Taking stock of Patriots' Tuesday moves


Taking stock of Patriots' Tuesday moves

Two surprising moves by the Patriots on Tuesday evening.

Sending Donte Stallworth to IR barely a week after signing him, less than 24 hours after he caught a 63-yard touchdown and seemed fresh as a daisy in the locker room was the big surprise.

Releasing tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was the more mild of the two.

Gresh's Grades:
Still things to clean up after a dominating win?

Stallworth first. The fact he spent at least 30 minutes conducting interviews after Monday night's win over the Texans is what's odd here. Normally, when a guy gets hurt during the game he'll be in the training room after or getting X-rays.

I'm not saying he didn't, nor is it impossible that something he thought was minor and not worth mentioning he came to find out was a much bigger issue.

Either way, his 2012 season is over, but at least his one game included a highlight.

A source told me Tuesday night the Patriots are likely to summon back Deion Branch who's been working out and told me two weeks ago he was "close" to being back to full go.

Branch and Stallworth have different skills. Stallworth is a better downfield receiver and better after the catch. Branch is a better route-runner and has better hands and a bigger array of short routes he's proficient at. The man coverage the Texans were using Monday night is something Branch doesn't work as well against as he used to, but he is a very good receiver against zone.

As for Shiancoe, well, that didn't work out. The Patriots were light at tight end coming out of last season and Shiancoe was part of the fleet of players the Patriots have thrown at the position. When the Patriots placed Shiancoe on IR with the "designated to return" attached to him, you figured when he did become available to the team, he'd emerge. But the development of Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells' usefulness as a blocker and occasional threat down the seam made Shiancoe a spare part.

Why did they use the "designated to return" label on him instead of, say, rookie Jeff Demps? The Patriots' crystal ball must have been malfunctioning that day. But the emphasis on the tight end position in the New England offense is obvious. Being sure they had enough bodies to fill the spot if injuries arose (and they have) or Fells went down, it likely made more sense to make sure Shiancoe was there to fill the myriad tight end jobs rather than keeping the spot open for a kick returner with a spotty history of protecting the football in college.