At long last, the preseason has finally come to an end. The Patriots, just like every other team, trimmed their roster the required 53-man limit on Saturday in preparation for kickoff next weekend. Don’t worry Patriot faithful, Tom Brady made the roster. However, others did not. Here is our first look at what the Patriots roster will likely look like on opening day.
Despite showing Michael Vick-like speed in an 86-yard touchdown run in the preseason finale against the Giants, rookie quarterback Danny Etling did not crack the final roster. However, he is a strong candidate for the practice squad if he clears waivers. Not surprisingly, the Patriots will “gamble” on a 41-year-old quarterback in Tom Brady and journeyman-vet, Brian Hoyer as his backup. I hope Bill Belichick knows what he is doing. /s
Wide Receivers (5)
With Julian Edelman set to miss the first four games and Matthew Slater a wide receiver by default, the Patriots, right now, look to start the season with just three receivers on the roster. Veteran pass catchers Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, and Eric Decker didn’t quite pan out the way the Patriots had hoped which leaves a lack of depth at the position. Especially considering guys like Riley McCarron and Devin Lucien were unable to crack the roster. Despite their depth issues at the position. This is an area to watch in the coming days as the Patriots may look outside the organization to fill that void.
Running Backs (5)
The running back group saw a bit of a makeover this offseason. Last year’s leading rusher, Dion Lewis, is now in Tennessee. With the release of Mike Gillislee and Brandon Bolden on Saturday, it ensures we will see a couple new faces in the Patriots backfield this season. Rookie Sony Michel is no real surprise, despite his training camp injury early in the summer. However, Jeremy Hill was able to win the final running back position as he showed flashes of when he was a consistently productive back for the Bengals. The running back room will need to step up in Edelman’s absence as Patriots runnings do much more than just run the ball.
Tight End (3)
No real surprises here. Jacob Hollister continued to make some noise in his second offseason with the Patriots. In addition, Hollister seems to be gaining the trust of Brady more and more and could see an uptick in production with Edelman missing the first four games of the year. Dwayne Allen returns for his second season with the Patriots. Despite almost nonexistent pass catching numbers, Allen has proven to be a solid blocker in both the passing and run game. He was able to stave off some competition at the tight end spot and ultimately agreeing to a reduced contract helped matters.
Offensive Line (7)
The offensive line group garnered plenty of attention in the offseason. And rightfully so considering the loss of Tom Brady’s blindside protector in Nate Solder. They drafted Isaiah Wynn and signed Trent Brown to help offset that loss. Unfortunately, Wynn was lost for the season to an Achilles injury. Brown, on the other hand, has performed well thus far through the preseason and could offer a similar consistency to what Solder provided for so many years. Much of the success of the unit could hinge on Marcus Cannon’s health. At his best, he was an All-Pro tackle but he has struggled in recent years to stay healthy. The rest of the group are fairly familiar to all Patriots fans.
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Defensive Line (10)
Perhaps the most intriguing group heading into the season, the defensive line will have plenty of new faces to look for. Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton instantly upgraded this lackluster unit from a year ago. In addition, Derek Rivers, who missed his entire rookie season last year, looks healthy and will finally see the field in a regular season game for the Patriots. Keionte Davis is also a nice surprised. Davis missed all of last year due to injury. The injury he suffered came in his final year at Chattanooga which caused him to go undrafted. The Patriots signed him and he spent all of last year on the I.R.
Kyle Van Noy
Dont’a Hightower, a leader on the defense, returns after missing the end of last year with an injury. Hightower will once again be flanked by the likes of Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy, however, a couple new faces will also look to make an impact. Most notably, rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley. Bentley had a stellar preseason that saw him appear all over the stat sheet. He had significant playing time with the starters and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him secure a starting spot at some point during the season.
Despite a rough start last year, Stephon Gilmore proved to be worth the gaudy contract he signed last offseason. He will return as the clear number one corner on this team. Also returning are Eric Rowe, Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Jonathon Jones. There are a few new faces and one face that is familiar but new in Jason McCourty. McCourty spent some time playing safety in the final two preseason games and offers the Patriots a versatile, veteran backup in the secondary. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is the trio of rookies who made the club. Duke Dawson was the 56th overall selection in this past draft and was a near lock to make the roster. However, both Keion Crossen (7th-round pick) and J.C. Jackson (undrafted) were more of a long shot entering the season. Their performance allowed the Patriots to part ways with third-year corner, Cyrus Jones.
Special Teams (3)
As expected, the three specialists return for another season together in New England. Some competition was brought in at kicker and punter but in reality, there was a slim chance this triumvirate would be dismantled.
— Full Press Patriots (@FPC_Patriots) September 2, 2018