Patriots Rookie Report

The 2005 draft class of New England Patriots have already been reduced by two, TE Andy Stokes and LB Ryan Claridge. The team is counting on the other rookies to step up their game this preseason in order to fill in some holes the team is looking to address. Here is the Patriots rookie report on the players vying for a job.

PHOTO: New England Patriots first round rookie draft pick Logan Mankins (70), an offensive lineman, sports a partially shaved head at practice during Patriots summer camp in Foxboro, Mass., Tuesday afternoon Aug. 16, 2005. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Patriots Rookie Report
By and Patriots Insider Staff


1st round (32) -- OL Logan Mankins had a solid preseason opener at left guard and looks like he is on his way to solidifying that starting spot. Bill Belichick cited his ability to stay on the field during camp as a key to his development. Mankins has the build to play both tackle and guard positions, with Belichick saying that some experts even think he can eventually be a starting center in the league. Mankin's versatility to play numerous positions is something Belichick covets.

3rd round (84) -- CB Ellis Hobbs played in the subpackages against the Bengals with the first unit in both the nickel and dime. He looked solid in run force, but struggled playing bump-and-run at the line, particularly in the slot. He played with the regular defense later in the game and gave up a touchdown near the goal line by allowing the receiver an inside release. He was O.K. overall but has a ways to go.

3rd round (100) -- OL Nick Kaczur held his own at tackle with the reserves in the preseason opener even though the group struggled as a whole. He played some at both tackle spots and looks like he is behind Brandon Gorin and Tom Ashworth in competition for a starting job. Kaczur has been spending time with the first unit at the RT position in drills during camp.

4th round (133) -- S James Sanders also played in the dime package and went mostly unnoticed, which is not a bad thing for a rookie in his first game. But he has been impressive enough in camp to earn time with the first dime unit. He was slow making his reads in the preseason opener and chalked it up to inexperience. Sanders will be hard pressed to earn a roster spot with Dexter Reid and Rodney Harrison ahead of him. If he is unable to improve his cover skills, he may be on the outside looking in.

5th round (170) -- LB Ryan Claridge missed practice last week and did not play in the preseason opener. He hasn't impressed in camp to date so any injury is a setback that limits his preseason opportunity to make a positive impression. As a fifth round pick, Claridge was no lock to make the club, and the team decided to put him on the reserve / injured list effectively redshirting him for the season.

7th round (230) -- QB Matt Cassel saw his first pro action and guided a two-minute drive that ended in a 20-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Jason Anderson. He completed 6 of 10 passes for 60 yards and ran three times for 26. He also was almost picked off twice, including once in which he stared down his receiver and threw an out that was close to being a defensive touchdown. His scoring throw came when he checked to a hitch against single coverage on the outside. Overall, he was 13 of 21 for 135 yards and a score. He also lost a fumble. If end results were all that mattered, Cassel would have a roster spot locked up. Unfortunately, head coach Bill Belichick has focused on the multiple things Cassel is doing wrong in an attempt to temper the media hype surrounding the former USC Trojan.

UDFA -- WR Bam Childress was the third receiver with the first unit thanks to the absence of Deion Branch, Troy Brown, Bethel Johnson, David Terrell and P.K. Sam. He dropped one pass when he was hit from behind as the ball arrived and finished with three receptions for 39 yards. Childress continues to make impressive catches in camp in camp, although free agent acquisition Jason Anderson has been the benefactor of increased reps with the first unit lately.

INJURY REPORT: Eighteen players did not dress for the preseason opener, a list that included quarterback Tom Brady; wide receivers David Terrell, Deion Branch, Troy Brown, Bethel Johnson, P.K. Sam and Cedric James; running backs Chad Morton and Cedric Cobbs; linebackers Andre Torrey, Tully Banta-Cain and Ryan Claridge; tight ends Joel Jacobs and Benjamin Watson; and defensive linemen Santonio Thomas, Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Mario Monds. The Patriots have not disclosed the reason for their absence or any injury information. Mike Vrabel injured his left leg or ankle while blocking on a kickoff return against the Bengals, but the team provided no information regarding the injury. It did not appear serious, although Vrabel did not return. CB Duane Starks was not seen on the sideline during the second half, but the team provided no reason for his absence.

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