Did Patriots Hint At 53-Man Roster Locks In Final Preseason Game?

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FOXBORO, Mass. — NFL players typically want to get on the field in any game they suit up and can possibly play. There’s one exception: Week 4 of the preseason.

Sitting out a game typically means you’re hurt or not good enough to play. If a player stays on the sideline in uniform and never has to put his helmet on during the last week of preseason, that means he’s a near certainty to make the 53-man roster.

Here’s the list of 42 players who didn’t see the field Thursday night against the New York Giants.

QB Tom Brady
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
RB Brandon Bolden
RB Rex Burkhead
FB James Develin
RB Mike Gillislee
RB Dion Lewis
RB James White
WR Danny Amendola
WR Brandin Cooks
WR Chris Hogan
WR Malcolm Mitchell
WR Matthew Slater
TE Dwayne Allen
TE Rob Gronkowski
C David Andrews
OT Marcus Cannon
OT Cameron Fleming
G Shaq Mason
OT Nate Solder
G Joe Thuney
DT Alan Branch
DT Malcom Brown
DT Adam Butler
DE Trey Flowers
DT Lawrence Guy
DT Vincent Valentine
LB Marquis Flowers
LB David Harris
LB Dont’a Hightower
LB Brandon King
LB Elandon Roberts
LB Kyle Van Noy
CB Malcolm Butler
SS Patrick Chung
CB Justin Coleman
CB Stephon Gilmore
FS Duron Harmon
CB Jonathan Jones
FS Devin McCourty
SS Jordan Richards
CB Eric Rowe

It was surprising to see Fleming, Adam Butler, Marquis Flowers, Coleman and Richards among that list.

Add in the Patriots’ three specialists, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Ryan Allen and long snapper Joe Cardona, and that’s 45 roster locks. There also were nine Patriots who weren’t in uniform Thursday night: wide receiver Julian Edelman, defensive ends Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise and Keionta Davis, offensive tackles Andrew Jelks and Antonio Garcia, linebackers Shea McClellin and Harvey Langi and safety Nate Ebner.

Edelman and Rivers, who both tore ACLs, will hit injured reserve at the Patriots’ 53-man cutdown, while Jelks and Davis likely will be placed on non-football injury/reserve. Garcia also could start the season on injured reserve since he hasn’t played in a preseason game as a rookie. It’s unknown the severity of the injuries to Garcia, McClellin, Langi and Ebner.

If McClellin, Langi, Ebner and Wise all make the team, as they’re expected to, then that would make 49 roster “locks,” leaving just four open spots for non-specialists playing in Thursday night’s game.

One of those four players was expected to be cornerback/returner Cyrus Jones, but he went down with a right knee injury that looked severe at first glance and reportedly puts his season in jeopardy. Our best guess is that guard Ted Karras, quarterback Jacoby Brissett and a fourth offensive tackle, either Conor McDermott or LaAdrian Waddle, will fill three of the last four spots.

The final spot could come down to running back D.J. Foster, wide receiver Austin Carr, tight end James O’Shaughnessy, tight end Jacob Hollister, returner Will Likely or offensive lineman Cole Croston. One or more of those spots also could be filled by players acquired via trade or claimed on waivers.

The Patriots could look to add a pass rusher or punt returner from outside the organization before their Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs next Thursday.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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