New England Patriots: 5 High-Profile Pats Who Could Be on Roster Bubble in 2011
Training Camp is almost here, football fans everywhere rejoice. It has been a long off-season and it's good to see our boys again. Now it's time to get down to business. Of the 70 or so New England Patriots players that report to camp, who will still be here for the season opener when the roster is whittled down to 53?
While most players are guaranteed spots on the final roster, there are a few question marks surrounding many players. Here is a look at five high-profile Patriots who may not make the cut.
His rookie year, Julian Edelman played in 11 games, recording 37 receptions for 359 yards.But last year he took a huge step back making just seven catches, for 86 yards in 15 games. He dropped significantly on the depth chart behind Welker, Branch, and even Tate at the WR position. Although I think Edelman will still make the final roster, don't be surprised to see his name on the 2011 roster bubble.
In his Patriots career Fred Taylor has played in 13 just games. In that time he has rushed for 424 yards on 106 carries. BenJarvus Green-Ellis broke-out in 2010 with a 1,000 yard-rushing season, and it is now clear he is the feature back of the Patriots. Taylor is 35 years old and is just not fit to go through a 16-game regular season (plus postseason). If he doesn't make the final roster I believe he will opt for retirement.
Darius Butler had a solid rookie year, recording 35 tackles and three interceptions in 14 games. But in 2010 his production dropped and he lost his starting job to Kyle Arrington. He continued to have a rough year recording just 23 tackles and no picks in the limited playing time he saw in 15 games. With the emergence of Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden returning, and the drafting of Ras-I Dowling, Butler's name could surface as one of the DB's who loses his job all together.
The BC product was drafted 40th overall in the 2009 NFL draft. He was presumed to be the next Vince Wilfork but fell short of expectations his rookie year. In 2009 he played in just nine games, recording eight tackles. In 2010 Brace failed the strength and conditioning test in Training Camp, and was moved to defensive end after being activated. He then lost that job to Brandon Deaderick. In his two-year career with the Patriots Brace has not shown a respectable work ethic, and his production on the field supports that claim.
Kevin Faulk is an unrestricted free agent, but let us assume he signs a deal to return to New England for his fourteenth season. If he does, the Patriots will enter 2011 with five running backs: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Danny Woodhead, and Faulk. It is unlikely the team will carry that many backs (usually four max), especially when two fill the same role. For years Kevin Faulk made a name for himself as one of the best situational/third-down running backs in the National Football League. However when he went down with a season-ending knee injury last year, the Patriots acquired Danny Woodhead to replace him. Since then, Woodhead has become a phenom, performing admirably Faulk's absence. With the 2011 season on the horizon it is clear Woodhead is not going anywhere, and that raises the question: Will Belichick keep two players for the same job? Although Faulk is a free agent, I would still expect Belichick to re-sign him and give him a chance to make the 53-man roster. But considering his age and the fact that he was replaced by someone nearly ten years younger than him last year, his playing days in New England could be nearing an end.