Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo’s season-ending injuries ravaged the New England Patriots’ defensive depth in 2013, but there could be a silver lining to those losses in the future.
Defensive tackles Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones and linebacker Jamie Collins received increased playing time last season after Wilfork and Mayo went down. Those young players need to be counted on next season for the Patriots.
Siliga was signed off the street by the Patriots last season, and now some fans are viewing the big third-year pro as a lock to make the roster. Find out why the nose tackle might not be such a sure thing in this week’s mailbag.
@DougKyedNESN will the pats resign ridley and vereen after this year?
It depends on how the 2014 season fares for fourth-year running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. If Ridley has a repeat of his 2012 season, then the Patriots should re-sign him — as long as he doesn’t cost the team too much dough. If he continues to have issues holding onto the football, however, I don’t think Bill Belichick will have any reason to keep him, given the coach’s distaste for fumbling.
Vereen has a higher chance of being re-signed. If he stays healthy, there will be plenty of reasons to lock him up as the future third-down back, and if he gets injured again, his value should be low enough that he’ll come cheap for the Patriots. If rookie James White outplays Vereen, however, then the Patriots could let Vereen walk.
@DougKyedNESN Why don’t you view Sealver Siliga as a roster lock? How many Dlineman do you think will make the team?
I think he’s extremely close to being a roster lock, based entirely on his play from Week 13 to the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game loss to the Denver Broncos. There’s a reason he floated around the NFL for 2 1/2 years, however, and that’s what puts him on the roster bubble. There’s a chance, albeit a slightly small one, that those seven games at the end of last season were a mirage.
If Siliga impresses during the summer, he’s the perfect backup for Vince Wilfork at nose tackle.
@DougKyedNESN – what’s your best guess as to why Bill Belichick hasn’t strengthened at LB or TE, Who are the best players still available?
@DougKyedNESN Now that NE reinvented the TE position, Are they abandoning it for new evolution?
I’ll tackle these at the same time. I think the value just wasn’t there for Belichick at tight end. He probably wants to run a two-tight end offense, but there’s no reason to force it when he can get creative with three wide receivers or two running backs.
Having Vereen and White could give Belichick some versatility at running back. They both can run between the tackles and go out and run routes in the passing game.
Dustin Keller and Joe Don Duncan are the best available tight ends, but both have injury concerns. Belichick must like what he saw in linebacker Steve Beauharnais last year.
@DougKyedNESN What are the odds of you taking a clear photo with Armstead? I hear they’re worth a lot nowadays.
There’s a reason we call him the Sasquatch. Chances are slim.
@DougKyedNESN Which draft pick do you think is in most danger of not making the final 53?
I think it comes down to sixth-round draft pick Zach Moore, a defensive end, and seventh-rounder Jeremy Gallon, a wide receiver.
Moore might be best stored on the practice squad for a season so he can get adapted to the NFL game, coming from tiny Division II Concordia-St. Paul.
Gallon is a great player, but wide receiver is extremely crowded. One or two very talented players could be cut by the end of the summer, and Gallon will compete with Kenbrell Thompkins, Mark Harrison and Josh Boyce for a roster spot.
@DougKyedNESN Out of the three o-lineman drafted, who has the best chance to get a starting spot?
Belichick mentioned Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Bryan Stork can play guard or center, so the fourth-round pick is the most logical choice. Right guard Dan Connolly and center Ryan Wendell shouldn’t be viewed as automatic starters in 2014, so Stork could compete for the starting role at either position.
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