After the release of EDGE Kony Ealy, EDGE Caleb Kidder, and TE Matt Lengel, the New England Patriots had three open roster spots with a week to go before roster cuts. Ealy and Kidder joined Trey Flowers as the team’s only healthy pass rushers in week 3 of the preseason against the Detroit Lions, and that trio will not be available to play in the preseason finale (Flowers will rest with the starters).
Add in Geneo Grissom and Deatrich Wise and Keionta Davis all working back from injuries to get into football shape and the Patriots didn’t have any pass rushers ready to play against the New York Giants. So the
So the team went out and signed three more pass rushers in Christian Kuntz, Mikey Bart, and Nick Usher to fill out the roster.
There were three new mystery players at practice: Nos. 46, 64 and 66. All three warmed up with LBs, then 64 and 66 split off with DEs. pic.twitter.com/ulEpZSuDwE— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 28, 2017
Here’s an introduction to the trio.
No. 46: Christian Kuntz
The 6’1, 232 pound Kuntz played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive front at small-school Duquesne. Kuntz is a two-time Second Team All-America nominee and two-time conference Defensive Player of the Year and two-time team captain. He set a school and conference record with 30.5 sacks and his 71.5 career tackles for loss are fourth-most all time in FCS history. He took a red-shirt season in 2014 for a torn ACL. Kuntz also apparently spent two seasons as the team’s long snapper.
Kuntz ran an impressive 6.81 three cone time, which would have ranked fourth best of any 230+ pound player at the combine (behind Patriots UDFA LB Brooks Ellis, T.J. Watt, and Tyus Bowser). He originally signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kuntz worked with the Patriots linebackers, likely due to his weight, but he might be able to work with the strongside linebackers that effectively play on the line of scrimmage in the Patriots 5-man defensive front.
No. 64: Mikey Bart
The 6’3, 267 pound defensive end out of North Carolina runs a 4.84s 40 yard dash and a 7.13s three cone. He originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent. His favorite NFL team was the Falcons according to his UNC bio.
Bart recorded 83 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks over the course of his career as a two-year starter.
No. 66: Nick Usher
Like Kuntz, the 6’3, 245 pound Usher also outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive front at the University of Texas at El Paso. UTEP converted to a 3-4 prior to the 2016 season, so Usher has experience in both defensive fronts. He was a three-year starter that originally signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
Usher collected 23.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks over the course of his career.
All three of these players project to hold some level of special teams value, with Kuntz undeniably the most athletic and productive in college, albeit against lesser talent. All three are longshots to make the roster, but perhaps one or two will make the practice squad.
All three players, along with Keionta Davis, will look to make their Patriots preseason debut against the New York Giants.