By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff
So here we are. The season begins this week, and the opening week roster is basically set. There may be one or two more moves, but most of the shuffling has been done.
After beating the drum for much of the offseason that the Patriots could not afford to keep so many special-teams only players on the roster, I was encouraged somewhat that the team said good-bye to the likes of Eric Alexander, Pierre Woods, and Sam Aiken this weekend – not that I’m happy to see guys universally praised for their professionalism lose their jobs, but that perhaps a move is being made at the back end of the roster to keep guys who can do a little more.
This weekend saw offensive line project Steve Maneri claimed off waivers, and obtained safety Jarrad Page from the Chiefs and linebacker Tracy White in trades. White has a rep as being almost exclusively a special teams player, but someone who can step into the defense on passing downs and not embarrass himself.
Surprise cuts this weekend included Derrick Burgess, who just never showed much this summer after reporting late. The surprise comes with the lack of depth at that position, with rookie Jermaine Cunningham still recovering from an ankle sprain, and only Tully Banta-Cain, Rob Ninkovich and Marquis Murrell as the other outside linebackers on the roster.
A mild roster surprise was the Matthew Slater made the team again. Perhaps with Aiken gone, Slater will be counted on even more on the special teams.
Defensive lineman Kyle Love and inside linebacker Dane Fletcher both made the club as undrafted free agents. Second year linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, a PD favorite was cut, but has apparently been added to the practice squad, along with linebacker Shawn Crable, who cut the day before training camp started.
Brandon Deaderick made the roster as a seventh round draft pick. Having played in Nick Saban’s 3-4 defense at Alabama surely helped his adjustment, and he hasn’t looked out of place during the preseason.
It has been reported that the Patriots have not reached out to former DL Jarvis Green, who was a surprise cut in Denver. While some have pined for the return of Green, it seems that the Patriots might be satisfied with what younger lineman such as Deaderick, Ron Brace, Myron Pryor and Love have shown in camp.
All five running backs were kept once again, meaning the speculation over the lead back will continue, but also showing that injury concerns for Taylor, Maroney and Morris means that BenJarvis Green-Ellis gets to stick around once again.
Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite both made the squad, which means media cries about only having one player from the upper half of the 2008 draft (Jerod Mayo) have to be put on hold for now.
What moves/non-moves surprised you?
Was surprised at Slater staying with the team as he didn’t seem to make many plays. But these cuts exemplify what I love about BB – he runs a true meritocracy and will admit a mistake faster than anyone in the NFL.
Funny how it seemed Fletcher was always on some big ST play during the preseason – didn’t think he’d make the team with the other guys but it’s cool.
For the pass rush, you know BB and the coaches have some new wrinkle planned and I hope it works because it doesn’t seem like they’ve addressed it so far. Actually I’m just hoping more than anything.
I think we’re all just hoping at this point. We’ll see. They seemed to get a little more creative scheme-wise, at the end of last season (the Bills game comes to mind) so maybe they’ll need some time to get guys up to speed on the regular defense, and add as the season goes on.