Patriots Training Camp Preview, Part 3

First the list of wide Receivers in camp for the Patriots in order of how I view their importance to the team.

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# Name AGE SEASONS COLLEGE
11 Edelman, Julian 30 8 Kent State
80 Amendola, Danny 30 8 Texas Tech
15 Hogan, Chris 27 4 Monmouth (N.J.)
84 Washington, Nate 32 12 Tiffin University
19 Mitchell, Malcolm 24 R Georgia
18 Slater, Matthew 30 9 UCLA
82 Martin, Keshawn 26 5 Michigan State
17 Dobson, Aaron 25 4 Marshall
13 Carter, DeAndre 23 1 Sacramento State
14 Harper, Chris 22 1 California
16 Lucien, Devin 23 R Arizona State

Keeping Julian Edelman healthy all season has to be the priority of the Patriots as he has evolved in the key cog of the Patriots wide receiving core. I fully expect the team to be patient with him coming back and not rush him to be there for the first 4 games. The last thing they need is an ill advised Jimmy G. pass over the middle that leaves Edelman open to a huge hit by a safety or linebacker. That being said if he is healthy, he will be a big help to Jimmy G. on hot reads especially.

Amendola doesn’t curry huge favor with Pats fans because in year 1 of his deal he disappeared. He has bounced back some by being productive and reworking that deal to free up salary cap space. What I think has become undervalued is his on field intelligence. In the 2014 season is the best example of Amendola realizing they shouldn’t expose the double pass in the blowout Kansas City game of week 4 and saved it for the first round of the playoffs against the Ravens. That sort of on field presence is going ot be vital to an efficient effective offense in the first 4 games of the 2016 season.

Amendola stop

Hogan was signed away from the Bills to be far more than he was for the Bills. At 6 foot 1, he has just enough size to play both inside and outside in the Patriots offense. If he is able to grasp the system and find chemistry with the QBs, he should be an instant success and add great flexibility to the Patriots offensive schemes. And the Patriots are never more dangerous than when they have scheme flexibility.

Washington is a curious signing, sized similarly to Hogan and coming from the Texans, who run a similar offense, he seems like insurance if Hogan is a bust and Aaron Dobson continues to underwhelm. He is solid pass catcher who has a tendency toward big plays and touchdowns. 9.6% (44 of 458) of his career receptions have ended with Washington in the end zone and 52% (23 of 44) having gone for more than 25 yards. That sort of big play ability WR has eluded the Pats since Randy Moss talked his way out of Foxboro.

The rookie Mitchell has plenty to learn, but early reports are that he is eager to fit in and working hard to do so. I think the Pats would love to get him onto the practice squad for at least the first half of the season, but that is highly unlikely so he is most likely to be seen on special teams in the first 4 weeks and then get mixed into the offense more and more when Brady returns.

Slater is the most valuable special teams player in the league and has been for a number of years. He demonstrates a huge acumen for all of the coverage and return teams and takes pride in giving the Patriots an edge in the oft overlooked, unless something goes wrong, 3rd aspect of the game. He can be thrown out there in the offense to run down field on a go route now and then, and the defense has to respect his speed, but his hands just aren’t up to making catches in tight coverage so that option has been used less and less in recent years.

I don’t see how Keshawn Martin makes the roster unless they carry 7 WRs. Which they could were Brady not suspended or they could get Brissett to the practice squad (not going to happen), so I find a 7th WR unlikely as they will most likely be adding a veteran QB to the roster because were Jimmy G. to get hurt, Brissett is not the answer.I liked Martin last year, seemed to run good routes, had some speed and pretty good hands. Maybe they can get Martin the practice squad as injury insurance.

I think this is it for Aaron Dobson in New England. I think another team will give him a shot and maybe the Patriots can score a 7th round pick for him if he performs well in a preseason game or two. Most likely he gets cut at some point during camp, early if he doesn’t perform, later if he does. He would have to be spectacular to make the team and bump anyone above him on my list.

DeAndre Carter is a guy I like that I think ends up on the practice squad, if they have room there.

Chris Harper could make the practice squad, and played a lot of special team in 2015, but most likely gets cut early enough that he has a chance to catch on somewhere else.

Devin Lucien has practice squad written all over him. He has a big body, which most of the Pats WRs lack, but isn’t a downfield threat so much a guy who catches the ball consistently on short to medium routes. In a year he could turn into a version of Brandon LaFell that catches the ball.

Starter: Julian Edelman
Starter: Chris Hogan
Slot: Danny Amendola
Backup: Nate Washington
Backup: Malcolm Mitchell
In Case of emergency: Matthew Slater
Cut: Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Keshawn Martin
Practice Squad: DeAndre Carter, Devin Lucien

Here is the compilation of my roster guess through today:

QB 4 RB 5 WR 6
Tom Brady Legarrette Blount Julian Edelman
Jimmy Garrapolo Donald Brown Danny Amendola
Jacoby Brissett Dion Lewis Chris Hogan
Unsigned Veteran James White Nate Washington
Brandon Bolden Malcolm Mitchell
Matthew Slater
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