Now that we’re two preseason games in – we’re starting to get a better sense of where this Patriots team might be, roster wise, come week one.
Friday’s game against Carolina was particularly important for guys like Ty Montgomery, Anfernee Jennings, and Jalen Mills.
Montgomery got the reps he deserves with the first-team offense, Jennings played the second most defensive snaps behind only Jonathan Jones as he attempts to carve out a role, and Jalen Mills continued to show his excellence at cornerback.
There are still plenty of roster spots to be had – and the Pats still need to cut 30(!!) players by week one. It’s going to get interesting.
Here’s where I think they’re at prior to their two joint practices and game against Vegas this week:
Quarterbacks (3): Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe
Despite yet another solid showing from Bailey Zappe on Friday night, I still think the Patriots will keep three QB’s. I’m awfully close to cutting Hoyer out of the picture, but the thought of Mac Jones getting injured and New England handing the keys to a fourth-round rookie puts a sour taste in my mouth.
Zappe can change my mind this week with another good outing against Vegas, but for now – Hoyer remains on the squad.
Running Backs (5): Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong Jr., J.J. Taylor
Out Kevin Harris
I know we still have a week to go, but I think J.J. Taylor beat out Kevin Harris for the fifth RB slot on Friday night. When we think of this Shanahan outside-zone run scheme that New England is trying to implement, we don’t think of big backs like Kevin Harris – we think of speedsters like Raheem Mostert. That’s what J.J. Taylor can bring. Plus, he’s a return man – and we know Bill loves being able to double up.
Also, though I already had him on the roster last week, Ty Montgomery cemented his spot on this team Friday night. The dual-threat WR/RB is going to have a big role in this Patriots offense.
Wide Receivers (5): DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Lil’Jordan Humphrey
Out: Tyquan Thornton (IR), Kristian Wilkerson (IR), Josh Hammond, Tre Nixon
New England’s wide receiver room continues to be the “star”, for lack of a better term, of Patriots camp. One second they’re the deepest position on the team, the next they’re throwing punches in practice, and now – everyone’s hurt.
We knew about Wilkerson’s injury at practice on Wednesday – but now rookie Tyquan Thornton will reportedly miss eight or more weeks with a collarbone injury. The second round pick out of Baylor was having such a good first NFL training camp that New England was apparently fielding calls on trading a veteran wide receiver (cough cough Kendrick Bourne). Thornton’s injury means it looks like they won’t be able to get creative. They’ll stick with Parker, Meyers, Agholor, and Bourne as their top-4.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey showed out on Friday, hauling in 5 catches for 71 yards and making a spectacular play on special teams that may have secured himself a roster spot. There’s still plenty of time for things to change, but for now LJ is on my 53.
Tight End (3): Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi
Out: Dalton Keene, Matt Sokol
Last week I had just two tight ends here, but the health of Hunter Henry is telling me they’ll probably need to hang onto a third.
Devin Asiasi showed that he is serviceable on Friday, grabbing three catches from Bailey Zappe. Depending on the WR room, I could also see them trying to use LJ Humphrey in a TE/FLEX type role (h/t Phil Perry), making Asiasi expendable. For now though, he makes the 53 as an inactive on Sunday’s type of guy.
Offensive Line (8): Isaiah Wynn, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Mike Onwenu, Trent Brown, James Ferentz, Justin Herron, Yodny Cajuste
Out: Drew Desjarlais, Will Sherman, Yasir Durant, Kody Russey, Chasen Hines, Andrew Stuber, Arlington Hambright, Bill Murray
No changes on the offensive line from last week. There’s thoughts that Isaiah Wynn could be an odd man out with his injury and the emergence of Yodny Cajuste, but for now I’m keeping him here. There’s not enough tackle talent on this roster to get rid of him.
Starting 5, a swing IOL in Ferentz, and two swing tackles in Herron and Cajuste.
Defensive Line (5): Deatrich Wise Jr., Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, LaBryan Ray
Out: Carl Davis, Henry Anderson, Daniel Ekuale, Sam Roberts, Jeremiah Pharms Jr.
My one change here is swapping Henry Anderson with LaBryan Ray. Ray, an undrafted rookie out of Alabama, has shined this preseason. Anderson is a savvy veteran presence – but they already have that on the D-line with Wise and Guy.
They give the rookie a chance to show his worth on NFL Sunday’s.
Linebackers (6): Matthew Judon, Ja’Whuan Bentley, Josh Uche, Raekwon McMillan, Mack Wilson Sr., Anfernee Jennings
Out: Cameron McGrone, Ronnie Perkins, Jahlani Tavai, DaMarcus Mitchell, Harvey Langi, Nate Wieland
Nothing new here from last week – as the likes of Cam McGrone, Ronnie Perkins, and Jahlani Tavai didn’t do anything worthy of a change.
Anfernee Jennings played a majority of the game at linebacker for the Patriots on Friday – which can be looked at in one of two ways: a bad thing because he’s out there and has to show he’s worth a roster spot, or a good thing because he played a solid game in the reps he was given.
I think it’s the latter. Jennings will make the roster.
Cornerbacks (7): Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Jack Jones, Terrance Mitchell, Shaun Wade, Myles Bryant
Out: Malcolm Butler (IR), Joejuan Williams (IR)
Although I had Malcolm Butler and Joejuan Williams off my roster last week – the two veteran CB’s heading to injured reserve made life a lot easier in the cutdown market.
Shaun Wade impressed yet again on Friday, and Myles Bryant continues to show his worth on special teams – keeping himself on the roster for another week.
Safeties (4): Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers
Out: Joshuah Bledsoe
I hate cutting on Joshuah Bledsoe here, who has had an awesome camp, but there’s simply too many mouth’s to feed on this roster.
Bledsoe feels like a guy that could make his way onto the Pats practice squad, but even if not – I’m comfortable with a room of McCourty, Dugger, Phillips, and Peppers.
Specialists (7): Jake Bailey, Nick Folk, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, Cody Davis, Brendan Schooler
Out: Tristan Vizcaino, Jake Julian
Can you have too many specialists?!
Well, probably – but Bill Belichick doesn’t think so. Brenden Schooler earns a spot this week as he continues to get plentiful reps on special teams. The rest are the same. Kicker, punter, long snapper, and your gunners.
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