How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

May, 13, 2010
5/13/10
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Falling

Adalius Thomas, free-agent outside linebacker: Almost three weeks after the Patriots released him, Thomas remains unemployed.

It seemed certain Thomas would reunite with Rex Ryan and join the New York Jets. The last time Thomas was effective was with Baltimore in 2006, when Ryan was defensive coordinator. But the Patriots held onto Thomas long enough that the Jets signed former Dolphins star Jason Taylor. As a result, there also was speculation the Dolphins would pursue Thomas to fortify the edge in their 3-4 defense.

"With him we'll end up first in the league in defense, and without him we'll end up first in the league in defense," Ryan recently said. "If we get him, great. I'm not worried about him."

Nobody seems to be. Thomas will turn 33 in training camp. He had 20 sacks in his final two seasons with Baltimore. He had 14.5 in his three seasons in New England and just three last year. Bill Belichick benched him for a pair of games.

Rising

Brandon Tate, Patriots receiver: Tate's name hadn't been mentioned much this offseason. The third-round pick from North Carolina appeared in two games and had zero receptions as a rookie last year and plays on a team that features Randy Moss, added Torry Holt and is more concerned with how Julian Edelman will fill in while Wes Welker recovers from knee and shoulder surgery.

But Patriots quarterback Tom Brady thrust Tate's name into the conversation this week, making a point to rave about Tate's offseason in a pair of interviews.

"I like Brandon Tate a lot," Brady told Sports Illustrated. Brady later told Boston sports-radio station WEEI that Tate "has had a great offseason."

That's quite a blessing for a player otherwise known as a project. The Patriots were criticized for drafting Tate so early because he was rehabbing a knee injury that was expected to limit him for much of 2009. They activated him in Week 7, and he suffered another season-ending knee injury in Week 9.

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