I am going to start this with a promise. My promise is not go in depth about the week four preseason game against the Giants. It was possibly one of the worst preseason games I have ever watched, and preseason is always bad. There was one great part of that game through- lack of major injury. I have flashbacks every year to Andre Tippett, Garin Veris, and Ronnie Lippett going down and the 1989 Patriots season ending before it began, so the goal of preseason is to escape. Mission accomplished.
Fans watched this game and must have thought “what do coaches get out of this?” and that is a fair question. The average fan would be shocked to know that many decisions are made based off this game, and the roster moves show that some bubble players won jobs and some veterans are now expendable. This is not a bad thing. People have ties to players because they won titles or they grew up watching them, and days like this continue to drive home the lesson that it is better to root for the laundry then the person wearing it.
Last week I wrote about the release of Stallworth and Gaffney and assumed, although I didn’t think it when the preseason started, that Branch was on the team. I think people took my comments of “runs like a linebacker” as a joke, but that is why he was cut and why he won’t get picked up by another team. There are already rumblings that he may be returning and Visanthe Schiancoe may be going on temporary I.R. The situation with the Patriots roster remains fluid, so the Branch situation (not to mention Jabar Gaffney, who worked out in Miami yesterday) should be watched closely.
Another situation that is still up in the air is Brian Waters. The Patriots coaching staff are in game plan installation mode tomorrow, so if he isn’t here soon, we might have seen the last of him. That is a negative for the offensive line, but there was one huge positive coming from a huge man- Sebastian Vollmer not only looked ready, he looked dominant, which is a great sign. Dan Koppen was released, the end of a great run with the Patriots, and I don’t see a chance of him coming back either because it has been reported he is looking to catch on somewhere else as soon as possible.
On defense, Jermaine Cunningham and Trevor Scott played their way onto the roster, so again, the fourth game does provide value for coaches, players and also scouts. One surprise cut, in my eyes, was Bobby Carpenter. I really thought that Carpenter could help in nickel and dime packages with his pass coverage abilities, and he appeared to be around the ball a lot in preseason, but clearly the Patriots thought they needed other areas covered and let Carpenter walk. If he returned, along with Gerard Warren (lives in a hotel on rt1, just kidding) I would not be surprised in the slightest.
I mentioned this on Twitter the other day- is there a better team in the league at “handshake deals” than the Patriots? Why go play for a horrible team for 15-16 weeks when you can play on a great team for 12-14. The Patriots seem to be stocking up a few of these vets that fit their system and wait for the call. I think that says a lot about the respect for Bill Belichick.
Like I promised, I am not going to go in depth about the actual week four game because, well, the NFL season starts tomorrow. The Patriots are healthy going into week one and that is all Patriot fans want to know. Let the games begin.
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