Bubble Watch: Donte' Stallworth

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
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(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2012.)

Donte Stallworth
AP Photo/Charles KrupaDonte' Stallworth might have to beat out fellow veteran Deion Branch in order to make the roster.
NAME: Donte' Stallworth

POSITION: Wide receiver

AGE: 32

2011 STATS: 11 games (no starts), 22 catches (309 yards, 2 touchdowns) -- with Redskins

INJURY STATUS: No known injuries

CHANCE OF MAKING 53-MAN ROSTER: 50%

WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: In the prime of his career, Stallworth was an impressive downfield threat, using his speed to stretch opposing defenses. At 32, Stallworth may no longer be able to rely on his speed. He told reporters in May that he has become a better route-runner later in his career and is no longer just "relying on (his) talent." If that is the case, then Stallworth could have a niche role within the Patriots offense. Wes Welker (122 catches in 2011), Brandon Lloyd (70 catches) and Jabar Gaffney (68 catches) will top the depth chart, but if there is room for one more receiver outside of special-teams captain Matthew Slater and returner Julian Edelman, the battle will likely come down to Stallworth and Deion Branch and which of the two veterans has more left in the tank.

WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: While Stallworth totaled about 700 or more receiving yards for four straight seasons from 2004-2007, his production has dipped significantly after he was suspended for the 2009 season. On the wrong side of 30 years old, some believe that Stallworth has lost enough speed to no longer be an effective receiver. Stallworth flashed some breakaway speed while returning a kickoff during organized team activities last month, but another question with Stallworth is his ability to stay healthy, having battled hamstring injuries over his career. Branch, who faces durability questions himself, is the incumbent in the Patriots' offense. Stallworth will have to prove himself this preseason to unseat Branch.

CLOSEST COMPETITION: WR Deion Branch, WR Julian Edelman, WR Jeremy Ebert, WR Britt Davis

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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