The final cuts are in as the Patriots cut down to 53 players in preparation of the regular season, and there were a few surprises.
As we posted earlier the team cut quarterback Tim Tebow and punter Zoltan Mesko were two big names on the final cut list, but there were a few others that were notable as well.
The team cut former second round pick Jermaine Cunningham, who just never managed to stay healthy enough to carve out a role with New England's defense and has been a disappointment. Some had thought Bill Belichick might give him one last shot by putting him on injured reserve, but it appears they've instead opted to cut their losses and move on.
The team also announced they placed safety Adrian Wilson on injured reserve, which was somewhat of a surprise. Expectations were high for Wilson this year, and after a slow start he started to come on in recent weeks but apparently suffered an undisclosed injury that will have him sidelined for the season.
The remaining players who were let go were DL Justin Francis, LB Jeff Tarpinian, DL Marcus Forston, LB Ja’Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, DB Justin Green, OL Chris McDonald, DB Stephon Morris, WR Quentin Sims and RB George Winn.
That puts their current roster count at 51, but that doesn't mean everyone is safe. In all likelihood there will be a few players who survived the cut who will still be out tomorrow. With other players being released, the situation tends to be fluid and we'll probably see some of the other team's castoffs brought in - which will mean someone else will have to go.
According to Nick Underhill of MassLive.com, the Patriots made a surprise move on Saturday and have reportedly released punter Zoltan Mesko, apparently deciding instead to go with newcomer Ryan Allen (pictured above).
The battle between the two had seemed to be relatively even, but the decision was likely made due to the fact it will save the club more than $900,000 against the salary cap, but more importantly Mesko was scheduled to become a free agent after the season. So the move guarantees the Patriots have a solid performer at a lower cost moving forward instead of risking having to find a replacement after the season as it's unlikely Allen would have cleared waivers.
It's disappointing because Mesko was certainly a fan favorite, and this is one of those times where the business side of football clearly factored into the decision.
He released the following statement via his Facebook page:
"First and foremost, I want to thank the New England Patriots for everything they have done for me. I have nothing but love in my heart as I depart this great organization. Mr. Kraft, the coaches, the strength staff, the trainers, the media personnel, the marketing department, the rest of the amazing staff members at Gillette, and especially my teammates...THANK YOU for all that you have given and have done for me. I want to say that I see the silver lining in things now more than ever, and am a true believer that things DO happen for a reason. This goes out to anyone that will ever come across a mere bump in the road; be thankful, be positive, because there's a deeper purpose of WHY things happen that we may not yet, or may never come to understand. Just believe. I will miss New England, and more than anything, I'll be missing the smiles on those kids whom I visited and acted like a goofball in front of. It was ALL worth it. God bless."
With the final roster deadline looming, it appears the Patriots have decided to save a roster spot and are going with two quarterbacks this season.
The bad news is, it looks like Tim Tebow unfortunately is the odd man out.
ESPN reported Saturday that the team has released Tebow, ending what has certainly been one of the more interesting preseasons in quite some time.
Tebow had his fair share of ups and downs, including a 1-of-7 for -1 yards and an interception during his second outing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He sat out the team's third game against the Lions, and then played the entire second half Thursday night against the New York Giants. In that game he played better than he had during the entire exhibition season, finishing 6-of-11 for 91 yards and two touchdowns, although he did throw an interception.
Overall he finished 11-of-30 (37%) for 145 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and was sacked 7 times.
After news leaked out earlier about the release of tight ends Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells, the team finally officially issued a release of 10 guys who are no longer on the team as they begin cutting the roster down to 53 players.
The release includes five veteran players, including Ballard, DE Marcus Benard, Fells, WR Johnathan Haggerty and LB Mike Rivera.
The others who have been released are first-year player OL Luke Patterson, as well as four rookie free agents: FB Ben Bartholomew, DL Gilbert Peña, OL Matt Stankiewitch and DL Scott Vallone.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald the roster is now at 65, which means there are still 12 more left to go ahead of tomorrow's deadline.
The Patriots wasted little time after last night's win over the Giants, cutting two tight ends from the roster.
According to the Boston Globe's Ben Volin, the Patriots cut Jake Ballard today, which is somewhat of a surprise considering the promise he had shown before suffering the knee injury last year. Unfortunately he's struggled in camp and has looked hobbled at times and hasn't been himself, and he really never was able to settle in.
Joining him, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, is Daniel Fells, who now with their removal cuts the Patriots down to three tight ends. Rapoport points out Fells signed a 3-year deal worth $5.25 million last year.
As it stands right now the Patriots appear set to go with tight ends Rob Gronkowski (whenever he's ready to go), Michael Hoomanaui, and Zach Sudfeld.
The Patriots kicked off their exhibition season on Friday night, and as exciting as it was to see Tom Brady and his new stable of receivers in live game action, it was New England's ground game that stole the show during their 31-22 win over the Eagles.
They rushed for 248 yards against the Eagles' defense, with Stevan Ridley opening the game with a 62-yard scamper on the Patriots first offensive play from scrimmage.
That one play put the Patriots in the driver's seat to the point where on that first drive Brady didn't even have to attempt a pass, he just let the running backs do the heavy lifting. Offseason acquisition LeGarrette Blount followed up Ridley's big gain with three carries of his own before Ridley set up his own scoring run with a five yard gain, and one play later he punched it in from a yard out to put the Patriots ahead early.
It was Ridley's first game action since suffering a concussion in the team's AFC Championship defeat earlier this year, and he finished with a strong performance. He carried 8 times for 92 yards as well as his touchdown, and didn't show any tentativeness carrying the football.
Meanwhile Blount also came up big, finishing the night with 11 carries for 101 yards including a 51 yard touchdown, and really did a good job of finding an opening and lowering his shoulder in a couple of short yardage situations. He converted a 3rd and 1 on the Patriots first drive, and also pounded in a one yard touchdown in the third quarter. Overall he accounted for 5 of New England's 12 rushing first downs.
Obviously the Patriots were hoping to find a guy who was strong to compliment Ridley, and it appears they may have found him.
"I think we got a lot of production out of our running backs," said Belichick after the game. "Actually we got good production out of the receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks, running backs, we were able to get good balance on offense so that's great. Anytime you can run the ball that helps everything else."
Interestingly enough the Patriots longest rush last season didn't even come from any of their running backs, it came on a run by Julian Edelman in week 10 against Indianapolis where he picked up 47 yards during the Patriots 59-24 blowout win at home over the Colts. Their next longest run was a 41 yard run by Ridley in week eight against St. Louis.
They managed to eclipse both of those Friday night with Ridley's 62 yard gain and Blount's 51 yard touchdown run. Granted it's only preseason, but it's tough not to feel a little optimistic about New England's ground game as we start seeing them continue working toward the regular season.
"We're special," said Stevan Ridley after the game when asked about their performance. "We've got a work to do and I can just say we're off to a good start."
"We're just working hard every day and the results are showing."
Looking at the final stats from last night, it's tough to get a feel for how the receivers performed overall since who was throwing them the football obviously plays a part in their success.
Since Tom Brady was near perfect last night (7-of-8 for 65 yards and a touchdown), obviously that affects the completion percentages when you factor in the 50% passing performance put in by Ryan Mallett, as well as the 33% percentage that Tim Tebow had.
Here's a breakdown of how each group fared with each quarterback:
TOM BRADY: 7-of-8 (88%) 65 yards, 1 touchdown
Kenbrell Thompkins: 4 targets, 4 completions, 23 yards, 2 first downs
Danny Amendola: 1 target, 1 completion, 6 yards
Aaron Dobson: 1 target, 1 completion, 23 yards, 1 first down
Shane Vereen: 1 target, 1 completion, 13 yards, 1 first down, 1 touchdown
Stevan Ridley: 1 target, 0 completions
RYAN MALLETT: 9-of-18 (50%) 97 Yards
Daniel Fells: 3 targets, 3 completions, 27 yards, 2 first downs
Julian Edelman: 3 targets, 5 completions, 31 yards, 2 first downs
Aaron Dobson: 4 targets, 1 completion, 12 yards, 1 first down
Shane Vereen: 3 targets, 1 completion, 5 yards
Zach Sudfeld: 1 target, 1 completion, 22 yards, 1 first down
Josh Boyce: 1 target, 0 completions
Kenbrell Thompkins: 1 target, 0 completions
TIM TEBOW: 4-of-12 (33%) 55 yards, 3 sacks/-23 yards
Kamar Aiken: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards, 1 first down
Leon Washington: 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards, 1 first down
Brandon Bolden: 2 targets, 1 reception, 17 yards, 1 first down
Aaron Dobson: 3 targets, 0 receptions
Zach Sudfeld: 1 target, 0 receptions
Johnathan Haggerty: 1 target, 0 receptions
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