We've mentioned here over the past couple of weeks about opportunity, and how some Patriots' players - even some of the coaches - will soon be receiving their whack at having success.
That chance is about to play out, in a big way, for tight end Scott Chandler. The Patriots are, of course, hopeful he'll be the one doing his share of the whacking on opponents, and not the other way around.
[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="338491"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]While Chandler has had a nice career thus far in the NFL, there certainly could be an inclination to expect more out of him. After all, 6-7, 270 pound receivers aren't usually blessed with excessive speed, agility, or the ability to zip through the middle of a defense faster than the Buffalo Bills' last stay in the playoffs - which came all of 20 years ago. No, more has been expected of Chandler largely because he's been a one-man wrecking crew against the Patriots' defense as a former member of those Bills.
Who among us hasn't thought - while watching Chandler seemingly torture the Patriots secondary - "man, that guy kills us every time he plays us?" Nine catches for 127 yards for two games in 2012, 7 for 93 in 2013 and 7 more for 125 yards in two games last season (6 for 105 in a 37-22 Pats' win at Orchard Park) against New England as a primary Bills' target that has lacked a true gunslinger at quarterback during the same time frame, and with few other game-changing options at receiver.
2013 and 2014 have been Chandler's most productive years of the eight seasons he has been an active player in the league. Approaching his 30th birthday later this month, the time to step up has crept up upon him. He's never had a QB like Tom Brady throwing his way, and he's also certainly never had another receiver like Rob Gronkowski running interference as a primary option.
Patriots signed free agent Tight End Scott Chandler. Check out our favorite photos from Chandler's time with the Buffalo Bills.
This could be fun to watch, and not so much fun for other teams to try and defend. Preparation, meet opportunity. And having a little luck couldn't hurt, either.
"We're building some chemistry," Chandler noted after a recently completed practice session last month. "We're going to have some fun. Each year is different, but I am looking forward to seeing what I can do this year.
"Rob and I are going out there and working hard, trying to find our niches," Chandler added. "I couldn't be more excited to be a Patriot than I am. I've always admired them, and I'm looking forward to just working hard and to helping in some way."
A 6-foot-6 all-pro tight end on one side, and a 6-foot-7 tight end on the other, both looking to play pin ball with defenders in an opposing secondary? And if an injury were to occur, as they often do, a sizable option potentially steps into the breach. The possibilities are there, it would appear, to create - and continue - major mismatches past the line of scrimmage.
"It's still pretty early in the process, and I'm just trying to fit in and play the role the team needs me to play, whatever that might be," Chandler offered.
Patriot fans would, no doubt, love to see Scott Chandler do unto others, as he has done unto them before.
Et tu, Devin?
Ok, maybe Devin McCourty isn't exactly traitorous here, but he did tell ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss recently that he, Logan Ryan and Tavon Wilson will be working out with former teammate-turned-Jet Darrelle Revis again this summer.
The group prepared for last season under the tutelage of trainer Will Sullivan in the summer heat of Arizona prior to training camp. But before anyone gets bent out of shape over ex-teammates cavorting or conspiring with the enemy, consider the fact that Revis and Ryan both share the same agent. And because Ryan is in line to replace Revis in the Patriots' secondary, maybe the carpet-bagging Jet DB is trying to help his friend and ex-teammate win a job?
One thing seems to be certain. Revis commands respect from his fellow players, if not the fans, for his so-far successful training habits and follow-up performances. During his first run in New York, Revis was known for tutoring younger, less-experienced players in his off-season workout program. Ryan, McCourty and Wilson aren't exactly less-experienced, but the workouts last year did seem to play out well enough through the development of the secondary over the course of the entire season.
Maybe if anyone should be upset here, it should be the J-E-T-S? After all, Revis is once again wearing green-and-white and he's working out with the enemy, too.
Short fuses in the Big Apple
Two items caught the eye over the past week, and both involved New York players.
One was Jets' defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who was suspended for the first four games of the season, without pay, for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Richardson can still take part in off-season preparations, and pre-season training camp and exhibition games, but he won't be on the field once the regular season kicks off in September.
His missing presence on the Jets' defensive front won't be a factor for the Patriots, since the two teams won't meet for the first time until October 25th. And with the drafting of DT Leonard Williams, it appears the J-E-T-S could still be in A-O-K shape at the start of the season as well. Still, for a former Defensive Rookie of the Year of whom much is expected, especially off the field, his faux pas has to be considered a blow for a team that has been looking up in the standings at New England for far too long...from the Jets' point of view, of course.
Additionally, the Super Bowl nemesis New York Giants narrowly escaped a major blow to their defense with the news of DE Jason Pierre-Paul's fireworks mishap over the 4th of July holiday. NFL.com reported Pierre-Paul suffered a hand injury while trying to light fireworks that required hospitalization, even though his injuries are not believed to be serious.
The incident seemed innocuous enough, until learning Pierre-Paul is not currently under contract for next season. Yes, the Giants used their franchise tag on the super-talented-but-so-far-under-performing defensive end from South Florida, to the tune of a $14.8 million tender. But nothing has yet been signed.
Could his injuries affect his new deal? Makes you wonder why a team would make that kind of an investment on a player who doesn't know enough to let someone else light his firecrackers. A famous movie line comes to mind, from the character Forrest Gump - "stupid is, as stupid does."
*John Rooke is an author and award-winning broadcaster, and is beginning his 23rd year as the Patriots' stadium voice. Currently serving in several media capacities - which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Patriots.com Radio - Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball locally and nationally for 27 seasons and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame. *
Follow him on Twitter - @JRbroadcaster