Cobbs, Sam Fight for Their Jobs

The Patriots are playing the Green Bay Packers at a time of the preseason when starters are on th efield most of the game. While that may or may not hold true for New England this time, one thing is certain, those players on the bubble better show their talents this week because they may not get another chance. Cedric Cobbs and PK Sam are just two of the players on that bubble. John MacKenna previews the game against the Pack.

PHOTO: New England Patriots' receiver P.K. Sam speaks with reporters after practice at the Patriots training camp in Foxboro Mass. (July 2005)

Cobbs, Sam Fight for Their Jobs
By John MacKenna

When the New England Patriots visit the Green Bay Packers Friday night, the final score won't matter, but most everything else will.

Preseason is quickly winding down, and this is the Patriots' last game before teams are required to trim down to 65 players on Aug. 30. Then on Sept. 1, the Patriots play their final preseason game. Three days after that, rosters must be cut to the final 53 players. Then on Sept. 8-two weeks from now-the Pats open their season against the Raiders.

For players battling for roster spots, games don't get any bigger than this.

Running backs in competition

No one has more on the line at Lambeau Field than running backs Cedric Cobbs and Kory Chapman. Cobbs, a fourth-round draft choice in 2004, will be seeing his first game action of the preseason. He has good size at 6'0", 224 pounds, and a solid resume with 3,027 yards and 26 touchdowns during his college career at Arkansas.

But the former drama major needs to steal a scene or two against the Packers to beat out Chapman. The latter has displayed good balance and instincts while rushing for 86 yards on 17 carries in the first two preseason games. At 202 pounds, Chapman is a smaller back, and he lacks Cobbs' pedigree, having joined the Patriots last year as an undrafted free agent.

Receiver jobs on the line

There is also fierce competition in the receiving corps, especially following this week's trade for Andre Davis, a receiver/returner whom New England acquired from the Cleveland Browns for a 2006 fifth-round pick.

The Patriots could carry either five or six receivers, and four of those jobs are probably secure (Deion Branch, David Givens, Troy Brown and David Terrell.) That leaves Davis, Tim Dwight, P.K. Sam and possibly Jason Anderson battling it out for one or two positions.

Davis has the inside track for one slot, due in large part to his NFL experience as a kick returner. In three seasons with the Browns, Davis returned 88 kicks for an average of 21.3 yards. The Patriots need an experienced kick returner as long as incumbent Bethel Johnson remains on the shelf. Johnson has a foot injury that might land him on injured reserve, where he would be ineligible to play for the first six regular-season games.

Davis also has caught 93 passes for 1,412 yards with the Browns with 13 touchdowns, and he has made some good impressions since arriving in Foxboro this Monday. "He's a very smart player," said Patriots QB Tom Brady on Tuesday. "He came out here yesterday and almost knew what he was doing on every single play, which was great to see. He seems like a really neat person. He's going to fit in well."

Davis, who is 6'1" and 195 pounds, faces fierce competition from Dwight, who has already made some plays and some good impressions of his own. In two preseason games, the former San Diego Charger has caught three balls for 69 yards and returned two punts for 35 yards.

Here's what Brady said earlier this week about Dwight. "He's very explosive. He has great down-the-field speed. He really is a threat out there because he's so fast. On the punt return the other night, he turned the corner and you're like, 'Oh man, he can take it to the house.' … He really could be a weapon. … He's extremely explosive. He's very strong in and out of his cuts, has great foot control and catches the ball very well."

Dwight looks like the team's best option for returning punts, which gives him an edge over Sam and Anderson.

Sam, the Patriots' 2004 fifth-round pick, has his back against the wall. He doesn't return kicks or punts, and he has missed the first two preseason games with injuries. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, Sam has good size, but he needs to make a good impression against Green Bay or he'll be looking for a new job.

Anderson, who also stands 6'3", is a long shot, but he has caught four passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns so far in preseason.

Challenges for the defense

The job competition alone should make for an interesting game, but there are team issues too. Head Coach Bill Belichick is sure to be watching how his defense performs on third downs after having allowed the Bengals and Saints to convert a combined 59 percent of third-down attempts in the first two games.

"There's no question we have to play better on third down," said Belichick earlier this week." We haven't stopped one in two games in the first half really. It hasn't been very good at all. Again that comes back to team defense, but yes it's terrible. If you can't get off the field on third down, you can't play good defense. You really can't stop anything. You just stay out there and keep moving."

The Packers' offense, led by QB Brett Favre and RB Ahman Green, presents a good challenge. Last year, Green Bay was third in the NFL in yards per game (397.3).

New England's run defense, which has surrendered 303 yards in two games, will be tested by Green and reserve RB Najeh Davenport. Green is one of the league's top rushers (1,883 yards in 2003) and Davenport averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 2004.


John MacKenna is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider. You can contact him in the forums under the name: oldnslow. You can also find archives of his columns on the Insiders by searching for "John MacKenna" or

You can find the original article on PatriotsInsider.com
URL: http://www.patriots.scout.com

The Patriots Message Boards: http://mb.scout.com/bpatriotsinsider
URL: http://mb.scout.com/bpatriotsinsider


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PHOTO: New England Patriots' receiver P.K. Sam speaks with reporters after practice at the Patriots training camp in Foxboro Mass. (July 2005)

Cobbs, Sam Fight for Their Jobs
By John MacKenna

When the New England Patriots visit the Green Bay Packers Friday night, the final score won't matter, but most everything else will.

Preseason is quickly winding down, and this is the Patriots' last game before teams are required to trim down to 65 players on Aug. 30. Then on Sept. 1, the Patriots play their final preseason game. Three days after that, rosters must be cut to the final 53 players. Then on Sept. 8-two weeks from now-the Pats open their season against the Raiders.

For players battling for roster spots, games don't get any bigger than this.

Running backs in competition

No one has more on the line at Lambeau Field than running backs Cedric Cobbs and Kory Chapman. Cobbs, a fourth-round draft choice in 2004, will be seeing his first game action of the preseason. He has good size at 6'0", 224 pounds, and a solid resume with 3,027 yards and 26 touchdowns during his college career at Arkansas.

But the former drama major needs to steal a scene or two against the Packers to beat out Chapman. The latter has displayed good balance and instincts while rushing for 86 yards on 17 carries in the first two preseason games. At 202 pounds, Chapman is a smaller back, and he lacks Cobbs' pedigree, having joined the Patriots last year as an undrafted free agent.

Receiver jobs on the line

There is also fierce competition in the receiving corps, especially following this week's trade for Andre Davis, a receiver/returner whom New England acquired from the Cleveland Browns for a 2006 fifth-round pick.

The Patriots could carry either five or six receivers, and four of those jobs are probably secure (Deion Branch, David Givens, Troy Brown and David Terrell.) That leaves Davis, Tim Dwight, P.K. Sam and possibly Jason Anderson battling it out for one or two positions.

Davis has the inside track for one slot, due in large part to his NFL experience as a kick returner. In three seasons with the Browns, Davis returned 88 kicks for an average of 21.3 yards. The Patriots need an experienced kick returner as long as incumbent Bethel Johnson remains on the shelf. Johnson has a foot injury that might land him on injured reserve, where he would be ineligible to play for the first six regular-season games.

Davis also has caught 93 passes for 1,412 yards with the Browns with 13 touchdowns, and he has made some good impressions since arriving in Foxboro this Monday. "He's a very smart player," said Patriots QB Tom Brady on Tuesday. "He came out here yesterday and almost knew what he was doing on every single play, which was great to see. He seems like a really neat person. He's going to fit in well."

Davis, who is 6'1" and 195 pounds, faces fierce competition from Dwight, who has already made some plays and some good impressions of his own. In two preseason games, the former San Diego Charger has caught three balls for 69 yards and returned two punts for 35 yards.

Here's what Brady said earlier this week about Dwight. "He's very explosive. He has great down-the-field speed. He really is a threat out there because he's so fast. On the punt return the other night, he turned the corner and you're like, 'Oh man, he can take it to the house.' … He really could be a weapon. … He's extremely explosive. He's very strong in and out of his cuts, has great foot control and catches the ball very well."

Dwight looks like the team's best option for returning punts, which gives him an edge over Sam and Anderson.

Sam, the Patriots' 2004 fifth-round pick, has his back against the wall. He doesn't return kicks or punts, and he has missed the first two preseason games with injuries. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, Sam has good size, but he needs to make a good impression against Green Bay or he'll be looking for a new job.

Anderson, who also stands 6'3", is a long shot, but he has caught four passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns so far in preseason.

Challenges for the defense

The job competition alone should make for an interesting game, but there are team issues too. Head Coach Bill Belichick is sure to be watching how his defense performs on third downs after having allowed the Bengals and Saints to convert a combined 59 percent of third-down attempts in the first two games.

"There's no question we have to play better on third down," said Belichick earlier this week." We haven't stopped one in two games in the first half really. It hasn't been very good at all. Again that comes back to team defense, but yes it's terrible. If you can't get off the field on third down, you can't play good defense. You really can't stop anything. You just stay out there and keep moving."

The Packers' offense, led by QB Brett Favre and RB Ahman Green, presents a good challenge. Last year, Green Bay was third in the NFL in yards per game (397.3).

New England's run defense, which has surrendered 303 yards in two games, will be tested by Green and reserve RB Najeh Davenport. Green is one of the league's top rushers (1,883 yards in 2003) and Davenport averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 2004.


John MacKenna is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider. You can contact him in the forums under the name: oldnslow. You can also find archives of his columns on the Insiders by searching for "John MacKenna" or

You can find the original article on PatriotsInsider.com
URL: http://www.patriots.scout.com

The Patriots Message Boards: http://mb.scout.com/bpatriotsinsider
URL: http://mb.scout.com/bpatriotsinsider

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