In not even one week, the New England Patriots will return to the practice fields for the start of their 2016 training camp. The battles for spots on the team will then officially enter the next round as by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts.
Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we’ll continue the series with defensive tackle Frank Kearse.
Name: Frank Kearse
Position: Defensive tackle
Jersey number: 72
Size: 6’5, 310 lbs.
2015 review: After a solid 2014 season with the Washington Redskins, Kearse’s second year with the team was a disappointment. The veteran defensive lineman was released one day prior to Washington’s season opener but was re-signed the day after the game. He went through the same release/re-sign-pattern the following week and again in early October.
Given the transactions he was part of as well as the fact that he had to deal with a shoulder injury, Kearse appeared in only four games over the course of the 2015 season. Overall, he played a mere 77 snaps on defense and three on special teams and registered one sack and four tackles.
2016 preview: The Patriots signed Kearse as an unrestricted free agent in early March. He is expected to offer veteran depth at both defensive tackle and defensive end – depending, of course, that he makes the team. To do that, the 27-year old needs to take advantage of his experience and versatility and subsequently outperform the younger and higher-ceiling options on the roster.
Realistically, however, Kearse has an uphill climb in front of him in order to make the team. After all, New England is deep along the defensive line and seems relatively set both on the interior and on the edge. Unless one of the younger options – Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom – fails to develop, or one of the veteran acquisitions has nothing left in the tank, seeing Kearse get the axe prior to the season would not be a surprise.
Still, if Kearse shows enough over the summer, he might find himself on the Patriots’ emergency speed dial list.
Frank Kearse has been an under-the-radar offseason acquisition, a status that is not expected to change in the upcoming weeks given his 2015 season and the Patriots’ depth on the defensive line. Consequently, the veteran currently qualifies as a long shot to make the team.