The New England Patriots have one more preseason game remaining in 2019. But after their third contest against the Carolina Panthers, there’s a clearer picture of who will be in and who will be out.
Injuries have played some of a role in that, but others have earned their roster spot through continued improvement and development in training camp.
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While nothing is set in stone and there is another in-game chance to iron out final roster spots, the 53-man squad is just about finalized.
Let’s take a look.
LAST PROJECTION: Patriots Roster Projection 3.0: Phillip Dorsett and Derek Rivers Out
Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham
The rookie out of Auburn impressed over his last two outings, enough to wrestle the backup job away from veteran Brian Hoyer.
Out: With Stidham’s role increasing, there’s simply not enough room on the roster for Hoyer. That said, if he does make the roster in Week 1 it might not be for the full year.
Running Backs (5)
Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden
Michel looked very good in his preseason debut. Let’s hope for the best for Harris, who was sidelined by injury midway through the third preseason game. Otherwise, zero surprises here.
Out: Nick Brossette is doing all he can to make an impact, but the running back room is simply too deep.
The big bruiser scored the lone touchdown for the Patriots against Carolina and he’s almost automatic from the one-yard line. He’s definitely helping resurrect the position.
Out: There’s no need for two fullbacks on the roster anymore but Jakob Johnson will likely be the extra man on the practice squad given his international exemption.
Wide Receiver (7)
Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, Matthew Slater
PUP: Cameron Meredith
Name a weak link in that group? Dorsett earned his way back into roster contention and his chemistry with Brady is enough of a bargaining chip itself. Harry and Meyers have been impressive in their first preseason, though the former will hopefully be ready for the season opener in his battle back from an injury.
Out: Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski are tough cuts but there’s simply no room for them. At least one of them will find their way onto the practice squad and it could be the latter. Maurice Harris is another notable cut who started with so much promise but faded fast. Damoun Patterson and Ryan Davis will also be left off the roster.
Tight End (2)
Matt LaCosse*, Ryan Izzo
Suspended: Ben Watson, Lance Kendricks
Again, it all revolves around whether LaCosse is ready to go for the season opener. If he is, it could be Kendricks, who is suspended for the opening game, that gets the boot. Izzo is owed less money and looked pretty good over the middle and in blocking schemes during the third preseason game. We still have no update on the severity of LaCosse’s ankle sprain but it doesn’t appear to be dire.
Out: Eric Saubert, Andrew Beck, and Stephen Anderson are all on the cusp anyways, but there might not be room in the end. However, Beck and Saubert can play special teams well and are both good blockers so don’t count them completely out just yet.
Offensive Line (8)
David Andrews, Isaiah Wynn, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, Dan Skipper, Hjalte Froholdt
NFI: Yodny Cajuste
As solid as the first five are, the final three spots are questionable. Karras is versatile inside and has good experience, but Skipper and Froholdt have been inconsistent throughout the preseason. Froholdt has been slapped with three holding penalties, Skipper has gotten a flagged a couple times himself and his protection has wavered. As soon as Cajuste is ready to go, Skipper is likely gone.
Out: Cole Croston is another potential option at tackle should he beat out Skipper over the final weekm but as of now he is cut. James Ferentz, Tyler Gauthier, Martez Ivey, Tyree St. Louis, Cedrick Lang, are also all cut, but look for at least one or two to make the practice squad.
Defensive Line (9)
Michael Bennett, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Danny Shelton, Ufomba Kamalu
So just about every defensive end is interchangeable with linebackers, except for Bennett. Cowart continues to show promise while Kamalu saw 62 percent of defensive snaps against Carolina, lining up in three different positions.
Out: Injuries are keeping Shilique Calhoun and Derek Rivers off the roster for now but if they return to full health by the end of preseason expect one to crack the roster. Mike Pennel and David Parry are veterans who could miss the cut on the inside while Keionta Davis, Trent Harris, and Nick Thurman are edged out at defensive end.
Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts
Injured Reserve: Brandon King
With King on IR, it means no harsh cuts have to be made given his guaranteed contract. Obviously not the ideal thing to happen, however, as King is a core special teams contributor. It gives the Patriots an extra middle linebacker as well which never hurts.
Out: Calvin Munson is a tough cut but he could easily fill in for King on special teams and has looked good over the past two preseason games. Christian Sam and Terez Hall round out the linebacker cuts.
Corner Back (6)
Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, JC Jackson, Keion Crossen, Joejuan Williams
Injured Reserve: D’Angelo Ross
The corner back position is looking pretty set right now pending any injuries in the coming weeks. This is deep group with a nice mix of veterans and younger, talented players.
Out: Ken Webster looks to be the only cut at this position, but he could likely head to the practice squad.
Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung*, Terrence Brooks, Nate Ebner, Duke Dawson
Given recent developments surrounding Chung’s legal situation, his status is up in the air. The short of it, he likely won’t be cut but that depends how serious the case against him gets. Should issues with off-field problems and his ongoing recovery from injury hinder him, he’ll be off the roster. Pencil in Dawson for now who is making a pretty seamless transition to safety, something he played well in college.
Out: Obi Melifonwu headlines the cuts at safety, while Malik Gant and A.J. Howard are also long shots.
Special Teams (3)
Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona
Before we get upset about another missed field goal against the Panthers, the hold by Bailey was woeful. Chalk that up as something the rookie needs to work on because his punting is next level. Gostkowski isn’t a sure bet, however, and the Patriots could start shopping around for another kicker. Carolina is using Joey Slye while Graham Gano is out, but one of those guys will make a pretty good replacement.
Out: No one for now, but Gostkowski is surely on the hot seat.