Kenbrell Thompkins knows nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, even after debuting as a rookie starter last season.
The New England Patriots added veteran free agent Brandon LaFell and seventh-round draft pick Jeremy Gallon this offseason, so the competition at wide receiver will be fierce in organized team activities, minicamp and training camp. Mark Harrison, who missed all of the 2013 season with a foot injury after being signed as an undrafted free agent, also will compete for a roster spot.
“I think everybody out here (is) fighting, trying to keep their spot,” Thompkins said Friday after OTAs at Gillette Stadium. “We (are) all out here competing, pushing each other, trying to get better. That’s all we can do right now.”
Thompkins and fellow second-year wideout Josh Boyce aren’t the only contributors from last season fighting for roster spots. Check out which Patriots players could be on the roster bubble:
The consensus seems to be that Mallett either will be traded or kept, but Patriots fans also overrated Brian Hoyer’s value during the 2012 preseason, when the former Patriots backup quarterback was released on Aug. 31 during final roster cuts.
If second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo picks up his playbook quickly and impresses in the preseason, Mallett could be on the chopping block. The Patriots value their roster spots, and they haven’t carried three quarterbacks since 2011.
It would be a surprise if Ridley doesn’t make the 53-man roster, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. If the Patriots sign a veteran running back, like Ronnie Brown or Michael Bush, and Ridley’s fumbling issues continue, the team could cut ties before the 2014 season begins.
Any player who was outright benched during the previous season is not a lock for a roster spot. Ridley has the Patriots’ lack of running back depth in his favor, however.
The Patriots took a “best player available” approach to the 2014 NFL draft, which found them selecting three offensive linemen. If Connolly, who is due to make $3 million in base salary in 2014 — the final year on his contract — is outplayed in the preseason by fourth-year pro Marcus Cannon, rookies Bryan Stork or Jon Halapio, or 2013 undrafted free agent Josh Kline, the longtime Patriots starter could be out of a job.
Connolly struggled at times, especially in pass protection, during the 2013 season.
Hopes remain high for the former CFL and USC defensive tackle, but he has to find his way onto the field before earning a roster spot. It was disappointing to see Armstead limited during OTAs on Friday, since he had nearly a full year to recover from the infection that ended his 2013 season.
Armstead will compete with three-technique defensive tackles Chris Jones, Tommy Kelly and Joe Vellano for a roster spot.
Wilson played just 19 defensive snaps in 2013 after losing the backup safety role to Duron Harmon. Wilson will have to compete with veteran free agent Patrick Chung and special-teamer Nate Ebner this offseason to earn a role on the Patriots.
Whether or not the third-year pro makes the roster, it appears draft analysts were right to mock Bill Belichick when the Patriots head coach took the Illinois product in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft.