As we enter the final week of the pre-season, the Patriots now head to Las Vegas for two joint practices with the Raiders before wrapping up the pre-season on Thursday night. With roster cutdown day just over a week away, let’s get into this weeks mailbag.
@mkrodrik asks “Should they cut bait with Wynn on a trade, start Yodny and pick up a street free agent?”
To answer the question before getting into Wynn’s situation; No the Patriots should keep Wynn for this year due to the depth needed at tackle but should absolutely address this position in the off-season.
However, the thought of moving on from Wynn is certainly starting to turn into a conversation. First, the Patriots moved Wynn to right tackle for the first time in his career to open up camp, and now he has missed the last week of practices. Cajuste, who has been Wynn’s replacement so far, has certainly caught Bill Belichick’s eye for his strong start to camp.
“This is certainly the best camp he’s had.” Belichick said following the teams first pre-season game against the Giants, “He worked extremely hard in the off-season”.
Now, Wynn has certainly been a more than capable starting tackle for the Patriots the last four years, but his biggest issue has been staying on the field. Wynn had his fifth year option picked up last May and will enter free agency at the end of the year. It’s a different position and scenario depth wise but we saw the Patriots in a similar situation last year with Sony Michel. The team felt as if Rhamondre Stevenson showed enough as a rookie in training camp to take over what would have been Michel’s role in 2021.
The Patriots obviously have a lot less depth at the tackle position than they did at running back last year, so I wouldn’t expect a trade of Wynn simply because he’s on the last year of his deal and is a starting capable tackle on cap friendly deal. However, Bill Belichick said post game that he expects all of his players to be available in Las Vegas this week. This would be good news for the Patriots as we saw the offensive line shift with Wynn and Brown out on Friday night. All in all, if Cajuste continues to play well, we could see Wynn’s snaps drop substantially as he could instantly slide in as the team’s swing tackle behind Trent Brown and Yodny Cajuste.
@ashley1992__ asks “Hi Ryan, at CB, do you think the last roster spot comes down to Wade and Bryant and if so, who do you think at this point makes the team?”
Coming into camp, cornerback was certainly a positional group to look at. Without a true # 1 corner on the outside since the Aquib Talib days, the Patriots entered camp with a lot more questions than answers. However, this group has looked as if it won’t miss a beat even with JC Jackson and Stephon Gilmore playing elsewhere in 2022.
Jalen Mills has been arguably the Patriots best player on the field since camp has begun and looks to be the teams top outside corner while Jonathan Jones has bounced outside after playing most of his career in the slot. After those two, there’s certainly some playing time to be earned. We’ve seen both Marcus Jones and Myles Bryant receive times with the Patriots starting defense. As for Wade, it looks like it will come down to either him, Terrence Mitchell or Myles Bryant as Mills, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones and Jack Jones are all locks to make the roster.
Wade has certainly made it tough on the coaching staff as he’s had a solid camp parlayed with a two solid pre-season games while picking up an interception in Friday nights game. If I had to guess, I’d think Wade makes the initial 53 man roster and sees time with Jack Jones and Terrence Mitchell in a rotational role.
@mkodrik asks What do you make of Tavai getting reps with the starters? Did not expect that”
It’s certainly hard not to read too much into pre-season personnel groupings but I’ll admit it did come as a surprise to see Tavai get multiple series with the Patriots top defense on Friday night. Mack Wilson Sr. continues to fly around and make plays but it was Tavai getting the nod over Wilson on Friday night. This could be a case of Bill Belichick seeing what he can get from his rotational players. Mack Wilson Sr and Anfernee Jennings serve as the teams projected starting off-ball linebackers who should see most of the run with the teams top defense come Week 1.
@BaderThfc asks “Lil’Jordan Humphrey, that’s it, that’s the question”
Like the Patriots cornerback room, the team has a log jam of guys at the back end of their positional group fighting for a spot on the roster. Assuming Parker, Meyers, Bourne, Agholor and Thornton all make the team as wide receivers, it would likely leave one spot for either Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Tre Nixon and Kristian Wilkerson, who left practice this week with a pretty scary head injury. Now, Thornton’s collarbone injury certainly bodes well for Humphrey, but Thornton would need to be initially put on the 53 man roster before he is placed on IR to potentially open up that fifth spot for Humphrey.
If we’re taking stock in the pre-season, Humphrey has been the team’s top pass catcher and has contributed mightily in the kicking game. He signed late in the summer and has certainly caught the eye of the Patriots coaching staff as the teams 6th wide receiver on their initial 53 man roster.
Put it this way, Humphrey will be on an NFL roster this fall, it’s just a matter of its here or elsewhere.
@totwittowoo asks Are you concerned with how sluggish the offense has looked so far this preseason, or do you think these are just growing pains that will pay off later in the year? I’m not prepared to panic just yet, but concern seems valid – I’m expecting the first four games to be rough.
The Patriots offense certainly didn’t get off to the start they wanted to in camp. After a revamped skill group came through the door in 2021, the Patriots went out and acquired DeVante Parker via trade and drafted Tyquan Thornton to give them more fire power at the wide receiver position. However, with Josh McDaniels heading west and the question still looming on who the Patriots offensive play caller will be, the Patriots have started to turn the corner of late.
They had two solid days of joint practices with the Panthers where the offense, and in particular, their offensive line started to find more consistency. Obviously, Friday night the Patriots offense didn’t get off to the start they certainly had hoped for but, I think it was good to see the offense recoup, find out what wasn’t working, come out and score a touchdown on their third and final series of the game.