The New England Patriots‘ 2016 training camp is underway. Players fight for practice repetitions and playing time to earn one of the 53 spots on the roster. They have until late August, when each team has to start making its roster cuts, to secure a role.
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 wide receiver Keshawn Martin.
Name: Keshawn Martin
Position: Wide receiver
Jersey number: 82
Size: 5’11, 195 lbs.
2015 review: After spending the first two weeks of the season on the Houston Texans’ inactives list, the Patriots traded a fifth-round draft pick for Keshawn Martin and a sixth-round selection. The Michigan State product quickly became a valuable depth option on offense – especially considering all the injuries the receiving corps suffered – and special teams in New England.
Martin was active for 11 games in 2015 and finished with 550 offensive snaps played (of 1,253; 43.9%). He caught 26 passes for 326 yards and two scores and was able to establish himself as the Patriots’ third wide receiver option by the time the AFC Championship game was played. On special teams, where he played 37 overall snaps, Martin added 302 yards on 12 kick returns and 92 yards on 8 punt returns.
Because of his solid contributions, the Patriots awarded Martin with a 2-year, $2.975 million contract extension during their mid-January playoff bye week.
2016 preview: Despite the recent contract extension, Martin is no lock to make New England’s 53-man roster this season. The 26-year old has to fight off five fellow wide receivers to earn a spot on the team behind locks Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and primary special teamer Matthew Slater.
The Patriots will likely keep no more than six wideouts, so that leaves one spot open for six contestants. Martin’s chances look solid given his extension and familiarity with Tom Brady. However, he still needs to have a solid training camp and preseason to make the team. After all, fellow wideout Aaron Dobson has looked really good during the last few practices, while Martin did not stand out before missing Sunday’s session for undisclosed reasons.
If Martin is unable to consistently a) stay on the field and b) make plays, Dobson might be able to surpass the former Texan on the depth chart – especially considering that Dobson, an X-receiver, adds a different element to the offense than Z-receiver Martin. Therefore, Martin also needs to stand his ground as a returnman to potentially separate himself from the rest of the wideout pack.
Keshawn Martin was a pleasant surprise last season. Still, the Patriots added four wide receiver this offseason – two of them roster locks – to improve the position from both a depth and talent point of view. Consequently, Martin can now be classified as a player on the edge, whose training camp decides whether or not he can earn a spot on New England’s deep receiver depth chart.