By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Here are the rising and falling players on the Patriots roster from the preseason finale against the Giants.
WR Demaryius Thomas. Obviously. The veteran former Pro-Bowl wideout looked like a man amongst boys going against backups and backups of the backups. So it remains to be seen how he looks against starting-caliber cornerbacks. But he sure looked like something close to his vintage self with seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. He’s still huge and the ball seems to stick to him. And most importantly, he looks like he’s gained a good understanding of the offense in his time off the field.
WR/CB Gunner Olszewski. It remains exceedingly difficult for the Patriots to find a spot for Olszewski. But unfortunately, they may not be able to, and there’s a chance he can’t sneak through waivers either. Olszewski looked explosive as a punt returner once again and played defensive back in the second half. He did, however, give up the game-winning touchdown on the last play of the game. But you know for sure that Belichick loves his versatility. If he doesn’t make the Patriots, he should make a team somewhere.
CB Keion Crossen. The second-year pro got off to a rough start, allowing a 35-yard touchdown to Giants WR Alonzo Russell. But he responded in a major way, ending up with a team-leading 11 tackles, five pass breakups, and an interception. He appeared to be battling Duke Dawson for the final CB spot on the roster. If you have to pick a winner, it’s Crossen.
Field goal unit. Stephen Gostkowski had a rough first three preseason games and rookie punter Jake Bailey had a very bad hold last week that led to a miss. But on Thursday they looked on point, as Gostkowski was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points. Belichick and special teams coordinator Joe Judge must have put the fear of god in this group, because they looked sharp for the first time.
CB Duke Dawson. He did make an interception of his own, but it came from an incredibly fortuitous bounce off a Giants receiver. It came one play after Dawson committed an illegal contact penalty. Dawson has mostly failed to stand out in the preseason and could stunningly find himself on his way out of New England due to incredible cornerback depth. But there’s a chance Belichick could find a trade partner with a team that also liked Dawson in the 2018 draft. It feels too early to give up on him, but the team may have no choice.
DE Deatrich Wise. He got a healthy amount of playing time with the defensive backups. Wise is a solid player and could carry trade value with a team that plays more 4-3, like the Lions, Eagles, or Seahawks. He may have done enough to showcase himself for that. But it appears that he’s simply no longer a fit for a Patriots defense that’s moving to more 3-4 looks this season.
LB Calvin Munson. He got plenty of looks on defense and special teams on Thursday, while Elandon Roberts did not play. That doesn’t necessarily mean Roberts’ roster spot is safe – Belichick could be keeping him in one piece for a future trade – but for one reason or another, the Patriots needed one more look at Munson. He appeared to be pushing Roberts for a spot in the preseason. Thursday may have been his last stand here.
TE Stephen Anderson. Eric Saubert’s spot may also be tenuous, but he could also be the Patriots’ placeholder for the first four weeks without Ben Watson. Matt LaCosse (assuming health) should still be on the team while Ryan Izzo looked locked in. That leaves Anderson on the outside
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.