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Posts tagged with "David Harris"

The Patriots have been battling with injuries they didn’t have to face in 2016.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

1. In 2016, the Patriots finished the season with just three players on the injured reserve: LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulders), TE Rob Gronkowski (back), and TE Greg Scruggs (knee). Two other players were on the PUP list and did not play all season: OG Tre Jackson (knee) and OT Sebastian Vollmer (everything).

This year, the Patriots are in much worse shape. WR Julian Edelman (ACL), CB Cyrus Jones(ACL), EDGE Derek Rivers (ACL), EDGE Caleb Kidder, and TE Matt Lengel were all placed on the injured reserve prior to the start of the season and cannot return this year, while EDGE Shea McClellin, WR Malcolm Mitchell, and DT Vincent Valentine were placed on the injured reserve after week 1 and are eligible to return.

This does not include the non-football injury players in EDGE Keionta Davis, OG Chase Farris, OT Antonio Garcia, and OT Andrew Jelks.

The Patriots are able to bring two players back from the injured reserve this year, so two of McClellin, Mitchell, and Valentine will return based upon team need. My guess would be on the first two.

2. As MassLive’s Kevin Duffy highlighted, the Patriots have made eight draft selections in the first four rounds of the past two drafts. Just two remain on the Patriots active roster in 2016 third round OG Joe Thuney and 2017 EDGE Deatrich Wise.

2016 2nd round CB Cyrus Jones is out for the year with a torn ACL, 2016 third round QB Jacoby Brissett is now with the Indianapolis Colts, and 2016 third round DT Vincent Valentine and 2016 fourth round WR Malcolm Mitchell are on the injured reserve with knee injuries. 2017 third round EDGE Derek Rivers tore his ACL in camp, while 2017 third round OT Tony Garcia wasn’t able to participate due to his limitations.

The Patriots really need to figure out what went wrong with all of these injuries and if they can fix the problem moving forward. It’s hard to blame all of this on the turf.

3. The Herald’s Jeff Howe did a nice job highlighting why Rob Gronkowski wants to play so badly against the Texans. The Patriots and Gronkowski added new incentives into the tight end’s contract and he’s not on pace to reach the highest level at this point in time- and missing any more time could cost him the second-tier of incentives.

Gronkowski has the opportunity to produce in the Patriots offense and it would be fantastic if he could provide the same offense every week that he did against the New Orleans Saints, but he can’t do that from the sideline.

4. RB Dion Lewis and RB James White join Gronkowski as offensive players with playing time incentives, while LB Dont’a Hightower, DT Lawrence Guy, DT Alan Branch, SS Patrick Chung, FS Duron Harmon, and LB David Harris all have playing time incentives on defense. The Patriots aren’t the type of team to sit players for the sake of reducing their annual earnings, but that’s certainly something that the players are thinking about.

Lewis, Branch, and Harris are three players that aren’t seeing the necessary playing time to come close to their incentives because there are better (and younger and cheaper) alternatives on the roster. Hopefully Branch can find his 2015-16 form and regain his role, but Lewis and Harris are unlikely to see the needed time without more injuries.

The other players are on the bubble of reaching their incentives and need to keep playing at a high level to achieve them.

5. The Patriots have intentionally brought players back from injury at a slower rate than their competitors because they would rather them be as close to 100% as possible. New England is able to do that because the Patriots have done such a strong job of building the depth of the roster- and part of building this depth is giving younger players an opportunity to play early in the regular season, as an extension of sorts for the preseason.

Don’t be surprised if a lot of the players that were listed as limited on the injury report this week are eased back on the field to give younger players an opportunity.

6. I spoke with Kenneth Levy of BattleRedBlog.com to see if there were any Texans that the Patriots might be able to acquire in the middle of the season as reinforcements.

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Dont’a Hightower was activated from PUP this week and returned to the practice field. But according to a report from ESPN, Hightower is among a group of Patriots who did not travel with the team to Detroit for Friday night’s third preseason affair.

ESPN reports that linebackers Hightower, Elandon Roberts and Shea McClellin were not part of the Patriots travel party to take on the Lions. As such, the report speculates that veteran newcomer David Harris could have a big role in the middle of the defense in Detroit.

While Hightower is working back into the mix after missing all of training camp and the two previous preseason games on PUP, Roberts is dealing with a rib injury that saw him carted off the field last Saturday night in Houston. McClellin has been absent with an unknown injury since early in camp that’s now forced the veteran to miss three preseason games.

Previously, ESPN also reported that Nate Solder, who returned to practice this week after an extended absence to an unknown issue, did not travel, either. As such, Cameron Fleming is expected to once again be charged with protecting Tom Brady’s blind side against the Lions.

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When the light is on, Adam Butler has shown what the Patriots saw in him.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Few rookies are consistent. Even fewer undrafted rookies are.

Adam Butler isn’t an exception.

There are series where you don’t see No. 70 even though he’s present. There are snaps where the jump off the ball isn’t there, or the containment slips away. But when the free-agent defensive lineman out of Vanderbilt has the light switch flipped towards the ceiling, he’s hard to mark as absent. He’s hard to stop.

Butler can be 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds worth of power, quickness and positional flexibility when the wires are fastened tight. And in the second half against the Houston Texans on Saturday night, they were. The Vanderbilt product hit on all three filaments. He hit hard.

Butler lined up between three-technique defensive tackle and seven-technique defensive end as the New England Patriots’ second preseason game wore on at NRG Stadium. For a former offensive lineman, and one who went on to lead the Commodores’ defense in sacks last fall, that’s notable.

Also notable was the way he shouldered into the B-gap opposite Texans guard David Quessenberry in the third quarter. From there, Butler halted third-round Texas running back D’Onta Foreman after a gain of two, slowing traffic as veterans Alan Branch and David Harris closed in.

That kept Houston out of the end zone, at least for the time being.

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