Curran: Injury turned Sanders into cap casualty

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Curran: Injury turned Sanders into cap casualty

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Damned if you do. Damned if you don't. James Sanders ended up being a member of the former group on Monday. The safety was released by the Patriots after taking part in just four training camp practices. The reason he was idle so much? He injured his hamstring trying to stay in shape during the NFL lockout. "I wish I would have had a fair shot this camp. I came in hurt and obviously that weighed into it," Sanders told Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. "But stuff happens and you have to move on.While Sanders' 2.8 million salary in 2011 couldn't have helped his cause for staying, he had no chance to prove he was worth that dough because he wasn't able to go. Sanders joins Tully Banta-Cain and Ty Warren as 2011 cap casualties. The Patriots' safety depth has been winnowed even more with the release but -- as I pointed out in the past few weeks as media crows circled Brandon Meriweather -- the chance Meriweather would be axed seemed small. Despite a power outage at Gillette that forced the team from the facility, the Patriots got their roster down to 80 players well in advance of Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline. The other prominent player released Monday was Jonathan Wilhite. The fourth-year corner from Auburn mainly defended the slot receiver in the Patriots defense (the "star" position) but he actually did most of his best work outside. He was fairly effective in 2009 and had 13 starts in 39 games with the team, but he played in only nine games last year after hurting his hamstring and probably is best served with a change of scenery. The team also released tight end Garrett Mills, who they signed last week. The team originally drafted Mills in 2006 but he never played a down in New England. Rookie corner Malcolm Williams, a seventh-rounder out of TCU, was released. So was long-snapper Matt Katula, who was brought induring the 2010 season when 2010 draft pick Jake Ingram got the long-snapping yips. Katula had a bad snap in the Patriots' preseason opener on a field-goal attempt. Wide receivers Tyree Barnes and Darnell Jenkins (a big Quick Slants fan, I salute YOU, Darnell), defensive lineman Kade Weston, defensive end Clay Nurse, offensive lineman Mark Wetterer and kicker Chris Koepplin were shown politely to the door as well. The Patriots brought back safety Ross Ventrone - a lower-budget depth guy who can play special teams and fill in at the back of the defense. They also signed former Jags receiver Tiquan Underwood. Heplayed in 10 games and caught eight passes for 111 yards and returned 24 kicks for 561 yards last season. If he works out, Brandon Tate's time may be nigh.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."


 

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.