Shaun Williams #36 of the New York Giants intercepts a pass in the end zone intended
for wide receiver Andre Davis #18 of the New England Patriots during their preseason
game at Gillette Stadium on September 1, 2005 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo
by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
PATRIOTS: Midweek News, Notes and Rumors
Jon Scott, Patriots Insider
Davis Still In The Mix?
receiver Andre Davis who was released by the Patriots September 28th may still
be in New England's plans. Davis was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns
when it became apparent that the Browns were more impressed with their rookies
than their oft-injured receiver.
As injuries mount around the league, a
recovering Davis is drawing attention, most recently from Green Bay. The Packers
are in need of another target for Brett Favre, and Davis appears to be on their
radar. The concern in Wisconsin is that while Davis might be a good fit, New England
is rumored to be interested in resigning the veteran speedster once he's healthy.
bring back Davis when Bethel Johnson just proved he's capable of catching the
long ball? Davis is considered to be more of a complete receiver with better hands
than the speedy Johnson. The trouble is, Davis may not want to resign with the
Patriots who already have a talented group of pass catchers. He may prefer to
land somewhere he can be a bigger part of the offense.
The draw of winning
a championship has swayed many veteran free agents who could have been featured
elsewhere, yet chose to go to New England for a good chance of going to the Super
Bowl. Davis may need to decide if personal glory or winning a championship are
more important to him before he signs elsewhere.
Another Running Back
On The Horizon
The injury to Kevin Faulk has the Patriots preparing
for plan B and plan C. Faulk, who broke his foot late in the game against the
Pittsburgh Steelers, may take longer to recover than the Patriots can afford to
With players dropping like flies around Foxborough, the Patriots
need every roster spot than can get. Having both Faulk and Matt Light out extended
time with leg injuries and not placing them on IR puts the Patriots at a roster
limit disadvantage. The two spots could be used on players who could help over
the next two months, rather than held for two players who will not see the field
again until late in the season, a time when most playoff races are almost over.
Patriots signed former Steeler running back Amos Zereoue to fill in for Faulk
while he was out, but Zereoue hasn't seen much of the light of day in a Patriots
uniform on game day. Head coach Bill Belichick chalks it up to Zereoue being unfamiliar
with the system, but feels the back is picking things up.
There's no question about that." Belichick explained. "Amos has been
working hard. I think that in the reps that he's gotten in practice, he's shown
a level of execution that you can see that he is certainly making progress on
Belichick's use of the term progress is a positive sign for Zereoue,
but that means little if it isn't fast enough. Progress will only get you so far
in the NFL, any long-term project can tell you that.
the mix Quentin Griffin, the former Denver Bronco change of pace back. Griffin
was in town for a look this week. The 5'-7', 195-pound Griffin is considered a
bit smaller than Faulk (5'-8", 202 pounds) and Zereoue (5-9", 223 pounds).
His size limits his ability to be a regular back, but his low center of gravity,
combined with a good set of hands and the ability to create yards after the catch
are talents the Patriots desire.
Zereoue is plan B to Faulk, being
of similar build and skills, with Griffin being plan C. Is it coincidence that
the Patriots brought in Griffin the same week they play the Broncos? Maybe, maybe
not. Any edge Patriots head coach Bill Belichick can get, he'll take.
Falcons Coach Heaps
Praise on Brady
In his post game press conference, Atlanta Falcon's
head coach Jim Mora, Jr. heaped praise on New England quarterback Tom Brady. Mora
was working on explaining to reporters why the Patriots were able to hit on some
long passes to set up their scores. After recounting the missed tackles, or bad
coverage schemes, Mora finally shrugged with a "What do you want me to say"
look and talked about Brady's talent.
"Tom Brady is a great quarterback
and has great vision," Mora said. "The thing about Tom is it's hard
to fool him. He's so smart. You try to disguise your looks and show him different
things, but he caught us in a couple [bad] coverages… The guy is going to
the Hall of Fame. We might as well just induct him now. He's going there."
had to feel exasperated, having just watched his team come from behind to tie
the Patriots in the final minutes, only to see it all slip away as Brady led New
England on their final scoring drive. Watching Mora, it was evident he had nothing
but respect for watching one of the best signal callers in the game manage to
lead his team to victory, again.
Third String Quarterback Watch
it a trend or just a coincidence that the Patriots continue to bring quarterbacks
to town for a tryout? The latest was Todd Mortensen, a former BYU and University
of San Diego product who signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Lions in
April. Mortensen was part of the Lions final roster cuts on September 3, 2005.
He was in Foxborough for a tryout this week according to local reports.
the Patriots are looking for when they bring in a quarterback is anyone's guess,
they don't comment on players who have tryouts. Mortensen is at least the third
quarterback the Patriots have taken a look at. Two others included veteran free
agents Shaun King (Cardinals) and Jesse Palmer (Giants).
The continual parade
of bodies through the facility is part of the process according to one source.
The Patriots, just like many teams in the league, use their off days to bring
in players they have an interest in to see if they might want to explore making
them a part of the team. The advance scouting, if you will, is part of that process.
Too much shouldn't be read into what this means for the future of rookie Matt Cassel or veteran backup Doug Flutie.
Cassel was drafted in the seventh-round
of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Patriots and had a decent preseason until an awful
outing the final game. Flutie is an ageless wonder who was signed in the offseason
to be an insurance policy in case starter Tom Brady goes down unexpectedly. While
Cassel may have a shot at being the QB of the future, Flutie does not. Expect
a graceful Flutie exit at the end of the season.
APB Out For Secondary
Two weeks after signing Michael Stone (a cornerback/safety) to
the roster, the Patriots are again auditioning defensive backs. Lingering injuries
to Randall Gay, Duane Starks, Chad Scott, James Sanders, Tyrone Poole and the
loss of Rodney Harrison have forced the team to adjust their thinking in the secondary.
What was supposed to be a position of strength, has been an Achilles heel of the
team dating back to last season when wide receiver Troy Brown was forced to fill
in as one of the few healthy bodies available.
The nagging injuries have
prompted the Patriots to continue their search for another healthy body they can
plug in to their system. The team has limited options now. They can find a free
agent who's still out of work. They can sign a member of someone else's practice
squad, or they can make a trade for a defensive back from another team.
Mario Edwards, a former Cowboy and Dolphin, was the player they decided to have in for
a workout this week. Edwards was a sixth-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft by the
Dallas Cowboys. He played one season for Tampa Bay (2004), and was signed by the
Miami Dolphins in April. The Dolphins released Edwards as part of the final roster
cuts, not a good sign considering they desperately needed help in their secondary
after losing Will Poole to a torn ACL. Edwards eventually lost his spot to rookie
defensive back Travis Daniels.
Another body the Patriots evaluated for their secondary is former Giant
/ Lion / Buccaneer / Bronco Rod Babers. According to reports out of Colorado,
the DB who had his 2004 season cut short due to injury was invited to Foxborough
for a workout. The New York Giants drafted Babers, a speedy corner out of the
University of Texas, in the fourth-round of the 2003 NFL Draft. They released
him in September when the Lions picked him up. Babers played a few games for the
Lions before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. He joined the Broncos
in 2004, where once again his season ended early die to injury.
5'-9", 195-pound Babers fits the mould of cornerbacks the Patriots seem to
have a penchant for. While they would love to find a bigger back that can defend
taller receivers, they continue to add players shorter than six feet who can run
and cover. That may not be the best strategy, considering what transpired on Sunday
in Atlanta when a 5-10 Asante Samuel came up about 6 inches short as he tried
to knock the ball out of 6'5" Brian Finneran's hands on a critical 2-point
conversion play. Samuel's hand was in perfect position, (between Finneran's and
the ball), to knock the ball out, but his lack of height only allowed him to get
his hand within 6 inches of the ball as Finneran had to reach up to wrest the
ball out of the air.
On Again Off Again
released OL Gene Mruczcokski according to a team announcement just prior to the
Atlanta Falcons game. The former Purdue lineman has been on and off the Patriots
team list numerous times as injuries have forced the Patriots to make roster adjustments
time and again. Mruczkowski's roster spot was used to sign LB Eric Alexander to
the active roster from the practice squad.
Back To The Practice Squad
Eric Alexander was signed to the active roster on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Right afterwards, he was released by the team. Why cut a player the team just
activated? Because they need to move Alexander back to the practice squad so they
can use his roster spot for another body they need more desperately than linebacker.
Alexander should clear waivers, and is expected to be resigned to the practice
squad at that point.
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The New England Patriots are headed toward the the final stop of their brutal
stretch of road games this week. Regardless of the cards they were dealt from
injury and schedules, the team has been busy fixing things. Wednesday's quick
hits include the rumors of a receiver coming back, news on some recent visitors,
and a pile of praise heaped on the team's leader.
Roster moves, news notes and more rumors. Is there still a WR in the mix?