Fantasy or Reality: Patriots season expectations

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Fantasy or Reality: Patriots season expectations

Opening day of the Patriots regular season is less than two weeks away, so what better time to make some predictions for key players on this team?

The "Uno Sports Tonight" crew did that Thursday, with Mike Flynn of 98.5 The Sports Hub and the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley stopping by to make some predictions on important questions involving Patriots skill positions.

The first question:  Will Stevan Ridley will surpass 1,300 yards rushing this season?

Flynn was not convinced.

"I got fantasy. I think he has the ability to do, the line to do it, but I think Blount is going to make the team and he's going to take away a lot of those  carries, Bolden will take those carries," Flynn said. "Vereen's your third-down back and they run so many different packages, just when you think you can tell who is the running back, they throw somebody else in there."

The next query moved over to the defensive side of the ball, and pondered the impact Chandler Jones could have in year two.

Following an opening six-sack season cut short by injury, can Jones reach double-digit sacks in his sophomore campaign?

Buckley was emphatic with his answer.

"I think it's a slam-dunk reality because I think he is going to be a great, great player and I believe most of those sacks were early in the season." Buckley said. "So, when you factor in a year's experience and a year's health, I think he gets it."

Finally, the issue of Danny Amendola's health came to the table. 

The former St. Louis Ram has been no stranger to injury and if such ailments pop up again, the Patriots receiving corps could be in deep trouble.

Asked if Amendola can remain on the field for at least 14 games, Flynn would not even commit to that.

"I'm going to say fantasy. You know last couple years, has been injured," Flynn said. "You look at a couple of games, especially his big games, stuff over the middle, he may play 13, I think I'm going to go fantasy."

Do you agree with these takes? Any of these suggestions that you feel differently about? Have your say in the comments section below.

Cyrus Jones has the look of a Patriots corner

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Cyrus Jones has the look of a Patriots corner

Cyrus Jones had the look of a Patriots cornerback long before he was picked with the No. 60 overall selection in the second round of this year's draft.

An SEC standout? Yup. A product of Nick Saban's Alabama defense? Even better. Special teams experience? He might be the best punt returner in this year's draft class with four returns for touchdowns in 2015.

Jones is a bit undersized at 5-foot-10, but he ticks off every other box that the Patriots could want in one of their defensive backs. He's a competitive player who has a physical edge at the line of scrimmage and isn't afraid to fire up field to chip in against the run. He can play press-man or zone, and his solid build (196 pounds) helps him knock receivers off of their routes.

Many believe that because of his physical style and his size that Jones will be limited to a role as a slot corner. But with good ball skills (he was a five-star recruit as a receiver coming out of high school) and solid top-end speed (he ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at Alabama's pro day), he may be able to compete for a role on the outside.

Jones was arrested last year after a dispute with an ex-girlfriend but charges were dropped days later. The Patriots met with Jones multiple times during the pre-draft process, and must have felt comfortable enough with him as a person to take him with their first pick of the weekend.

The Patriots could use some depth at corner with Malcolm Butler (restricted free agent after 2016) and Logan Ryan (unrestricted free agent after 2016) not guaranteed to return after this season. Jones is a physical, competitive corner who has competed against upper-echelon opponents and isn't afraid to contribute in run support. He's also an accomplished return man, who has brought back four punts for touchdowns. He was arrested last year after a dispute with an ex-girlfriend but charges were dropped days later. If Jones looks like a good fit character-wise -- Belichick will surely get what he deems a trustworthy report from Alabama coach Nick Saban -- the Patriots could make him their choice. An offensive tackle could be the choice here, but there are long, intelligent players who could be had in the third round. Based on this mock, at least.

Patriots-Saints trade fills gap in 2016 NFL Draft

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Patriots-Saints trade fills gap in 2016 NFL Draft

The Patriots sent their 61st overall pick to the Saints on Friday night in exchange for the 78th and 112th overall picks. 

That addresses a large gap the Patriots would have had after they selected at 96. Previously, the Patriots were going to wait 100 selections - until late in the fifth - before they were on the clock again. 

Now they are in position to get a body in that stretch. Their picks are now 78, 91, 96, 112, 196, 204, 208, 214, 221, 243 and 250. 

Barring more trades, the Patriots will end their night with four new players.