Saturday, June 21, 2014

Completely useless ranting and an inappropriately-timed Patriots' projected 53 man roster

"The lowest form of popular culture - lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people's lives - has overrun real journalism.  Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage." - Oscar Wilde

People who know me - and even many who don't - also know that I have always aspired to be a paid journalist despite the rantings of Wilde and regardless of the many bad examples offered up by the Boston rags - but now I'm not so sure.

Oh, I will continue to write, but I have discovered that the closed fraternity of the Boston media is closed for a reason, that there is very little interest in objective journalism - or even a fine balance between information and entertainment, while some of the finest writing that you will find is on the independent blog - and I am proud to be part of that community.
Belichick's disdain for the media is well-founded

Why?  Simply because the people writing are doing so because of their passion for the object of their desire, and do it for little or no money.  They don't have the access to the athletes and coaches as the fraternity does and are at the mercy of the professionalism of the writers within that fraternity - and what they are left with is attempting to decipher fact from guess-work.

Wilde was in the United States for just a short time in the latter part of the 19th century as part of a tour to promote the ideals of aesthetic literature, and that little nugget above was his response to the relentless criticism from the New England media, who collectively viewed aestheticism - literally, art being pleasing to the eye and not necessarily for information - as immoral.

Of course, upon his return to Great Britain, he was placed on trial for his "immorality" and imprisoned as a pervert - then exiled to France, where he died, broken and disgraced, as a relatively young man in his mid-forties.

So almost 150 years after his witch hunt-style trial, it is curious that in the same region of North America where the journalists trashed his ideals at every turn, modern day sports journalists still ignore the aesthetic side of their art, routinely spreading sensationalist swill and rampant rumor to entice potential readers to view their work...

...concentrating on innuendo and hiding behind unnamed sources, their requisite anonymity resulting in prose that requires no accountability, and then apologizing for anything that they write that resembles an original idea - such as a 53 man roster.

That said, many area journalists are busy generating and publishing their projected 53-man rosters for the New England Patriots - which is actually a 54-man roster due to the roster exemption that the Patriots will receive for Brandon Browner's suspension - a full five weeks before training camp even begins, but also issuing the caveat that it is far too early to make an accurate projection - and it is.

But we can certainly try, and always with the knowledge that whatever comes out of our word processing program is public now and forever, and we have no choice but to own every word.  The trick is to feel it, much like an artist is inspired by what is pleasing to his or her eye, and then to meld that passion with informed discretion.

Because Wilde was wrong - at least as far as today's society is concerned, as he probably could not have envisioned things like the Internet, or even the importance of a writer's responsibility to history.  Today, art is didactic, on public display to both entertain and to inform - even if it is just garbage...

Quarterbacks (2)

12 - Tom Brady
10 - Jimmy Garoppolo (R)

Yes, only two quarterbacks.  This is not to say that Ryan Mallett will be traded, but the fact that he is limited in OTAs and in minicamp and is wearing a brace on his left knee is a curious development.  It is entirely possible that he begin the season on the PUP list, then either be activated just before the trade deadline or shut down for the season.

Running Backs (5)

22 - Stevan Ridley
34 - Shane Vereen
28 - James White (R)
36 - Stephen Houston (R)
46 - James Develin 

With contracts coming due on Ridley, Vereen and Brandon Bolden, it goes to figure that the Patriots are not going to be able to negotiate contracts for all three, so dumping Bolden now and training replacements for the other two is just smart business - though it is possible that Ridley and Vereen could be around beyond this year if their price is right.  Develin is looking more and more like a classic H-Back with his versatility.

Tight Ends (3)

87 - Rob Gronkowski 
47 - Michael Hoomanawanui 
45 - D. J. Williams

Gronkowski appears to be on track for the start of the season, which clears up the tight end picture a bit.  While Gronk is an all-around force, Hooman is a decent blocker and has shown good hands in his few targets, while Williams has yet to realize the potential that intrigued the Packers into drafting him as a "move" tight end.  Rookie free agent Justin Jones will probably find himself stashed away on the practice squad to refine his raw skill and potential. H-back James Develin factors in here as well.

Receivers (7)

80 - Danny Amendola 
11 - Julian Edelman 
17 - Aaron Dobson 
19 - Brandon Lafell  
85 - Kenbrell Thompkins  
18 - Matthew Slater 
82 - Josh Boyce

The status of Dobson's foot and the thought that his conditioning will be an issue upon his return may upset this apple cart, otherwise, this is a solid group with a good mix of individual skill sets.  New addition Lafell is a veteran who understands coverages and where the sticks are, and could be in the mix at the "move" type tight end position.  Boyce and Slater figure prominently on special teams as well.

Offensive Linemen (8)

77 - Nate Solder 
70 - Logan Mankins
76 - Sebatian Vollmer 
61 - Marcus Cannon
67 - Josh Kline
71 - Cameron Fleming (R)   
69 - Jon Halapio (R) 
66 - Bryan Stork (R) 

Noticeably absent from this list are last season's starting center and right guard, Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly - but either could stick as depth should the Patriots decide to keep nine linemen.  Stork should start from Day one, as should Halapio with Fleming and Cannon providing depth on the bookends and at guard in a pinch.

Defensive linemen (9)

50 - Rob Ninkovich 
75 - Vince Wilfork 
93 - Tommy Kelly 
95 - Chandler Jones 
99 - Michael Buchanan
97 - Armond Armstead 
74 - Dominique Easley (R) 
94 - Chris Jones 
96 - Sealver Siliga 

This is a familiar list, with the one question mark being the status of the Howard Hughes-like recluse Armond Armstead.  He is on the roster for now, but given his non-participation in OTAs and in minicamp, his ambiguity dictates that he could be replaced by veteran Will Smith or try-hard tackle Joe Vellano.

Linebackers (6)

54 - Dont'a Hightower 
91 - Jamie Collins 
51 - Jerod Mayo 
45 - Steve Beauharnais
44 - Darius Fleming
55 - James Anderson

Again, it is possible that the veteran Smith could usurp Fleming on the roster, but a lot depends on the status of his wheels after recovering from ACL surgery nearly a year ago.  One thing on the side of the Patriots in this instance is that Smith did not have many suitors once released from New Orleans, and could be a rolodex type talent that Belichick could call on in case of injury.  Anderson is an all-around veteran talent that adds a lot of versatility to the scheme.

Corners (6)

24 - Darrelle Revis 
39 - Brandon Browner 
26 - Logan Ryan 
37 - Alfonzo Dennard 
25 - Kyle Arrington 
35 - Daxton Swanson

Swanson is a wild card, and wins out over fellow rookie Malcolm Butler for the sixth corner spot.  Regardless of who actually wins out in camp, the top five corners won't allow for many snaps to Swanson or whomever - that is, once Browner returns to the team in week five.

Safeties (5)

30 - Duron Harmon  
32 - Devin McCourty  
23 - Patrick Chung  
21 - Jemea Thomas (R)  
27 - Tavon Wilson 

Solid group of safeties, with Chung brought back to be that intimidating presence in the middle in the nickle and dime situations.  Thomas is a versatile athlete that is probably a better corner than safety, though he played both in college.  In fact, should Thomas find a spot on the roster, his presence could eliminate one of the listed corners and make room for a player at another level - such as another tight end, safety or defensive lineman.

Specialists (3)

6 - Ryan Allen 
3 - Stephen Gostkowski 
48 - Danny Aiken

Aiken wins out over Tyler Ott in the competition for long snapper, though Aiken will probably be on a short leash after his late season air mail struggles.  Allen and Gostkowski are as dependable as they come.

Offense: 25
Defense: 26
Specialists: 3 
Total: 54

This is the first addendum to a series wrapping up the Patriots' offseason. 

Part 1 of 9: New England Patriots' philosophies morphing back to a simpler time
Part 2 of 9: New England Patriots' offensive philosophy - Heavy on substance, not sexy style
Part 3 of 9: Patriots surround Brady with talent, just not how most envisioned
Part 4 of 9: Patriots' incumbent backs no roster locks as rookies ready to compete
Part 5 of 9: Belichick takes a mulligan with Patriots' pass catchers
Part 6 of 9: Belichick in the spirit (of 76) in regard to offensive line
Part 7 of 9: Defensive line status up in the air while injuries mend
Part 8 of 9: Patriots' linebacker corps better through attrition, deft acquisitions

Follow Michael on twitter: @MichaelHammpub

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