|Resetting Patriots depth chart at wide receiver||03.26.13 at 2:10 pm ET|
For the Patriots, the personnel changes at wide receiver this offseason are nothing new. Since he assumed the starting job in 2001, Tom Brady has gone through several different groups of receivers, and as the Patriots’ passing game continues to evolve, the 2013 incarnation will be the fifth different group that Brady will work with.
While other ancillary wide receivers came and went — and with the understanding that the Patriots have bolstered the depth at the tight end position as the depth at receiver has diminished — here’s the overall nucleus of the wide receiver position since Brady assumed the starting job in 2001.
2001-2004: Troy Brown, David Patten, David Givens, Deion Branch.
2005-2006: Branch, Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney.
2007-2009: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte’ Stallworth.
2010-2012: Wes Welker, Branch, Brandon Lloyd.
With the understanding that there’s still a lot of time in the team-building process between now and the start of training camp (between the end of free agency and the draft) here’s a look at depth chart at receiver for the Patriots, as well as some possibilities for New England at the receiver position between now and the start of the season.
Donald Jones: The 6-foot, 208-pound Jones is a Youngstown State product who spent three seasons in the league, all with the Bills, and has 82 career receptions. His best year came in 2012 when the 25-year-old caught 41 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns.
Danny Amendola: The 27-year-old, who had a career-high 85 catches for St. Louis in 2010, has followed an eerily similar career arc as Welker, who blossomed when he first arrived in New England in 2007. The Patriots hope that the 5-foot-11, 188-pounder can continue on the same path that saw Welker — who was a little-used part of the Miami offense before he arrived in Foxboro — catch 100 passes in five of his six seasons with the Patriots.
(In addition, the Patriots depth chart also includes Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Ebert and Andre Holmes. Ebert was a seventh-round pick of the Patriots last season who spent some time on the practice squad, while Aiken ended the season on the practice squad and Holmes was added to the roster in January after spending part of the 2012 season with the Cowboys. And while Matthew Slater is technically listed as a wide receiver, he’s more of a special teamer.)
There remains a handful of free-agent possibilities for the Patriots, including four guys who have suited up for New England in the past and could be called upon once again:
Julian Edelman: A seventh-round pick out of Kent State in 2009, Edelman has shown flashes over his first four seasons in a New England uniform, including 37 catches as a rookie, and 21 receptions at the start of the 2012 season when he saw an uptick in playing time, mostly at the expense of Welker. Presuming he does return, the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder could pick up some of the targets that went to Welker over the last few seasons.
Brandon Lloyd: Lloyd was released earlier this month before the team was set to deliver a $3 million roster bonus. In his one season with the Patriots, Lloyd had 74 catches for 911 yards and four touchdowns. While he had some terrific moments — including eight catches against Arizona, nine against Baltimore and 10 against the Niners — he was underwhelming at times. However, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him ultimately return.
Deion Branch: Branch was able to give the Patriots some snaps last season, but was mostly around to help provide some depth at the position. He ended the season with 16 catches for 145 yards in 10 games for New England. Branch, who will be 34 before the start of the 2013 season, has to be considered a longshot to return, but it still wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder back on an emergency basis if he was needed.
Donte’ Stallworth: Stallworth, who has had two different stints with the Patriots (including last year, which consisted of one catch, which ended up going 63 yards for a touchdown against the Texans before he went on season-ending IR), was involved in a hot-air balloon accident earlier this month in Florida. While he has spent some time in the hospital, if the 32-year-old is still able to play come the summer, it wouldn’t be a surprise if New England at least kicked the tires on Stallworth to see if he still had anything left in the tank.
And when it comes to free agent possibilities, it’s fair to include restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, who would cost the Patriots a third-round pick but still interests the New England brain trust for all the reasons we listed here. The 26-year-old Sanders, a third-round pick out of SMU in 2010 by the Steelers, caught 44 passes for 626 yards and one touchdown in 2012, starting seven games. In his three-year career, Sanders has 94 receptions for 1,290 yards and five touchdowns.
|Donte’ Stallworth involved in hot-air balloon accident||03.16.13 at 2:14 pm ET|
Free agent wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth was involved in a hot-air balloon accident in Florida on Saturday. ESPN’s Mike Reiss is reporting that Stallworth, who has played for the Patriots on two separate occasions, and his girlfriend were shocked and burned when the balloon hit power lines. Reiss also reports that Stallworth is in stable condition while ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the receiver’s injuries are not serious and he will be able to resume his career.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Deion Branch promises: ‘You’re going to see a different Texans team’||01.08.13 at 9:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Everyone knows what happened on Dec. 10 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots dismantled the Texans, 42-14, as the Patriots raced out to a 28-0 lead and never looked back.
Deion Branch had a unique view. He was with his wife in the basement of his North Attleboro home watching the game.
“It felt good just to see the guys doing the things that they did do in the game,” Branch said Tuesday. “You always know it and because I’m around it, but when you’re away from it and you’re watching as a fan, I was very pleased and very happy to see that. It’s really nothing new because we can do a lot of great things if we go out and execute our plays the way we’re supposed to; that type of performance.”
Ironically, in that game against the Texans, Donte’ Stallworth injured his foot on a touchdown catch, landing him on the injured reserve list and setting the stage for Branch’s return to the Patriots prior to the 49ers game.
Did he watch the game thinking he might be back in that kind of situation?
“Trust me, however the marbles fall, I just let them fall,” Branch said. “There are a lot of things you can’t control in life. Trust me, if I was one of the personnel guys, I’d be around every week [until I’m] 40, 45 years old, but that’s not my decision. If I was one of the personnel guys… but I don’t make those decisions.”
This time against the Texans, Branch is convinced the Patriots will see a much different – and better – opponent. He was asked what he thought of the Texans being considered a “cupcake” opponent.
“No, trust me, you’re going to see a different Texans team,” Branch said. “That we all know, I promise you that. They’re a great team. They’ve been a great team all season long. Unfortunately they ran into a couple stumbles but that’s football. Trust me, it won’t be the same team that we played five weeks ago.”
Here is the rest of Tuesday’s press conference with Deion Branch at Gillette Stadium: Read the rest of this entry »
|‘Patient’ Deion Branch comes back and comforts Donte’ Stallworth: ‘He’s one of my guys’||12.14.12 at 12:12 am ET|
Deion Branch was ready to come back – for a third time this season.
The 33-year-old veteran was released on Nov. 17, shortly after straining his hamstring. What did he do?
He spent time with his family, picking up his 7-year-old daughter D’Ahni at school.
‘‘She said, ‘Dad, what happened? Why aren’t you playing?’’’ Branch told reporters Thursday. ‘‘I said, ‘Baby, daddy can’t play right now. I don’t have a job.’ And she said, ‘aw, you’ll get one.’ And I said, ‘I know, baby.’’’
As fate would have it, Donte’ Stallworth, brought in to replace the injured Julian Edelman, joined Edelman on injured reserve with a high right ankle sprain on his 63-yard TD play Monday night.
Branch got the call Tuesday morning from Bill Belichick. While he was happy for himself and his daughter, he felt badly for Stallworth.
‘‘He’s one of my guys,’’ Branch said. ‘‘We came in the  draft class together.’’
Standing near his walking boot in his locker, Stallworth confirmed he injured his right ankle on his touchdown catch and said he doesn’t regret going on injured reserve since he wants it to heal properly.
‘‘There’s no rush, so I want to make sure that I get it back right,’’ Stallworth said.
Branch said Thursday that he feels healthy and right back at home, ready to contribute again.
‘‘Nothing’s changed,’’ he said. ‘‘All the guys just walked past my locker like nothing ever happened, so I didn’t get any hugs, just ‘Hey, how you doing? What’s up?’’’
The Patriots never took down his nameplate, nor did they clean out his locker, leaving his “Team Branch” family picture in his locker. The team took the same approach earlier in the season, when he was cut before the season, only to be brought back the first two games of the season after he was cut shortly before it began. He was back for Game 3.
The Super Bowl XXXIX MVP repeated a declaration on Thursday – he wants to retire with the Patriots and won’t be playing for anyone else.
‘‘It was a long time ago, but that stuff is in the past,” Branch said. “It’s behind us. I think we all need to be grateful, be thankful just to play the game that we play. I’m thankful. I seize every moment that I get. I’m just glad to be back.’’
The Patriots let him go after the 2011 season, making him a free agent on March 13. But 17 days later, Branch returned, signing a one-year contract. Branch was asked what would be his fate this season if Stallworth hadn’t injured his ankle.
‘‘I don’t know,’’ he said. ‘‘Everything happens for a reason and with guys that are patient, stuff happens for them. I’m a patient guy.’’
|Donte’ Stallworth on return to Patriots: ‘I have a lot of love for this organization’||12.05.12 at 11:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Call it foreshadowing.
Donte’ Stallworth was actually in Miami with friends on Sunday afternoon and decided to take in the Patriots-Dolphins game.
“I was actually there,” said Stallworth Wednesday. “I went, since I live in Miami, and I hadn’t been to any games in a while. I had some friends that were going. I usually like to watch games on television, you can see it better. But I decided to go since I hadn’t been to any games. Plus it was the Patriots playing, and I’ve got friends on both teams.”
As word spread that Julian Edelman injured his foot during the game, he figured he might get a call to return to New England for third time.
Stallworth got on a plane and flew up to New England on Monday, the same day the decision was made to place Edelman on season-ending injured reserve with a broken foot. was released in training camp, making this his third stint with the Patriots, after spending an entire season in New England in 2007.
“I think [the Patriots] knew what kind of shape I was in,” Stallworth said. “I made sure that I had been training hard throughout the whole season, just in case.”
But what was the specific appeal of coming back to New England?
“I have a lot of love for this organization, and just everything about the New England Patriots,” he said on Wednesday. “I have a lot of friends on this team. So, yeah, to say I was excited is probably an accurate assessment.
“We had a quarterback able to get us the ball and be able to work on our routes and stuff, full speed.”
Stallworth thought he had a good shot of making this team originally out of training camp before being cut on Aug. 27.
“Honestly, I mean, I was disappointed, but I’ve been in this league long enough to understand how it works,” Stallworth said. “It’s just like after a game. When you lose a game and you’re upset about it that night, but you come to the next game prepared. And that’s what I did, although, it took me a little more than a night. It took a few days. But after that I just tried to get back to where I live in Miami and get back with my trainer, and just continue to work and hope for an opportunity.”
And he’s back working for an opportunity with Bill Belichick once again.
“One of his favorite motto’s is just, ‘Do your job.’ And If I do my job, then I don’t have anything else to worry about after that,” Stallworth said.
|Brandon Lloyd: ‘We all knew what we were getting into’||09.03.12 at 12:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Brandon Lloyd is a fast learner.
He realized quickly in New England to take nothing for granted, pay attention to every detail and not speak out of line.
He demonstrated all of those traits this week in speaking to the media inside the Patriots locker room.
“It’s always exciting to make an NFL roster,” said Lloyd, who was the prize addition to the wide receiver corps in the offseason. “There’s always a doubt. Nothing’s ever for certain. I’ve prepared and in shape and ready to go. There’s always a level of excitement.”
He’s very aware that he made the team while veteran receivers Deion Branch, Jabar Gaffney and Donte’ Stallworth did not.
“Nothing’s for certain. It was a competitive camp,” Lloyd said. “I haven’t been in a camp that was that competitive at the wide receiver position where guys had so much past experience with the starting quarterback, had success in the NFL and then were all battling out for a couple of spots.
“It was definitely competitive. That’s the just the way it shook out. We all understood what we were competing for by signing here. It was up to the coaching staff and ultimately how we practiced and played to make the team.”
One receiver that is on the roster is late addition Greg Salas, a former teammate from his days with the Rams. But Lloyd would not reveal much more.
“I can identify him,” said Lloyd with a healthy, booming laugh.
Lloyd acknowledged that playing for the Patriots is a different experience than playing for the Redskins, Bears, Broncos and Rams.
“We all knew what we were getting into by coming to training camp here in New England and I think we all did our best to make the team and be productive members of the roster,” Lloyd said. “I think it’s just the attention to details. Everybody is really focused on doing the small things right and that’s from the coaching staff down to the players. So, I think that’s what separates them.”
|Report: Donte’ Stallworth will work out for Dolphins||08.30.12 at 12:13 pm ET|
Former Patriots wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth is scheduled to work out for the Dolphins on Thursday, according to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Stallworth was released by the Patriots on Monday as the team reduced its’ roster to 75 players, per the league mandate. Stallworth had five catches for 61 yards in the preseason for New England.
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