New England Patriots

The New England Patriots will conclude their preseason Thursday night against the New York Giants at Metlife Stadium.

But anybody expected to play even a minor role for the Patriots in the regular season will watch this finale from the sidelines, based on how the pregame workout and sprints played out in New Jersey.

The inclusion of Riley McCarron likely means that McCarron’s spot on New England’s 53-man roster is safe, and that he will serve as the Patriots’ No. 4 wideout for the first four weeks of the regular season while Julian Edelman serves his suspension. This first appeared to be the case when McCarron played with the rest of the starters in the first half of last week’s loss to the Panthers, and could have been set in stone once the Patriots began to incorporate him in their punt return game.

The decision to give both Gillislee and Hill the night off, however, seems unusual given the already-crowded backfield the Patriots have with James White, Rex Burkhead, special teams man Brandon Bolden, and 2018 first-rounder Sony Michel. But with Burkhead and Michel both out for the entire preseason, perhaps this is the Patriots doing what they can to keep their depth intact in the event of a setback for either talent. Gillislee, who fell out of the rotation in New England last season, has rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 33 touches this summer, while Hill has totaled 107 yards on 26 carries.

On the flip side, veteran defensive back Jason McCourty and Jordan Richards are both expected to play in tonight’s game. How deep they play into the game should provide a blunt look into their chances of making the 53-man roster.

The Patriots will also have their share of injured talents missing tonight’s game, as first reported by ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Thursday’s game can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub.