Sunday, September 4, 2011
Wrap-up thoughts on active day
By Mike Reiss
Some wrap-up thoughts on another active day when it comes to the Patriots' roster:
1. The Patriots' cuts were most desirable around the NFL. The team had five players claimed on waivers (WR Brandon Tate, G/C Thomas Austin, TE Lee Smith, TE Will Yeatman, DL Landon Cohen), and a total of 16 claims were placed on those players. No other team came close to that total. Meanwhile, safety Brandon Meriweather quickly signed with the Bears, safety James Sanders quickly landed with the Falcons, linebacker Ricky Brown returned to Oakland and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite landed in Denver. Austin, Yeatman and Smith would have been good fits on the practice squad. If you're the Patriots, it's a high compliment, but also a frustrating part of the process. Bill Belichick has talked about building depth 65 players deep, because you're going to need those players over the course of the season, and the Patriots got raided today.
2. Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was a former Patriots assistant under Bill Belichick, which is one link in Miami's claiming of Yeatman. Daboll knows he's getting a player who has been well-drilled in a demanding system.
3. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano on Yeatman: "He’s a guy we had on our radar for quite some time, actually before the draft. He’s a smart guy, he’s a big guy, he’s a strong guy and a little different than some of the guys that we have right now at the position. I think he brings a few different things to the table that way."
4. Thought it was interesting that the Jets put in a waiver claim for receiver Brandon Tate, who was awarded to the Bengals. It looks like the Bengals are planning to use Tate as both a kickoff and punt returner. In New England, Tate solely handled kickoffs. The Cardinals also put in a waiver claim on Tate.
5. With just two tight ends on the 53-man roster, the Patriots have no in-house insurance should Rob Gronkowski sustain an injury. While it makes sense to think "move" tight end Garrett Mills could return on the practice squad to back up Aaron Hernandez, an injury to Gronkowski could lead to a quick call to veteran Alge Crumpler.
6. Offensive lineman Thomas Austin, who was with the Patriots last year on the practice squad and in training camp this year, was a desired player on the waiver wire. The Bengals, Texans, Colts and Rams all placed waiver claims on him. Meanwhile, tight end Lee Smith (5th round pick) was claimed by the Bills, Saints, Jets, 49ers and Buccaneers. Also, tight end Will Yeatman was claimed by the Dolphins, Buccaneers and Colts. So if the Patriots were banking on both tight ends getting through waivers, it looks like they miscalculated what the league interest would be.
7. Long snapper is one of those positions that is easy to forget about until there is a mistake, but the Patriots' movement at the position (3 snappers since camp opened) shouldn't be overlooked. Here is how the Pro Football Weekly draft guide described Virginia's Danny Aiken, who was claimed on waivers by the Patriots today: "Experienced, smart, skilled, low-maintenance snapper who warrants a camp invite to flash his wares. ... Enough size and strength (6-4, 244) to hold up. ... Not fleet of foot to get down the field. Does not live for football."