Newly-acquired defensive end Kony Ealy is in a “legitimate fight” to earn a place on the Patriots roster, opines Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Thought to be a contender for a starting job (especially following Rob Ninkovich‘s retirement), Ealy has been practicing with New England’s reserves, per Reiss, who indicates Ealy simply “hasn’t clicked” since joining the defending Super Bowl champions. The Patriots essentially got Ealy for free from the Panthers, as they moved down only eight picks in the draft to pick up the 25-year-old. He’s signed through the 2017 season, but his $800K salary isn’t guaranteed.
Here’s more from around the NFL:
- Alfred Morris played ahead of Rod Smith during the Cowboys‘ Hall of Game exhibition last week despite having seen fewer carries than Smith during training camp, leading Todd Archer of ESPN.com to wonder if Dallas was showcasing Morris for a potential trade. Reports in March indicated the Cowboys were likely to shop Morris, who is behind Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden, and Smith on the backfield depth chart, but his salary ($1.2MM) could prove a hindrance. Plus, with Elliott likely to serve a league-mandated suspension, Morris’ presence on the roster could become all the more important. In his first season in Dallas, Morris managed 69 carries for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
- Second-year defensive tackle Vernon Butler is believed to have escaped with only a knee sprain after leaving the Panthers‘ first preseason game on Wednesday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Butler will undergo an MRI today, but even a sprain could lead to a multi-week absence, meaning Butler may not be ready for the regular season opener. The 30th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Butler is expected to serve as Carolina’s third interior defender behind Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei. Butler played 21% of the Panthers’ defensive snaps a season ago.
- Expected to battle for a starting role, Bills linebacker Reggie Ragland is now playing with the club’s third-team defense, and is now behind both Preston Brown and free agent addition Gerald Hodges on Buffalo’s depth chart, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. As such, it’s conceivable the 2016 second-round draft pick could become a trade candidate, Rodak opines. Ragland not only missed the entirety of his rookie campaign with a torn ACL, but was selected by the Bills’ prior regime. Neither general manager Brandon Beane nor head coach Sean McDermott has any link to Ragland, so the 23-year-old could be on the block.
- The Cardinals worked out punter Brock Miller on Wednesday, reports Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Miller, a former undrafted free agent out of Southern Utah, has been on the NFL workout circuit for much of the past three years. He signed a reserve/futures contract with San Francisco earlier this year, but was waived in May. Arizona sifted through three punters in 2016, and while Matt Wile is currently the incumbent, Richie Leone is also on the roster.