Patriots Demote Special Teams Hero

Getty Donte Moncrief

The New England Patriots made a few roster moves early this week, and one might not sit well with some fans.

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Patriots Relegate Donte Moncrief Back to the Practice Squad

The Patriots shuffle their active and practice squads weekly. It’s something most NFL teams are doing during this unconventional 2020 NFL season. In one of the latest moves, Bill Belichick and Co. sent veteran wide receiver Donte Moncrief back to the practice squad after he appeared in his second consecutive game since signing with the team about three weeks ago.

Moncrief Came up Big on Special Teams

In Sunday’s hard-fought and ugly win over the Arizona Cardinals, Moncrief came up with one of the biggest plays of the game for the Patriots.

His 53-yard, fourth-quarter kickoff return helped set up a score for the Patriots, and it shifted the momentum. The Cardinals had just scored and extended their first-quarter lead to 10-0. The Patriots’ offense needed a spark, and the good field position Moncrief helped to supply was just what the doctor ordered.

Quite honestly, I’d been hoping to see someone else besides Gunner Olszewski back to return kicks (and punts for that matter), but I was a little surprised to see Moncrief get a shot. The veteran said he hadn’t ever returned kicks as a professional, but you couldn’t tell from the way he attacked the opportunity and nearly broke this one for a touchdown.

Moncrief is Also One of the Team’s Most-Experienced Receivers

In addition to his surprise work as a kick returner, Moncrief is also one of the Patriots’ most experienced wide receivers. Aside from the injured Julian Edelman, who was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Monday, Moncrief is the only receiver on the roster with more than 40 NFL games under his belt.

Edelman, Moncrief, and Damiere Byrd are the only ones who have played in at least 20 games. While Moncrief is still catching on to the new system, the Patriots’ coaches have trusted him enough to play special teams and to make a reception against the Texans in his debut with the team.

Perhaps they can trust him further as his presence would seemingly add some needed depth.

There is a Chance He Could Be Called Up, And Signed for the Rest of the Season

Moncrief was sent back down to the practice squad, but he may not remain there. The Patriots have used all of Moncrief’s elevations for the year. If they want to bring him up again, the team will have to sign him for the remainder of the season, per league rules.

Based on what he’s done thus far and what the Patriots have available on their roster, I can think of a lot worse things that could happen to them. Hopefully, Moncrief gets the call and can resume his duties as a kickoff returner as well as a receiver contributing at the line of scrimmage.

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