Thursday, June 7, 2012
Reshuffling New England's receiver deck
By James Walker
The New England Patriots cut former six-time Pro Bowl receiver Chad Ochocinco Thursday. Along with Anthony Gonzalez, Ochocinco was the second receiver cut before training camp who had a shot to make the team.
This reshuffles a crowded field of receivers for the reigning AFC champs. Let's take a look at the updated roster at the position:
Locks: Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney
Skinny: Welker and Lloyd are the two starters and guaranteed locks to make the team. Gaffney was an underrated free-agent signing who should help the Patriots. He is one of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite receivers, and that carries a lot of weight in New England.
Solid footing: Deion Branch, Matthew Slater
Skinny: Branch is a veteran who knows the system well and continues to produce. A starter in 2011, Branch is a good receiver to have around for depth and knowledge. Slater is New England's best special-teams player and a captain. Slater might not help much on offense, but he's one of the NFL's best in the third phase of the game. That's enough for him to stick.
Work to do: Julian Edelman, Donte' Stallworth, Jeremy Ebert
Skinny: The Patriots are probably going to keep six or seven receivers on their 53-man roster. The recent release of Ochocinco and Gonzalez helps relieve some of the pressure. But these are the three receivers fighting for the final one or two roster spots. The easy prediction is Edelman and Stallworth if New England keeps seven receivers; Ebert is a seventh-round pick and a long shot. If the Patriots choose only six, Edelman might have an advantage with his versatility.