The term “shadow roster” sounds ominous, but it just refers to New England managing the back end of their active 53 players. Every team has a call list of available free agents, it just seems like Coach Bill Belichick and Co. get on the horn with more frequency than other teams do.
Due to injuries and some depth issues at certain positions, over the past week the Patriots have been active with tryouts and personnel moves between the active roster and practice squad. With some of those transactions and players in mind, we’ve compiled a list of potential Pats who may see the revolving door in Gillette this season (as well as a few who already have).
We decided to focus on younger athletes, only because most fans are familiar with the likes of veteran Leon Washington and a certain third-string QB. In other words: move along, folks, nothing to Tebow.
Plus, back by popular demand (eh, not really), high school fun facts!
ROSTER, FOR NOW
The following remain on the list of 53 as of this writing:
Chris Barker, Rookie OG, Nevada (6-3, 305)
A combine invitee this spring, Barker spent some time with the Dolphins but was picked up on waivers by the Patriots Sept. 2.
Why him? Barker made the All-Mountain West Second Team for the Wolfpack and had some better-than-average combine numbers, including a 5.14-second 40-yard dash and a 4.67-second short shuttle. Also showed strength with 29 lifts on the bench press. Could provide some depth for the interior O-line.
High School Fun Fact: Barker helped lead Etiwanda High in California to a league championship as a senior, when he was named Athlete of the Year. (Go Eagles!)
Josh Kline, Rookie OG, Kent State (6-3, 307)
Kline got picked up by the Pats after going undrafted this spring. (For a complete list of undrafted rookies signed by the Pats post-draft, please see our in-depth column from April.)
Why him? A second-team All-MAC player who helped the Golden Flashes become the 11th-ranked rushing team in the country last year, Kline has good speed (5.06 40) and quickness (4.59 20-yard shuttle). He’s been on and off the roster already, but could stick around as a backup for a thin position.
High School Fun Fact: Kline lettered in football and wrestling at Mason High in Ohio, winning the wrestling state championship his senior year with a 45-1 record.
James Develin, Fourth-year FB, Brown (6-3, 255)
Develin originally got signed to Cincinnati’s practice squad in November, 2010 and, after playing catch-and-release with the Bengals, first got signed to New England’s practice squad just over one year ago. He most recently made the Foxboro 53 just before Game One.
Why him? With the Patriots shedding tight ends like glitter off a homemade birthday card, Develin provides a big body with some versatility. A defensive lineman at Brown, Develin makes up for a lack of speed (5.03 40) with great strength (39 bench presses at his pro day). He can play fullback but also has the size to line up at tight end.
High School Fun Fact: Develin served as football team captain and earned MVP honors at Boyertown Area Senior High in Pennsylvania. He also lettered in lacrosse.
Chris White, Third-year LB, Mississippi State (6-3, 240)
A 2011 sixth-round pick for Buffalo, White had some success on special teams (19 career tackles). This August, he got traded to the Lions for QB Thaddeus Lewis. When the Lions cut him on August 31, the Pats picked him up from waivers.
Why him? Along with the aforementioned special teams prowess, White has shown notable athleticism for his size, including a 4.74-second 40, a 4.25 20-yard shuttle and a 6.95-second 3-cone drill.
High School Fun Fact: White started all four years at Vancleave High in Mississippi, during which time he had 267 total tackles. As a senior, he rushed for 604 yards and 10 TDs and was named most valuable player on both offense and defense.
Matt Mulligan, Fifth-year TE, Maine (6-5, 255)
Mulligan may have suffered whiplash keeping track of his Patriots tenure. After spending three seasons with the Jets (2009-2011), Mulligan went to St. Louis for 2012. He has caught 14 passes in his career, one for a touchdown. The Packers signed him in April but released him early in September, allowing the Patriots to sign him briefly. After releasing him before Game One, they re-signed him to the active roster on September 10.
Why him? Tight end depth. Without Rob Gronkowski, the Pats lack a large, in-line blocker, and Mulligan fits that bill. Not known as a pass-catcher, but with the Rams he had his best year, nabbing eight balls and scoring his lone career TD. Not sure what the connection could be, but Mulligan’s most recent signing was announced the same day New England put Shane Vereen on IR (designated to return).
High School Fun Fact: Mulligan did not play football in high school, but he seemed to participate in everything else. The pride of West Enfield, Maine was a two-time basketball MVP and a soccer MVP his senior year. He also spent one year each with baseball, tennis and track and field.
ROSTER, FOR THEN
This player has been in Foxboro this season and may return:
Quentin Sims, Rookie WR, Tennessee-Martin (6-3, 208)
The Patriots signed Sims in July, cut him on August 31, signed him to the practice squad soon after, then cut him on September 10. He was originally signed as a rookie free agent by Atlanta in April.
Why him? Size matters (seriously: if it hurts your jaw to open wide enough for the first bite, maybe the burger’s too big.). At 6-3, Sims wins by one quarter-inch over Aaron Dobson as the tallest receiver in Foxboro. Sims caught at least one touchdown pass in every game in 2012, setting a Ohio Valley Conference record with 16. Transferred from Georgia Tech.
High School Fun Fact: During the state playoffs his senior year at Colerain High in Cincinnati, Simms switched to QB due to injury and rushed for 228 yards on 12 carries while completing all three of his passes (including two TDs). Also played basketball and was a sprinter and high-jumper in track and field.
The below players reside on New England’s eight-man practice squad. Again: for now.
Braxston Cave, Rookie C, Notre Dame (6-3, 303)
Seeking more interior O-line depth, the Pats nabbed Cave after he was released by the Browns, with whom he’d signed as a rookie free agent back in the spring.
Why him? A combine invitee, Cave has the size and strength (32 bench reps) to man the middle. He started all 13 games his final year for the Irish and helped them average over 200 yards both rushing and passing. May have been some chatter regarding Cave between Coach Bill Belichick and ND Coach Brian Kelly, who has visited Foxboro.
High School Fun Fact: At Penn High in Indiana, Cave was ranked by Scout.com as the number two center in the nation. Helped the Kingsmen go undefeated in the regular season his senior year. In track and field, threw the shot-put 51 feet and the discus 145 feet.
Family Fun Fact: Named after Irish football player Braxston Banks.
Ja’Gared Davis, Rookie LB, Southern Methodist (6-0, 238)
Davis was signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent on May 10, released on August 27, and signed by the Patriots off the waiver wire. The Pats then waived him on August 31 and signed him to the practice squad once he cleared waivers.
Why him? Davis had over 300 tackles and 20 sacks at SMU. He has the right size and enough speed (4.78 40) to become a special teamer and a potential part-time defensive contributor. Excelled as a playmaker in college, with four sacks, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles in 2012.
High School Fun Fact: At Crockett (Texas) High, Davis was named a Class 3-A All-State player after totaling 110 tackles, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries his senior year.
Kanorris Davis, Rookie S, Troy (5-9, 211)
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent after the draft, Davis was waived by New England but returns to the Extra Eight.
Why him? A linebacker in college, Davis could become the prototypical strong safety the Pats seems to lack (and/or strike out on each summer). Not super-fast (4.57 40), but respectable numbers at his pro day (37.5-inch vertical jump, 7.07-second 3-cone drill) could help him stick around. Was named All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team with 62 solo tackles.
High School Fun Fact: An all-state selection twice at Perry High in Georgia, Davis totaled 398 tackles over the course of his career.
Jordan Devey, Rookie OL, Memphis (6-7, 317)
A large dude, Devey got waived by the Ravens on August 30 after signing with them on May 3. He joined New England’s practice squad on September 3.
Why him? Size matters (seriously: have you ever tried to eat an entire dinner salad at Cheesecake Factory?). Devey’s combine numbers turned few heads (5.24 40, 21 bench reps), but he demonstrated versatility throughout his career at Memphis, playing right guard, right tackle and left tackle while playing in every game. He did well enough for the Tigers to receive their DeAngelo Williams Most Valuable Player Award. (Insert snide fantasy football comment here.)
High School Fun Fact: Devey didn’t play football at American Fork High in Utah due to his Osgood-Schlatters disease suffered while in junior high. O-S is linked to bone growth in children participating in sports; it can cause a painful lump below the kneecap. (Thank you, Internet!) Devey played the tuba in the school band and actually turned down a music scholarship to serve an LDS mission.
R. J. Dill, Rookie OL, Rutgers (6-6, 316)
Another Brobdingnagian broheim, Dill signed with Jacksonville as a rookie free agent on April 28 but got waived on August 31. New England signed him to the PS on September 5.
Why him? Size matters (seriously: remember those ridiculous 20-scoop sundaes at Chadwick’s Ice Cream Parlor? Who the hell thought of those? And my God, I can’t stop thinking about food). An All-Big East selection at Rutgers, Dill showed his desire to play after graduating from Maryland by transferring to Rutgers as a graduate student to use his final year of eligibility. He started 42 consecutive games between the two schools. Played both left and right tackle.
And, again: Rutgers. That’s apparently a thing around these parts.
High School Fun Fact: At Trinity High School in Pennsylvania (Mechanicsburg), Dill excelled at football (First Team All-Mid-Penn Conference two years in a row) and basketball (four-year letterman, team captain senior year).
Marcus Forston, Second-year DT, Miami (6-1, 301)
Seems like he’s been around longer than one year, but Forston was picked up by the Pats as an undrafted rookie in 2012. He was signed to the roster for the first few games, then waived and signed to the practice squad until making the active roster again in January.
Why him? More D-line depth. Probably got waived due to depth concerns in other areas, though with a defensive front thinner than my post-college resume, New England should feel glad to have a talented young guy hanging around who’s familiar with the system. A better-than-average athlete who ran a 5.05-second 40 and benched 225 pounds 35 times at the combine.
High School Fun Fact: Forston played at Northwestern High in Miami, deemed the consensus 2007 national champion by both Sports Illustrated and USA Today. Had 92 tackles and 20 sacks as a senior; also caught a TD pass as a receiver in the Bulls’ goal-line offense.
A. J. Francis, Rookie DL, Maryland (6-5, 309)
After getting signed as a rookie free agent and then waived by Miami, New England picked up Francis for less than a cup of coffee (a shot of espresso?) on September 1. As of September 10, we’re glad he has returned, if only for his refreshing take on life.
Why him? Francis could come back to the active roster due to a lack of depth on the defensive line and the fact that the Pats have two starters (Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly) best described as Sequoias (big, tough, and very old). He shared the field with current Patriot Joe Vellano last season for the Terrapins. Francis had some notable numbers at his pro day, including a 4.58 20-yard shuttle and a 29-inch vertical leap. Has the size and quickness to play anywhere along the line.
High School Fun Fact: Francis played both offensive and defensive line at Gonzaga College High in Washington, D. C. He also participated in the school’s musical every spring.
Justin Green, Rookie CB, Illinois (5-10, 198)
New England first brought in Green as a rookie free agent on July 21. They waived him August 31 but signed him to the practice squad after he cleared waivers.
Why him? A special-teamer who can learn the system and contribute on defense down the road. Originally a running back for the Illini, Green made the switch to corner his sophomore year. He has the athleticism, running a 4.42-second 40 and leaping 10-foot-1 in the broad jump. As a senior, broke up six passes and returned five kicks (23.6-yard average).
High School Fun Fact: Attended Male High in Louisville, Kentucky (which, oddly enough, has been co-ed since 1953). Rushed for over 1,000 yards and 21 TDs as a senior. Twice won the Kentucky state championship in the 100 meters (10.6 seconds).
GIVING THEM A TRY
The following have been brought in for tryouts at Foxboro and may reside on Coach Belichick’s call list. Again, they are not on the team, but could end up in Foxboro at some point.
Josh Bellamy, Second-year WR, Louisville (6-0, 205)
After spending last year as a practice squad player with the Chiefs and briefly making their roster, Bellamy missed the final cutdown with Kansas City on August 31.
Why him? Bellamy played wide receiver for the Cardinals but also tried out at defensive back for NFL scouts. He ran a 4.47-second 40 and showed quickness with a 4.13-second 20-yard shuttle and an eye-popping 6.67-second 3-cone drill (for comparison, Danny Amendola ran a 6.81 at the 2008 combine).
High School Fun Fact: Bellamy played running back at Boca Ciega High in Gulfport, Florida and committed to several schools before settling on Butte Community College in California.
Damien Berry, Third-year RB, Miami (5-10, 211)
Berry was signed by Baltimore as an undrafted free agent in 2011. The Ravens waived him August 25.
Why him? With injuries to Vereen and Brandon Bolden and with Stevan Ridley putting more balls on the ground than a ping-pong tournament for the visually impaired, the Pats probably want a running back’s number handy. Berry’s not a burner (4.56 40), but he has decent quickness (4.12 20-yard shuttle, 7.00 3-cone). Averaged over 5.4 yards per carry in his Hurricane career.
High School Fun Fact: Rushed for over 1,000 yards and 19 TDs at Glades Central High in Florida. Also ranked as a top 50 defensive back nationally by SuperPrep.
Not-so-fun Fact: Arrested in June for failing to appear in court regarding a traffic violation that occurred in January (speeding, driving with a suspended license). Not a big deal, but thought you should know.
Chad Bumphis, Rookie WR, Mississippi State (5-10, 196)
Bumphis had nine receptions for Miami this preseason but was waived by the Dolphins on August 31.
Why him? Bumphis led all SEC receivers with 12 TD catches in 2012. Averaged 15.9 yards per reception (58 for 922). Though not fast (4.55 40), he has good quickness (6.87-second 3-cone) and served as a backup punt returner for the Bulldogs.
High School Fun Fact: At Tupelo High in Mississippi, Bumphis had over 2,000 receiving yards, 1,348 yards rushing and 568 yards passing. Also scored 10 special teams TDs.
B. J. Coleman, Second-year QB, Tennesse-Chattanooga (6-3, 233)
Coleman was drafted in the seventh round by the Packers in 2012 and spent some time on their practice squad. They waived him September 2.
Why him? The Pats remain one of only a few teams with two quarterbacks on the roster, and if Number One goes down, owner Bob Kraft may as well pull a Heaven Can Wait and start taking snaps. Coleman, a transfer from Tennessee, passed for 6,871 yards in his career. Had a 61 percent completion rate his senior year, the best of his tenure. Got an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game.
High School Fun Fact: As a senior at McCallie School in Chattanooga, Coleman hit on 166 of 257 attempts for 2,927 yards. Also a three-year starter in baseball (pitcher, outfielder).
Austin Davis, Rookie QB, Southern Mississippi (6-2, 219)
Davis signed with St. Louis after the draft; they cut him on August 31.
Why him? See above regarding New England QBs. Also a pretty darn good athlete, running a 4.69 40 and submitting a-wha? performances in the 20-yard shuttle (4.11) and 3-cone drill (6.73).
High School Fun Fact: Davis was the winningest quarterback in West Lauderdale High history. Completed 67 percent of his passes his senior year.
Red Sox Fun Fact: Boston drafted Davis in the 31st round of the 2012 MLB Draft.
Reggie Dunn, Rookie WR/KR, Utah (5-9, 178)
An undrafted free agent, Dunn signed with Pittsburgh in April before getting waived on August 31.
Why him? Dunn has made a few appearances on this site, most notably in our Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em series due to his blistering 4.25-second 40-yard dash. (He also got a mention in our pre-draft column on returners due to his four kickoff returns for touchdowns in 2012.) Sure, watching LeGarrette Blount return kicks has its entertainment value (think David Ortiz legging out a triple); it’s just that Dunn could get the job done in about half the time.
High School Fun Fact: Had over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 15 TDs at Verbum Dei High in California playing wide receiver, corner, and kick returner.
Sione Fua, Third-year DT, Stanford (6-1, 308)
Fua was a third-round pick of the Panthers in 2011. They released him on August 31.
Why him? Could provide depth in the middle. Fua has strength (30 bench reps at the combine) and experience at nose guard. At Stanford, had 4.5 sacks and was named to the All-Pac 10 Second Team by conference coaches. In 24 NFL games, has 22 career tackles and one forced fumble.
High School Fun Fact: Fua had over 60 tackles and eight sacks as a senior at Crespi High in Encino, California.
Clinton McDonald, Fifth-year DL, Memphis (6-2, 283)
Drafted in 2009 by Cincinnati in the seventh round, McDonald went to Seattle in 2011. The Seahawks terminated his contract on August 31.
Why him? An intriguing mix of talent and size (as in, plenty of talent, lacking in size), McDonald got on the field for Seattle, totaling 64 tackles over 29 games. Displayed impressive strength (36 reps) and speed (4.83 40) at his pro day.
High School Fun Fact: At Jacksonville High in Arkansas, McDonald was named an All-State lineman in Class 5-A. He also lettered in basketball and threw the shot put in track and field.
Andre Neblett, Fourth-year DT, Temple (6-1, 295)
The Panthers signed Neblett as an undrafted rookie in 2010. He was suspended for four games for a performance-enhancing drug violation in 2012. After four seasons in Carolina, the Buccaneers signed him in May of this year, then released him on August 31.
Why him? Like a 3-D movie, New England’s D-line is all about depth perception. Neblett has recorded 40 tackles and three sacks in 30 NFL games. He has a low base, good speed (5.02 40) and solid strength (32 bench reps). Was a four-year starter for the Owls and team captain his senior year, earning team Defensive MVP honors in 2009.
High School Fun Fact: As a team captain for the second straight year at Rahway High in New Jersey, Neblett had 122 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions and six forced fumbles his senior year. Also captained the wrestling and track and field squads.
Any players associated with the Pats who have caught your eye? Let us know below.
You can email Chris Warner (or not: he’s cool with whatever you choose) at email@example.com