The Patriots, just like any team around the NFL, had to make some tough cuts on Saturday. Now that they’re down to the 53-man limit heading into the season, the discussion has switched over, at least momentarily, to the practice squad.
Each NFL team has eight spots to fill on their practice squad, giving teams like the Patriots opportunities to take extended looks at players who didn’t earn a spot by the end of camp. Some notable former practice squad players on the Patriots today include Kyle Arrington and Danny Amendola, both who have carved out starting roles with the team. So, there’s always a chance that one or a few of those guys will pan out into a quality contributor.
In order to be eligible for the practice squad, a player must have less than nine games of NFL experience, meaning players like Tim Tebow and Jermaine Cunningham, who were both released on Saturday, are ineligible. But, after a strong preseason from a number of guys, there is plenty of talent on the cutting room floor for the Patriots, with a few guys looking like prime practice squad players.
So, with eight spots to work with, here are eight guys to look out for as practice squad hopefuls.
Quentin Sims, WR, rookie — Sims enjoyed most of his success when working with Tebow, but his size alone (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and ability to go up and get the football, as he showed with a touchdown on Thursday, should have been enough to earn him some extra time. The only issue will be if other teams took note of Sims’ performance and snatch him up on waivers before the Patriots even have a chance.
George Winn, RB, rookie — Much like Sims, Winn was an underrated talent during the preseason and did his best work with the third-string. He got an extended look in the preseason finale and finished with 14 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. His hard-nosed running style and shifty moves should earn him a longer look.
Stephon Morris, CB, rookie — Injuries slowed his progress during camp and were a likely factor in him being cut both times this summer. Even as an undersize corner (5-foot-8), Morris is a skilled player with the tenacity to make an impact if called upon.
Justin Green, CB, rookie — Green was the most impressive of the undrafted rookie defensive backs this summer. A late signing, not much was expected from him, but Green took the uphill challenge in stride and excelled when given the opportunity in game action. Don’t be surprised if he makes a few appearance on the 53-man at some point this season.
Josh Kline, OL, rookie — Kline improved throughout camp and looked to be in contention for that final spot on the offensive line. Similar to Markus Zusevics last year, Kline has a lot of upside at tackle and could pan out with some good guidance from Dante Scarnecchia and some of the veterans up front.
Marcus Forston, DL, second year — It’s unlikely he passes through waivers after a pretty good summer, but, if by chance he slips through, then Forston will surely be kept around as defensive line depth in New England. There is still a lot of unlocked potential.
Kannoris Davis, S, rookie — Davis didn’t show much in the secondary during camp or this preseason, but he is a solid special teams contributor in the same vein as Malcolm Williams last year.
Matt Stankiewitch, OL, rookie — The Patriots liked this undrafted interior offensive lineman. He was signed right off the bat after the draft and even got brought back after being cut earlier this summer. If he can get healthy, there’s a good chance that a stint on the practice squad would benefit him and maybe the Patriots down the line.