Now, that being said, the combination of Josh McDaniels calling plays and Tom Brady executing them will likely make this split null and void, but it’s worth mentioning. Cooks was being drafted at the end of the second round, per early MFL10 ADP (average draft position) data. That feels about right, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his ADP starts creeping even higher from a perceived (and probably deserved) Brady/Belichick bump.
On the flip side, this boosts Michael Thomas’ stock in New Orleans as well. He impressed as a rookie and could now be looking at an even bigger piece of the passing pie coming his way. Same goes for Willie Snead, who fell to third fiddle with Cooks and Thomas in town, but now could jump back up into second place in the eyes of Drew Brees. Last I checked, Coby Fleener is still Coby Fleener, so I wouldn’t read too much into this move impacting him.
Some of the greatest athletes in professional sports history are the ones who use a unique body type to their advantage. Wilfork understood his gravity base and power source better than perhaps any nose tackle in NFL history. Like Shaquille O’Neal’s body control or Frank Thomas’ ability to smoothly transfer weight from one foot to another during his swing, Wilfork stood out as an athlete that did not succumb to some of the typical stereotypes of his size.
Wilfork joked some of his weigh-ins were close calls, and that if he were tested again 30 minutes later Belichick would not have been as happy. But that’s simply part of Wilfork’s lore. No one understood how the hands of a cornerback and the agility of a linebacker were placed in his frame to begin with. No one may ever understand how he made weight year in and year out.
Although Burkhead’s skill set might seem a tad redundant with James White and Dion Lewis on the roster, both of those scat backs are entering contract years. It’s quite possible that the Patriots view Burkhead as a souped-up version of Brandon Bolden, the special teams ace capable of filling any backfield role in a pinch.
In other words, the addition of Burkhead does not fill the power-back void that would be created if LeGarrette Blount signs elsewhere after an 18-touchdown season in 2016.
Edelman went down on a non-contact play against Detroit as he was scampering through the secondary on his third catch of the opening drive, and then limped off the field. He was later carted to the locker room and did not return.
The 32-year-old receiver had been Tom Brady’s most reliable target for years. Edelman has earned more than nine targets per game over the last four seasons and has averaged more than 11 yards per catch the past five years. He is coming off a career-high 1,106-yard 2016 season. Edelman signed a two-year, $11 million contract with $7 million guaranteed before this offseason.
Cornerback Eric Rowe (groin) and receiver Phillip Dorsett (knee) also were limited, but running back Rex Burkhead, nursing a rib injury, was nowhere to be seen.
The Patriots aren’t the same team without Gronkowski, but Hightower’s status was also a concern after he missed Week 2. If New England has a depth issue anywhere, it’s the lack of pass rushers.
The Patriots will visit NRG Stadium on Saturday, but merely to walk the field and get acclimated to the surroundings and take a team picture. Belichick said the team would not switch hotels for the night before the game for more seclusion, as he’s done with the Patriots and other teams have done in the eve of the Super Bowl in the past.
In fine-tuning strategy in the 48 hours before the game, Belichick said they will be prepared to make adjustments. He’s fully aware, if not concerned, that the Atlanta Falcons have scored touchdowns on their first possession in eight consecutive games.