The New England Patriots continue to flip-flop assets on their practice squad. On Wednesday, the team made a series of moves. It released linebacker Jack Cichy and signed former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Devin Smith and safety Dayan Lake, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss:
The Patriots announced that LB Jack Cichy has been released, one week after claiming him on waivers.
If Cichy clears waivers, it isn’t out of the question he could return on the practice squad as the team juggles spots.
Also, WR Devin Smith, DB Dayan Lake signed to p-squad.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) December 9, 2020
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Smith is an Interesting Addition
At one point, Smith was a highly touted wide receiver coming out of Ohio State.
His blazing 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash helped to get him drafted in the second round by the New York Jets back in 2015. Unfortunately, his time with the Jets was marred by knee injuries. Specifically, he suffered torn ACLs in both knees and sat out two entire seasons before latching on with the Cowboys in 2019.
Smith proved that despite his two serious knee injuries, he still possessed the jets (no pun intended) to be a deep threat. Take a look at this 51-yard touchdown catch of a Dak Prescott pass in 2019.
The #Patriots are bringing in former DAL WR Devin Smith for a workout. The Jets took Smith in the 2nd round (37th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft. Through 18 career games the @OhioStateFB product has recorded 15 catches for 248 yards and 2 TDs. pic.twitter.com/daAQE06G8A
— Jack Aylmer (@Jack_Aylmer) December 7, 2020
If you follow the Patriots closely, then you know that one of the primary areas of opportunity for the team is team speed. Damiere Byrd is the only receiver on the team who has above-average speed for the position.
Ideally, another burner would be a great addition.
That said, it seems unlikely the Patriots get much of anything out of Smith this season. With Jakobi Meyers, Byrd, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski, the recently signed Donte Moncrief, and the injured Julian Edelman on the 53-man roster, it would appear the Patriots have the receiver group they will stick with for the remainder of the season.
It would be a lot to ask of anyone to come in with just three weeks remaining in the season and limited practices to make an impact. Also, practice-squaders like Isaiah Zuber and Kristian Wilkerson are likely going to be ahead of Smith because they have been with the team much longer.
If the Patriots like Smith and he becomes one of those players that sticks on the practice squad, it is more likely New England looks to sign him for the upcoming season. That way, he can have a complete training camp and compete for a spot on the 53-man roster.
If that’s what happens, it could be a great story.
It’s become fairly common to see a player return from one torn ACL, but it’s still noteworthy to see a guy sit out two seasons after two serious knee injuries and somehow find a way back into the NFL.
Lake Might Have a Clearer Path to the 53-Man Roster
Don’t sleep on Lake.
He’s known for his versatility. He starred at BYU and he was actually a part of the Los Angeles Rams’ practice squad before being released in September. He wasn’t around long enough to offer the Patriots much information about their opponent on Thursday night, but his ability to perform on special teams could potentially allow him to find a spot on the 53-man roster before Smith.
Both are likely longshots, but an elevation could be more likely for Lake.