|What moving Jake Bequette to tight end reveals about the true ‘Patriot Way’||06.18.15 at 11:39 am ET|
FOXBORO — In many ways, Jake Bequette symbolizes and embodies the “Patriot Way.”
Bequette was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Patriots to provide some quality depth and versatility at defensive end, a position he mastered at Arkansas.
But the impact and production many in the coaching staff projected on the defensive side never has materialized. In three NFL seasons, he has played in just eight games (all over the first two seasons), without recording a sack or tackle. He was released by the Patriots on Aug. 30, 2014 as part of final roster cuts. But Bill Belichick and staff still saw potential.
Bequette re-signed with the team’s practice squad shortly after the 2014 cuts and earned a Super Bowl ring for the Patriots after spending the entire season on the practice squad, a unit for which he still retains eligibility this season.
It was during the ’14 season that the Patriots began thinking outside the box on Bequette. They saw a player with good hands and a very smart head and the ability to pick up schemes quickly. They starting toying with the idea of moving him to tight end while continuing his work on special teams. After all, Belichick loves versatility.
Jake Bequette the tight end was born. The plan has continued this spring in OTAs and this month’s minicamp. So far, so good.
“Jake works hard. I think he’s really into it,” Belichick said after the final minicamp practice Wednesday. “He wanted to do it, wants to do it and he’s worked really hard at it. The techniques are different, but he played on the end of the line on defense, so he has some familiarity with that kind of spacing over there if you will and what it looks like on the other side of the ball.”
It’s a new take on an old financial adage: Lack of past production doesn’t guarantee future failure. It’s one of the foundations of the Patriots under Belichick. Don’t give up on a smart player or staffer willing to work hard at whatever assignment you give him. Belichick believed that as far back as Cleveland, when he gave his “slappies” like Kirk Ferentz, Ozzie Newsome and Nick Saban a chance to prove themselves valuable in the organization as scouts and coaching assistants.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk Matt Flynn, Brian Tyms, minicamp highlights||06.17.15 at 6:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss backup quarterback Matt Flynn, his role behind Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, the maturation of Brian Tyms, the role of Danny Amendola going forward and the closing of Patriots minicamp on Wednesday.
|Report: Pats cut DE Jake Bequette, LB Steve Beauharnais, DT Jerel Worthy||08.30.14 at 12:17 pm ET|
The Patriots have released defensive end Jake Bequette, linebacker Steve Beauharnais and defensive lineman Jerel Worthy, according to Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe.
Bequette, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end out of Arkansas, was a third-round pick of the Patriots in 2012 who played in eight games with New England. Beauharnais is a 6-foot-1, 240-pounder out of Rutgers who was a seventh-round choice of the Patriots out of Rutgers in 2013. Primarily a special teamer, he had one tackle last season. The 24-year-old Worthy, who was acquired earlier this month in a trade with the Packers, has 15 career tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
The Patriots need to be down to 53 players by the league-mandated deadline of 4 p.m. Saturday.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|5 veteran Patriots who need good spring, summer to strengthen roster status||05.29.14 at 11:49 am ET|
With the spring practice sessions now in full swing, there are a handful of players who have spent some time in the system who are on what could be called a preliminary roster bubble. It’s important to remember that there’s a lot of football between now and the start of the regular season, and so these players will have plenty of chances to turn things in their favor. But at first glance, here are five vets who need a good spring and summer to solidify their spot on the roster.
Defensive end Jake Bequette — Bequette has been a non-factor in his first two seasons in the NFL. He’s been a game-day inactive for 25 of a possible 32 regular-season games in that stretch. With the acquisition of veteran Will Smith this spring, there’s more urgency to Bequette’s situation. He needs to take advantage of his reps this spring and summer and display the consistency that made him the 90th overall selection by the Patriots in 2012.
Defensive end Michael Buchanan — While Buchanan might not have the same sense of urgency around his situation as Bequette — Buchanan just completed his first year — he still needs to turn thing up a notch this spring if he wants to be considered a key part of the defense in 2014. The arrival of Smith and the fact that Buchanan dropped off the radar screen at the end of last season combine to make it imperative that the Illinois product has a good spring and summer if he wants to be a part of the regular defensive rotation in the fall.
Defensive back Tavon Wilson — According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson played just 19 defensive snaps in 2013. Nineteen. (As a refresher, he was the 48th overall pick in the 2012 draft.) For a team that was in need of some help at safety over the course of the season, this doesn’t bode well for the Illinois product. To be fair, he did end up being a core member of New England’s special teams unit. And he should get every opportunity to compete for the strong safety position this spring and summer, considering the depth at that spot is woefully thin, at least at this point. Regardless, anyone who ends up playing less than 20 defensive snaps over the course of the whole season and only has two inactives on the year … that doesn’t bode well for their future.
Tight end D.J. Williams — The tight end uttered one of our favorite quotes of 2013. Shortly after he was acquired, he was asked about the New England offense: “It’s just the terminology,’ Williams said. ‘The concepts are pretty much the same. It’s just called different. It’s like trying to pick up Spanish. This offense is very attractive and if you found a very attractive Hispanic lady, you’d pick [her] up pretty quick.” Right now, Williams figures to be on the back end of the depth chart, but if the Patriots do end up picking up free agent tight end Dustin Keller after June 1, he could be trying to woo someone else in some other locale come training camp.
Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins — We covered many of the reasons that the heat could be on KT going into his second year here, but when it comes to personnel and scheme and packages — as well as measuring overall special teams value — it’s clear that Thompkins could use a couple of good months. New England usually heads into the season with either five or six wide receivers on its roster — if the Patriots choose Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson, that’s four. Matthew Slater is a receiver in name only, but the special teams captain still needs a position, so we’ll award him the fifth spot. The last spot could come down to Thompkins or Josh Boyce, and Boyce has demonstrated special teams value while Thompkins has not. (Things could change if the Patriots tweak their personnel in some other offensive skill position areas — one fewer back or tight end.) Right now, it appears that Thompkins needs a good couple of months to solidify his spot on the roster.
|At this point in offseason, where are Patriots personnel priorities?||04.04.14 at 9:55 pm ET|
With the offseason now one-third of the way done — and most of free agency now complete — the Patriots still have to address a few specific areas of need as part of the team-building process. Here’s a look at four personnel questions that have to be dealt with between now and the start of training camp.
Backup linebacker: Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher departed as free agents this offseason, with Spikes heading to Buffalo and Fletcher signing with Tampa Bay. Neither were starters, but over the last two seasons, both were called upon to play significant snaps for the Patriots. As a result, New England is a little thin when it comes to their linebacker depth. Currently on the roster, the Patriots have a few possibilities when it comes to backing up the expected starting trio of Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, including Steve Beauharnais, who just finished his rookie season. But their pursuit of veteran free agent Wesley Woodyard was likely a sign they believe they need more help when it comes to depth at the spot.
Strong safety: Steve Gregory was cut loose earlier this offseason, and Adrian Wilson was released on Friday. And while the Patriots did bring back Patrick Chung on Thursday, there’s some uncertainty as to what New England plans on doing at the position. Two things to remember: one, the Patriots like their defensive backs to be versatile, and so shuffling DBs from one spot to another wouldn’t be a surprise. And two, on that same vein, there are some possibilities on the roster, including Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, the latter of whom has been the subject of much speculation this offseason when it comes to a possible move to free safety. In addition, there’s Tavon Wilson, who slid down the depth chart in 2013 to more of a special teams role, one that’s also occupied by fellow safeties Kanorris Davis and Nate Ebner. (And there’s always the possibility that Gregory could return on a reworked deal — he said this week despite the fact that he was cut by New England, “it would definitely be a place I would love to go back to.”) Regardless of whether or not New England decides to address the position in the draft, right now, it’s shaping up to be one of the more intriguing camp battles this spring and summer.
Situational pass rusher: The Patriots were believed to be at least partially in the mix for Jared Allen in free agency before he signed with the Bears, and while New England does currently have youngsters Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan on the roster as backup defensive ends, it’s a fair dropoff at this point from the starting duo of Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. In terms of free agents who could still be on the market, Will Smith remains a possibility, but his recent injury woes leave him questionable at this stage of his career. When it comes to other in-house possibilities, Andre Carter could return for at least part of the season if New England struggles to find help — he sure sounds open to the possibility of returning. In addition, Armond Armstead could also be in the mix as an interior pass rushing presence at some point if he ever does get healthy. It’s also expected that if veteran Tommy Kelly can stay on the field, he’ll offer some support as another interior pass rushing presence in 2014.
Depth at tight end and running back: While New England appears to be set when it comes to starters at the two positions, it could really use some depth at both spots, and both will likely be addressed in some form or fashion come the second and/or third day of the draft. Despite the fact the Patriots might be more inclined to move away from the two-tight end sets they ran over the last few seasons, another tight end to compliment Rob Gronkowski could be had in this draft, especially given the fact that this year appears to be a pretty good one for tight ends. In addition, the fact that the Patriots made a serious play for veteran free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew could be taken as a sign they feel like they need someone to replace LeGarrette Blount in the backfield.
|Report: Veteran defensive end Will Smith visiting with Patriots||04.01.14 at 2:55 pm ET|
The Patriots are hosting defensive end Will Smith on a free agent visit, according to ESPN.
The 32-year-old veteran, who was cut loose as part of the great New Orleans salary purge of 2014, has 67.5 career sacks, but has struggled over the last few seasons, and is coming off a torn ACL that left him sidelined for the 2013 season.
New England is likely be in the market for a low-cost answer at defensive end/situational pass rusher behind starters Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones — youngsters Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette have been underwhelming to this point in their careers, while 34-year-old veteran Andre Carter is an unrestricted free agent.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Five thoughts on the first wave of cuts the Patriots made on Friday afternoon||08.30.13 at 4:00 pm ET|
1. As we wrote in our final preseason edition of “What We Learned,” the decision to cut ties with Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard wasn’t a big surprise, given the fact that they were on the field late into Thursday’s contest against the Giants. If you look at the totality of Ballard’s work since he stepped on the field this spring, it was clear that he was still hampered by the knee problem he sustained in Super Bowl XLVI as a member of the Giants. He had his moments, but they were few and far between. Look for him to sign elsewhere, and soon.
2. As for Fells, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him on the Deion Branch Plan — that is to say he could be that veteran who is cut shortly before the start of the regular season, only to return a week or two into the regular season in an attempt to give the Patriots some financial flexibility (his money for the 2013 season isn’t guaranteed) and some roster flexibility as well. When it comes to Fells, it wasn’t so much that he struggled over the course of the summer, but in some cases, when all things are equal when it comes to the on-field product, the team is almost always more inclined to go with the cheaper alternative. In the end, I’m not saying Fells wouldn’t have potential suitors, but his age, value and financial situation certainly make him a candidate to be a part of the shadow roster.
3. You can’t talk about the release of Fells and Ballard without mentioning what it all means for Rob Gronkowski. For what it’s worth, I still believe that Gronkowski will take roughly a half-season to round back into his old form — as I wrote here the other day, it’s not so much the injury at this point, but the rehab and recovery process, as well as the fact that he still needs to get back to his playing weight. There’s also the possibility that the Patriots make some sort of deal for another tight end between now and the start of the season. (They’ve made a few trades at this time of the year.) Ultimately, it’s important to remember that even though New England has released Fells and Ballard, it’s still a position that’s in a state of flux at this point in the summer, and can change before the start of the regular season.
4. Defensive lineman Marcus Benard was a guy who flashed very positively through the initial stages of training camp, and played well in the first preseason game against the Eagles. And while the Patriots shuffled him a bit along their defensive front — he played his natural position as a pass-rushing defensive end, but also gave him a shot as an interior pass rushing presence — he ultimately didn’t show the consistency needed to survive in the NFL. His release likely bodes well for some of the other backup defensive end types on the roster, including Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan, the latter of whom played very well in the preseason finale Thursday night against the Giants.
5. Of the guys who were cut loose on Friday, the one most likely to land on the Patriots practice squad is Matt Stankiewitch, an interior offensive lineman out of Penn State. He’s one of a handful of guys in that situation who have practice squad eligibility, and depending on what New England decides to do with Marcus Cannon, the Patriots could be looking for more depth at guard and center going into the regular season. His time with former Patriots offensive coordinator Billy O’Brien at Penn State proably doesn’t hurt either.