Patriots Bubble Watch: Grading the Big Names

One of the few offensive bright spots last night. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

So you know how I said that last night's game would be a great opportunity to examine some of the bigger name bubble players and see how their playing time would reflect their chances on making the final roster?

Well, never mind.

I may have even less of a clue now about who will be cut and who won't than I did this time yesterday. Guys I didn't think would start ended up starting. Guys I thought would start didn't even play. Players that should have been done by the 3rd quarter played well into the 4th, and some "roster locks" didn't see their first action until the field was populated by mostly backups.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But I personally didn't get that much better a sense of the Patriots' bubble situation after watching last night's preseason game. However, I said I would be looking at certain players and coming back with my thoughts, and I'm a man of my word. Just be sure to take these observations with a grain of salt; I wasn't overly confident to begin with, and I developed a drinking game that revolved around Randy Cross and Don Criqui completely messing up their commenting. Needless to say, the hydration factor was high.

Analysis after the jump.

Deion Branch/Donte Stallworth. The offense sure picked a lousy day to crap out. I was really hoping that one of these two receivers would have a big day yesterday and put this battle to rest. Instead, neither player had a particularly remarkable day. The big difference, however, is allotment of playing time. I don't think Stallworth even saw the field with the first team, and he also had a few drops once he finally did get on the field. He technically had a better day than Branch, as Deion only had one catch, but Branch's catch was a reception from Brady that kept a drive alive and once again illustrated his chemistry with Tommy B. Regardless, I really didn't see anything from either receiver that makes me confident endorsing one over another from a sheer play standpoint. I'm definitely still giving the edge to Branch, though, based on the amount of first team playing time he got. Stallworth seems to be pretty far down the depth chart at this point and may not be much longer for this club.

James Ihedigbo/Sergio Brown/Will Allen. I mentioned yesterday that I had the most faith in Ihedigbo to make the team, and he was pretty much the only one of the three to see the field on special teams. I don't think Will Allen saw any time at safety, losing reps to Nate Ebner, and we saw Marquice Cole much more than we did Allen. I don't recall seeing Sergio Brown at all. As of now, it looks like Ihedigbo will stick around for his value as a special teamer, and Allen and Brown are on the outside looking in. What I am pleased with right now is that none of these men are going to see any time in the secondary.

Myron Pryor/Gerard Warren. As expected, neither Pryor nor Warren played. At this point, you have to wonder how much longer each man will be on the team. But with both Pryor and Warren out, I tried to focus on Brandon Deaderick instead. I didn't see anything from Deaderick until the 3rd quarter, and even when he was in, he didn't make any significant plays. He actually got stood up a few times on some big Buccaneer running plays, and didn't generate all that much pressure. It's hard to really get a read on Deaderick; he has been very reliable when called on during the regular season, and while he isn't a playmaker, he definitely isn't a liability.I think he'll at least make it through this next round of cuts.

Ron Brace. Brace both started and finished the game, which I found a little bit confusing. However, the bottom line is that he was on the field with the first team on 1st and 2nd downs, and he forced more than a few runs back into pressure. He had a pretty solid game, and so I'm not going to read too much into the time he saw late in the game. The defensive line is a little thin, and he has done well enough so far to lead me to believe that his place on this team is pretty secure.

Trevor Scott. I don't think Trevor Scott played a single snap last night. If he did, he certainly didn't do anything of note. He has been playing so well as of late, I don't really know what to make of that; the fact that he didn't play at all leads me to believe he was kept out for other reasons, and if the team wants him healthy, it's probably because they want him to make plays when it matters.

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