The New England Patriots’ locker room was eerily calm on Monday afternoon. The Patriots must cut down their roster to 75 players on Tuesday, and the team already showed that anyone can be released when they let go of veteran defenders Tommy Kelly, Will Smith and James Anderson a day earlier.
Cutting down this Patriots roster won’t be an easy task for head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and the rest of the Patriots’ front office staff. The Patriots have a young, talented roster, and it will be difficult to slip many of these players through to the practice squad.
The Patriots will have to cut down their roster again — this time to 53 — on Saturday after their final preseason game Thursday night against the New York Giants.
Check out NESN.com’s latest take on a 53-man roster projection:
QUARTERBACK (2): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
Garoppolo played 24 snaps compared to Ryan Mallett’s seven on Friday night, and now the rookie is starting Thursday night’s preseason finale against the New York Giants. The writing is on the wall that Mallett likely will be traded or released before Aug. 31.
RUNNING BACK (4): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Jonas Gray
Brandon Bolden was one of the most difficult cuts on this 53-man roster projection. Gray has been impressive during his three preseason performances, and he offers a slightly cheaper, younger option. I can’t see any running back on the Patriots’ roster supplanting Ridley as the starter to begin the year, despite his fumbling issues.
WIDE RECEIVER (7): Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Matthew Slater, Josh Boyce
Boyce was the final Patriots player to make the 53-man roster in this projection. It seems unlikely that the Patriots will be willing to carry seven wide receivers, but Boyce definitely would be claimed on waivers, potentially by an AFC East rival.
TIGHT END (3): Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, James Develin
Odds are high that the Patriots will scour the waiver wire for a fourth tight end on Aug. 31. If Hoomanawanui can’t regain his health, there’s a possibility that Steve Maneri could make it past the initial cut.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline, Cameron Fleming, Bryan Stork
Rookie guard Jon Halapio was another difficult cut, but he only received two snaps on Friday night’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. The Patriots probably wouldn’t mind if Fleming or Halapio caught the “Foxboro flu” and wound up on injured reserve.
EDGE DEFENDER (3): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan
Will Smith didn’t work out as a reserve edge defender, which increases the likelihood that Jake Bequette actually sneaks onto the roster for the third straight season. The Patriots should be looking at roster cuts to find a solid backup for Jones and Ninkovich.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Vince Wilfork, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Dominique Easley, Zach Moore, Jerel Worthy
The Patriots did a nice job of constructing a three-man front over the last two seasons, allowing them to release veteran Kelly on Monday. Siliga, Jones and Easley are recovering from injuries, which could force the Patriots to carry additional interior defensive linemen.
LINEBACKER (6): Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Steve Beauharnais, Darius Fleming, James Morris
James Anderson was a surprising cut on Monday, which means that the Patriots must be happy in the young depth they’ve found at linebacker. Belichick specifically praised Morris and Beauharnais on WEEI during his weekly appearance on the “Dale & Holley” show.
CORNERBACK (6): Darrelle Revis, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, Jemea Thomas
The Patriots can afford to carry six cornerbacks and four safeties because Arrington, Ryan and Thomas all can play safety. Thomas was one of the last players to make it onto the 53-man roster projection.
SAFETY (4): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner
Tavon Wilson was a tough cut, but Ebner contributes more on special teams, and Chung is more consistent against the run.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Danny Aiken
No surprises here. It didn’t take long for Aiken to beat out backup long snapper Tyler Ott.
SUSPENDED (2): Brandon Browner, Brian Tyms
The Patriots might as well keep Tyms around until his suspension is up in case the Patriots’ wide receivers get ravaged by injuries.
IDEAL PRACTICE SQUAD: Jordan Devey, Jon Halapio, Roy Finch, Taylor McCuller, Brandon Bolden, Jeremy Gallon, Ben Bass, Joe Vellano, Ja’Gared Davis, Travis Hawkins
Chances are high that Halapio, Bolden, Gallon and Vellano would get claimed on waivers.
Last three in: Josh Boyce, Jemea Thomas, James Morris
Last three out: Jordan Devey, Jon Halapio, Brandon Bolden
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