the young receivers. With both situations looking promising, it probably wasn’t a hard choice for the team to put Holt on IR when he suffered a knee injury that needs surgery. Probably better than cutting a guy who has had the terrific career that Holt has had. Is this the end of the line? We’ll see.

The loss of Warren obviously hurts the most, as the depth at that position is challenged. Second year lineman Ron Brace just started practicing, and he needs to make a huge leap if he hopes to remain on the roster, any improvement in his play would be a positive for the position. The cutting of Crable was likely a message to other recent draftees (like Brace) that the organization isn’t going to be as patient as perhaps they were in the past with draftees. With this team needing guys who can play, there is less room for “projects.”