All NFL teams need their rosters to be at 53 players by next Tuesday, so this is the last week for players to show why they are deserving to be included.
Relating to the Patriots, they have two joint practices against the Giants Wednesday and Thursday before next Sunday’s final preseason game.
A few injuries could potentially impact how the roster looks. N’Keal Harry was injured against the Eagles, defensive back Myles Bryant has been banged up the last few weeks and that’s on top of a few players returning this week.
Here’s how we currently see the roster looking, which is certainly subject to change again before next Tuesday (click here for version 2.0).
QUARTERBACK (2): Cam Newton, Mac Jones
This is a tough call, but with so many tough decisions to be made at other positions why carry three quarterbacks when one is always going to be inactive? Brian Hoyer has a great relationship with the organization and is well aware of his role, so perhaps he just returns to the practice squad and sticks around to continue to mentor Jones and be available in case of emergency.
RUNNING BACK (5): Damien Harris, Sony Michel, James White, Rhamondre Stevenson, J.J. Taylor
Taylor has been very impressive the last week or so and received a ton of praise from running backs coach Ivan Fears over the weekend. This is why we’re going with him over Brandon Bolden. It feels like the team can find someone else to do what he does on special teams and perhaps he sticks around the area and returns to the team in a few days/weeks when a roster spot likely becomes available.
TIGHT END/FULLBACK (5): Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Devin Asiasi, Matt LaCosse, Jakob Johnson
Keeping four true tight ends was hard, but because of the recent injuries to Smith and Henry it feels better safe than sorry, especially given LaCosse’s experience. This also could be a position the team looks to address on the open market with players released by other teams.
WIDE RECEIVER (5): Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski
Right now, we have Harry on the roster simply because there’s no where else for him to go. It’s unlikely he’s traded, as who wants to trade for an injured player. And then the team probably wouldn’t just release him, so it seems including him on the roster is the only option and then hope to find a role for him once he’s healthy. Kristian Wilkerson is once again off since he just hasn’t done much to standout the last week-plus.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Isaiah Wynn, Michael Onwenu, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Trent Brown, Ted Karras, James Ferentz, Justin Herron
No changes from our last version, but a player to watch is Yodny Cajuste. He’s had perhaps his best week as a member of the organization to now put himself into the conversation of having a chance of making the team. Karras and Herron feel like locks as backup linemen, so it will come down to Ferentz, Cajuste and perhaps Marcus Martin for the last spot.
DEFENSIVE LINE (7): Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Deatrich Wise, Carl Davis, Tashawn Bower, Christian Barmore, Henry Anderson
There are a few changes here from our last projection as Anderson is on and Chase Winovich is off. Our gut says a player will be traded between now and next week and Winovich seems like a prime candidate. The Patriots have so much depth at edge and since he’s entering his third year, another team could see lots of potential for him with their specific scheme. Adding a draft pick or player for the Michigan product seems worth it. Based on what Bill Belichick said about him this week, Anderson doesn’t have to worry much about his roster spot.
LINEBACKER (7): Dont’a Hightower, Matt Judon, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Kyle Van Noy, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Ronnie Perkins
This is the same as our last version, but keep an eye on Jennings. If he ends up on some sort of season-ending list, Harvey Langi is someone who could find a way onto the team. He had an impressive game last week against Philly and is someone who knows the system well. Langi is also a Belichick favorite, which is always a good thing.
CORNERBACK (5): Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams
We have Williams back on our roster. He’s seen signifiant snaps on the first-team special teams units and it seems like the cornerback spot needs as many options as possible behind Gilmore and Jackson. If Myles Bryant is healthy he certainly will be in the mix, but since he hasn’t been on the field in over a week we currently have him off the roster.
SAFETY (3): Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger
Nothing to change here.
SPECIALISTS/SPECIAL TEAMS (6): Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona, Nick Folk, Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, Cody Davis
Folk returned to the field this week and after Quinn Nordin had issues against the Eagles, it’s pretty much a done deal Folk will be the kicker in 2021. This edition has Davis back on the roster with a spot opening up, but Brandon King remains off. It will be interesting to see how many pure special teams players make this roster.