The New England Patriots are halfway to cutdown day.
Here are 13 players we’ll be watching Saturday night as the Patriots visit the Tennessee Titans in Week 2 of the NFL preseason:
Tom Brady, quarterback (No. 12)
The last time the Patriots held joint practices in Week 2 of the preseason, Brady played two series in the ensuing game. If New England follows a similar pattern this time, we’ll get to watch the 42-year-old QB continue his efforts to build rapport with the Patriots’ various reserve receivers.
Braxton Berrios, wide receiver (No. 14)
With N’Keal Harry, Maurice Harris, Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas and Cameron Meredith all likely out and Phillip Dorsett’s status in question, Berrios should see plenty of playing time both at receiver and in the return game. The 2018 sixth-round draft pick — whose road to a roster spot got a lot steeper Friday with the return of Josh Gordon from suspension — had an up-and-down week in Nashville, catching two long touchdown passes Thursday but also appearing out of sync with Brady at times.
Dontrelle Inman, wide receiver (No. 15)
The Patriots’ attrition at wideout has led to an uptick in first-team reps for Inman, who turned in a surprisingly solid performance against the Detroit Lions in the preseason opener following a disappointing few months in New England. This game represents a huge opportunity for the veteran journeyman after a so-so week of practice.
Gunner Olszewski, wide receiver (No. 9)
The converted Division II cornerback is a roster long shot, but his quickness and tenacity make him a fun player to watch. He and Berrios split punt and kick return duties against Detroit.
Isaiah Wynn, left tackle (No. 76)
Friday was the one-year anniversary of Wynn’s Achilles tear. His workload at left tackle steadily increased over the course of training camp. Will we finally see him return to game action Saturday night?
Damien Harris, running back (No. 37)
Harris, who reportedly has been dealing with a hand injury, dressed but did not play against the Lions. The rookie was an active participant in this week’s joint practices, though, and brings an intriguing blend of rushing and pass-catching ability.
Lance Kendricks, tight end (No. 81)
Zero. That’s the number of Tom Brady targets in 11-on-11 drills that Kendricks, Ryan Izzo, Andrew Beck and Eric Saubert combined for this week. With Matt LaCosse and Stephen Anderson both sidelined, the Patriots need someone to step up at tight end beyond Ben Watson, who’s facing a four-game suspension to begin the season. Kendricks has a wealth of NFL experience and theoretically should be able to provide the Pats with some pass-catching ability at Rob Gronkowski’s old spot.
Michael Bennett, defensive end (No. 77)
With many starters likely to see at least some playing time in this game, we could see the veteran Bennett make his Patriots debut. The 33-year-old has looked unblockable at times in practice and projects as a real difference-maker for New England’s defense.
Shilique Calhoun, edge rusher (No. 90)
A relative unknown entering camp, Calhoun has seen consistent playing time with the first-team defense over the last two weeks. Ditto for third-year pro Derek Rivers. The two combined for three sacks against Detroit.
Chase Winovich, edge rusher (No. 50)
Lions offensive linemen probably are still having nightmares about Winovich, the Patriots’ long-haired fireball of a pass rusher. The Pats tried Winovich out in a few different spots this week, so expect to see multiple alignments involving the third-round rookie.
Deatrich Wise, defensive end (No. 91)
Wise isn’t a natural fit for the Patriots’ new 3-4 scheme. He needs to prove he can hold up against the run in order to remove himself from the roster bubble.
Byron Cowart, defensive tackle (No. 59)
Cowart hasn’t generated much buzz this summer, but he looked good against the Lions in his first taste of NFL action. The fifth-round rookie can strengthen his case for a roster spot with another strong showing Saturday.
Duke Dawson, cornerback (No. 29)
Thursday’s practice was Dawson’s best of camp. Can he maintain that momentum, or will he revert to the subpar play we saw from him in Detroit?
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images