|Snap to it: Which Patriots have had biggest workload through three games?||09.25.16 at 3:29 pm ET|
We got into some of the snap counts for the 2016 team through three games in our weekend notes, but we figured we could always go a little deeper. Here’s a look at the six players who have played every possible snap this season: on offense, it’s linemen Marcus Cannon, Joe Thuney and David Andrews. On defense, it’s cornerback Malcolm Butler, linebacker Jamie Collins and safety Devin McCourty, In addition, Logan Ryan, Shaq Mason, Nate Solder, Jacoby Brissett, Martellus Bennett, Cameron Fleming and Jimmy Garoppolo are the seven other guys who can boast of having gone wire-to-wire in at least one of the three games this year.
Overall, here are the snap leaders on both sides of the ball through three games:
215 offensive snaps
Cannon — 215 (100 percent)
Thuney — 215 (100 percent)
Andrews — 215 (100 percent)
Bennett — 212 (99 percent)
196 defensive snaps
Collins — 196 (100 percent)
McCourty — 196 (100 percent)
Butler — 196 (100 percent)
Ryan — 188 (96 percent)
Patrick Chung — 184 (94 percent)
|5 things (not including Tom Brady) we’re focusing on when it comes to Friday’s Patriots-Panthers preseason game||08.26.16 at 11:11 am ET|
1. The back end of the wide receiver depth chart. With Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell all not likely to play and veterans like Nate Washington subtracted from the mix this week, the opportunity is there for the handful of young receivers who are competing for a job to distinguish themselves. DeAndre Carter, Chris Harper, Devin Lucien and Aaron Dobson are all part of a group that is angling for one — maybe two spots, tops. None of them could gain any sort of separation last week against the Bears. With the regular season looming, their chances will become few and far between in the coming week. Friday night’s game represents an excellent opportunity for one of them to step up and assert themselves.
2. The fifth cornerback position. The first four — Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones and Justin Coleman — are pretty much set. But there’s a real positional battle brewing for the fifth spot among a group that includes Darryl Roberts, Cre’von LeBlanc and Jonathan Jones. From this viewpoint, LeBlanc and Roberts have been going head-to-head over the last two weeks, but a late push from Jones could force the Patriots to make some tough decisions when first cuts come down later this month.
3. The right side of the offensive line. Gradually, the left side of the offensive line has started to come into focus, as Nate Solder (left tackle), Joe Thuney (left guard) and David Andrews (center) are now clearly locked in on starting positions. How about the right side? Presumed starting right tackle Marcus Cannon could continue to use as many reps as possible to get ready for the regular season. (And if he appears shaky Friday against the Panthers, that could jump start a search for another tackle — either a trade or free agent pickup — between now and the start of the regular season.) And right guard appears to be a race between a few possibilities, including rookie Ted Karras. More answers should be forthcoming Friday night.
4. How the backs hold up in protection. Earlier in the week, James White described his continuing education in the art of blitz pickup as a “work in progress.” If he wants to continue to get the majority of reps as the third-down back going forward, that progress needs to continue. The Panthers have an excellent front seven when it comes to pressure, and with the New England offensive line continuing to be in a state of flux, the backs will be tasked with doing their part to help provide protection for the quarterbacks.
5. The speed of the game, especially for the younger players. The third preseason game is the one where the intensity and pace get ramped up, as starters get the bulk of the playing time in the first half in a final prep for the regular season. Will Jimmy Garoppolo (whenever he plays) be able to handle a Carolina defense at full speed? With many veterans like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman expected to be on the sidelines, can the younger players on the offensive side of the ball handle the quickness and new level of competition they’re about to face? In short, Friday should be a good test for several guys on the roster as they start to grow accustomed to something approximating real NFL football. (In that same vein, it’ll be interesting to see if there are any veterans playing late in the third and into the fourth quarter. That’s not a good sign for an established player, especially in the third preseason game of the year.)
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk Tom Brady, Marcus Cannon, James White||08.22.16 at 2:56 pm ET|
FOXBORO — What’s the latest on Tom Brady and how will Marcus Cannon fill the void for Sebastian Vollmer? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price have your report from Foxboro.
|Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon ready to take ‘long’ road to replace Sebastian Vollmer ‘one brick at a time’||at 1:30 pm ET|
FOXBORO — These are interesting times for Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon.
The pair of offensive tackles are now front and center on the offensive line with the news over the weekend that Sebastian Vollmer could miss significant time or even the season with a bad hip.
“I love Sebastian,” Solder said. “Whatever he needs or whatever it is, I’ll always be there for him. Sebastian is an awesome guy. He’s one of my best friends. There’s so many things but as a group, we just have to move forward.”
What the Patriots need from Solder and Cannon will be consistency. With Solder slotted at left tackle, Cannon steps into right tackle, a position has had held down since the start of camp since Vollmer has not been able to actively practice at all.
“Wherever they want you to go, they have trust in you and you trust them,” Cannon said. “That’s what it is. If they want you play, that must mean they have trust for you to play in that position, wherever they put me.”
That consistency started to show last Thursday against the Bears with a good effort that produced a solid run game to complement Jimmy Garoppolo, especially in the second quarter.
“I think we definitely made an emphasis of it that week and going forward, there’s a lot of things we need to emphasize and improve on. I think that’s one of the steps where we improved and hopefully, we can continue to improve going forward,” Solder said. “We’ve had some pretty exciting games, I think. I know I’ve been excited to be back in some games. It’s been fun the whole preseason. We’ve taken it pretty seriously.
“There may have been but we’re never satisfied because we have a long ways to go. The way we practice, the way we play, whoever is out there, we’re ready to go. That’s kind of our philosophy on that.”
|Marcus Cannon, Terrance Knighton will be part of NFL edition of ‘Celebrity Family Feud’ next month||06.23.16 at 1:35 pm ET|
Marcus Cannon and Terrance Knighton are slated to appear on an NFL edition of “Celebrity Family Feud” later this summer, it was announced Thursday by the NFLPA.
Cannon will be a part of the AFC roster, while Knighton (who played for the Redskins last season), will be a part of the NFC squad. The two contests, which were taped earlier this offseason, will help raise money for charity. The first show will have the AFC Offense, playing for Active Minds, compete against the NFC Defense, playing for Got Your 6. The second episode will have the AFC Defense, playing for Still Strong Foundation, compete against the NFC Offense, playing for Professional Athletes Foundation (PAF).
Cannon’s teammates will include Brandon Marshall of the Jets and Steve Smith Sr. of the Ravens. Knighton will be a part of an NFC team that includes Tyrann Mathieu of the Cardinals and Cliff Avril of the Seahawks.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Patriots have been involved in “Celebrity Family Feud.” Last summer Rob Gronkowski and his family were a part of the show.
This year’s shows will air back-to-back on July 3 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
|Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Offensive line||02.20.16 at 6:06 am ET|
With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand and what figures to be the strengths and weaknesses for the team at that position going forward. We started our overview with the quarterbacks, secondary, the running backs, the linebackers and the wide receivers. Now we move on to the offensive line:
Depth chart: LT Nate Solder, LG Josh Kline, C Bryan Stork, RG Tre’ Jackson, RT Sebastian Vollmer, G Shaq Mason, G/C David Andrews, T Marcus Cannon, T Cameron Fleming, T LaAdrian Waddle, G Chris Barker.
Overview: A breakdown is exactly what this group had in the second half of the 2015 season. The unit has already begun an overhaul from what was a tumultuous end to 2015. The line allowed four sacks of Tom Brady in the AFC championship and gave up a stunning 17 quarterback hits to the Denver defense. That combined with the pressure Brady felt throughout the second half of the season cost Dave DeGuglielmo his job and sparked the return from retirement of offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia. In defense of DeGuglielmo, the entire starting group was never on the field at once in 2015, as starting left tackle Nate Solder went down in Week 5 against Dallas with an arm injury. Starting center Bryan Stork didn’t debut in the regular season until Week 9 against the Redskins. Still, the line was one of the bright spots in the first half of the season, as the Patriots were going about their offensive routine without seemingly missing a beat, as first-year players David Andrews (filling in for Stork at center) and guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson did their jobs at a very solid level. Age and health are two major concerns at the tackle spots. Solder has been remarkably resilient in dealing with testicular cancer and now a torn biceps. Vollmer, who turns 32 in July, has dealt with a bad back, concussions and a broken leg. He played in the playoffs with a bad ankle sprain when Joey Iosefa fell on it during the loss to the Jets in Week 16.
An re-dedication to the running game would start with an effort upfront to win one-on-one battles, something they could not do in the second half of the season on a regular basis and certainly failed at in the AFC championship. As we noted in the overview of the running backs, a big key to the Patriots’ running game in 2016 will be the continued development of rookie guards Shaq Mason (drafted out of Georgia Tech for his run-blocking skill) and Tre’ Jackson. If those two, along with third-year center Bryan Stork mature in the middle of the line, the Patriots’ running game could pick up where it left off when Lewis was injured.
The Patriots most certainly figure to address the top-tier depth of the offensive line through free agency (like Jacksonville’s Stefen Wisniewski) and/or in the higher rounds of the draft. The Patriots need to re-establish the toughness they showed after Week 4 in 2014, when they began winning one-on-one battles on a regular basis.
Who will stay? The easy ones are Solder (signed through 2017), Stork, Mason, Jackson, Andrews, Kline (signed through 2017). The question marks are Vollmer (signed through 2016) and Cannon (signed through 2016), Waddle, Barker
Who will go? Fleming.
By the numbers: 12 — The Patriots had twelve different starting offensive line combinations in 18 games this season, thanks to the injuries that began with Bryan Stork’s neck/concussion at the beginning of the season and carried through with Solder’s biceps, Vollmer’s ankle and the knees of Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason.
|Have Patriots finally found an offensive line combination that works?||11.26.15 at 7:00 am ET|
For the majority of the season it’s been a whole lot of mixing and matching for the Patriots on their offensive line.
Nate Solder was lost for the season with torn triceps. Bryan Stork didn’t play in the first seven games because he was on injured reserve designated for return. Marcus Cannon missed a number of games with a toe injury. And finally, Sebastian Vollmer missed a game with a concussion.
For the first time all season Monday night, the Patriots were relatively healthy up front, with the exception of Solder and Tre’ Jackson missing the game with a knee injury.
While the Patriots continued with their trademark rotation — using four combinations over their 13 drives — they seemed to settle on one that worked.
On nine of the 13 drives, New England’s line went (from left to right): Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason, Bryan Stork, Josh Kline and Sebastian Vollmer.
Two things that stood out were Stork and Vollmer didn’t start the game, but played major roles and center David Andrews appeared to get phased out during the game.
Cameron Fleming started at right tackle on the first drive, but didn’t play the rest of the game (besides one play as an extra tackle.) Andrews centered the first two drives, but on 10 of the final 11 it was Stork. The lone exception was the eighth drive of the game when Andrews played center and Stork slid over to right guard.
“Well, we played all seven players on the offensive line, all three tackles and all four inside guys,” Bill Belichick said. “Stork is still working his way back from the time he missed in training camp and the early part of the season, so trying to work him back in there some, too, along with David and Shaq [Mason] and Josh [Kline]. At some point Tre’ Jackson, whenever that happens, whenever he’s ready, we’ll see how that goes.”
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