At least one undrafted rookie has made the New England Patriots’ Week 1 roster in each of the last 14 seasons. The list includes names like Malcolm Butler, Jonathan Jones, Ryan Allen and David Andrews.
That streak is in danger of ending this year.
With less than two weeks remaining until cutdown day, none of New England’s eight undrafted free agents have a firm grasp on a roster spot, and only one or two appear to be even in contention for a job.
Here’s a look at the contestants:
John Atkins and Frank Herron, defensive tackles
The Patriots are loaded at defensive tackle, and Atkins and Herron are buried at the bottom of that depth chart. They combined to play just 12 defensive snaps Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Corey Bojorquez, punter
Bojorquez was brought in to compete with incumbent Ryan Allen, but Allen has handled every punt and hold through two preseason games. When asked last Friday why Bojorquez hasn’t played, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said: “The opportunities to play have to be earned.”
Ralph Webb, running back
Webb flashed with two touchdowns in New England’s preseason opener against the Washington Redskins but was much quieter against the Eagles, finishing with just 15 yards on five carries. He’d be a nice developmental player to have on the practice squad, but he doesn’t look ready for the 53-man roster yet.
Trent Harris, defensive end
Harris actually has turned some heads this preseason with 1 1/2 sacks, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble. All of that production has come late in games against reserve offensive linemen, though, and the Miami product has a bunch of talented pass rushers above him on the depth chart.
Henry Poggi, fullback
The Patriots already have one of the NFL’s best fullbacks in James Develin, and Poggi hasn’t impressed this summer.
A.J. Moore, safety
Moore has been on the field for just two defensive snaps this preseason, but he’s played a ton in the kicking game. There’s a chance he could follow the Jonathan Jones route and earn a spot based on his special teams potential — though plays like his blown coverage on the opening kickoff last Thursday won’t help his cause.
J.C. Jackson, cornerback
Jackson seems to have by far the best chance of making the team of any player on this list. Off-the-field issues, not a lack of talent, prevented the Maryland product from being drafted, and he followed up his strong spring with a solid training camp, breaking up or intercepting passes on a near-daily basis in practice. Jackson hasn’t stood out in either of the Patriots’ preseason games, however. He struggled with tackling against the Redskins and allowed a 57-yard reception against the Eagles.
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