Patriots Mailbag: Why Demaryius Thomas Is Likely To Make 53-Man Roster


The New England Patriots’ wide receiver corps is looking much better after the past week of activations and reinstatements, but you might not know it Thursday night.

Since the last time the Patriots played a preseason game, Josh Gordon was conditionally reinstated from a suspension, and Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas were activated from the PUP and NFI lists. You definitely won’t see Gordon on the field Thursday night in the Patriots’ third preseason game. He’s not permitted to play until Week 4 of the preseason, plus he’s still on the non-football injury list.

It’s doubtful the Patriots rush Edelman and Thomas back onto the field, as well. Edelman only returned to practice Monday, and Thomas was back out there in a non-padded practice Tuesday.

We don’t expect to see Maurice Harris playing Thursday night, and we’d mark Phillip Dorsett and N’Keal Harry as questionable after missing Saturday night’s game against the Tennessee Titans. We don’t even know if Braxton Berrios will be out there.

So, it could wind up being just Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Damoun Patterson and Ryan Davis playing with quarterback Tom Brady and the starters.

Other Patriots players we don’t expect to play Thursday: tight ends Stephen Anderson and Matt LaCosse, outside linebackers Derek Rivers, Shilique Calhoun and Trent Harris and safeties Patrick Chung and Obi Melifonwu.

We’ll have to see on running back Rex Burkhead and offensive tackle Martez Ivey.

It’s a big game for tight ends Ryan Izzo and Lance Kendricks, defensive tackle Mike Pennel, outside linebacker Chase Winovich and cornerback Duke Dawson.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag:

Can you do an early projection of the practice squad?
— @CPT_Sternn
Here is the Patriots’ ideal practice squad:

FB Andrew Beck
WR Braxton Berrios
WR Gunner Olszewski
OT Dan Skipper
OLB Trent Harris
DT Nick Thurman
LB Calvin Munson
LB Terez Hall
DB Duke Dawson
CB Ken Webster

Other players like Maurice Harris, Deatrich Wise and Derek Rivers are on the roster bubble, and I’m not sure if I’m putting them on or off the 53 right now. Harris and Rivers also currently are injured, so the Patriots have the option of putting them on injured reserve.

I’m not sure if guys like Skipper and Dawson will clear waivers to make it to the practice squad. Skipper has a better chance than Dawson.

In your opinion, what the chances that Thomas gets cut? 50/50?
— @JoeHallisey
Much slimmer than that.

Players like Eric Decker, Reggie Wayne, Michael Jenkins and Nate Washington, all veteran receivers who were cut by the Patriots or retired before the regular season, are far from perfect comps for Demaryius Thomas because of New England’s timing in taking him off the physically unable to perform list. The Patriots are giving Thomas less than two weeks to prove he deserves a spot on the team, and he probably won’t even play Thursday night against the Panthers.

That says to me that they’ll let him make the initial 53-man roster. I’m not sure if I’d call him a lock right now, but it would be unfair to expect him to prove he deserves a spot on the team in just a matter of days. Unless his first practice was an outright disaster, then he has a strong chance of being on the initial 53-man roster.

Do you think the Pats could get a 6th round pick for Braxton Berrios? He’s had enough good moments that I dont think he’d clear waivers for the practice squad. But he hasn’t had enough good moments to make the team with a now crowded WR group.
— @ejlinehan
The Patriots got a fifth-round pick for tight end AJ Derby, so anything is possible, but no, I don’t find that realistic.

I actually don’t know if a team would claim Berrios. I think teams find those small slot receiver projects a dime a dozen until they actually break out. I wouldn’t be shocked if Berrios slipped through waivers.

Do you think Volin is a dope for suggesting that Josh Gordon will stay on NFI for 6 weeks?
— @CastigFan1337
No. I don’t necessarily think it’s likely, but it depends on how detrimental Bill Belichick believes it would be if he thrust Gordon back into the offense as a key component just to have him fail another drug test and have his reinstatement revoked.

The Patriots could view those first six weeks as a trial period for Gordon to prove he can stay on the right track. The Patriots certainly have the wide receiver depth with Thomas, Julian Edelman, Jakobi Meyers, Phillip Dorsett, N’Keal Harry and either Maurice Harris or Braxton Berrios to weather the storm for six games.

Ultimately, I believe Gordon will be off NFI by next week. But there’s some logic to keeping him on the list if Belichick doesn’t want to count on Gordon without some sort of proof that he can stay clean.

Do you think we could keep just 1TE and Devlin as a fill in second TE to keep additional WR. Then when Watson comes back week 4 make additional roster moves then? Do you see them doing something creative like that?
The Patriots typically like to keep three tight ends plus a fullback. So, I would be surprised if they went with one tight end and one fullback.

I would keep just two tight ends to start the season. I lean towards Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse, but if LaCosse can’t get healthy, then maybe Lance Kendricks sneaks on.

Surprise cut?
— @BigLarryBabyArm
I never like to speculate about this stuff, but I’ve seen Brian Hoyer, Philip Dorsett, Deatrich Wise, Mike Pennel and Duron Harmon thrown around out there. They could be trade candidates, as well.

I don’t know. We’ll see what happens Aug. 31.

Let’s go rapid fire.

Duke Dawson hasn’t done much to secure a CB spot but am I crazy to think that in 2 weeks someone is going to lose a roster spot to him anyway?
— @PatriotsPOV
You’re not crazy. I won’t include him in my next 53-man roster projection, barring anything crazy Thursday night, but I do feel like he’ll make the team. I just can’t currently find a spot. But I also have doubts Belichick would cut a second-round pick this quickly.

Hey Doug chances we see Brady tomorrow?
— @SteveyStats24
Good. Strong.

Is this the year where Mathew Slater doubles his reception total from 1 to 2?
— @davecave23
This does not feel like that year. He’s not even working in on wide receiver drills this summer. He’s been strictly a special teamer.

Gordon, Harry, Meyers… who are you taking in fantasy?
— @_wsak
I like Meyers’ value the most. Pick him up for a buck or in the third to last round before you get your kicker and defense.

Fantasy Football Question here: Mayfield or Mahomes, who is your pick?
— @pcord901
I like Baker’s value more.

Oh, I’m also not great at fantasy. So, maybe don’t listen to me.

What are your thoughts on the core special teamers and their likelihood of making the 53? I know a lot of people are thinking guys like Ebner and King are in danger because they don’t offer the versatility that some of the newer guys do (Brooks comes to mind)
— @jonothorpejazz
The Brandon King stuff is crazy. He just signed a contract extension. He’s a lock.

I also don’t agree with Ebner speculation. When healthy, he’s still one of the best special teams players in the NFL.

Describe your dream sandwich
— @Duke0fHampshire
Hot dog. Bun. Ketchup.

Just kidding. But how many of you guys did I just trigger?

My real answer is pizza dough, pizza sauce, cheese and pineapple.

For real, though, my favorite sandwich is probably from The Good Food Store in Walpole, and it’s chicken salad with bacon and swiss cheese. My second favorite sandwich is from Harry and Izzy’s in Indianapolis, and it’s the prime rib sandwich with cheddar cheese, horseradish sauce and an au jus.

I like a good Italian or meatball sub too.

#maildoug How cute is Olivia?
— @MrQuindazzi
The cutest.

View this post on Instagram

Olivia grinding through another day of camp.

A post shared by Doug Kyed (@dougkyed) on

Who do you think is most likely to return kick offs for the Patriots this season?
— @Big_Jazz_Boy
I have no idea. Brandon Bolden has been doing it in games. Maybe him?

If he makes the team When can cameron Meredith play when comes off the pup list
— @yankeesux
Week 7.

Should every game be played in Nashville because of the food?
— @AntonChigurh81
I don’t think I can handle Nashville hot chicken more than once a year.

@DougKyed If you were to do a redraft where does Jakobi Meyers go? #maildoug
First overall. Move over, Kyler Murray.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

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