While the early games progress, we’ll take a look at an important and overlooked part of the Patriots that coach Bill Belichick raved about this week. If the Patriots win today, an important group of players who will never show up in a box score will deserve some of the credit. Most of the names, you’re almost certainly not aware of.
Ryan Wendell. Titus Adams. Bruce Davis. Rob Myers. Adrian Grady. Terrence Nunn. Thomas Williams. Darryl Richard.
Those eight players currently form the Patriots practice squad, which has been a revolving cast this year. Several former members have graduated to the active roster and made gameday contributions.
“I would say [this is] probably the best practice squad group we’ve had since I’ve been here, as a total group,” Belichick said. “I think our personnel department this year has done an outstanding job of finding guys and bringing guys in that are good football players that were available.”
The Patriots have already received contributions from places they never expected. Kyle Arrington has become a terror on kick off coverage. Isaiah Stanback was cut by the Dallas Cowboys Sept. 5, and he was the third wide receiver against the Colts last Sunday. Brian Hoyer went undrafted and came off the street to become the Patriots’ backup quarterback. Rob Ninkovich wasn’t with the Patriots at the beginning of training camp, and he’s become an important special teams player and defensive reserve.
“Guys like that, you have that player on your team and you say, ‘I can’t believe this guy wasn’t on somebody’s team,’ ” Belichick said. “And he comes in and he makes your team and he’s contributed. It’s not like players didn’t have competition at that position where it was kind of a default thing. They did a good job and they earned their spots. They have legitimately come in and beat other people out for those spots. It’s a good job of finding them.”
Belichick said the credit goes to director of player personnel Nick Caserio and his staff. Belichick mentioned Jason Licht and Jon Robinson by name.