Thursday, December 3, 2015

Roster Reset - Gronkowski, Hightower Injuries Cause Shuffling On Depth Chart

It has been noted that all of New England holds its' collective breath every time Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski hits the ground, the air thick with dread as they wait in unison for the hulking man-child to arise like a Pheonix from the ashes.

And why not? The fifth year matchup nightmare has been a walking M*A*S*H unit since his second year in the league, breaking his arm, tweaking his back, rebreaking his arm and suffering a torn ACL in his abbreviated time in the NFL, so instead of them viewing him as a bull in a china shop by the way he regularly abuses linebackers and safeties, he is seen as a piece of fine china in a room full of bulls.

In reality, while Gronkowski may seem fragile and vulnerable, he takes wicked shots from opposing players every week, and most of the time, it's right around his knee area - and when he took one of those shots on Sunday night in Denver, he didn't get up.

Well, he did get up eventually, loaded on the meat wagon and taken into the locker room where team doctors apparently rubbed some dirt on it and he was seen walking out of the locker room after the game with not even so much as a limp.

Patriots' Nation exhaled collectively when an MRI showed that there was no structural damage to Gronkowski's knee, but still hold a level of trepidation as his week-to-week status on the injury report along with his video statement that he would not return until 100% healthy put the spotlight on fellow tight ends Chandler, Williams and Cleveland - none of whom come close to having the same impact on a game that the man-child does.

And so, with Gronk out for an unspecified amount of time and fellow pass catchers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman on the shelf for the time being, it is prudent for us to take a look at the roster as it stands up to the moment, and to discuss how the newest Patriots' signings could help fill the gap in the interim...

Quarterbacks (2)

Tom Brady
Jimmy Garoppolo

Running Backs (4)

LeGarrette Blount
Brandon Bolden
James White
Trey Williams - a shifty runner with a unique combination of corner-turning speed and close quarters elusiveness. Like a seasoned fighter, his feet "throw" combinations of moves featuring a nasty stutter step and an ankle-breaking jump cut that makes the defender whiff wildly.

So why was he available? Simply, he is not much larger than a garden gnome and needs to get the ball in the flat or in space where he has a chance to make the defender miss because he offers little in the running game between the tackles and isn't much in blitz pick up, so his presence in the backfield will show the offenses hand and signal blitzers - but if he gets loose on the second level, magic happens. Has experience returning kicks, but not much returning punts.

Receivers (6)

Danny Amendola - Should be ready to return from minor knee injury either this week or next...
Julian Edelman - Hoping to be back and ready for action around the end of the regular season.
Brandon LaFell
Matthew Slater
Keshawn Martin
Demaris Johnson - Another garden gnome, Johnson is just as slippery and quick as Williams, but doesn't possess the running back's elite speed, coming in at 4.52 in the 40 yard dash compared to the running back's 4.49.

Johnson's NFL career has seen him as a part-time starter with the Eagles as a rookie in 2012, replacing the fragile Jeremy Maclin in the lineup, who missed time with hip and rib issues - but was largely ignored when Philadelphia hired Chip Kelly as their head coach the following season, then found himself out of a job when Kelly cut him prior to the 2014 season.

The Texans picked him up off the scrap heap and turned him into a fine number three option in their limited passing game, hauling in 31 balls for 331 yards. He also has experience as a kick and punt returner but could do well to place a greater emphasis on ball security, as he's put the ball on the ground three times in just 52 touches.

Tight Ends (4)

Rob Gronkowski - Gronkowski is listed as week-to-week with a bruised knee, and not expected to play against Philadelphia.
Scott Chandler
Michael Williams
Asante Cleveland

Offensive Linemen (8)

Sebastian Vollmer
Cameron Fleming
Shaq Mason
Tre Jackson
Bryan Stork
David Andrews
Josh Kline
Marcus Cannon

Offense Total: 24

Defensive Linemen (9)

Rob Ninkovich
Akiem Hicks
Geneo Grissom
Chandler Jones
Jabaal Sheard
Alan Branch
Dominique Easley
Malcom Brown
Sealver Siliga

Linebackers (6)

Jamie Collins
Jerod Mayo
Dont'a Hightower
Jonathan Freeny
Jon Bostic
Darius Fleming - Fleming played for the team last season and proved to be a useful edge-setter, but that's all he really is along with some situational pass rushing skill. He should be used on pure rushing downs to set the strong side edge is Collins is unable to play.

Cornerbacks (4)

Malcolm Butler
Logan Ryan
Rashaan Melvin
Justin Coleman

Safeties (7)

Patrick Chung
Devin McCourty
Duron Harmon
Brandon King
Jordan Richards
Tavon Wilson
Nate Ebner

Defensive Total: 26

Special Teams (3)

Ryan Allen
Stephen Gostkowski
Joe Cardona

No comments:

Post a Comment