The New England Patriots had one open roster spot heading into Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, after trading TE AJ Derby to the Denver Broncos. The player selected to fill that spot would likely come from the practice squad and would fill a big need.
The Patriots were concerned about the availability of TE Martellus Bennett, but since he is expected to play, head coach Bill Belichick could look in a different direction.
6’0, 220 pound RB Tyler Gaffney has been promoted to the active roster. Looks like the Patriots are going to be running the ball against the Bills.
Gaffney is in his third season with the Patriots, after spending the entire 2014 and 2015 seasons on the injured reserve. The Patriots cut Gaffney mid-summer and signed him back to a reduced contract. Gaffney then suffered a foot injury late in the preseason and was placed on the injured reserve, again.
Gaffney and the Patriots reached an injury settlement and Gaffney rejoined the Patriots via the practice squad. It would appear that he is finally healthy enough to contribute. The Patriots will ask Gaffney to back-up 250-pound RB LeGarrette Blount as the Bills defensive front showed cracks against the Miami Dolphins rushing attack. Gaffney should also contribute on special teams.
There are multiple running backs on the Patriots radar this week, including RB Dion Lewis and RB Bishop Sankey. Lewis was not activated because he’s only practiced twice this regular season. The Patriots likely targeting a week 10 return after the bye week.
Sankey is a different player than Gaffney and ESPN’s Mike Reiss has a great explanation and scoop on Sankey’s current status with the team:
“Sankey has recently been working to get his weight down to the 208-pound range after the Titans had him bulked up to around 216 earlier this year,” Reiss writes. “That is an indication the Patriots would like to see if Sankey can replicate some of the quickness he had shown in college at Washington, when he played closer to 205 pounds.”
In other words, the Titans asked Sankey to bulk up and he lost his athleticism and ability to play. The Patriots have asked Sankey to drop back to a weight where he was at his best- but that involves an overlap in skill set with James White, D.J. Foster, Brandon Bolden, and Dion Lewis.