With opening day almost two months away and training camp not starting until later this month, we are still caught in possibly the most quiet part of the NFL offseason. However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop.
During workouts and studying sessions, players still have a chance to lay the foundation for their spots on the team. Over the course of the next few months, we will take a look at the men fighting for them on the 2017 New England Patriots. 53 of currently 90 players will be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we will continue the series with one of the Patriots' backup offensive tackles.
Name: LaAdrian Waddle
Position: Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 68
Opening day age: 26
Size: 6’6, 315 lbs.
2016 review: After joining the Patriots as a waiver wire pickup late in the 2015 season, the team re-signed offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle to a two-year, $2,4 million contract in March. And while he was able to make New England's roster as a backup offensive tackle to provide valuable insurance, the veteran did not have an impact during his first full season with the team.
Overall, Waddle was only active for two games all year long: He was on the game-day roster in week one when left tackle Nate Solder was inactive and again in week five when right tackle Marcus Cannon was out. However, Waddle played a mere one offensive snap (in week five) as a tackle eligible on a goal line jumbo package. He added a combined 11 special teams snaps over his two games.
His time on the field can best be described like his entire season: nondescript. While Waddle was named practice player of the week three times, he failed to translate his practice performances into actual playing time and remained New England's fourth tackle and go-to choice for game day inactivity throughout the season.
2017 preview: Despite spending the entirety of the 2016 season on the Patriots' roster, LaAdrian Waddle appears to face an uphill battle in 2017. After all, New England is again not expected to carry more than four offensive tackles on its roster and three of those spots are already taken by starters Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon as well as third round rookie Antonio Garcia.
Waddle finds himself in a six-men battle for the last remaining spot on the team's 53-man roster. 2016's third tackle Cameron Fleming and rookies Conor McDermott, Andrew Jelks, Max Rich and Cole Croston are his competition for this spot. And despite being the most experienced of the sextet, Waddle is currently projected to be on the outside looking in given his relatively low ceiling and lack of past production.
It would therefore not be a surprise to see the soon-to-be 26-year old lose practice reps and preseason playing time to the projected frontrunners for the final spot, Fleming and McDermott. Consequently, Waddle's time in New England might come to an end this summer as the veteran is also no longer eligible for the team's practice squad.