In The Flood.
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Pats offense has been flooded by injuries the second half of the season.
They recently picked up four fingers to stick in the dyke to stop them
from drowning. Whether the flood is subsiding we will soon see. The two
who are clearly the most interesting are Hankerson and Ball. Both bring
some talents the Pats are desperately lacking because of injuries.
is a big fast WR with great hands. "He's been a good player and he
was available," BB said. "It's not that frequent that you see
players like that available at this time of year, so we claimed him."
This is his forth season in the NFL, and his rookie contract runs out
after this year.
played mainly outside at Washington. But mainly in the slot for Atlanta,
where he garnered 327 yards and 3 TDs on 26 catches. However he only
played in seven games (ironically, he missed the Titans game in week 7).
The question is can they get that kind of production out of him in the
last six games of the season to help stop Edelman from coming back too
was clearly on an upswing this season playing with the best QB of his
career. He averaged over his first three seasons approximately: 27
catches, 367 yards, and 2 TDs per season. He almost match those number,
and had one more TD in only half a season. He was on pace to double his
numbers this season before he got injured. Plus, if BB picked him up you
know he got the nod from Pioli and Dimitroff.
is a guy I loved in the Draft (His
BIO). They will try to fit him into the Dopson role. You have to
remember that Dopson was the big deep threat that seemed to click with
Brady better than any other WR, really since Moss. All the other WRs
(which does not include Gronk), Brady just sucked throwing the ball too
deep. But then Dopson started running shorter patterns and caught every
short and intermediate ball thrown to him this season. Hankerson is a guy
who could find some chemistry with Brady, like Dopson did on deep balls.
He has great hands, and at worst he can be the decoy that spreads out the
defense a little. Plus if it doesn't work outside, he has been having his
best season in Atlanta playing a lot in the slot. So he is used to moving
inside and outside and all around to help out his QB.
practiced with the team yesterday, and could see a few snaps as a deep
decoy in this game. If they activate him he should be ready to run a
couple of patterns. He is a four-year veteran who has seen most things the
Pats do. He is likely to line up outside to help open things up inside for
Gronk, Amendola, and Martin. And hopefully Edelman when he returns for the
are in a little trouble with only two RBs on the active roster. They have
turned into more of a passing team since Dion went down, and now will move
even more dangerous to a one dimensional offense with Blount knocked out.
Plus, they will naturally shift into more of a pure passing team once
Edelman comes back. With Gronk, Edelman, LaFell, and Amendola on the field
they are the top passing offense in the NFL. So they have to be vigilant,
and not abandon the run game completely.
have to get Montee up to speed to help them stay with the run even when
Edelman comes back. Both Hankerson and Montee are not going to be stars on
this roster, but will have roles that could have huge implications for the
Playoffs. Hankerson has to help keep the train rolling to help stop
Edelman form rushing back too soon. Montee has to get in and carry the
ball, and make enough dynamic plays to help keep White and Bolden primed
for the Playoffs. He was sign to the Practice Squad.
Hankerson and Montee are probably not going to be ready for more than a
situation or two. "I think it depends on what you ask the player to
do," BB said. "If you hand him the ball, [it's] probably not too
difficult. Once you get into the passing game: pass protection, pass
routes, adjustments in the passing game; You're talking about a much,
much, much, much more complex and a lot more variations. In terms of
running the ball you just: get the footwork, get the ball handling, and
give the player an understanding of the blocking scheme. Which he's
probably, I'd say in most cases, seen before: zone schemes, or some kind
of gap schemes. There are basic fundamentals in the running game. You
either basically zone block them or you gap block them. Everything pretty
much fits into one of those two categories. I would say most backs have
probably somewhere along the line run those. But when you start getting
into the pass protections, and base defenses, and sub defenses, and routes
versus man, routes versus zone, situational plays, and all that. It's a
whole different ball game." So they both have a lot more learning to
do than is practical, but this is called the Not For Long League if you
are looking for pity.
of the four players they signed, the one who is currently furthest from
the field, is also the most likely to play a key role in the Playoffs.
"I think we've done it a couple times," BB said about having
only two RBs. "It's certainly not ideal. But could we do it? Given
our offense, we have versatility. We have other ways of dealing with
things. But we played the majority of the game last week with two. Again,
it's not ideal, but you've still got to do what you feel like gives your
team the best chance to win. Again I would say if you lose two of any
player at any position, pick any position you want, there are probably
going to be some issues. I mean you might be able to lose two receivers
and still [be okay], but you're not going to be able to run your sub
packages with multiple [wide receiver sets]. You're going to lose
something on that. There is just no way to go into a game and have three
of everything. It's impossible." Both Hankerson and Montee could be
big time help in the Playoffs if they can handle the mental stuff.
Ball has a big leg up on learning the system, because he has an inside
guy. Montee and James White were not just teammates at Wisconsin, but also
roommates at Wisconsin. "We go way back," Montee said. "He
knows everything about me. I know everything about him, so it’s a lot
more comforting knowing he’s right over there. He’s been everything
I’ve needed throughout this transition." With Blount done for the
season, he could be on the roster sooner than later.
produced when he was put on the field in Denver. "It was shocking
when the Broncos let me go, but I believe everything happens for a
reason," Ball said. "Given the opportunities I was given there
in Denver, I can only look back on them and get better from them and move
on. I think it's time to move on, and being a Patriot, you cannot complain
at all." Now it is the time to learn the Patriots way.
he lost his job in Denver. "It looked promising for me leading
through the beginning of camp," Ball said. "But it's something
they felt like they needed to move on, trusting their other players. It's
part of the game. You can't play the 'woe is me' card." Sounds like
he is getting it already.
came out of Wisconsin and garnered 559 yards and 4 TDs as a rookie.
"Wherever they want me," Ball said like a veteran of the BB
school of player speak. "Wherever they need me. I'm not in a position
anymore to where I can say: where I want to do, or what I want to do, or
where I want to be. It's wherever they want to put me. Whenever my number
is called, I'm going to do what I can." He also helped out in the
passing game. Where he is a good blocker (not as good as White), and he
garnered 145-yards on 20 catches.
problem is that he has put on a lot of weight since the Broncos let him
go. One team that gave him a shot said he was up near 240-pounds.
"Fresh legs right now," Montee said. "Especially coming in
this late in the season. Belichick, he knows what he's doing. He knows
what I'm capable of doing. So I'm going to show them what I can do."
I liked him a lot more at Wisconsin than White. But it sounds like White
has a better attitude than Montee recently. Here is my review of Ball from
the Draft only a couple of years ago:
214, 15 Reps,
Vert, 9'10" Broad,
SS, 6.88 3-C,
was one of the most productive RBs in college history. For some
reason he does not seem that highly regarded, but I like the way he runs.
He has some Terrell Davis in him. “I’ve watched Terrell Davis,"
Ball said a little giddily. "All of his interviews; all of his
highlights; everything,” Ball said. “I grew up watching him a little
bit. It’s really crazy right now. I’m so excited. I’m very, very
excited.” When you are coming close to an impossible Barry Sanders
record, you have to something. I really love how he weaves his way through
traffic. He runs behind a great O-Line and does such a nice job dancing
and cutting behind his blockers. I don’t know how fast he’ll run at
the Combine, but he doesn’t get caught from behind on the field. He
really has some nifty feet. He also has a little Roger Craig high-steps in
him, when he is bursting through traffic. He has a terrific hop-cut to the
right and then burst up field. That move will get him a lot of yards in
the NFL. He also punches out a little underrated straight arm. I seem to
think of him as not a fast guy because he seems so low rated, but he is
fast in the open field, and he really knocks how to use his blockers. Nice
hands. Excellent receiver coming out of the backfield. He has terrific
eyes. He loves to cut back against the grain and get defenders changing
direction. "Montee is a productive
player with excellent feet and vision," Fox said. "We view him
as a three-down back that will be a great fit for our team."
He is also not a bad thrower. They ran RB throws more than once. He
doesn’t need a lot of room to hop through in the hole. Plus, what really
separates him is his hunger for the Endzone when they are in the Redzone.
When he sees the Endzone he just powers, dances, and sprints his way in.
He was amazing in the inside the ten. This cat is just a rocket blasting
through the hole for Wisconsin. Plus, he is a lot stronger than he looks.
He knows how to run behind his pads and keep his legs churning.
Everybody and their brother new Denver wanted an RB. ?The area on offense
where we need to improve the most is the run game," the HC of the DB
Fox said. "We thought that Montee would add a lot to our football
team." I didn't think Ball would go in the 2nd. He has a lot of trend
torn off those tires. "He's a big back with a ton of production in
college, who has great quickness and a great slashing-type style and is
always heading north and south" Elway said, "So, we liked him a
lot. We thought he could be a three-down guy for us, so we were thrilled
he was available for us at the bottom of the 2nd." He was such a
great Back as a Junior. He should have come out. Got injured early, and
came back to have a great second half of the season, with a much depleted
line. This will give Manning some relief in the run game. "We're
thrilled you made it to us," Elway said to Ball. "We were
worried about it. We were biting our fingernails for about three hours.
Didn't think you would get down to us. So we're thrilled that you made it
to us. You're walking into a great situation here." He is a quick
power back they really needed. Maybe this pick will get Payton out of the
Shotgun for more than a few plays a game.
don't know a lot about the O-Tackle they picked up, Waddle. But he does
have some interesting experience playing both right and left tackle in
Detroit. "Waddle is again another young player, third year, started
at tackle for the Lions, came off an injury this year," BB said.
"We feel like he's a very talented guy and a solid guy. We'll see how
it goes. Again it's hard to find guys like that any time of the year. It's
especially hard to find them now. You know who at times we've played with
at tackle. We ended up with Bryan Stork playing tackle. So this is an
experienced tackle who is still young and I think has a lot of good
football in front of him, but we'll see how he fits into our system."
He hopefully allows Stork to never start at ORT again.
they also picked up a D-tackle to take the roster spot of Easley. His name
is Ishmaa'ily Kitchen (which is just plain mean to a dyslexic like me).
"He's a young player but still a pretty experienced player," BB
said. "Kind of a little bit light at defensive tackle depth-wise and
again he has some experience, which I think at this time of year it's hard
to find players that fit into that category, which Hankerson does, which
Waddle does. We're kind of fortunate there. [He's] a strong run player:
big stout guy, moves fairly well, not a lot of length." So they
probably are looking for him to clog up the middle a little.
made four interesting moves this week to help prepare for the Playoffs.
These four guys, as strange as they are to us now, are going to be playing
on this team in the Playoffs. They will have bit parts and be bit players.
But as we know, strange things happen in the Playoffs. When rosters are
set and you can't pick four players off the wavier wire if you get some
bad luck. So one or two of these guys is going to have to step up and make
a crucial play or two in the Playoffs. Whether they do or not could be the
difference between a victory and a flood.
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