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Will both Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones be on the Patriots roster come September?
It's no secret that the NFL has a "what have you done for me lately" mentality. Past contributions are no guarantee of future performance, and no team has embraced that cut-throat team-building philosophy more than the Patriots.

For that reason, defensive tackles Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga once again find themselves needing to prove their worth for a roster spot. Both players stepped up big at times last season, helping the Patriots reach the AFC Championship game despite the absence of Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly.

However, Kelly and Wilfork are expected to be back this season, and they'll be joined by first round pick Dominique Easley in the interior rotation. Throw in the possible addition of Armond Armstead and the Patriots suddenly have a crowded depth chart at the position, with Siliga and Jones possibly fighting for only one roster spot if the Pats opt to keep only five players at the position.

Both Siliga and Jones are well aware of the harsh realities of the NFL. Jones was cut twice in as many weeks during his rookie season last year before settling with the Patriots, and Siliga has been cut five times and traded once in the past three years. Both players are well aware that they'll always have to earn their spot next year, regardless of the prior year's performance.

“The only thing I can do is worry about myself" said Jones after an OTA session this week.
"The whole thing is going to be a competition. We’re all going to be competing for a job.”

Siliga echoed Jones's well-polished Belichick-speak.

"Everything I did last year, I’ve been trying to build upon it and basically forget what happened last year because this is a whole brand new year and I could get cut the same way I started.”

As Jeff Howe of the Herald notes, it's hard to judge much of the competition right now, as padless, contact-less OTA sessions give little insight into line play. However, the competition could become fierce come training camp, when physical drills such as one-on-ones get introduced to the mix.

The team could face a very interesting decision if they wind up having to chose between Jones and Siliga. The undersized Jones was claimed by the Patriots after getting cut by the Texans (who drafted him in the sixth round) and Bucanneers early in the season, but went on to start the final 13 games of his rookie season after Wilfork and Kelly went down with injuries. While he was pushed around at times against the run, his six sacks trailed only Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones for the team lead.

On the other hand, Siliga is a big-bodied run stuffer who made his presence felt when he finally got his chance to see the field. After languishing on the practice squad for much of the year, Siliga made his Patriots debut in Week 13 before going on to start the final six games of the season (including the playoffs). His 29 tackles, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble in those six starts are all impressive numbers, but the most impressive stat from that span is 110.5: the average number of rushing yards surrendered per game in Siliga's six starts. In the eight games prior to Siliga's promotion into the lineup, they gave up a whopping 154.8 yards per game on the ground.

Given the choice between the two, I'd probably lean towards Siliga. In Easley, Kelly and Armstead, the Patriots already have three interior pass rushing options on the depth chart, making Jones's pass rushing less of a roster need. Siliga would provide some much needed beef against the run on early downs, and could help the team reduce Vince Wilfork's workload as he returns from his ruptured Achilles by eating up snaps and space in the middle of the defense. Of course, that's all presuming Siliga is able to carry over his impressive late season play into 2014.



Would you rather see Chris Jones or Sealver Siliga stick on the roster this coming season? Let us know in the comments section below or via social media (We're @PatriotsLife on Twitter, and I'm @therealnedbrady)

Ned Brady 6/13/2014 01:29:00 PM Edit
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