|What would right tackle look like for Patriots if they lose Sebastian Vollmer?||03.21.13 at 9:39 am ET|
We recently rated right tackle Sebastian Vollmer as one of the best remaining free agents on the market, so it’s logical to ask — like we did in the case of Wes Welker before he signed with the Broncos — what the Patriots might do at the position if he does sign elsewhere.
A second-round pick out of the University of Houston in 2009, Vollmer has established himself as one of the best right tackles in the league. He’s struggled with injury at times over the course of his four-year career in New England – he missed 10 games in 2011 because of a variety of ailments, including back and knee issues – but when healthy, the 6-foot-8, 320-pounder from Germany has managed to carve out an impressive resume that included a second-team All-Pro nod in 2010 and an overall grade of +28.2 from the folks at Pro Football Focus for his work this past season.
But if Vollmer left as a free agent, how would the look of the tackle position change in New England? At this point, the left tackle spot is fairly secure, as Nate Solder is coming off his first full season at the position, and figure to be entrenched there for the near future. While there’s always the possibility the Patriots could draft a tackle next month, if New England was to lose Vollmer, the next man up right now is likely Marcus Cannon.
The TCU product, a 6-foot-5, 340-pounder, has played in 23 games since being drafted by the Patriots in 2011, starting one of them. After undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that year, he returned to the football field, and ended up playing 168 snaps as a rookie while filling in at right tackle. In 2012, he lined up at both right and left tackle over the course of the season, and started one game on the right side (Thanksgiving night in New Jersey against the Jets). Overall, according to PFF, he played 182 snaps over the course of the season, and PFF had him finish the year with a +3.6 grade while being responsible for one sack, one quarterback hit and one quarterback hurry.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke very highly of Cannon — who has some positional versatility in that he can play some guard as well as tackle — and his game at the AFC coaches breakfast earlier this week.
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|Revisiting Patriots’ rookies: Measuring overall impact of this year’s group||01.22.13 at 9:04 pm ET|
This year’s group of Patriots’ rookies collectively made more of an impact in their first season than any other group of first-year players since the 2003 class. (While the 2010 draft class will likely have a greater long-term impact, the 2012 and 2003 groups were asked to do more in their first full season in the NFL — for more on that breakdown, check out the comparison I did on each draft class here.) With their first season now done, let’s take a player-by-player look at how each one of them did.
Chandler Jones: The 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end — the first of two first-round picks made by the Patriots last spring — started out on a great note. With eight games in the books, the Syracuse product was leading the team with six sacks (including two in a loss to the Seahawks) and 11 quarterback hits. He also had three forced fumbles (including one in the first quarter of his first game as a professional), and was named AFC Rookie of the Month and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September. (We wrote about him as a possible candidate for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award because of his fast start.) But over the last eight regular-season games, Jones had no sacks, no forced fumbles and one quarterback hit. A sizable portion of that was likely due to an ankle injury he suffered in November that left him on the shelf for a stretch, and probably caused a dip in his play when he did return. (While he wasn’t overwhelming statistically in the regular-season finale against Miami, he did play very well against the Dolphins, looking aggressive while doing a good job setting the edge.) He indicated Monday that he could be facing offseason surgery for his ankle issues.
Dont’a Hightower: After being slowed by a hamstring problem in September and October, the Alabama product became a steady and dependable member of New England defense, and ended his rookie season with 75 tackles (51 solo), four sacks, nine quarterback hits and three passes defensed. He managed to grow into a complimentary piece at linebacker, alongside veterans Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. No reason to think that the 6-foot-2, 270-pound defender won’t be a consistent presence at linebacker for the Patriots for years to come.
Tavon Wilson: The 6-foot, 210-pounder out of Illinois started strong, with four interceptions in his first 10 games, as well as a 10-tackle performance in an October win over Denver that likely marked the high-water mark of the season for the defensive back, who certainly surpassed the expectations of many who initially called him a second-round reach. However, the acquisition of Aqib Talib affected his playing time maybe more than anyone else — the trade for Talib meant the Patriots moved Devin McCourty from corner to safety, and left Wilson on the sidelines. (Wilson was still part of an occasional rotation in sub packages, but his overall snap count drastically decreased.) Overall, he finished the regular-season with 48 tackles (32 solo), but one of the most impressive things you can say about Wilson and what he brought to the field was a nose for the ball: in addition to his four picks, he had six passes defensed and a pair of fumble recoveries.
|Eagles claim Greg Salas off waivers||11.23.12 at 4:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — If the Patriots had designs on clearing Greg Salas through waivers and adding him back to their roster on Friday, they will be disappointed.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced on Friday they had claimed the 24-year-old receiver off waivers Friday and added him to their roster. Salas takes the spot of Mardy Gilyard, who was released on Friday. The Jets also made a claim on Salas but the Eagles were awarded the receiver based on their 3-7 record. The Jets are now 4-7. The Patriots released Salas on Thursday, just hours before their game with the Jets to make room for activating offensive lineman Markus Zusevics off the non-football injury list and adding him to the 53-man roster.
Salas was signed by the Patriots to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on Nov. 17 and played as a reserve last Sunday vs. Indianapolis. He was originally acquired by New England in a trade with St. Louis on Sept. 1, 2012, in exchange for an undisclosed future draft choice.
Salas dressed for the 2012 season-opener at Tennessee but did not play and was inactive vs. Arizona in the home-opener. Salas was released on Sept. 19 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 20. Salas was originally drafted by St. Louis in the fourth round (112th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Hawaii. The 6-foot-1, 209-pounder played in six games for the Rams last season and finished with 27 receptions for 269 yards. His season was limited to six games due to a leg injury.
|A closer look at the seven rookies the Patriots signed on Thursday||05.10.12 at 7:58 pm ET|
The Patriots announced the addition of seven rookie free agents on Thursday who will take part in rookie minicamp this weekend at Gillette Stadium. Here’s a thumbnail look at each one of them:
Running back Brandon Bolden, Mississippi: The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Bolden finished his collegiate career ranked second in school history in both total touchdowns scored (33) and rushing touchdowns (27), third in all-purpose yards (3,681) and fourth in rushing yards (2,604).
Defensive lineman Marcus Forston, Miami: The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Forston was injury-free during his freshman season at Miami, finishing with 17 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and three quarterback sacks. After that, it was all downhill. His 2009 season was cut short due to an ankle injury, while his 2011 season, which began with a four-game suspension due to NCAA infractions, ended after he underwent surgery for a torn MCL. He also had shoulder surgery prior to the start of the 2010 season, but he still played in 13 games with 12 starts that year, and registered 37 total tackles, 3.0 sacks and one interception.
Defensive lineman Justin Francis, Rutgers: The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder posted very good numbers over the course of his college career (106 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 12 sacks), culminating with 60 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception and five passes defensed as a senior.
Tight end Brad Herman, Iowa: The 6-foot-5, 253-pounder had his best season as a senior, finishing with eight catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in 12 games (including three starts). He’s described by Pro Football Weekly as having “intriguing measurables, good straight-line speed and outstanding leaping ability.”
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|Patriots sign OL Markus Zusevics as an undrafted free agent||04.28.12 at 8:51 pm ET|
The Patriots have signed offensive tackle Markus Zusevics as an undrafted free agent, according to his agent Jack Bechta. Zusevics is a 6-foot-5, 303-pounder out of Iowa who likely fell out of the draft after tearing his pectoral muscle while performing on the bench press at the combine. He started 26 straight games at right tackle for Iowa in his last two years with the Hawkeyes.