Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Patriots acquire two defensive linemen in trades; ship Justin Green to Dallas

"He's going to be the reason I'm playing for a different team next year.  He's coming on.  He's coming on.  I've just got to keep my job secure and play my butt off." - Ex-Dallas Cowboy Jason Hatcher on Ben Bass
Well, if you're looking for which team got the better deal in the rare player-for-player trade pulled off between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, you might want to wait until you see Bass in action - then again, the Cowboys would have liked to have seen him in action as well, but that never materialized.

Bass was acquired from Dallas for reserve cornerback Justin Green, who was unlikely to make New England's roster but will have a better chance in Dallas, especially since the Cowboys just learned that starting corner Orlando Scandrick will start serving a four-game suspension at the beginning of the regular season.

Obviously, the Patriots would rather get something for a player rather than to just cut him, but the move is curious on Dallas' part - in that they give up an oft-injured but potentially dynamic defensive lineman that at 6' 5" and 295 pounds has shown flashes at both defensive end in the 3-4 and as a three-tech penetrator in the 4-3.

Bass made the Cowboy's 90-man camp roster in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M after after impressing at a tryout, then made the 53-man roster off of their practice squad that November, but played in only two games before an ankle injury landed him on the IR - then he dislocated his shoulder in the weeks leading up to last season's regular season opener and hit the season-ending shelf again...

...and this season he has been nursing a hamstring and his participation in camp has been on and off - which really doesn't sound like he was coming on, as Hatcher claimed, but he was similarly impressed with Bass just before he was activated from the practice squad in 2012.

"He's been kicking you-know-what on the practice squad all year long against out number one offensive line" Hatcher claimed, then, "Bass and Tyrone Crawford are the future here.  I'm just going to enjoy my time, play my butt off while I'm here."

Cowboys' defensive line coach Rod Marinelli had similar praise for the Texas native last season as well.

“Oh man, I thought he had a really good OTAs, and I think he’s a big, good-looking athlete,” Marinelli said in training camp “He’s a guy who can move. What you try to do is create position flexibility, so he’s worked inside. I like him inside. I’m looking at him at some end. For now, he gives you a big 290-pound left end you can use in the run game."

What Bass' status is for Patriots' training camp remains to be seen, but Green should see immediate playing time in a light Cowboys' secondary.
Worthy as a rookie in Green Bay

The Patriots also picked up a second defensive lineman, sending a late-round 2015 draft pick to Green Bay for 2012 second round bust Jerel Worthy who, in fairness, has also struggled with injury, tearing an ACL toward the end of his rookie season and was never a factor last season as he struggled with the Packers' two-gap system, and this season has been limited in camp with back pain.

Worthy was considered a first-round talent coming out of Michigan State, but poor technique in the trenches rendered him a situational pass rusher, picking up 2.5 sacks and 14 tackles in as many games.

At his best, Worthy is thought to be a sub-rusher in a 4-3, using his combination of explosive strength and speed to crash through the gap as a three-technique as he did in college, but he struggled with the two-gap concept in Green Bay and frequently got washed out by the opposing linemen.

Obviously, the Packers were trying to squeeze a 6' 4", 310 pound round peg into a square hole, so it will be interesting to see what coach Bill Belichick can do with him, provided he passes the team's physical.  The aforementioned late round draft pick is conditional upon Worthy making the 53-man roster.

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