By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Saturday marks the unofficial start of the NFL’s regular season, with teams needing to be down to 53 players on their roster by p.m.. With the lack of preseason games and a limited training camp, this year’s cut down day will be different than any other, as Bill Belichick explained on Friday.
As the Patriots enter one of the craziest, fastest-paced days on the NFL calendar, here are the top five things to keep an eye on.
Will they keep five or six receivers?
The Patriots top five receivers feel pretty locked in at this point in Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski, Damiere Byrd, and Jakobi Meyers. However, that includes a 34-year-old coming off of an injury-impacted season and three second-year players with a combined 40 career catches. It seems likely the team would keep a sixth wide receiver for depth reasons.
It felt like this spot was going to come down to Jeff Thomas versus Devin Ross. With Thomas becoming the first cut of Saturday morning, the question now becomes will Ross hang on? Or, could the Patriots bring in an outside option as the sixth receiver?
What happens to Justin Rohrwasser?
Justin Rohrwasser struggled mightily during training camp. Nick Folk is clearly the more reliable option, and feels like a lock to make the team.
So what happens to the 2020 fifth-round pick? Do they keep him for his raw power, and use him on field goals beyond Folk’s range? Do they cut him, and essentially forfeit that fifth-round pick? Or could he end up on IR, work on whatever plagued him this summer, and make another run at the job in camp in 2021? Everything feels like it’s on the table.
Could Jarrett Stidham end up on IR?
With Cam Newton officially named the starter, Jarrett Stidham’s competition turns to Brian Hoyer, who had a strong training camp. Will the Patriots keep all three quarterbacks?
If they want to free up another roster spot, they could carry Stidham on the initial 53, then place him on Injured Reserve tomorrow (remember his mysterious hip injury was a ‘multiple week recovery’). Hoyer is more than capable of being the backup, and the Patriots can bring Stidham back after Week 3 with the adjusted IR return rules this year. That could allow them to bring a guy like Jeff Thomas back from free agency and onto the roster.
Experience not key for Beau Allen and Lamar Miller?
We hear so often how key training camp is for players new to the Patriots system. For Beau Allen, who didn’t see the field once this summer, and Lamar Miller, who was activated last week, that experience could end up being a missed opportunity.
Between missing the entire summer and Byron Cowart’s emergence, Allen feels expendable for the Patriots at this point. It’s hard to imagine him making the roster given the learning curve he would have to be ready. He could end up on season-long IR and come back next year for the final season of his two-year deal.
As for Miller, the situation isn’t as cut and dry. There are injury concerns with two key running backs in Sony Michel and Damien Harris, and Miller has a base knowledge of the offense coming from a similar system in Houston. Still, he only has a week of on-field time with the offense.
Do the Patriots make a trade?
In past years, the Patriots have been notoriously ambitious on deadline day. This year, with less information on the other 31 teams and their players, will that still be the case? That lack of scouting combined with them having just six guaranteed picks in next years draft could cause the Patriots to take a back seat this year.
Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.