AFC East: Steve Beauharnais

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie linebacker Steve Beauharnais was the only player missing from New England Patriots practice on Friday morning, though the reason behind his absence was unclear.

Beauharnais
He was not listed on the team's injury report Thursday and has not dealt with an injury issue this season. The absence could hint at a potential roster move coming for the Patriots, as this has mostly been a red-shirt season for Beauharnais.

Aside from Beauharnais, there was full attendance at practice, including the third straight day of work for both wide receiver Aaron Dobson and punter Ryan Allen.

Dobson, who had not practiced following a Week 17 injury until this past Wednesday, said earlier Friday in the locker room, “Right now, I feel like it's OK. I have to do what I have to do. I'm trying not to think about it, go out there and do what I can do, and do it the best I can.”

Allen, meanwhile, has toughed through a sprained AC joint this week, which was suffered in a divisional round win against the Colts.

Head coach Bill Belichick spoke to Allen's mental toughness on Friday morning in handling adverse circumstances during his rookie season.

"Mentally, he's shown a lot of toughness and competitiveness to do what he needs to do, whether it be wind, rain, snow, cold, what have you," he said.

The Patriots practiced in helmets and shells for their final on-field tuneup before traveling to Denver later today.

Progress report: Rookies chip in

November, 7, 2013
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The New England Patriots have received significant contributions from their rookie class this season. In Bill Belichick's 14 years as head coach, this season ranks near the top of the list, if not at the top, in this area.

Following up Field Yates' progress report on second-year players from this morning, here is a rookie breakdown (alphabetical order):

Allen
Punter Ryan Allen: The undrafted free agent ranks 10th in the NFL with a 46.4 average and 16th in net punting (39.9) as he's proven to be up to the task of replacing veteran Zoltan Mesko. He's also the holder on field goals, and Stephen Gostkowski is 22 of 23 this season. Allen's eight touchbacks are tied for the NFL high, which is an area for improvement.

Guard Chris Barker: Claimed on waivers from the Dolphins at the final roster cutdown, the undrafted free agent from Nevada dressed for the first three games of the season as veteran backup Will Svitek was working his way back from a knee injury, but hasn't played on offense. This looks like a red-shirt year for him as the Patriots have avoided the risk of another team claiming him on waivers (Dolphins?) should they try to move him to the practice squad.

Linebacker Steve Beauharnais: The seventh-round draft choice from Rutgers has dressed for three games, but hasn't played on defense. This appears to be more of a red-shirt year for him.

Receiver Josh Boyce: The fourth-round draft choice from Texas Christian played in the first five games (1 catch, 24 yards) but has been inactive for the past four as veteran Austin Collie was viewed as a more consistent option. Boyce is one of the fastest receivers on the team, but appears to need a little more time to put it all together.

Defensive end Michael Buchanan: The seventh-round pick from Illinois opened the season as the primary right defensive end in sub packages, but a few struggles with rush-lane integrity (Oct. 6 vs. Bengals and Oct. 20 vs. Jets) led to the signing of veteran Andre Carter, who has since taken over that role. Buchanan contributes on special teams and is now No. 4 on the overall defensive end depth chart, with obvious upside.

Linebacker Jamie Collins: The second-round pick from Southern Mississippi has been a core special teams player and was integrated a bit more defensively after linebacker Jerod Mayo was lost to a season-ending injury Oct. 13. But after flashing a bit Oct. 20 vs. the Jets, he was pushed around in the first half against the Dolphins on Oct. 27 and has played sparingly on defense since. He has all the tools, but appears to need a bit more time.

Dobson
Receiver Aaron Dobson: The second-round pick from Marshall has come on strong in recent weeks, elevating to the top spot on the depth chart as the X outside target. He has 31 receptions for 454 yards with four touchdowns, and at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds gives the Patriots a combination of size and speed that they haven't had at the position since Randy Moss.

Safety Duron Harmon: Considered a reach as a third-round pick, the Rutgers product has been a top backup behind starters Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory, playing in some sub packages. He also filled in on special teams when core player Tavon Wilson was out with a hamstring injury. Teammates have talked about his smarts and his professional approach.

Defensive tackle Chris Jones: Claimed on waivers from the Buccaneers on Sept. 11, he earns our vote for Patriots "rookie of the first half" with five sacks in six games played. At 6-foot-1 and 309 pounds, his quickness has been an asset as an interior rusher, and he's been competitive from a strength/physical standpoint on run plays. Waived by the Texans, who drafted him in the sixth round, he briefly landed in Tampa before the Buccaneers let him go and the Patriots pounced. He has proven to be a steal.

Ryan
Cornerback Logan Ryan: The third-round pick from Rutgers has made some big plays, such as an interception return for a touchdown against the Jets on Oct. 20, as he's been thrust into a top reserve role in recent weeks with Aqib Talib out. At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, he has mostly been competitive in coverage and shown a willingness to play the run.

Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins: The undrafted free agent from Cincinnati has slid down the depth chart the past two weeks after serving mostly as the primary X option on the outside (23 catches, 334 yards, 4 TDs) through the first seven games. He made the big game-winning catch against the Saints on Oct. 13, but has since been passed on the depth chart by Dobson.

Defensive tackle Joe Vellano: The undrafted free agent from Maryland is one of the surprises of the season. After opening the season as the No. 3 option behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, he has been thrust into a starting role as both veterans have been lost to season-ending injuries. At 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds, he might be viewed as undersized by some, but he wins with technique and scrappiness.

Projecting the Patriots' inactives

September, 21, 2013
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Before the New England Patriots play a game, we'll attempt to predict the team's inactive players.

Our best guess on the list for Sunday's home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Danny Amendola -- Receiver was listed as doubtful on the injury report (groin) and doesn't look like he's ready to play at this point.

Steve Beauharnais -- Linebacker was a healthy scratch last week, as his primary contributions would come on special teams at this point.

Brandon Bolden -- Running back has missed the first two games and is questionable with a knee injury. The Patriots could use his special-teams presence with Matthew Slater, out but he might need a little more time. He said Friday that he was unsure of his status.

Dan Connolly -- Starting right guard has been limited all week with a finger injury, which raises questions about his availability. Could mean Marcus Cannon steps in.

Rob Gronkowski -- If this was a playoff game, or even the Super Bowl, the feeling is that the tight end would be ready to play. But no need to rush things in Week 3 of the regular season.

Chris Jones -- Defensive tackle was claimed on waivers last week from the Buccaneers and is still being integrated into the system.

Matthew Slater -- Special-teams captain has already been declared out with a wrist injury.

Extra point: With Slater out, safety Kanorris Davis could be in line for a promotion from the practice squad. If that happens, tight end Matthew Mulligan and defensive tackle Chris Jones would be candidates to potentially create a spot for Davis.

Sharing some midday cut-down thoughts

August, 31, 2013
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Sharing non-Tim Tebow-based thoughts on some of the Patriots' roster moves today:

1a. The change at punter, with Zoltan Mesko out and rookie Ryan Allen in, has many layers. Both showed this preseason that they are deserving of punting in the NFL this season and that's why I took the unconventional approach of keeping both on a final 53-man roster projection (the idea being that maybe it would have been easier to slide Allen to the practice squad after a few weeks). Allen's upside is obvious; his leg is a bit stronger than Mesko's. But Mesko's control and directional punting seemed a notch above over the course of training camp and the preseason. However, Allen's three second-half punts on Thursday might have been the clincher, which showed his potential when it comes to control and directional punting.

Mesko
Allen
1b. Economics shouldn't have been the primary reason for the decision to go with Allen over Mesko, but it has to be a consideration. Mesko was due to earn $1.3 million in the final year of his contract. Allen has a three-year contract and is due to earn $405,000 this season.

1c. There is a trickle-down effect when it comes to the field-goal operation, as Mesko has served as the primary holder for kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Allen didn't hold at Louisiana Tech, but he's worked on the skill since joining the Patriots. Allen will likely become the primary holder, although backup quarterback Ryan Mallett could also be a consideration for the role.

1d. In 2005, the Patriots released rookie kicker Robbie Gould after an impressive camp and later regretted it when Adam Vinatieri departed in free agency the following year. I wondered how much that experience might have played a factor in this decision.

1e. Mesko goes down as one of the players who was most fun to cover. He also seemed most genuine and his farewell message to fans was most classy. One of my favorite personal memories of Mesko was how he was brought to tears after receiving the team's community service award in 2012. It meant so much to him and the emotions took over.

2. The biggest surprise has come among the reserves at defensive end, with Justin Francis, Marcus Benard and Jermaine Cunningham all being cut. They projected to the 3-4-5 spots on the depth chart. Health was likely a factor with Francis and Cunningham, as they have been sidelined. There is always the possibility for them to return if not picked up elsewhere, but an initial thought is that 2013 seventh-round pick Michael Buchanan (previous film breakdown) has impressed to the point that the coaching staff felt comfortable letting go of more experienced depth at the position. Buchanan was impressive on Thursday.

3. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was scheduled to earn $1.3 million, but he's agreed to reduce the salary this year with the chance to recoup some of the earnings in incentives, which helped him stick on the roster. Hoomanawanui's smarts, professionalism and dependability made an impression on the coaching staff last season. That he was the last tight end standing among the group of himself, Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells is a minor surprise.

4. The release of defensive tackle Marcus Forston was a mild surprise from this viewpoint. This could mean that rookie defensive tackle Joe Vellano is the top backup behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. Vellano caught the eye early in training camp, but still didn't think he'd top Forston at this point.

5. Still waiting to hear the fate of presumed bubble players like Vellano, safety Adrian Wilson, running back Leon Washington, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, cornerback Marquice Cole, fullback James Develin and linebacker Steve Beauharnais.

Patriots eligible for practice squad

August, 31, 2013
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Later today, the New England Patriots will finalize the first iteration of their 53-man roster. But the player puzzle doesn’t end there, as the team will begin constructing its practice squad, which can be up to eight players, on Sunday.

It would be no surprise for the Patriots to bring aboard players waived by other teams as members of their practice squad, but the unit will also likely include players waived by the team Saturday.

Below is a look at all current Patriots who still have practice-squad eligibility:

P Ryan Allen
DT Armond Armstead (on reserve/PUP)
LB Steve Beauharnais
DE Jake Bequette
WR Josh Boyce
DE Michael Buchanan
LB Jamie Collins
LB Ja'Gared Davis
S Kanorris Davis
WR Aaron Dobson
DT Marcus Forston
DB Justin Green
DT Cory Grissom (on injured reserve)
S Duron Harmon
WR Mark Harrison (on reserve/PUP)
G Josh Kline
C/G Chris McDonald
CB Logan Ryan
WR Quentin Sims
TE Zach Sudfeld
LB Jeff Tarpinian
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
DT Joe Vellano
RB George Winn
OL Markus Zusevics (on injured reserve)

Defensive starters for Patriots

August, 29, 2013
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Defensive starters for the New England Patriots tonight against the New York Giants:

DE -- Michael Buchanan
DT -- Marcus Forston
DT -- Joe Vellano
DE -- Jake Bequette
LB -- Dane Fletcher
LB -- Steve Beauharnais
LB -- Jamie Collins
CB -- Logan Ryan
CB -- Marquice Cole
S -- Adrian Wilson
S -- Duron Harmon

Wilson's presence among the second- and third-stringers is notable.

Links: Leach not out of picture in Miami

July, 19, 2013
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NFL.com's Adam Schein identifies the AFC East players who need to achieve -- and overachieve -- for each to team reach its potential.

Buffalo Bills

Appearing on The John Murphy Show Thursday night, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly says his recovery from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor continues, although not quite as quickly as he would like.

Who can lead the Bills' defense from the middle linebacker position, Chris Brown of the team's official website wonders.

Brown also writes there are other candidates for the team's most important player, beyond defensive end Mario Williams.

Training camp begins in 10 days for the Bills, and the Buffalo News has a list of all the practices.

Miami Dolphins

While the Dolphins plan to enter training camp without offering free agent Vonta Leach a contract, the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero reports Leach is not completely out of the picture in Miami.

With Mike Dee leaving the Dolphins as their CEO, Salguero takes a closer look at one possible in-house candidate.

Two days before training camp starts, the Dolphins added first-year wide receiver Kenny Stafford to their 90-man roster.

Running back Lamar Miller continues to heap praise upon his workout partner, 49ers' Frank Gore. "Just learning from the guy who went to the University of Miami and is from the same neighborhood I'm from, pretty much it just takes my overall game to the next level," Miller told Erica A. Hernandez of the Sun-Sentinel.

New Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe chats with The Finsiders about what he'll bring to the defense as he joins the team following a Super Bowl run with the Ravens.

Cornerback Brent Grimes, a former Falcon, tells the team's official website that he's not sweating the Dolphins' home opener against Atlanta.

The Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly ranks the Dolphins' top 10 position battles.

New England Patriots

Stevan Ridley makes the cut as a running back who CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan would like to see crack the 300-carry mark this season and get the Patriots' offense back to the pre-2007 season style.

Steve Beauharnais could add value down the road for the Patriots' linebacking corps, writes ESPNBoston.com's Mike Rodak.

Sports Illustrated's Don Banks asks -- and answers -- this question: How many Tom Brady passes will hit the ground without Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez, Danny Woodhead and a rehabbing Rob Gronkowski around this preseason?

"There's little doubting that (Chandler) Jones has many of the requisite skills to be an invaluable edge player for the Patriots, though the development of both his body and technique will play a part in his long-term outlook," writes Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com.

The Patriots' website finishes up its Position Battle series with a look at a pair of tight ends: Daniel Fells, a veteran in his second year with the Pats, and Zach Sudfeld, an undrafted free agent.

New York Jets

It's no coincidence that Chris Ivory was acquired by Jets general manager John Idzik, a former Seattle Seahawks executive, in an April trade. Ivory falls in at No. 13 on NFL.com's top 40 players most likely to Make the Leap in 2013. Also, CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan says Ivory could be the "sleeper of Fantasy drafts."

Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com writes chemistry and two new starters on the offensive line could be an issue for the Jets early on.

The Jets withdrew their application for a helipad at their Florham Park training facility amid neighbors' opposition to the project, writes Justin Zaremba of NJ.com.
I hope everyone had a good weekend and a happy Mother's Day. Here are the most interesting stories Monday the AFC East: Morning take: This looks like a very good pair in the making. Tannehill has many of the tools it takes to be a franchise quarterback, and Wallace has the elite speed Miami is looking for.
  • Buffalo Bills rookie free-agent receiver Da'Rick Rogers will only get one shot, according to head coach Doug Marrone.
Morning take: Rogers’ off-the-field issues are well-documented. But Buffalo is in need of talent, and Rogers could bring that to the receiving corps. The key, as Marrone mentioned, will be for Rogers to stay out of trouble.
  • This is a scouting report on New England Patriots’ seventh-round pick and linebacker Steve Beauharnais.
Morning take: Beauharnais is a long shot to make the team as New England’s final pick. But he did play at Rutgers, which is a team that really impressed Patriots head coach Bill Belichick last year.
Morning take: Richardson, a first-round pick, should be a starter in Week 1 for New York. Few doubt his physical ability and New York's need on the defensive line.

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