The New England Patriots close out the 2017 preseason Thursday night against the New York Giants, and a few spots on their 53-man roster remain up for grabs.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Patriots’ remaining positional battles as cutdown day looms:
No, we’re not saying Tom Brady could lose his starting job or Jimmy Garoppolo could be cut. But third-stringer Jacoby Brissett might be on the roster bubble. The second-year pro won’t help the team this season beyond providing insurance, and he hasn’t looked great this summer. Brissett didn’t play in New England’s third preseason game, either, which was puzzling. We still believe he’ll make the roster, but another underwhelming performance Thursday night could change our minds.
D.J. Foster and Brandon Bolden are battling for the fifth running back spot, and each brings a very different skill set to the table. Foster is a versatile pass-catching back who can return kicks, while Bolden is a core special teamer who brings little to the table offensively. There’s a slight chance the Patriots could decide to keep both players, but that seems unlikely.
Austin Carr’s chances of making the 53-man roster increased exponentially when Julian Edelman tore his ACL last Friday. The undrafted rookie has enjoyed a strong preseason and, like Edelman, is a slot receiver, though he’s hardly gotten any work with Brady and the starting offense this summer. Training camp standout Devin Lucien is another player who could be in the mix, though he hasn’t been nearly as productive as Carr in preseason games. K.J. Maye, Tony Washington and Cody Hollister are roster long shots. (For more on how the Patriots might fill Edelman’s roster spot, click here.)
This a fight between James O’Shaughnessy and Jacob Hollister for the third spot on the depth chart behind Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. O’Shaughnessy, a core special teamer for the Kansas City Chiefs last season, seems to have a slight edge over Hollister, who hasn’t flashed much since his electric NFL debut three weeks ago. Both still are in the hunt, though, while Sam Cotton looks destined to be cut. There’s also a chance the Patriots could keep just two tight ends.
Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle are locked in a battle for the third tackle spot behind starters Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon, and neither has looked overly impressive this summer. If rookie Tony Garcia, who’s been injured for weeks, begins the season on injured reserve, the Patriots could keep both Fleming and Waddle, or one and a younger player like Conor McDermott or Cole Croston.
Adam Butler, who’s played both tackle and end this summer, likely locked down a roster spot with his excellent showing last Friday against the Detroit Lions. Harvey Langi, a hybrid linebacker/D-end, should be safe, too. Geneo Grissom remains on the bubble even with Kony Ealy and Caleb Kidder no longer in the picture.
Thursday is the last chance for Jonathan Freeny and Trevor Bates to prove they belong on the 53-man roster. Sticking around won’t be easy, especially after the Patriots traded for linebacker/special teamer Marquis Flowers earlier this week.
Edelman’s injury all but solidified Cyrus Jones’ spot on the roster, which the second-year pro already was likely to earn thanks to his strong work in the return game this summer. Jones still struggles defensively, though, so the Patriots could opt to keep an additional corner. Undrafted rookie Kenny Moore would be a strong candidate after flashing on defense and special teams.
Jordan Richards might not be long for this team. The 2015 second round pick hasn’t fared well at his natural safety position all preseason, and he didn’t look much better when the Patriots tried him out at linebacker against Detroit.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images