When news broke late this afternoon that the Patriots had received outside linebacker Shawn Crable, I really wasn't shocked. After all, Crable had landed on injured reserve his first two seasons in the league, and had never managed to suit up for an NFL game. However, to my surprise, I felt a sinking feeling when I read the news. I was surprisingly disappointed.
While there are plenty of cases where third round picks simply don't pan out, Crable was a little bit different. When the Patriots selected him 78th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft, I was really excited to see him in action. I felt that down the road, he would be a starting outside linebacker for the Patriots, and would help replace some of the team's aging veterans such as Mike Vrabel when the time came.
Then came the 2008 preseason. Boy, did he tease us Patriots fans. He recorded sacks in three of his four games, deflected two passes, came up with an interception, and recorded 16 tackles. By the preseason's end, many Patriots fans expected him to have an impact as a rookie. However, it never came. He started the season inactive for the first nine games before being placed on injured reserve.
So heading into the 2009 season, many considered Crable's presence like an added draft pick. While he made the Mini-Camp All Pro team, he didn't play well in training camp. Played in two preseason games, and was once again placed on injured reserve.
Following his second straight season on injured reserve, I did my best to calm my expectations for him. But then he did it again. He toyed with us during mini-camps and the offseason workouts. He claimed to be mentally ready, physically stronger, and I began to wonder if he could somehow pan out the way we once thought he would.
With his incredible combination of size and speed, Patriots fans couldn't help but have a soft spot for Crable. So when news came two days ago that Crable was going to land on the Active/PUP list, I was extremely disappointed. And now, with the news of his release, I'm not the least bit surprised (I think we all saw this coming), but I find myself even more disappointed, as I wonder what could have been if Crable had just managed to stay healthy.