The New England Patriots set their initial 53-man roster Saturday. That roster almost certainly will change before this Sunday’s season opener.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday he expects to see a “significant number” of roster moves in the coming days as teams make preparations for Week 1.
“We?ll see how the whole roster thing plays out,” Belichick said. “I?m sure there will be a lot of roster movement throughout the league today, tomorrow, probably even Wednesday, as there usually is. I don?t think we?ve seen the end of player transactions. ? I still think we?ll see a significant number of player transactions here in the next day or two.”
Some of these transactions will involve players being moved to injured reserve.
Under a new NFL rule implemented for this season, players who are placed on IR after making their team’s initial 53-man roster are eligible to return after three weeks. These players previously had to sit out eight weeks before returning. Players who were placed on IR before cutdown day are ineligible to play this season.
New England’s candidates for IR include defensive tackle Beau Allen and running back Damien Harris.
Allen has yet to practice in front of reporters this summer, and Harris, a training camp standout, hasn’t practiced since Aug. 30 after reportedly undergoing finger surgery. Wide receiver/punt returner Gunner Olszewski also has missed the last three practices.
With IR’d players required to miss just three weeks and teams now allowed to return an unlimited number of those players to their 53-man roster, expect more players with minor, short-term injuries to land on IR this season.
Moving a player to IR opens a roster spot. The Patriots could fill one of these potential openings by signing a kicker (either Nick Folk or Justin Rohrwasser) off their practice squad, as they currently do not have one on their 53.
With wide receivers Mason Kinsey and Kristian Wilkerson reportedly expected to join New England’s practice squad, the Patriots likely will elevate another player, as well.
If Allen and Harris are moved to IR, defensive tackle Xavier Williams and running back J.J. Taylor would be candidates for promotion. The Patriots are light on D-line depth and would have just three healthy running backs (Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead) if Harris is sidelined.
We also could see a trade or free agent signing ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots currently lack proven depth at offensive tackle, tight end, wide receiver and inside linebacker.