Green-Ellis, Woodhead are good enough for Pats


Green-Ellis, Woodhead are good enough for Pats

By Rich Levine
Standing Room Only

In New England, everyone is the next someone.

Julian Edelmans the next Wes Welker. Devin McCourtys the next Ty Law. Is Ras-I Dowling the next Eugene Wilson? Hank Poteat was, and always will be, the next Hank Poteat.

But for my money (which, if you look at my pay stubs, isnt much) theres only one Patriot player comparison thats truly come to fruition.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is Antowain Smith.

Check this out:

Last year, the Law Firm carried the ball 229 times for 1008 yards and 13 TD. In 2001, Smith carried the ball 287 times, for 1157 yards and 12 TD. Receptions? Smith had 19; BJGE had 12. Both have the same style, the same strengths, the same limitations. Neither will make you drop your jaw, but neither will drop the ball (BJGE still hasnt fumbled in 329 career rush attempts). Smith was, and Green-Ellis is the definition of solid. No flash, just solid.

Back in the day, Smith was complimented by Kevin Faulk the dynamic, do-everything back who kept the defense on their toes. Green-Ellis? Well, that brings us to another potential comparison.

Because its hard to look at Danny Woodhead and not envision him as the next Kevin Faulk.

I hesitate to do so, because it feels so disrespectful to all that Faulks accomplished (I felt the same way about the instant EdelmanWelker comparison), but the numbers dont lie. Or if they do, they dont lie that much.

Last year, Woodhead had 926 yards from scrimmage, a total that Faulk has only topped three times in his career and once since 2003 (he had 993 yards in 2008 with Matt Cassel as his QB). Of course, thats not all there is to the game. Theres the blocking factor. The leadership factor. The clutch factor. There are all sorts of heights (no pun intended) and measures of consistency that Woodhead must achieve before we can count on him the same way we did Kevin Faulk.

So how about this: For now, lets take Kevin Faulk out of it.

And lets just say that Danny Woodhead, regardless of who preceded him in his current role, is a fantastic compliment for Benjarvus Green-Ellis who in turn, is a more than serviceable lead back. Given the weapons around them, theyre more than enough to help the Pats to another title.

Will Stevan Ridley step in and contribute? Will Shane Vereen overcome the quiet preseason and save his rookie campaign? Are we worried that they dont have a fullback?

Those answers will play out along with the season, but for now, you should be ready and willing to go to war with Woodhead and the Law Firm.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There's nothing like a visit from the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the Tennessee Titans remember how to protect their home field.

Marcus Mariota threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns to end his home struggles and the Titans had their highest point total of the season in a 36-22 victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night.

Click here for the complete story

Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up


Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up

FOXBORO -- Once the Patriots traded AJ Derby to the Broncos for a fifth-round pick earlier this week, they were left with just two tight ends on their roster. While those two tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett -- have played as two of the best tight ends in football this season, it's a position group that has been considerably thinned. 

Until coach Bill Belichick adds another player at that spot, James Develin would be the logical "next man up." A position group unto himself as the team's lone active fullback -- the other fullback in the locker room is practice-squad player Glenn Gronkowski -- Develin meets with Patriots tight ends and coach Brian Daboll on a daily basis because the fullback and tight-end responsibilities in the Patriots offense are similar, particularly in the run game.

As much time as he spends with that group, Develin tries to absorb what he can when it comes to the nuances of the position. 

"I always kind of try to prepare, obviously, for my fullback role, but then in any other role that I might be called upon for," Develin said on Thursday. "A couple years ago, we had a bunch of injuries during the offseason program, during OTAs, and I filled in a little bit at tight end. I try to keep myself familiar with all those techniques and that tight end role so if the day were to come where I needed to go out there and do it, I'd be able to go out there and do it."

When the Patriots began the season relying more on the run, Develin was called upon to play a relatively significant role in the offense. He averaged 21.3 snaps per game through the first three games of the season, but that number has fallen to 13.6 since Tom Brady's return from a four-game suspension. Still, his role can be a critical one. 

The Patriots' running game faltered last season after both Blount and Dion Lewis went down with season-ending injuries. Having Develin in the mix as an extra blocker would not have guaranteed a more efficient attack, but it may have helped the team's running-game woes late in the year. 

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now has the luxury of bringing Develin onto the field when he wants some added muscle for his blocking schemes, and should the Patriots need a tight end in a pinch, Develin could do that too.

"A lot of times, especially in the blocking game, really the only difference [between fullback and tight end] is that I'm five yards off the ball in the backfield and they're up on the line," Develin said. "The angles are a little bit different. But a lot of times the assignment is typcially the same thing. It's just the technique of getting there and the angles that you take.

"Then in the passing game, as a tight end, there's just a lot more routes and stuff like that. I try to work on that to help me as a fullback to be a little bit better in space . . . It's a sybiotic relationship." 

As it is, Develin will line up occasionally outside. Though not a threat as a receiver in that spot in the same way that Gronkowski or Bennett would be, he understands some of the different looks tight ends have to be comfortable with.

If an emergency arose and he was asked to fill that role, he wouldn't hesitate.

"There's a little bit of carry-over depending on what we're doing or whatever play we have called where I'll line up on the line," he said. "But that's kind of what a fullback has to do. You kind of have to be able to be thrown into whatever position on the field that you gotta do and you gotta just do your job."