Patriots fans don't have to go far in the NFL history books to find a point of comparison when it comes to the departure of Logan Mankins via a trade to the Buccaneers last week.



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The Patriots have added quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the practice squad, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.

The Patriots have added quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the practice squad, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder out of UCLA has bounced around professional football the last few years — he’s had stints with the Niners, Dolphins and Vikings, as well as San Jose of the Arena Football League and Sacramento of the United Football League. He was with San Francisco in camp earlier this summer, but was part of the cuts that reduced the roster to 75 players. In three preseason games this summer, the 26-year-old was 11-for-18 for 113 yards no touchdowns and two interceptions.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots announced a series of roster moves Sunday afternoon, including the official announcement of the trade of Ryan Mallett, the acquisitions of Kelcy Quarles and defensive lineman Bruce Gaston and the release of linebacker Chris White. Here’s a portion of the statement from the team on the moves:

The Patriots announced a series of roster moves Sunday afternoon, including the official announcement of the trade of Ryan Mallett, the acquisitions of Kelcy Quarles and defensive lineman Bruce Gaston and the release of linebacker Chris White. Here’s a portion of the statement from the team on the moves:

Gaston, 22, was originally signed by Arizona as a rookie free agent out of Purdue on May 12, 2014. The 6-foot-2, 310-pounder, was released by Arizona on Aug. 30, 2014. Gaston saw action in 50 consecutive games over four seasons at Purdue with 44 starts and finished with 131 total tackles, seven sacks, four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

Quarles, 22, was originally signed by the Giants as a rookie free agent out of South Carolina on May 12, 2014. The 6-foot-4, 294-pounder, was released by the Giants on Aug. 30, 2014. He played in 35 games with 28 starts during a three-year career at South Carolina, finishing with 105 total tackles and 13 sacks. Quarles attended Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy for one year prior to transferring to South Carolina.

Mallett, 26, is a veteran of three NFL season with the Patriots. The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder, originally joined the Patriots as a third round (74th overall) draft pick out of Arkansas in 2011. He has played in four NFL games and has completed one pass for 17 yards.

White, 25, is a veteran of three NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills (2011-12) and the Patriots (2013). The 6-foot-3, 238-pounder, was claimed off waivers and awarded to the Patriots from Detroit on Sept. 1, 2013. He originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick (169th overall) by Buffalo out of Mississippi State in 2011. He was traded by Buffalo to Detroit in a trade for QB Thad Lewis on Aug. 25, 2013. White was released by Detroit on Aug. 31, 2013. Last season, White played in 16 games and finished with one tackle on defense and nine special teams tackles.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Marcus Cannon could get a chance to be a big part of the Patriots offensive line this season. (Getty Images)

Marcus Cannon could get a chance to be a big part of the Patriots offensive line this season. (Getty Images)

Much was made of what the Patriots were going to do with the departure of Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay. Josh Kline got the start at left guard Thursday in the preseason finale and looked strong for the most part, with the exception of getting bull-rushed twice that left him on the ground.

Bill Belichick spoke glowingly about Marcus Cannon on Friday in a conference call, leading to speculation that one might see a line of Nate Solder, Cannon, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer to start the season.

There’s also the possibility that Jordan Devey could see action on the interior at either guard position.

The offensive line in front of Tom Brady has seen its fair share of transition over the years. From Matt Light to Nate Solder at left tackle, and Dan Koppen to Dan Connolly at center, there has always been player movement along the line and somehow Tom Brady manages to still run one of the best offenses in football.

But Brady enters this season with more doubt about who will be helping to protect his blind side. Belichick offered some perspective Sunday, reminding everyone that it’s not necessarily the five best individuals on the line but the best working unit that he’s looking for to protect Brady and provide the holes for the running game.

“I think in the end you want to get your, not necessarily your best five athletes, but the best line that you can put out there,” Belichick said. “That group has a lot of responsibility in terms of protecting the quarterback and protecting the running backs and giving your team an opportunity to move the ball consistently. So, whatever that is, I think you always want your best group out there. That may be your best players, there may be situations where you might have a better player that’€™s not in there but the position doesn’€™t fit.”

Belichick also spoke highly of two defensive players who enjoyed good camps and strong preseasons to earn a roster spot, third-year linebacker Darius Fleming out of Notre Dame and rookie undrafted corner Malcolm Butler. Fleming and Butler played in all four preseason games. Fleming showed his value in special teams and as an outside linebacker, with 13 tackles. Butler might have had the most impressive camp of any of the rookie undrafted free agents, amassing 15 tackles (14 solo) and stripping the ball and recovering a fumble all in one play late against the Eagles.

“Darius had an unfortunate start to his career in San Francisco; good player at Notre Dame,” Belichick said. “[He's a] good outside linebacker, defensive end, edge setter, pass rusher and went out to San Francisco hurt his knee and came back the next year after the repair and that gave out. So he had the same procedure on the same knee twice and when they released him we felt fortunate to get him. He’€™s been able to manage well through camp; got a lot of reps. He’€™s played well for us, both outside and at times inside and in some occasions as a rusher. So, he’€™s got some versatility, smart kid, works hard, tough kid. He came from a good program at Notre Dame. He fit into the team and contributed on a number of areas on defense and in the kicking game.”

“Malcolm is kind of the reverse of that. West Alabama, there were a couple players that we looked at down there [and] ending up not signing after the draft. [We] brought him up for our rookie minicamp and [he] showed us some things there and he’€™s continued to work hard and improve through camp. Big jump, lot to learn and he’€™s worked hard at it. He’€™s gotten a lot of snaps in the preseason. I think those plays have helped him and he’€™s a young player that’€™s continued to improve through camp.”

Whether it’s Notre Dame (like Fleming) or South Alabama (like Butler), Belichick said Sunday that it’s important not to prejudge a particular player’s ceiling in the NFL based solely on where he played in college.

“I’€™ve seen a number of examples through my coaching career of situations ‘€“ some of the ones you described, players who have had great college careers, great college histories, great programs, high individual performances, great teamwork and captains and all those kind of things and for whatever reason it just doesn’€™t translate to this, to the NFL game. Some of that is the difference in scheme, some of that is the difference in the level of competition.

“But sometimes it just doesn’€™t translate and then there are other times where for whatever the circumstances are players end up in different college programs that aren’€™t some of the elite programs in college football, for whatever the reasons are, or in some cases, Steve Neal or guys like that, end up with no college program and still end up to go on to have great pro careers.

“I’€™m not saying that Malcolm will or won’€™t, I’€™m just saying that we’€™ve seen those guys, there are a lot of examples of guys that had that and don’€™t have NFL careers too. But I think the most important thing for us, for our organization, is what the players do with the New England Patriots more so than what they do somewhere else, whether that’€™s with another NFL team or college team or whatever the other places are that we can evaluate them. How do they fit in for us and what do they do when they’€™re here? What’€™s their production? What’€™s their rate of improvement? That’€™s really what we try to go on is what happens when they’€™re here as opposed to what happens somewhere else.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Bill Belichick is always teaching and planning when thinking of roster building. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick is always teaching and planning when thinking of roster building. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

With so much roster manipulation going on throughout the NFL over this weekend, it’s reasonable to wonder what an NFL coaching staff and front office considers when coming to decisions on the best players to keep and those best-suited to a particular system.

With the trade of Ryan Mallett to the Texans, it was clear the Patriots were waiting until the very last (best) moment to see what they could get before pulling the trigger. They made the deal and then claimed a defensive tackle off waivers from the Giants in Kelcy Quarles that many believed more talented than one or two of the tackles the Giants wound up keeping.

The move, in a nutshell, illustrates that Bill Belichick and his staff are all about opening roster spots in one area to fill needs (either in talent or depth) at another. In this case, Belichick stayed true to his recent approach of keeping just two quarterbacks, (especially when one is named Tom Brady) and building depth along the defensive line. Belichick watched last year as he lost his two most experienced and accomplished defensive linemen in Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly.

He now has a free agent out of South Carolina that could fill big shoes if Wilfork or someone else goes down along the front.

Belichick was asked Sunday if there’s a difference between building the 46-man projected roster for game day or the 53-man active roster he finalized on Saturday.

“I’€™d say the best 46, that’€™s an easy question,” Belichick said. “I’€™m not saying it’€™s an easy answer but it’€™s easy in that you pick the players for that particular week that you feel like give your team the best chance to win based on your matchup with that team and your game plan going into that game, which you can control. If you do a lot of one thing and less of something else, then you can configure based on the 53 players, you can pick the 46 ones that best fit that plan for that particular week and then change it the next week if you want to.

“As far as putting the entire roster together, there are a lot of cases where it’€™s pretty clear cut, that’€™s obvious. But there are a lot of cases where you have to balance the experience of a player with the potential of a younger player with less experience and where you think those lines are going to cross when you think the player who may not be as good today is going to pass the player who right now is a little bit ahead of him, mainly because of experience. That’€™s always a difficult judgment to make ‘€“ not always, it can be a difficult judgment to make.

“There a lot of them that I think are easy but there a lot of them that are difficult. Sometimes those paths never do cross. You think that a player is going to ascent to a certain level and he never even gets to there. That’€™s part of the guesstimate of the process. I think with fewer preseason games, fewer practices, fewer opportunities to evaluate the players, especially if a guy misses some time in training camp, we have 25 practices and four preseason games or whatever it is, in that ballpark and a player misses some time in there and he falls into that evaluation category then it’€™s hard and that’€™s where you can make mistakes.

“You could make them if you see them every day for a lot of days but you can definitely make them when you’€™re looking at a limited sample. I think you have to, in the end, take all those things in consideration and try to make the best decisions that you can. To answer the bigger question, the first question you asked about putting the team together, I think you have to take a lot of things into consideration. It’€™s not just ‘€˜Xs’€™ and ‘€˜Os’€™ or just the position or how two guys are at a position but the overall composition of the team.

“That certainly is a factor. If you want a certain type of team ‘€“ if you want a fast team then you should put fast players on your team. If you want a big players, then big players. If you want a tough team, then tough players. It depends on ‘€“ you can’€™t have a fast team if you’€™re not putting fast players on the team. You have to make priorities and then, to some degree, the players that have the priorities that you want on your team, then if that’€™s important enough to you, then you have to select those guys.”

The irony of Sunday’s media conference call with Belichick came when he spoke of his decision to keep three quarterbacks, just hours before pulling the trigger on a trade that sent Ryan Mallett to the Texans for a future draft pick.

“Was it a hard decision? No, I wouldn’€™t say so,” Belichick said. “Fortunately, we have three good players at that position, three players we have a lot of confidence in. I’€™m sure there are some teams in the league that don’€™t have that feeling about that position. They may not have one, I don’€™t know. I’€™ve been in that position before and it’€™s not a good place to be. We’€™re fortunate we have three good players there. It’€™s a good situation.”

A good situation that led to a trade that opened a roster spot for Belichick to bring in another player at another position. The work of a roster builder never ends.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles was claimed by the Patriots on Sunday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles was claimed by the Patriots on Sunday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Quarles is a South Carolina product who had 9.5 sacks last season — more than first overall pick Jadaveon Clowney — but he went undrafted this past spring. While in camp with the Giants, the 6-foot-4, 298-pounder suffered an ankle injury, which appeared to set him back a bit. But according to those who watched him, was still able to compete for a job. He was part of New York’s final cuts on Saturday.

Here are some highlights of his work as a collegian:

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price