Rookies Make Play
The local draftniks in the press panned the Patriots 2003 draft for trading down for additional value picks while the New York Jets traded up to pick up Kentucky DT Dewayne Robertson. Robertson was the pick du jour of the press and many fans despite few seeing him play a down for the Wildcats. Robertson has had his struggles with the Jets, but it is not fair to call him a bust five games into his pro-career as some media have.
The key component to the Patriots season so far has been the contributions from the rookie class of Eugene Wilson, Asante Samuel, Dan Koppen, Bethel Johnson, Dan Klecko, and Ty Warren.
The Boston Globe's Ron Borges, who ridiculed the Patriots draft for "value" in 2003, and blasted them for picking Pro Bowl DE Richard Seymour over underachieving WR David Terrell in 2002 takes a look at Dan Koppen today.
Koppen has done a good enough job that Belichick doesn't have to worry about it. Or about him. For a rookie making all the offensive line calls that set the blocking schemes, that is saying something. Something about him and something about the job he's doing one month into a professional career that has moved faster than he ever expected.
Michael Felger in the Boston Herald takes a look at rookie Bethel Johnson
To date, Johnson has made a mark returning kickoffs. He piled up 188 yards on five kick returns last week against Tennessee, including a crucial 71-yarder to set up the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Johnson currently ranks fourth in the AFC with an average of 27.5 yards per return.
Johnson may get a bigger opportunity this week, as Deion Branch has been held out of practice the last two days and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium against the New York Giants with an ankle injury. Another receiver, David Givens [news] (chest), is also banged up.