By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Believe it or not, Jeff Tarpinian's got big shoes to fill. The undrafted rookie free agent who made the Patriots roster as a linebacker over the weekend is the latest in an impressive line of Patriots to enter without fanfare and stick. Dane Fletcher, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brian Hoyerand Gary Guyton are all players the Patriots latched onto after they'd been passed over in the draft. Each is a valuable part of the 2011 team. Others on the roster -- Wes Welker, Kyle Arrington, Brian Hoyer and Leigh Bodden -- stuck with other teams before coming to New England. Injuries marred the college career of the converted safety. But the recommendation of Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz, a longtime confidante of Bill Belichick and father of Patriots' tight ends coach Brian Ferenta, and a terrific pro day vaulted Tarpinian onto the Patriots radar. Patriots personnel man Nick Caserio discussed Tarpinian on Tuesday. "He's smart, tough instinctive," said Caserio. "He runs well, he wasaround the football quite a bit in college. He has a lot of attributes that are positive. Wewould have liked to see him on the field a little bit more but those are some of the things we liked."If he had been on the field a little more he may not have been undrafted. And, perhaps if he hadn't had to show resilience and mental toughness in battling through college injuries, he may not have done as well in training camp. There's no denying that undrafted players bring a "whatever it takes" mentality to the NFL. "There's a lot of players in that situation," Caserio said of the undrafteds. "In the end, regardless of where they come from, every player is given the same chance and same opportunity. What they do with it is up to them . . . Some make the most of their opportunities; others don't."Tarpinian has set himself up. That's all. He's in the survivor pool. And that's more than can be said of plenty of guys who didn't survive the weekend.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
By Tom E. Curran