Patriots

Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: The guards

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Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: The guards

Leading up to the first day of training camp, we’re going to look at the most important Patriots, counting down from 10 to 1. Today, it’s not a sexy position, but one that’s far more critical than most ever give it credit for, even the Big Boss in Foxboro.

NO. 3: THE GUARDS

Why? Because without a solid interior offensive line last September, Tom Brady looked like a below average quarterback, prompting my question (and classic Bill Belichick response) following the debacle in Kansas City. The very next week, rookie Bryan Stork was flanked by Dan Connolly and veteran Ryan Wendell and all of a sudden, Brady and the offense looked a lot more like what we’ve come to expect than what they were to start the year. Now Connolly is retired and the interior once again will need to be sorted out, hopefully much quicker than last season.

Previous Performance: Wendell was a godsend last year, going from unwanted to a critical performer from Week Five on. A pro’s pro. No pouting. No complaining. Worked and worked and finally got his chance and then did the job on a weekly basis. Remember, Wendell was a healthy scratch, if you will, while Belichick experimented with Marcus Cannon and Jordan Devey as his starting guards. Cannon was so bad the stink rubbed off on left tackle Nate Solder. As for Devey, well, it was a nice story and all, but he was not even close to being ready for prime time.

Questions surrounding the players: So now the Pats go into the 2015-16 season with Wendell recovering from offseason surgery and then a handful of players competing for the spot vacated by Connolly. (And with Belichick, who knows? Maybe competing for Wendell’s spot, as well.) They spent a pair of mid-round picks on interior 'o' linemen, Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason. Mason was a violent run blocker in college, capable of eclipsing the moon with those meat hooks. Jackson got the job done at the 33rd NFL team, FSU. Both got loads of work in OTAs. There’s also holdovers Josh Kline, Chris Barker and Caylin Hauptmann. We know Kline is serviceable. The others? No clue.

Overall Outlook: More questions then answers. I hope Brady and/or Jimmy Garoppolo have their running shoes on. They may need ‘em until the Pats find the right combination.

Report: Patriots to sign Kenny Britt

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Report: Patriots to sign Kenny Britt

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots will sign veteran receiver Kenny Britt. 

Britt, who was released by the Browns last week, has seen injuries and off-field issues interfere with a promising career since being chosen 30th overall by the Titans in 2009. He was suspended for four games in 2012, his final season with the Titans, before playing the next season with the Rams. This was his first season with the Browns, but he was released after making 18 catches over nine games. 

Why did Malcolm Butler retweet this graphic about Jay Cutler carving up the Patriots?

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Why did Malcolm Butler retweet this graphic about Jay Cutler carving up the Patriots?

This makes me feel like Felger, so apologies.

Malcolm Butler might not love Bill Belichick the GM, and there’s a chance he’s made some light commentary on Belichick the coach. 

After Monday night’s Patriots loss to the Dolphins, a Pro Football Focus graphic was posted detailing how well Jay Cutler did when the Patriots blitzed him. It was retweeted from Butler’s account. 

Though Butler un-retweeted it by Tuesday morning, the retweet was an interesting act. Twenty blitzes (by how PFF measures blitzes) is a high number. Was Butler just pointing out that Cutler had a good game or suggesting that maybe the Pats shouldn’t have kept blitzing when Cutler was responding to them so well. Might be a shot at Belichick or Matt Patricia. Might be something else. Might have misread "Cutler" for "Butler" and thought he was retweeting a compliment. Reading into social media is a gas.