New England Patriots: Antwaun Molden

CB Antwaun Molden shaken up

November, 27, 2011
PHILADELPHIA -- Patriots cornerback Antwaun Molden was shaken up midway through the fourth quarter.

Molden received attention from trainers and, despite lobbying to stay on the field, he was held out the remainder of the drive. Molden was replaced by rookie Sterling Moore, who started the game at safety, but with the game in hand, had relented his reps to Sergio Brown.

Belichick: CBs not at top of problem list

November, 2, 2011

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesAntwaun Molden (27) at work vs. the Steelers.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- While the Patriots were scorched by Pittsburgh's passing game Sunday, coach Bill Belichick came out in defense of his cornerbacks Wednesday, suggesting that much of the blame fell on the linebackers and safeties for all of the plays made in the middle of the field.

The Patriots left themselves thin at corner after releasing veteran Leigh Bodden late last week (and rookie Ras-I Dowling, who started the first two games on the season, went on season-ending injured reserve). Inexperienced young players like Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams were thrust into elevated roles.

"I thought [Molden and Adams] were competitive," said Belichick. "The problems we had in the Pittsburgh game, I wouldn't put that at the top of the list."

When a reporter brought up a poor coverage play involving Molden, Belichick added, "I wouldn't say every play was a good play. But the number of plays that happened on the perimeter of the field, relative to the plays that happened well inside the numbers, there isn't a comparison."

Molden played a career-high 42 snaps in Sunday's loss, more than doubling his previous output (41 snaps) with New England. According to coverage stats logged by Pro Football Focus, Molden allowed four receptions (on five targets) for 38 yards and two first-half touchdowns. He didn't use the late-week roster shuffling as an excuse for any of his struggles.

"It wasn’t necessarily challenging," said Molden. "If you study, if you execute well, you should be successful."

(Read full post)

Targets: Molden, Adams in focus

October, 29, 2011

Thearon W. Henderson/GettyAntwaun Molden makes a tackle in the game against the Raiders.

With the Patriots coming off their bye, target stats haven't changed since last week's entry. But the secondary received a major shakeup Friday when veteran Leigh Bodden was released by the team, and on Saturday, when rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling was placed on injured reserve. This leaves the Patriots dangerously thin at cornerback for Sunday's game in Pittsburgh, especially considering the lack of experience at the end of the depth chart.

At the moment, Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams would potentially be the nickel and dime corners -- unless the Patriots utilized an extra safety at those spots. Molden, a former third-round draft pick (79th overall in 2008) of the Houston Texans, has seen the most extensive defensive snaps of his career with the Patriots. Meanwhile, Adams, who's been in and out of the New England locker room early in the season, is a former seventh-round pick (224th overall) of the San Francisco 49ers and was thrown at for two touchdowns in limited snaps during his rookie campaign.

By comparison, Bodden had played 219 snaps this season with 12 of the 22 passes in his direction caught for 192 yards and a touchdown. Opposing quarterbacks had a 99.1 rating when throwing on him.

CB Molden's history with Patriots

September, 2, 2011
Brett Davis/US PresswireAntwaun Molden at work with the Houston Texans.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the more impressive individual performances in the Patriots' preseason finale was delivered by cornerback Antwaun Molden.

The former Houston Texan was claimed on waivers Wednesday, arrived in town at 1:30 on Thursday morning, then played in the game and registered two passes defended. Molden's playing time came early -- he entered on the fourth defensive play in a sub package -- in part because Kyle Arrington was knocked out of the game on the opening kickoff (an injury that isn't expected to be a long-term situation).

In all, Molden (6-1, 200) was on the field for about 15 first-half snaps, before playing throughout the second half. It was a good chance for the Patriots to evaluate him.

"He's a big corner," coach Bill Belichick said after the game, when asked what the Patriots liked in Molden. "He's an athletic guy who can run, and he plays in the kicking game."

Belichick and the Patriots have had their eyes on Molden since 2008 when he was a third-round draft choice out of Eastern Kentucky. Molden said that he came to Gillette Stadium for one of the team's allotted pre-draft visits that year.

The Patriots ended up selecting cornerbacks Terrence Wheatley (2nd round) and Jonathan Wilhite (4th round) in 2008; both have since been released.

Molden's first impression was a good one.

"It's a new environment, new faces," Molden said. "I'm like the new kid on the block. I'm definitely blessed."

Molden's reaction when the Patriots claimed him on waivers?

"Thank God," he responded. "Usually it's not that quick of a turnaround for players on the waiver wire. It's no joke, it's stressful. I'm fortunate that Bill Belichick and his staff picked me up and we'll see what happens tomorrow [with the final roster cutdown]."

Scouting report on CB Molden

September, 1, 2011
The Patriots claimed cornerback Antwaun Molden on waivers on Wednesday, and assuming everything falls in line with a physical, the former Houston Texan will officially be added to the roster. AFC South reporter Paul Kuharsky obliged this morning when asked for a scouting report on Molden:

"They were really big on him when he first arrived in Houston as a third-round pick in 2008. I remember being at camp that first year and you ask the question, 'Who has been surprisingly good?' Eveyrbody was raving about Molden, but he never lived up to that initial good impression," Kuharsky relayed.

"Here is a team that has been desperate for DB help that went out and signed the second-best cornerback available in the free-agent market [Johnathan Joseph]. They're not going to let people go that they think can help a secondary that was on pace to be historically bad for a good stretch of last season.

"Molden looks the part (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), but he was dinged up consistently for them. As they brought in more and more people, he fell deeper and deeper down the depth chart. Maybe in a new situation, with new coaching and a new scheme, he has a chance. But if I'm a Patriots fan, I'm not doing cartwheels thinking that this guy will be a savior. I'm thinking of him as a back-of-the-cornerback depth chart candidate to be developed."

ESPN Boston colleague Chris Forsberg offers the following as well:
Take a closer look at Molden and you'll find a player that hasn't seen a lot of snaps as an NFL defensive back. According to defensive snap counts logged by Pro Football Focus, Molden has been on the field for a mere 32 snaps over eight career games as a defensive back (dropping back into pass coverage just 20 times). Here's their breakdown in his three seasons with Texas:

2008 - 4 games, 9 snaps, 7 in pass coverage
2009 - 1 game, 14 snaps, 5 in pass coverage
2010 - 3 games, 9 snaps, 8 in pass coverage

The numbers at Pro Football Focus also show that Molden has been thrown at just once in his career (it did result in a 2-yard loss). Needless to say, Molden's been primarily a special teams players during his three-year career.