Training camp is here! The NFL's most quiet period has come to an end as the New England Patriots have started this year's camp last week. The 90 players currently under contract are now in the process of fighting for spots on either the team's 53-man roster or its 10-man practice squad.
As we have done throughout the offseason, we will continue to take a look at the men fighting for those few select spots on the 2017 Patriots – and to find out who will and might be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we will continue the series with one of the newest members of the Patriots.
Name: Caleb Kidder
Position: Defensive edge
Jersey number: 64
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6'4, 270 lbs.
2016 review: Prior to his fifth year at the University of Montana, defensive lineman Caleb Kidder changed positions and switched from the interior to edge. Despite playing a new role, the Montana native, whose favorite team since childhood are the Patriots, was a standout performer on the team's defense and as a result was named to the second All-Big Sky team.
Overall, Kidder appeared in 11 of the Grizzlies' games and finished the season with 55 tackles – 11.0 of which for loss – and 5.5 sacks. A better pass defender than run stopper, he also added three pass breakups and led the team in fumble recoveries with two. Kidder also saw regular playing time on special teams and blocked one field goal attempt in the process.
Despite his productivity and raw athleticism, however, he went unselected during the NFL draft. Instead, Kidder signed a free agency contract with the Minnesota Vikings. He spent the entire spring – OTAs and minicamp – with the Vikings until he was released in mid-July.
2017 preview: Last week, on the eve of their first training camp practice, the Patriots signed Caleb Kidder to fill one of their two open roster spots. However, despite seeing veteran Rob Ninkovich announce his retirement yesterday, Kidder is a long-shot to make New England's 53-man roster. After all, the team's top five options at the position are pretty much all guaranteed a spot on the team.
This likely leaves Kidder fighting to get onto the team's practice squad. With him being the only pure edge lineman currently not projected to be on the active roster come September, the 23-year old has the inside track for one of New England's 10 scout team spots. However, Kidder also might have to fight against linebackers Trevor Bates and Harvey Langi in case one or both fail to survive roster cutdowns.
In order for Kidder to set himself apart from whoever he faces as competition, the Montana product quickly needs to get up to speed and make the most out of his practice reps and preseason playing time. If that happens, he would put himself in a decent position to end up on New England's scout team as a depth option on the edge and on special teams.
However, given the steep learning curve rookies face in New England, it was also not be a surprise to Kidder's his tenure come to an end after only one-and-a-half months.