New England Patriots: Phillip Adams

Patriots release DB Phillip Adams

November, 29, 2011
The New England Patriots released cornerback Phillip Adams on Tuesday.

Adams, a seventh-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2010, has had three stints with the Patriots this season, appearing in six games. With injuries, he's worked as slot corner in recent weeks and appeared on a season-high 51 snaps against the Eagles. Overall, Adams has played 180 total defensive snaps while appearing at corner in the last five games (he also played on special teams).

Adams' release could be a positive sign for the health of second-year cornerback Devin McCourty, who has sat out the last two games after injuring his shoulder against the Jets in Week 10.

The Patriots did not announce a corresponding roster move and now have an open spot on the 53-man roster. Personnel director Nick Caserio hinted at a possible move during conference calls Tuesday afternoon, noting at the time, "We’re still kind of sorting through a number of things here today."

Right place, right time for Adams

November, 23, 2011
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesPatriots cornerback Phillip Adams put together one of his best efforts of the season Monday.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Give Phillip Adams credit for being brutally honest. Asked after Monday's win over the Chiefs what he saw on the play that produced his first NFL interception, the second-year corner smiled and admitted it wasn't overly complicated.

“I just turned my head and the ball was there," Adams said of an end zone interception that thwarted Kansas City's best opportunity for a second-half touchdown. "I was playing in the right position, where I was supposed to be and I'm just glad I was there to make the play.”

Adams, a former seventh-round pick (224th overall) of the San Francisco 49ers, was initially signed by New England in late September and was on and off the roster for a bit before injuries and departures created an opportunity for him. Over the past four games, Adams has appeared on 129 defensive snaps while serving as a nickel corner and Monday was his best game of the season.

Not only did Adams register his first pro interception, but, according to target stats logged by analytical site Pro Football Focus, he allowed only one 7-yard reception on three targets (in 19 total pass coverage situations). In fact, in PFF's game grades, Adams was second behind only defensive end Andre Carter in overall rating.

For the season, Adams has allowed seven catches for 87 yards in 13 targets (during 85 pass coverage situations). He hasn't allowed a touchdown and opposing quarterbacks have a mere 42.8 rating while throwing at him.

Asked if he thinks teams are starting to take notice of New England's no-name defense, Adams offered the company line about focusing on improvement.

“All we have to do is get better day after day, week after week, we just continue to get better," he said. "It really doesn’t matter if they do or they don’t [take notice]. Every week we are going to go into practice and work hard regardless if they are going to give us respect or not.”

Teammates are clearly taking notice of Adams. Talking about the play of the secondary after Monday's game, safety James Ihedigbo noted: "[Adams] played outstanding all game and ended up with a key interception down there in the red zone."

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."

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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.

Adams ready if needed in secondary

September, 23, 2011
Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonNew cornerback Phillip Adams talks to reporters on Friday.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cornerback Phillip Adams, inked earlier this week by the Patriots to add depth in a dinged-up secondary, said he's preparing with the idea of being ready to contribute Sunday in Buffalo.

"I’m going to work hard and, whatever the coaches decide, then that’s what I’ll do," said Adams. "I’ll come in here, work hard, and get ready."

The 23-year-old Adams was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round (224th overall) of the 2010 draft. He appeared in 15 games, mostly in a special teams role, before breaking his left ankle on kickoff duties on Dec. 26. The 6-foot, 193-pound Adams, a product of South Carolina State, was released by the 49ers as part of final cutdowns earlier this month.

"My body feels good, I feel rejuvenated," said Adams. "I'll be prepared, I’ll be ready."

Adams appeared on only 76 defensive snaps as a reserve corner for San Francisco last season, according to snaps logged by Pro Football Focus. He registered four tackles and one pass defended. Adams also returned punts for the 49ers.

It's been a short week since arriving in New England and he's just trying to absorb it all.

"I've just been studying, learning as much as I can," said Adams. "You know how it is when you step on new ground, you want to learn and get all the knowledge that you possibly can."