New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has some tough decisions to make in the next 32 hours.
The Patriots must trim their roster from 89 to 53 players by Saturday at 4 p.m. They played their fourth and final preseason game Thursday night against the New York Giants, and players like cornerback JC Jackson only strengthened their case for a roster spot.
Here’s who we see making the roster based on who’s currently on the team. The Patriots could swing a couple trades to shake things up Saturday.
In: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer
Out: Danny Etling
The Patriots should have no trouble slipping Etling onto their practice squad, despite his rushing ability, after Thursday night’s performance.
RUNNING BACK (5)
In: Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, James White, Jeremy Hill, Brandon Bolden
Out: Mike Gillislee, Ralph Webb, Khalfani Muhammad, Kenneth Farrow
That Gillislee didn’t play Thursday night gives us pause. Does that mean he makes the roster and that the Patriots don’t expect Burkhead or Michel to be ready for the regular season? Does it mean the Patriots are trading him? Does it mean absolutely nothing? For now, he’s off. But if the Patriots plan to place Michel on injured reserve, then they probably need Gillislee. If the Patriots place Michel on injured reserve and want him to come back at midseason, then he would have to make the initial roster.
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
In: Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Matthew Slater, Riley McCarron
Out: Devin Lucien, Paul Turner, K.J. Maye
Suspended: Julian Edelman
Injured reserve: Braxton Berrios
McCarron also didn’t play in the Patriots’ final preseason game, potentially indicating he’s making the roster. Berrios hasn’t played since the first preseason game. New England could stash him on IR for the year.
TIGHT END (4)
In: Rob Gronkowski, Jacob Hollister, Dwayne Allen, FB James Develin
Out: Ryan Izzo, Will Tye, Henry Poggi
No changes here.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
In: Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle, Ted Karras, Matt Tobin
Out: Luke Bowanko, James Ferentz, Jason King, Brian Schwenke, Cole Croston
Injured Reserve: Ulrick John, Isaiah Wynn
John’s injury Thursday night strengthened Tobin’s standing on the roster. We want to put Croston on here too, but there’s currently no room.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (4)
In: Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown, Adam Butler
Out: John Atkins, Frank Herron, Vincent Valentine
Brown has been floated out as a potential trade candidate. If that happens, then Valentine likely makes it.
EDGE DEFENDERS (5)
In: Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Adrian Clayborn, Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis
Out: Geneo Grissom, Trent Harris, Eric Lee
Davis doesn’t look like as much of a lock after playing Thursday night. It also was interesting to see Rivers play so much against the Giants. The Patriots could elect to keep just four defensive ends if they believe they could slip Davis or Harris, who has shown potential, on the practice squad.
In: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts, Brandon King, Nicholas Grigsby
Out: Christian Sam, Marquis Flowers
Injured Reserve: Harvey Langi
Grigsby is a better special teams player than Flowers, but Flowers is a better defender than Grigsby. It seems unnecessary to keep seven linebackers.
In: Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson, JC Jackson
Out: Keion Crossen, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz, Cyrus Jones
Could Dawson go to injured reserve? He played in one preseason game and didn’t do much in training camp. Plus, the Patriots have plenty of players they like at this position. If Dawson is placed on IR, then perhaps Crossen or Cyrus Jones can make the roster.
In: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Jordan Richards
Out: A.J. Moore, Damarius Travis
Jason McCourty can play safety, as well.
In: Stephon Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona
Out: Corey Bojorquez
Bojorquez went the entire preseason without punting.
LAST ONE IN: DB Jason McCourty
LAST ONE OUT: OL Cole Croston
IDEAL PRACTICE SQUAD: QB Danny Etling, RB Ralph Webb, WR Devin Lucien, TE Ryan Izzo, OL Cole Croston, DE Trent Harris, DT Vincent Valentine, LB Christian Sam, CB Keion Crossen, CB Ryan Lewis
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images