As NFL teams trudge along the training camp/preseason months, impressions are made and jobs are to be won or lost. For my now second favorite Patriot, it looks like the impressions he's making in Foxborough are along the lines of a "poor man's Troy Brown". I honest like what I've heard and read about what Slater has been doing for the Pats; when he's not returning kickoffs and punts, he's taking passes from Brady or lining up in the secondary against fellow wideouts:
Slater is the definition of a project. He will get every opportunity to return punts and kickoffs while expanding his talents at wide receiver and in the secondary. Some days Slater wears a white jersey and tries to catch Tom Brady [stats]’s passes. During yesterday’s single session at the Patriots’ indoor facility adjacent to Gillette Stadium, Slater wore defensive blue and was shadowing split ends on their prescribed routes.
Slater's versatility, IMO, makes it easier for him to establish a position on the team and, perhaps, a starting nod on ST (maybe third, fourth-string on offense and defense); as a close Patriots fan, he could very well be a difference maker and return a kick or two like he did at the Rose Bowl. The Patriots really haven't had a decent return game the last handful of years, relying on running backs (Lawrence Maroney) and corners (Ellis Hobbs), but not a true return speclaist per se. Anyways, it looks like Slater is indeed establishing himself, drawing some special attention from the ST coach:
Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely has taken an interest in Slater’s development. At the conclusion of every session, Slater performs an unusual drill. He stands on the goal line holding a football while Stephen Gostkowski has another teed up 60 yards away.
As Gostkowski’s kick closes in, Slater throws up the ball he’s holding and catches the return football before retrieving his own pass.
"It’s just a little concentration drill to make sure I’m looking at it all the way in," said Slater. "When you have the other ball in the air, you have to concentrate so much harder to ensure the catch."
Football season, both college and pro, can't come soon enough.
A final note: Patriots/Ravens preseason game is tonight ; I would presume Mr. Slater would get some decent playing time, perhaps more than decent.