Less than forty eight hours removed from their last game and the Patriots are already on to the next one.
The team arrived in Tampa late last night to begin practices in preparation for their third preseason game of the season against the Bucs on Friday night. As they did with the New Orleans Saints earlier this month, the Pats will engage in joint practices with their opponent. This is obviously something Bill Belichick sees a lot of value in, and there are definite upsides for the Pats in terms of honing their skills. Belichick has also stressed throughout training camp that players should try new things now and see how they might be beneficial during the regular season; why not try them up against someone wearing a different color jersey?
Earlier this offseason, there was a huge buzz around Jonathan Fanene when the Pats signed him to a three-year deal – and offered him a $3.85 million signing bonus. After missing the team’s last 13 practices, the Pats released him but have sighted “failure to disclose physical condition” to attempt to recoup some of the bonus money already paid out. Almost 50% of it was scheduled to be given to Fanene in March 2013 so at the very least the team would want to hold on to that. ESPN’s John Clayton reported Fanene may also need knee surgery, which would likely put him out for the season anyway.
It’s disappointing that things have worked out this way with the outside linebacker though. He had great potential to be a strong veteran presence on a defense that’s getting increasingly younger. However, rookie Chandler Jones appears to have exceeded all expectations on where he’d be in his development at this point and Dont’e Hightower has thoroughly impressed, so Fanene is not as valuable as he was once thought to be.
Why is this noteworthy? Because of when Jeff Demps, return man extraordinaire, was signed by the Patriots (just last week), his already being on the practice field means he can’t be put on PUP. He’ll have to either make the 53-man roster, go to IR or be cut. The Pats made waves when they signed Demps to the second-largest UDFA contract of the year ($395,000 salary, $200,000 guaranteed). One school of thought is that the Pats intend to cut Demps but because his contract is so large, no other team will pick up on waivers and they can put him on the practice squad. That would be a huge risk not worth taking. Why invest so much in a player just to cut him? Why not just not allow him to practice and put him on PUP? I think the Pats have shown they are committed to Demps and I would be surprised if he doesn’t make the 53. It’s just not like the Patriots to invest so much and then gamble it away.
Tom Coughlin would be the first to tell you that, sometimes, those gambles just don’t pay off.
Vollmer Back at Practice
It’s a full pads affair in Tampa and, thank Hoodie, Sebastian Vollmer is back out there. After an extended absence due to injury, Vollmer, desperately needed back at right tackle, is with his teammates trying to make strides. Here’s hoping he makes them fast – there’s no time to spare with the offensive line in such a retched state.
Your move, Brian Waters. Vacation time is over.