Just before the start of the regular season the New England Patriots made the surprising decision of releasing veteran wide receiver Deion Branch in favor of the young Greg Salas. The Patriots picked up Salas in a trade on September 1 with the St. Louis Rams making him the final piece to the offense. But after just two weeks, the Patriots changed their minds waiving Salas and brining Branch back in. Last Tuesday Salas was signed to the practice squad and with Julian Edelman potentially out for next week’s game Salas may have another shot with the Patriots.
Edelman injured his hand Sunday night in the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens and the wait and see news from Bill Belichick seems rather ominous. If Edelman can’t go Sunday the Patriots will likely bring Salas back for the game. Going into the 2012 season, the Patriots decided to continue with the tight end focused passing game they perfected in 2011. But when tight end Aaron Hernandez went down with an ankle injury, the team decided to use a more up tempo, wide receiver focused offense. That’s what could benefit Salas.
The Patriots decided to leave just five receivers on the roster rather than the expected six this season. So with the three receiver set the Patriots used most of Sunday night, some wide receivers are getting more playing time than previously expected. The three key receivers for the Patriots are Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, and Edelman. If Edelman can’t go, he would be replaced with Branch leaving just Salas and Matthew Slater on the bench at receiver.
Seeing how Salas was released shortly into the season, the 24-year old obviously didn’t make much of an impression on the Patriots coaches. But with a hand injury that may keep Edelman out Sunday, Salas may have another chance. With only five receivers on the roster and that position being much more important in the team’s passing game now, he would be likely to see more playing time than he did during his first stint on the active roster. It’ll all be decided Wednesday when the final report on Edelman is released.