New England Patriots players won’t have the benefit of preseason games this season. That means those looking to prove they deserve a spot on the 53-man roster or a place in the starting lineup will need to do so in training camp.
With seven open practices in the books and less than two weeks remaining until cutdown day, here are 10 players who have helped their causes on the practice field and seven who have taken steps in the wrong direction:
Cam Newton, quarterback
The Patriots’ QB competition was real at the start of camp, but Newton appears to have taken a commanding lead over Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. With a reported hip injury limiting Stidham’s activity in the last few practices, Newton has seen the lion’s share of reps and continues to look more and more comfortable in New England’s offense.
Damien Harris, running back
After hardly seeing the field as a rookie, Harris now looks like the favorite to open the season as New England’s lead back. The Alabama product has run hard in camp and flashed as a pass-catcher, as well. Veteran Rex Burkhead has looked good, too.
Josh Uche, linebacker
If this past week was any indication, the Patriots will be putting a lot on Uche’s plate this season. The second-round draft pick has been highly involved on defense and could be a Day 1 contributor. He registered two would-be sacks in Monday’s high-intensity practice.
Kyle Dugger, safety
The transition from Division II to the NFL hasn’t been overwhelming for Dugger. His versatility and playmaking ability have stood out, and he’s earned plaudits from both Devin McCourty and Bill Belichick. New England’s top draft pick will be in the mix with veterans Adrian Phillips and Terrence Brooks for Patrick Chung’s vacated starting spot, but he’ll need to get healthy first, as he’s been limited in each of the last three practices.
Gunner Olszewski, wide receiver
The biggest surprise of last year’s training camp, Olszewski has taken a significant step forward in Year 2. The former Division II cornerback looks stronger, faster and more precise in his routes and has been arguably the Patriots’ second-best wideout in camp behind Julian Edelman. Olszewski appears on track to be at least New England’s top punt returner this season and could take on a larger offensive role, as well. Fellow wideout Devin Ross also has made the most of his camp reps.
Devin Asiasi, tight end
Asiasi and fellow third-round draft pick Dalton Keene both have shown potential this summer, but the former has received more attention, often working with Patriots quarterbacks and a small selection of established pass-catchers (Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, James White) during special teams periods. Though holdover Ryan Izzo has enjoyed a solid camp, as well, Asiasi has a legit shot at opening the season as New England’s No. 1 tight end.
Jermaine Eluemunor, offensive lineman
A seldom-used reserve guard last season, Eluemunor now looks like the leading candidate to fill the right tackle spot typically occupied by Marcus Cannon.
Hjalte Froholdt, offensive lineman
A versatile interior lineman, Froholdt appears to be the top choice for Ted Karras’ old role (backup guard/center). He’s been full-go in camp after spending his entire rookie season on injured reserve.
Myles Bryant, cornerback
Is Bryant the Patriots’ latest undrafted cornerback gem? It’s too early to say, but the Washington product has been around the ball a lot. His interception Monday against Newton was his third of camp, and he’s added several pass breakups. One factor working against Bryant: He’s competing for a spot in New England’s deepest position group. Same goes for recent trade addition Michael Jackson, who’s also shown off some notable ball skills.
Cassh Maluia, linebacker
Interceptions, forced fumbles, goal-line stops — Maluia has been a playmaker in his first Patriots training camp. The mental side of the sixth-round draft pick’s game needs work, according to position coach Jerod Mayo, but he’ll be a strong contender for a roster spot assuming the injury he suffered Monday — reportedly a stinger — isn’t serious. Second-year linebacker Terez Hall, who also was injured in Monday’s practice, has stood out positively, as well.
Jarrett Stidham, quarterback
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch both indicated Stidham’s injury is not a long-term concern. The damage, though, may already be done. Stidham has been very limited in the last three practices and hasn’t seen an even share of reps since last Wednesday. At this point, his chances of overtaking Newton look slim.
Sony Michel, running back
Michel, who’s recovering from offseason foot surgery, is on the physically unable to perform list as has yet to practice. Multiple reports have suggested his injury could sideline him into the regular season, so it could be a while before we see last year’s Patriots rushing leader back on the field. Veteran newcomer Lamar Miller also remains on PUP.
Jakobi Meyers, wide receiver
Meyers flourished in his first Patriots training camp and showed promise as an undrafted rookie last season, but he’s been largely invisible this summer. He’s also now dealing with an injury that’s kept him out of team drills. Roster hopefuls Olszewski, Ross and Damiere Byrd all have outperformed Meyers in camp.
Jeff Thomas, wide receiver
It’s still early, but we haven’t seen much out of the Patriots’ most intriguing undrafted free agent. Thomas has missed more than half of New England’s practices to date and has been limited in the few he’s attended.
Justin Rohrwasser, kicker
Rohrwasser hasn’t kicked much in camp, and when he has, it hasn’t been pretty. The Patriots brought back veteran Nick Folk this week to compete with the fifth-round draft pick, who reportedly is not 100 percent healthy.
Yodny Cajuste, offensive tackle
Cajuste didn’t participate in a single practice as a Patriots rookie last season, and he’s struggling to stay on the field in Year 2. The 2019 third-rounder missed two practices last week, returned for one, then missed another. And when he’s been active, he’s looked rusty. Don’t expect Cajuste to be in the mix for the starting right tackle spot, at least early in the season.
Beau Allen, defensive tackle
We’ve yet to see Allen practice since the Patriots opened training camp to non-team-employed reporters last Monday. If healthy, he projects as a starter alongside Lawrence Guy, but his absence has created opportunities for young players like Byron Cowart and Bill Murray.