AFC East: Stephon Morris

Patriots announce 13 cuts

August, 31, 2013
The New England Patriots announced Saturday that the following 13 players have been released:

DE Jermaine Cunningham
LB Ja'Gared Davis
S Kannoris Davis
DL Marcus Forston
DE Justin Francis
CB Justin Green
OL Chris McDonald
P Zoltan Mesko
DB Stephon Morris
WR Quentin Sims
LB Jeff Tarpinian
QB Tim Tebow
RB George Winn

Of the group, Tarpinian is the one new player who had previously not been reported to be released.

More analysis to come.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts from the first quarter of the New England Patriots' preseason finale against the New York Giants:

1. The team played almost all second- and third-stringers. One exception was right guard Dan Connolly, who is still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. He played three series last week, which was his first action of the preseason.

2. Punter Zoltan Mesko, who appeared to have seized control of the competition against rookie Ryan Allen over the past week or so, took both attempts in the opening quarter. Solid stuff from Mesko, who showed good leg strength on his first attempt, a 55-yarder, then excellent control and hang time on his second, which he landed inside the Giants' 10-yard line after punting from their 37.

3. Perhaps ominous signs for veteran safety Adrian Wilson, who played every snap of the first quarter on a night when it's been mostly backups. That's a clear sign that Steve Gregory is ahead of him on the depth chart and Wilson's place on the roster isn't a lock. Likewise, at running back, veteran Leon Washington has been splitting time with rookie George Winn.

4. Quarterback Ryan Mallett's touch and accuracy in the short and intermediate areas of the field are, to be kind, a work in progress. The first drive ended on an overthrow of Washington, who was open on the play. Mallett also threw high on the second drive.

5. The second-unit defense competed well against the Giants' first-string offense on the first two series. That was an improvement from last week, when the reserves struggled against the Lions.

6. From the penalty box: Rookie cornerback Stephon Morris was flagged for a block above the waist on a punt return.

Looking closer at cornerbacks

August, 29, 2013
The Patriots' release of Ras-I Dowling on Wednesday opens a spot on the cornerback depth chart. In previous projections, I had Dowling making the team, in part because the salary-cap charge to cut him was greater than the salary-cap charge to keep him.

Dowling projected as a No. 4 or 5 option at the position, with the chance to elevate up the depth chart if he could stay healthy.

If I had to make an educated guess on why the Patriots ultimately cut Dowling, who was one of the club's 10 offseason award winners, it's likely tied to health. Dowling hasn't played this preseason after coming up hobbled in an early training camp practice, and there sometimes comes a point when the team and player just can't get on the same page in terms of when the player is ready to return. Sort of like what we saw with cornerback Leigh Bodden a few years ago.

So now let's look at what's left at the position, with our projected depth chart and a quick-hit thought:

Aqib Talib (6-1, 205) -- Plays on the left side and can be used to sometimes shadow a top receiver as the club's top cover man.

Kyle Arrington (5-10, 190) -- Because of injuries and legal uncertainty surrounding Alfonzo Dennard, he is the clear-cut No. 2 right now; can move inside to the slot in nickel.

Logan Ryan (5-11, 195) -- Third-round draft choice from Rutgers draws some similarities to Arrington -- physical, hard-nosed, smart and plays inside and outside.

Dennard (5-10, 200) -- Played well as the No. 2 option last season, but hasn't been on the field much in training camp, and also has legal issues swirling.

Marquice Cole (5-10, 195) -- Five-year veteran is considered a top locker-room presence; on the field, he's primarily a slot option who can be a factor on special teams. Viewed by some as being on the bubble.

Justin Green (5-11, 195) -- Undrafted free agent from Illinois has practice-squad potential.

Stephon Morris (5-8, 190) -- Undrafted free agent from Penn State was re-signed last week after suffering an injury.

One other factor to consider is that Devin McCourty (5-10, 195) could sometimes factor into the cornerback mix. While he's spent the majority of his time at safety, he has position flexibility.

Source: Pats to re-sign DB Morris

August, 25, 2013
The New England Patriots will re-sign defensive back Stephon Morris, according to a league source.

Morris originally was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State on April 27. The team waived Morris on Aug. 1 after he appeared to suffer a minor hamstring injury during practice. It's possible that the team needed to make room on the roster at the time, and now will bring back Morris as he is presumably back to full strength.

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound cornerback adds depth to a position where the Patriots recently have dealt with a number of injuries. Alfonzo Dennard, Ras-I Dowling and Brandon Jones all were held out of the team's third preseason game due to undisclosed injury issues.

With Morris back in the fold, the Patriots' roster will grow to 85 players. The team will need to trim the roster down to 75 by Tuesday before finalizing its 53-man roster by Saturday.