RUNNING BACK ROTATION
An interesting on-paper competition has developed between rookie sub-back D.J. Foster, third-year tailback Tyler Gaffney and the versatile Brandon Bolden. Why Bolden? Well, he hasn’t had the greatest camp and preseason and didn’t do too much with his opportunity last season when LeGarrette Blount went down. He’s a low-cost special teams staple and can run between the tackles and be a pass-catching back but there comes a point where the team has to keep moving players through the system and staying young. Could Gaffney be the player they move on to? He’s not the player Bolden is – yet – and he’s had injury issues that erased his first two seasons. But he ran with more confidence and vision last week against Carolina and could be settling in. As for Foster, he is a smoother, quicker version of James White. White isn’t going anywhere because he’s smart and useful but the ceiling for Foster may be higher. So do you want to keep your would-be replacement on the roster at cutdown time and who goes to make that happen?
DOBSON SHOWCASE NIGHT
The Patriots have too many receivers. Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan, Keshawn Martin and bubble guys Chris Harper and DeAndre Carter. And then there’s Aaron Dobson. He’s played 24 games in three seasons and – annually – has had delightful summers and forgettable autumns. He is – by far – the most uniquely talented player on the Patriots roster bubble. The Patriots could keep him and not bat an eye. He does have unique size and length. But they may prefer to move get a draft pick for him and move on to somebody else. I’m very interested to see if they pound the ball to him 344 times on Thursday night.
MAYBE THE MINGO ATE YOUR BABY
That was a stretch. Be that as it may, we will get a look at what kind of deployment opportunities the Patriots envision for newly acquired edge guy Barkevious Mingo. He’s built like an NBA small forward – slim, chiseled and angular – not like a conventional edge guy. In short, he does not appear to be a player who can anchor or set the edge with any amount of stoutness like the Patriots other rotating edge defenders, Dont'a Hightower Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Geneo Grissom or Trey Flowers. So how will they use him? We get a peek tonight.
BRADY’S LAST MINUTES OF RECESS
It’s well-established how much Tom Brady likes to play football. As much as people are worried about what kind of terrible thing can befall Brady doing the exact thing that’s made him rich and famous, he could not give less of a poop. This is the last dance for him until October and he will be fit as a fiddle watching for the next month. It will drive him absolutely bonkers.