Each day, after a Patriots training camp practice, we highlighted one intriguing "long shot" to make the roster. What might that player bring to the table for Bill Belichick's team? Who's he competing with for a spot? And what does he have to do to make the team? Today's is the final installment.
FOXBORO -- The code isn't overwhelmingly difficult to crack. We laid it out in our 53-man roster projection from last weekend. If you show up as a potential core special teamer, you've got a shot with Bill Belichick.
Eddie Pleasant, then, has a shot. Even if you've never heard of him.
Pleasant, 29, signed with the Patriots just before the start of camp. He played six seasons with the Texans after signing with Houston as an undrafted rookie in 2012. Pleasant, who checks in at 5-foot-10, 201 pounds, has played in 78 regular-season games and recorded 24 special-teams tackles. Five of those special-teams stops came last season.
The Patriots had a good idea of what they were getting in Pleasant before he signed. They'd seen him five times over the course of his career (including in two playoff games), and they held joint practices with the Texans last summer.
So far in camp, "he's done well," according to Belichick.
"Eddie's an experienced player that's versatile," Belichick said Tuesday. "He does a lot of things in the kicking game. He's played safety. He's also played some corner or nickel position on defense for the Texans. He's a smart kid. He's been in a similar system. Not quite the same, but similar...
"He’s an experienced guy and I would say things come pretty quickly to him on the field. The concepts – the terms might have been different – but he's played the concepts that we've taught so he can relate it to something he’s done in the past."
Pleasant has the unfortunate luck of playing a position where the Patriots are relatively set. Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon will get most of the safety reps this season. But, as Belichick noted, perhaps Pleasant's toughness and tackling could get him reps at the "star" (or slot) spot in the secondary.
His ticket, if he cracks the roster, will be on special teams. He was one of just four players (along with Brandon King, Jordan Richards and Nicholas Grigsby) to be on the top unit for all four core special-teams units: kickoff, kick-return, punt, punt-return.
Pleasant picked up a holding penalty on a punt return last week against Washington, but if he continues to see significant reps in the kicking game, he could be in line for a gig.
Would the Patriots keep three safeties whose roles would be almost entirely limited to special teams, holding onto Pleasant, Nate Ebner and Jordan Richards? I think there's a strong chance they would, but perhaps two of those three are in competition. Could Pleasant push someone else, like Brandon Bolden, who plays a different position but whose contributions would come primarily in the kicking game? Quite possibly.
However the roster shakes out, Pleasant will give himself a chance if Belichick and special teams coach Joe Judge think they can trust him to be a multi-unit contributor in the game's third phase.