The Patriots have added former Iowa and Houston Texans WR Riley McCarron to the practice squad according to multiple reports. The 5’9, 188 pound receiver was undrafted after a 42 catch, 517 yard senior year and Texans head coach Bill O’Brien compared McCarron to former Patriots receiver Wes Welker.
“He’s a good kid and he works hard,” O’Brien said over the summer, via KHOU. “He’s the spitting image of Welker, wearing number 83 and all. He’s smart and tough, he’s played through injury already with a sore thumb and still played through it. He just needs to continue to get better.”
The former Texans receiver caught 3 passes on 3 targets against the Patriots in week 2 of the preseason for a total of 6 yards with the Houston third-stringers.
McCarron ran a simple crossing pattern after the Patriots linebackers cleared out of the middle of the field, but a strong tackle by S Damarius Travis prevented McCarron from generating any additional yards after the catch.
This whip route is the staple of the Patriots slot receivers and is something that James White executes at a high level. Cyrus Jones got the best of McCarron on this exchange, though. McCarron also lost two yards on a screen play.
McCarron ran a 4.36s 40 yard dash at his Pro Day, along with a 3.96s shuttle and 6.47s three cone drill. Combine those speed scores with an explosive 40.5 inch vertical and you have one of the most impressive athletes in the league.
The question is more about McCarron’s football abilities than his physical stature. Keep in mind that both Welker and Danny Amendola, two comparable slot receivers in the Patriots system, both exceeded 1,000 yards in their final college seasons. McCarron will work on the practice squad until he better learns the offense and there shouldn’t be a hype train just yet- but the Patriots had a week of joint practices with the Texans to get a sense of what McCarron brings to the table and they must have approved.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss suggests that EDGE Geneo Grissom could be promoted from the practice squad to the active roster and that since every other player was present at practice other than RB Rex Burkhead and DT Vincent Valentine, one of those players could have been placed on the injured reserve. Reiss “guesses” Valentine due to his knee injury and lack of role behind Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Alan Branch, and Adam Butler.