New England Patriots: Jeff Tarpinian

Catching up with former Patriots, Week 13

December, 4, 2013
Every Wednesday during the season, we'll lead off the day with a quick recap of notable former New England Patriots players and their standing with new teams.

Jake Ballard (Cardinals)
Tight end plays four offensive snaps and six on special teams in a 24-21 road loss to the Eagles. Doesn't register on the stat sheet.
Season snapshot: Has been with the Cardinals for four games since signing Nov. 4, playing 53 of 281 snaps and totaling two catches for 44 yards.

Patrick Chung (Eagles)
Safety starts and plays all 71 snaps in a 24-21 home win over the Cardinals. Has one pass defended.
Season snapshot: Has started six of 12 games and is credited with 36 tackles.

Jermaine Cunningham (Jets)
Outside linebacker plays six defensive snaps and 11 on special teams in a 23-3 home loss to the Dolphins. Doesn't register on the stat sheet.
Season snapshot: Spent the month of October with the 49ers but never appeared in a game. Signed with the Jets on Nov. 20. He dressed Nov. 24 but didn't play, so the Dolphins game was his debut.

Brandon Deaderick (Jaguars)
Defensive tackle plays 23 of 75 snaps in 32-28 road win over the Browns. Totals one tackle.
Season snapshot: Has played 288 total snaps, totaling eight tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and one pass defended.

A.J. Francis (Dolphins)
Defensive tackle is inactive in a 23-3 road win over the Jets.
Season snapshot: Signed off the Patriots' practice squad Nov. 26,

Kyle Love (Chiefs)
Defensive tackle is inactive in a 35-28 home loss to the Broncos.
Season snapshot: After spending training camp with the Jaguars and being released before the season opener, he signed with the Chiefs on Nov. 19. Appeared in one game, playing two snaps, before being waived Dec. 3.

Greg Salas (Jets)
Receiver is targeted four times and makes one catch in a 23-3 home loss to the Dolphins. Plays 30 of 55 snaps.
Season snapshot: In four games with the Jets since making his debut Nov. 3, he has seven catches for 137 yards. Has played 118 of 231 offensive snaps in those games.

Zach Sudfeld (Jets)
Plays seven snaps on offense and 15 on special teams but doesn't register on the stat sheet.
Season snapshot: Tight end has played 103 offensive snaps in seven games. Has four catches for 56 yards.

Jeff Tarpinian (Texans)
Linebacker plays in a reserve role in a 34-31 home loss to the Patriots, totaling two tackles and a half-sack. Plays 27 of 70 snaps.
Season snapshot: After signing with the Texans on Oct. 28, has played in four games, totaling 12 tackles on defense. Has played 92 of 271 defensive snaps.

Leon Washington (Titans)
Wearing No. 26, he is the primary kickoff returner and punt returner in a 22-14 road loss to the Colts, totaling three kickoff returns for 78 yards (26.0 avg.) and two punt returns for 43 yards (21.5 avg.), with two fair catches. Doesn't play on offense.
Season snapshot: Released by the Patriots on Nov. 23; signed with the Titans on Nov. 26.

Wes Welker (Broncos)
Receiver finishes with three catches for 38 yards as his presence draws attention and opens things up for fellow receiver Eric Decker to have a big day in a 35-28 road win over the Chiefs. Plays 63 of 70 snaps.
Season snapshot: Has played 722 of 906 offensive snaps (79.6 percent), and has 68 catches for 717 yards and nine touchdowns.

Danny Woodhead (Chargers)
Running back has seven carries for 22 yards and adds two catches for 13 yards in a 17-10 home loss to the Bengals. Plays 27 of 65 snaps.
Season snapshot: Has 61 receptions for 482 yards and five TDs, and has carried the ball 77 times for 288 yards and two TDs. Has played 384 offensive snaps.

Others: Colts starting guard Donald Thomas landed on season-ending injured reserve in Week 2. ... Defensive end Trevor Scott played four games (54 snaps) with the Buccaneers before he was released Oct. 24. ... Punter Zoltan Mesko was released by the Steelers on Oct. 29 after appearing in seven games and ranking 31st in punting average (42.5) and 29th in net punting average (36.7). ... Quarterback Brian Hoyer started two games for the Browns, leading them to two wins, before tearing his ACL in his third start and landing on season-ending injured reserve.

Highlighting Patriots-Texans connections

November, 29, 2013
Each week we use this space to highlight members of the New England Patriots' upcoming opponent that have a connection to the team. This week, we lead off with a player that spent part of 2013 on the Patriots' practice squad and has become a surprise defensive contributor for the Houston Texans.

Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian: Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa back in 2011, Tarpinian was released by the Patriots from their practice squad this year before landing on the Panthers' practice squad, albeit briefly. He was signed by the Texans, who had been hurt by inside linebacker injuries, on Oct. 28, and quickly has made an impact. In three games, Tarpinian already has 14 tackles.

Cornerback Josh Victorian: A former member of the Patriots' practice squad, Victorian is a reserve defensive back in Houston who has two tackles in three games played this season.

Associate director of pro scouting Bobby Grier: A member of the Patriots' organization for nearly two decades from 1981 to 1999, Grier joined the Texans in the same role he currently serves in. He worked in a number of capacities in New England, including three years as the vice president of player personnel from 1997 to 1999.

And now, a trio of current Patriots with Texans ties.

Defensive tackle Chris Jones: A sixth-round pick for Houston this past April, Jones was waived by the Texans and Buccaneers before landing in New England. Given that he already has five sacks this season and is playing a healthy number of snaps per game, it’s fair to wonder if the Texans wish they could have this one back.

Running back Cierre Wood: The practice squad player was undrafted out of Notre Dame, landing on the Texans, where little-touted backs have gone on to success (notably, Arian Foster). Wood was among a trio of Texans who were released from the active roster as a disciplinary measure after an incident the night before a game against the Chiefs.

Linebacker Ja'Gared Davis: Another current practice squad player, Davis was signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent out of SMU this April. Upon being waived in late August, Davis landed with the Patriots via a waiver claim. He was promoted to the active roster for one game this season before being waived and re-signed to the practice squad.

Patriots sign five to practice squad

September, 1, 2013
The New England Patriots announced the following five players have been signed to the practice squad: LB Ja'Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, CB Justin Green, DL Marcus Forston and LB Jeff Tarpinian.

The Patriots claimed Ja'Gared Davis off waivers last week from the Texans. The other four players were with the team in training camp.

The team has three open spots on the eight-man practice squad.

Patriots announce 13 cuts

August, 31, 2013
The New England Patriots announced Saturday that the following 13 players have been released:

DE Jermaine Cunningham
LB Ja'Gared Davis
S Kannoris Davis
DL Marcus Forston
DE Justin Francis
CB Justin Green
OL Chris McDonald
P Zoltan Mesko
DB Stephon Morris
WR Quentin Sims
LB Jeff Tarpinian
QB Tim Tebow
RB George Winn

Of the group, Tarpinian is the one new player who had previously not been reported to be released.

More analysis to come.

Sharing some midday cut-down thoughts

August, 31, 2013
Sharing non-Tim Tebow-based thoughts on some of the Patriots' roster moves today:

1a. The change at punter, with Zoltan Mesko out and rookie Ryan Allen in, has many layers. Both showed this preseason that they are deserving of punting in the NFL this season and that's why I took the unconventional approach of keeping both on a final 53-man roster projection (the idea being that maybe it would have been easier to slide Allen to the practice squad after a few weeks). Allen's upside is obvious; his leg is a bit stronger than Mesko's. But Mesko's control and directional punting seemed a notch above over the course of training camp and the preseason. However, Allen's three second-half punts on Thursday might have been the clincher, which showed his potential when it comes to control and directional punting.

1b. Economics shouldn't have been the primary reason for the decision to go with Allen over Mesko, but it has to be a consideration. Mesko was due to earn $1.3 million in the final year of his contract. Allen has a three-year contract and is due to earn $405,000 this season.

1c. There is a trickle-down effect when it comes to the field-goal operation, as Mesko has served as the primary holder for kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Allen didn't hold at Louisiana Tech, but he's worked on the skill since joining the Patriots. Allen will likely become the primary holder, although backup quarterback Ryan Mallett could also be a consideration for the role.

1d. In 2005, the Patriots released rookie kicker Robbie Gould after an impressive camp and later regretted it when Adam Vinatieri departed in free agency the following year. I wondered how much that experience might have played a factor in this decision.

1e. Mesko goes down as one of the players who was most fun to cover. He also seemed most genuine and his farewell message to fans was most classy. One of my favorite personal memories of Mesko was how he was brought to tears after receiving the team's community service award in 2012. It meant so much to him and the emotions took over.

2. The biggest surprise has come among the reserves at defensive end, with Justin Francis, Marcus Benard and Jermaine Cunningham all being cut. They projected to the 3-4-5 spots on the depth chart. Health was likely a factor with Francis and Cunningham, as they have been sidelined. There is always the possibility for them to return if not picked up elsewhere, but an initial thought is that 2013 seventh-round pick Michael Buchanan (previous film breakdown) has impressed to the point that the coaching staff felt comfortable letting go of more experienced depth at the position. Buchanan was impressive on Thursday.

3. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was scheduled to earn $1.3 million, but he's agreed to reduce the salary this year with the chance to recoup some of the earnings in incentives, which helped him stick on the roster. Hoomanawanui's smarts, professionalism and dependability made an impression on the coaching staff last season. That he was the last tight end standing among the group of himself, Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells is a minor surprise.

4. The release of defensive tackle Marcus Forston was a mild surprise from this viewpoint. This could mean that rookie defensive tackle Joe Vellano is the top backup behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. Vellano caught the eye early in training camp, but still didn't think he'd top Forston at this point.

5. Still waiting to hear the fate of presumed bubble players like Vellano, safety Adrian Wilson, running back Leon Washington, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, fullback James Develin and linebacker Steve Beauharnais.

Patriots eligible for practice squad

August, 31, 2013
Later today, the New England Patriots will finalize the first iteration of their 53-man roster. But the player puzzle doesn’t end there, as the team will begin constructing its practice squad, which can be up to eight players, on Sunday.

It would be no surprise for the Patriots to bring aboard players waived by other teams as members of their practice squad, but the unit will also likely include players waived by the team Saturday.

Below is a look at all current Patriots who still have practice-squad eligibility:

P Ryan Allen
DT Armond Armstead (on reserve/PUP)
LB Steve Beauharnais
DE Jake Bequette
WR Josh Boyce
DE Michael Buchanan
LB Jamie Collins
LB Ja'Gared Davis
S Kanorris Davis
WR Aaron Dobson
DT Marcus Forston
DB Justin Green
DT Cory Grissom (on injured reserve)
S Duron Harmon
WR Mark Harrison (on reserve/PUP)
G Josh Kline
C/G Chris McDonald
CB Logan Ryan
WR Quentin Sims
TE Zach Sudfeld
LB Jeff Tarpinian
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
DT Joe Vellano
RB George Winn
OL Markus Zusevics (on injured reserve)

Follow-up thoughts: Jeff Tarpinian

July, 5, 2013
The Patriots have made substantial investments in their linebacking corps over recent seasons, as Dont'a Hightower was a first round pick in 2012, Jamie Collins the team's top draft choice in 2013 and Jerod Mayo the recipient of a five-year extension near the close of the 2011 regular season.

The top end of the depth chart at the position seems to be mostly in place (the starting trio from last year returns in 2013), but there's a number of players in the mix for depth purposes, including Jeff Tarpinian, the subject of this morning's Bubble Watch post by Mike Rodak.

Tarpinian enters his third year in the program in 2013 after initially making the Patriots roster as an undrafted linebacker in 2011 out of Iowa. An injury cut that season short, while he became a practice squad player in 2012.

As was laid out by Rodak, other players who offer core special teams value are competition for Tarpinian, but one other wrinkle of note related to the 25-year old is that, should the Patriots want to have him on the practice squad, the active roster will need to be at 53 players on every game day. That's because 2013 would be Tarpinian's third year on the practice squad, and teams are required to have a full boat on the active roster if they want to keep a third year practice squadder (this same stipulation applied to James Develin last year).

There were weeks last year that the Patriots kept just 52 players on the active roster, and while not a major storyline, it's a part of the roster construction that the team keeps in mind as the season progresses. It doesn't decide the fate for a player like Tarpinian, but it's one of the many factors that is considered when evaluating his roster status.

Bubble watch: Jeff Tarpinian

July, 5, 2013
(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2013.)

NAME: Jeff Tarpinian

[+] EnlargeJeff Tarpinian
AP Photo/Kathy WillensJeff Tarpinian has limited game experience but has a chance to secure a spot if he stays healthy.
POSITION: Linebacker

AGE: 25

2012 STATS: 3 games (0 starts), 1 tackle

INJURY STATUS: No known injuries.


WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: Tarpinian had a quiet season in 2012, but that may in part be attributed to a serious head injury that ended his rookie campaign. Now entering his third season, he still has potential to supplant veteran Niko Koutouvides, who turned 32 in March, as a core special-teams player.

WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: While the Tarpinian's battle with Koutouvides will be one to monitor, rookie Steve Beauharnais could also prevent Tarpinian from making the 53-man roster. The Patriots may be reluctant to expose Beauharnais, a seventh-round pick, to waivers. Tarpinian is still practice squad eligible, and the chances of being able to keep Beauharnais on the 53-man roster and Tarpinian on the practice squad may be better than the reverse (Beauharnais on the practice squad and Tarpinian on the 53-man roster).

CLOSEST COMPETITION: LB Steve Beauharnais, LB Niko Koutouvides, LB Mike Rivera

Tarpinian promoted, Tennant released

October, 20, 2012
The Patriots promoted linebacker Jeff Tarpinian from the practice squad Saturday, and released center/guard Matt Tennant to make room for him, the team announced.

The promotion of Tarpinian is likely with special teams considerations in mind. The Patriots have already ruled out linebacker Tracy White (left foot) and running back Brandon Bolden (knee), two players who make significant contributions on special teams.

Last week, without White, the Patriots used four different players to account for the role that White plays on four different special teams units.

Tarpinian also adds depth at linebacker, where the Patriots also have depth questions with rookie Dont'a Hightower (hamstring) questionable. The second-year player out of Iowa made the Patriots' 53-man roster last season after joining the club as a rookie free agent. He played in seven games with one start before landing on injured reserve in late November.

Tennant, of Boston College, has now been released two different times by the Patriots since the club claimed him on waivers from the Saints on Sept. 1. He did not play a game for the team this season.

JETS' INJURIES: Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork reports that the Jets will be without nose tackle Sione Pouha, running back Bilal Powell, safety Eric Smith and nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, all of whom were listed as doubtful on the injury report, while running back Joe McKnight, listed as questionable with a high ankle sprain even though he didn't practice all week, made the trip and will be a game-time decision (link here).

Tarpinian signed off practice squad

September, 22, 2011
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots added linebacker Jeff Tarpinian to their 53-man roster Thursday, releasing linebacker A.J. Edds. With the vacant practice squad spot, the team also inked rookie cornerback Josh Victorian.

The Patriots signed Tarpinian this summer as a rookie free agent out of Iowa. He survived the cutdown to 53 players, but was released on Sept. 12 when the team elevated Thomas Welch from the practice squad to add depth at offensive lineman before the season-opener in Miami. Tarpinian landed with the Patriots' practice squad two days later. Due to injuries, Tarpinian could add special teams versatility.

The Patriots claimed Edds off waivers from the Miami Dolphins earlier this month. The former fourth-round pick of the Dolphins appeared at linebacker for 10 snaps in Sunday's win over the Chargers, while also serving a limited role on special teams.

Victorian spent part of training camp with the Baltimore Ravens after being inked as a rookie free agent out of Louisiana Tech.

Tarpinian continues Pats undrafted trend

September, 6, 2011
Elsa/Getty ImagesJeff Tarpinian makes a tackle during the preseason.
The fact that the Patriots kept rookie linebacker Jeff Tarpinian on the 53-man roster is evidence enough they like his potential and director of player personnel Nick Caserio offered high praise for the undrafted free agent during a conference call Tuesday.

"We like what we saw from Jeff in college and we like what we saw from him on the practice field," said Caserio. "He's a player we want to continue working with. And really, the reality is any player that’s in our program, whether they’re on the roster or whether they’re on the practice squad -- they’re in the program because we feel that’s a player we want to work with. So that’s why Jeff is here and that’s why a lot of other players are here as well."

Sidelined for much of training camp due to injury, Tarpinian projected as a long shot to stick on the active roster. In fact, the practice squad (or even injured reserve) seemed like a more likely destinations, but even as the Patriots made tough roster decisions at other positions, Tarpinian earned his spot.

While at Iowa, Tarpinian shined on special teams, another reason he's likely been deemed so valuable in New England.

"He's a smart guy; Tough, instinctive, runs well," said Caserio. "He was around the football quite a bit in college. He has some attributes that are positives. We certainly would have liked to see him stay on the field a little bit more, but that’s some of the things we liked."

(Read full post)