Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Turk is coming...

Labor Day week-end brings more than hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill: along with the BBQ comes "the Turk" as NFL rosters cut down to 53 and teams scramble to push players through waivers to the practice squad, grab potential prospects to fill that last spot, or catch a falling veteran who was cut loose. The transaction page is stuffed with dreams denied and opportunities just waiting to be grabbed by the next Wes Welker, Stephen Neal, or Mike Wright who all picked themselves up off the ground after a visit by the Turk and survived "waiver wire hell" to cash in as productive, top-line NFL players through perseverance, hard work and dedication.

The Patriots have been their usual enigma wrapped inside a riddle as cut down time approaches. Already presumed #2 quarterback Andrew Walter has followed 2008 3rd round pick Kevin "Don't call my Jerry" O'Connell out the door as the Patriots look to replace Millionaire Matt Cassell behind Tom Brady. Brian "Steny" Hoyer stated his case for the #2 job by throwing a couple of picks and falling behind 21-0 against the Giants first team defense Thursday night. Against the fellow scrubs, Hoyer looked much better,; however, after Millionaire Matt Cassell's putrid pre-season performance last year was followed by an impressive job filling in for Brady, I am really trying to not base all my opinions on the pre-season games and try to believe Bill Belichick and company know what is going on during practices enough to make an educated assessment.

Running back, wide receiver and tight end have multiple questions as the Patriots try to cram too much talent into too few roster spots. At running back, can the Patriots let Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis (aka the "Accounting Firm") go, or do they keep five RBs knowing they inevitably have 2 or 3 backs dinged up in the course of the season? Has Laurence Maroney done enough to keep a job? How about Fred Taylor? Has anyone spotted Kevin Faulk this off-season? Tight-end looks like 3 players competing for 4 spots with Alex "the Invisible Man" Smith rumored on the block and perennial underachiever Ben Watson playing in the fourth quarter of the fourth pre-season game--usually the spot reserved for scrubs to show-off to other teams. Finally, the Terrence Nunn Fan Club has overtaken Patriot Nation as site after site anoints him the number three receiver ahead of vets Greg Lewis and Joey Galloway. Somehow, I don't see Nunn passing Julian Edelman or Sam "Clay" Aiken at receiver or special teams, which cries for "practice squad."

Without a doubt, the other 30 NFL teams will attack the left-overs of the Colts and Patriots and both teams will hope to sneak a few youngsters to the practice squad. Right now, the Patriots are deep. Back-up quarterback is a concern (as is the secondary until they make some stops in a game that counts), but offensive and defensive line are both deep, skill positions have great battles, and the linebacking corp is definitely faster and younger than it has ever been in the Belichick era with projected starters Gary Guyton, Jerod Mayo, and Adalius Thomas (if they are using a 4-3 or in the nickel with Derrick Burgess as a hand-on-the-ground defensive end). Their biggest weakness--the secondary--is far superior to last year which had Ellis "Burn me once, burn me twice, oh heck, burn me again!" Hobbs and Deltha "the human Fastlane EZ-Pass" O'Neal manning the corners. Leigh Bodden and even a one-legged Shawn Springs would be a huge upgrade over the gruesome twosome at corner in 08.

Now, it is just the interminable wait until Monday night, September 14th and the Bills.

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