Patriots Mailbag: Why More Surprises Could Be Coming On Cutdown Day

Ever-intriguing roster decisions loom

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There could be some major surprises this weekend when the New England Patriots trim their roster down to 53 players.

Typically, the Patriots would have just played their final preseason game against the New York Giants on Thursday night. And if a player suits up but never takes the field in Week 4 of the preseason, there’s a good chance he’s being included on the team’s initial 53-man roster.

Releasing Mohamed Sanu wasn’t entirely unexpected. But if he had been on the field in the Patriots’ fourth preseason game, then it would have almost been a foregone conclusion.

All NFL preseason games were canceled this season, so that kind of intel is lost this summer. Assumptions can be made on who’s safe and who’s on the roster bubble based on training camp, but it’s not set in stone like in previous seasons.

Watch above and read below for this week’s mailbag:

@Ciaran__McG_
Are we at all likely to see Gunner play snaps at WR? And surely we’ll see a new WR in place of Sanu who would you think that may be

Given the Patriots’ current situation at wide receiver, yes, Gunner Olszewski will almost certainly have a role on offense this season.

Olszewski legitimately looked like the Patriots’ second best wide receiver — behind Julian Edelman, of course — in training camp.

It feels like too much has been made about Olszewski’s drops, because in the practices I observed, his hands were not a significant detriment. He actually displays pretty soft hands for a converted cornerback. He’s a natural catcher. Did he drop some passes? Yes, but all wide receivers do. His maybe just stand out more because of his history.

Olszewski has a chance to be good. Expecting him to contribute on offense in a major way this season might be asking too much. But with only Edelman and N’Keal Harry firmly ahead of him on the Patriots’ depth chart, that could be the way things are headed. I’d pencil him in as the No. 4 wide receiver right now.

I wouldn’t be too concerned about his absence from practice Thursday.

@cuzvechkin
The depth chart at WR is?. questionable. What are the chances that the Patriots make a move outside of the organization prior to week 1? How is your route running ability? #MailDoug

My 3-cone and short shuttle undoubtedly would be better than my 40-yard dash, but you don’t want me out there running routes.

The Patriots desperately need to look outside of the organization for a wide receiver. The biggest question is why they didn’t do you this, you know, sooner?

This was thought to be a loaded draft at wide receiver, and the Patriots completely passed on the position, waiting instead to sign rookie free agents.

Players like safety Kyle Dugger, linebackers Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings and tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene appear to have high ceilings, but would the Patriots have been better off not doubling up at linebacker and tight end and instead taking a player like Antonio Gibson, Bryan Edwards, Lynn Bowden or Devin Duvernay?

Gibson and Bowden are playing running back in the NFL, but both players also were projected as receivers before the draft.

@NickLannister12
Thoughts on N?Keal? Look healthier/faster?

He had an up and down training camp. There were moments when he looked like the best wide receiver on the field and times when he completely disappeared.

That just might be life with N’Keal Harry. But he’ll have every possible opportunity to succeed this season with no one other than Edelman above him on the wide receiver depth chart.

The Patriots need Harry to play like a first-round pick.

@neteamen22
Can you lay out what the new practice squad can look like with the newly implemented rules? How is eligible, how many players etc..

It’s pretty complicated.

Practice squads have been expanded from 10 to 16 players. Six of those players can have any amount of NFL experience. Tom Brady, for example, could sign to a practice squad this season.

Teams can protect up to four practice squad players from being signed away to another team’s active roster starting Tuesday of each week. Those players still will be able to be signed away on Mondays.

Teams can also temporarily elevate two practice squad players to the active roster every week without having to pass them back through waivers and onto the practice squad. Each player can only be designated for a temporary elevation twice and not in back to back weeks.

Teams can also sign players from their practice squad to the active roster up to 90 minutes before a game. Previously, the deadline was Saturday at 4 p.m. for a Sunday game or 4 p.m. day of for a Thursday or Monday game.

Finally, practice squad salaries are set. Players with less than two accrued seasons will be paid $8,400. Players with more than two accrued seasons will be paid $12,000.

@itsbostoncream
Hey Doug, it’s Creamsy here. I feel like the Marcus Cannon opt out was a major hit to the offense. We suspected many to compete for the position and somewhat surprising Jermaine Eluemunor has appear to fill that position. What have you seen from Eluemunor?

It’s tough to say in training camp. Jermaine Eluemunor has looked solid, and I would say the Patriots seem pretty committed to him. I would be surprised if someone else who is currently on the Patriots’ roster started at right tackle.

There’s always the possibility that the Patriots could acquire an upgrade, but Eluemunor is the best bet to start at right tackle in Week 1.

Let’s go rapid fire.

@ScoobyMoses
Harry Potter or Star Wars?

“Star Wars” by a country mile.

@CheyenneSulli14
R u watching tenet this weekend ?

I don’t think I’ll be going to a movie theater anytime soon.

Also, this is one of the busiest weekends of the year for NFL beat reporters because of roster cuts, waiver claims and trades.

@ofibroso
What the chances of german FB Jakob Johnson get any playing time this season? #MailDoug

Very good. He’s the Patriots’ prospective starting fullback.

@AbuHanin_
@DougKyed #MailDoug how good has Jacoby Meyers been in camp??

He was barely able to practice because of a shoulder injury. I was a huge fan of Jakobi Meyers’ game last summer and still have relatively high hopes for him. But it was disappointing that he never really got going in training camp.

@jonothorpejazz
Who is your favourite rookie and why?

Josh Uche has the best chance to contribute early.

@vaidyeah33
who is kicking for us in week 1?

Nick Folk looked considerably better than Justin Rohrwasser in training camp.

@WifiWolfpack
Who do you think starts at RB week one?

Sony Michel. In fact, I drafted him in a 12-team fantasy league Thursday night.

@Kabory10
Do you think the Patriots will ever end up looking to sign Dez Bryant?

No.

Patriots offensive lineman Jermaine Elueunor
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New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu
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