FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots will have several tough decisions to make come Saturday.
The defending Super Bowl champions will have to trim their roster down to 53 players ahead of their regular-season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. But for some players, a roster cut doesn’t mean it’s the end of their tenure in New England.
Prior to the Patriots’ preseason finale against the New York Giants, head coach Bill Belichick explained the importance of the practice squad. While you won’t see these players suit up on Sundays, they certainly play a significant role in the team’s preparation.
“The practice squad is the depth that you can’t carry on the roster,” Belichick told 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday. “We want to keep as many good players as we can on that practice squad. At the same time, we?ve got to sometimes have extra players to help us practice at certain positions. We?ll just have to balance that out between keeping the best players we can, but also having the best practices we can have.”
Not to mention, there’s always a chance a practice-squad player eventually is vaulted to the 53-man roster. As Belichick explained, defensive end Geneo Grissom started off on the practice squad last season, but ultimately joined the team in October and provided defensive depth for the remainder of the 2016 campaign.
While the majority of New England’s 53-man roster likely is set, Belichick noted just how difficult it is to make a final decision.
“We give every roster spot very careful consideration. We?ll just have to see how it goes,” he said. “I think there are still a lot of names that we?re trying to consider, whether it’s on the practice squad or on the roster, things like that going back and forth, that will come down to the wire.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images