Before he arrived in New England at the end of August, Antwaun Molden's biggest claim to fame may have been that his name sounded a lot like Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
However, with the release of Leigh Bodden and rookie Ras-I Dowling going on injured reserve, Molden and second-year man Phillip Adams suddenly find themselves under the microscope in New England.
Both players arrived in Foxborough within the past two months and are still getting their bearings in the Patriots system. In Adams' case, he has been cut and re-signed several times, in procedural maneuvers to make room for other players who have been needed on game days. Molden, meanwhile, has been a mainstay on the roster since arriving just a day before the preseason finale against the Giants.
"It's going well. Just coming in here, working hard every day," said Adams.
"I think it's been going good," echoed Molden. "I've gotten acclimated to the system and I'm contributing."
Neither player is practice squad eligible. Molden appeared in 31 games with the Houston Texans over the past three seasons (14 each in 2008 and '10), while Adams saw action in 15 games last season as a San Francisco 49ers rookie.
In addition, both players are products of small-college programs – Adams from South Carolina State, Molden Eastern Kentucky. Which means there's not much tape of either player against NFL competition. Both players have had reps on defense with their former teams, but mostly, their experience has come on special teams.
Nevertheless, that limited tape against NFL competition is what head coach Bill Belichick and his personnel staff used to evaluate, and ultimately decide to bring in both Adams and Molden.
"I think the best thing you can do to evaluate a player – the best thing you can do is evaluate them in the NFL," Belichick explained. "They may play different teams, but those teams, the caliber of player and the style of play, is much more similar [than] what we see from college. Again, with all due respect, seeing guys playing against 18-year-old freshman and 19-year-old sophomores and all that, that's a lot different than playing in the NFL against experienced, veteran players who are way past that level. However good they are, they're way past that level.
"If you can evaluate a player in the NFL," Belichick continued, "unless there's some overriding circumstance where you feel that isn't a valid evaluation – maybe an injury or some circumstance that's unusual – maybe then you go back to the college film. But I think pro film is more valuable for the evaluation. We saw Phil last year, we saw him in preseason, we saw him some in preseason this year, we saw him preseason last year, during the regular season. Molden has been in the league for three years, so I think that's – believe me, we've gone on a lot less than that to evaluate a player."
Feeling for Edelman
It was impossible not to notice the extra media presence around the team today, in the wake of wide receiver Julian Edelman's Halloween night arrest and subsequent charges of indecent assault and battery.
Head coach Bill Belichick was asked repeatedly about the incident at his daily press gathering, but refused to get into specifics about the incident, the player, or his future with the team.
One of Edelman's teammates did, however. Running back Kevin Faulk, a former team co-captain, used his own unfortunate experience with the law to offer some advice on how to deal with the situation at work. You may recall that Faulk was cited on a marijuana possession charge a few offseasons ago.
"It's over with now," said Faulk. "We're focused on the Giants. It happens. But the worst thing happened. Now, it's over. Keep letting everybody else talk about it and don't worry about it. You got a game to play on Sunday … you forget about it. It happened already, so you move on."
Faulk acknowledged, though, that the matter is being addressed internally.
"We talk about it. It's hard for you not to hear about it because the media's talking about it," Faulk continued. "But at the same time, it's not being talked about in here. The thing being talked about right now is the Giants.
"At the same time, you talk to Coach [Belichick], you talk to Mr. [Robert] Kraft, and they discuss everything. Now it's a dead issue for anybody else on the team. Now it's for him to talk about and his attorney to talk about, that's it."
For details on today's Patriots practice, please visit the PFW blog.