1. We talked earlier this week about how Browns WR Terrelle Pryor could have been on the Patriots in 2015 if the team had wanted. Former Patriots staffer Michael Lombardi said the Patriots wished Pryor had practice squad couldn’t make a corresponding roster move, despite trading for Keshawn Martin and releasing Chris Harper two days after working out Pryor.
It turns out that Pryor thought he’d end up on the Patriots, per Cleveland.com.
"I really thought I was going to be a Patriot,'' Pryor told cleveland.com on Thursday. "I know Bill Belichick really liked me. I had a great workout for them and everything went really well. I really thought he was going to sign me.''
Pryor noted that the Patriots didn’t sign him because his hamstring was not fully healed at the time. The 6’4 1/2, 240 pound Pryor runs a 4.3 40 yard dash and is averaging 88 yards per game this year. The Patriots certainly would love to have a do-over here.
Of course, since the Browns are the Patriots’ new Rutgers, Pryor could make his way to New England sooner than we think.
2. As WR Danny Amendola works his way back into the receiver rotation, I’ve developed a theory that I’m pretty comfortable sharing. What if Amendola is a high leverage specialist this year?
By “high leverage” I mean that Amendola will play when the team needs a big play, so that’s third down or red zone. Despite ranking 4th of the wide receivers in snaps (25%, compared to 80% for Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman, 40% for rookie Malcolm Mitchell), Amendola is tied for the team lead in red zone targets with 3.
Amendola is 3 for 3 in the red zone for 29 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a first down. Edelman is the other player with 3 targets and he only has one catch for 8 yards, which didn’t convert into a first down or score. Amendola has all of the Patriots first downs and receiving scores in the red zone.
The Patriots have thrown a pass on 30 third or fourth downs and Amendola ranks 3rd on the team in targets with 6, behind Edelman (8) and RB James White (7). All three have five receptions, with both Edelman and Amendola converting four for first downs.
I’m just saying, if the Patriots are able to use a roster spot on a fullback like James Develin for short yardage situations, then they should absolutely be able to have a player like Amendola for high leverage situations. Compensation is clearly a problem (Develin gets $750,000 this year, Amendola had $1.35 million guaranteed this year), but the position should totally exist.
3. What are the Patriots doing with all of these extra blockers? Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Clay Harbor, AJ Derby, Greg Scruggs, and James Develin are on the active roster, while Glenn Gronkowski is on the practice squad. The Patriots have also kicked the tires on another player in All Pro FB Marcel Reece.
So what’s the plan? There are a few moves in play. I wouldn’t be surprised if Derby, who lost his active roster spot to Harbor, was one of the cuts in order to activate QB Tom Brady or ED Rob Ninkovich. The Patriots have Baby Gronk on the practice squad in case Derby doesn’t make his way through waivers, which is very possible due to his standout performance in the preseason.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Scruggs was moved back to the defensive line to assume Anthony Johnson’s place as the pass rush specialist. Scruggs weighed around 290 pounds this summer, although I’m sure it’s decreased as he acclimated to the tight end role. The Bears asked Scruggs to be a tight end because they were only looking for someone to block, which could also mean that Scruggs is taking on a Michael Williams-esque role as a pure blocker at tight end.
I would expect both Scruggs and Gronkowski to be one-week band-aids as the team churns the back-end of the roster.
4. Tom Brady will be back in the building after the Patriots face off against the Bills. Can you believe we’re already a full month into the season? New England plays three of the next four weeks on the road and have three straight games against the AFC North before facing the Bills in Buffalo. Then it’s the bye week.
Time flies. TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman, and WR Danny Amendola are shaking off their injuries. The Patriots will bring back Brady and ED Rob Ninkovich in week 5. New England can bring back RB Dion Lewis, OT Sebastian Vollmer, and OG Tre Jackson from the Physically Unable to Perform list in week 7, and will have an additional six weeks to decide whether or not to bring them to practice, and then an extra three weeks after practicing to decide whether or not to activate the player.
The Patriots are just going to be more and more interesting with each passing week.
5. Lady Gaga will be the halftime show at the Super Bowl. Gaga’s shows are already crazy displays, but if Katy Perry riding on a mechanical lion is any indication, Gaga’s halftime show is going to be bananas. This is like giving Michael Bay an endless pool of money to make whatever movie explosions his heart desires. If you aren’t secretly intrigued in what the heck Lady Gaga is going to do at halftime, then now is a good time to start wondering.