The moves didn't come as a major surprise, as the Patriots had two open spots on the practice squad to fill, and each player provides depth and insurance in the event of an injury to an active roster player.
Now, for some "cleaning out the notebook" thoughts.
On Wednesday's episode of NFL Insiders, the Patriots were a team of interest in a couple of segments that I wanted to pass along, highlighted below.
Jones' rise: In discussing players that are receiving less attention than their play merits, one personnel man expressed that Chandler Jones fit the bill. As he put it, it's not that Jones isn't receiving notice at all -- 10.5 sacks through 11 games is tough to ignore -- but more that he deserves to be in the conversation among the best young pass-rushers in all of football. As highlighted by Mike Reiss on Wednesday, Jones has gotten the job done from a number of alignments. He's clearly a cornerstone of this defense.
Thankful for coaching staff: When asked the question of what the Patriots are thankful for this season, my answer was simple: Bill Belichick and his coaching staff. Belichick has long been regarded as a top coach in this league, and has the hardware to show for it, but one could make the case that his work this season rivals almost any other in his career. Given the slow start on offense and decimated defense, the fact that the Patriots are 8-3 speaks volumes about his work. That extends to his coaching staff, which has done superb work in developing young players and keeping this team competitive in every game this season. A runner-up pick would be wide receiver Julian Edelman, who has been the most consistent receiving option for the team this season. His efforts do not deserve to go overlooked.
And finally, some thoughts as it relates to the Steelers-Ravens game tonight: Both are on the outside looking in on the playoff chase in the AFC, but each is within striking distance of the sixth-place Titans (all three teams have a 5-6 record). The Patriots have the inside track on the AFC East and could potentially face Pittsburgh or Baltimore in the playoffs at some point, so this game is both an enjoyable and informative way to digest turkey and stuffing later tonight. The Patriots are also scheduled to travel to Baltimore in Week 16 for a Sunday night showdown, but the NFL could opt to flex that game based on the teams' records. Should Baltimore fall out of the playoff chase, it could be that the NFL would shift the time slot in favor of one of the other potentially intriguing matchups (Indianapolis-Kansas City, Chicago-Philadelphia, New Orleans-Carolina, etc...)