New England Patriots

New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA: A view of New England Patriots helmets on the bench during a preseason game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 11, 2022. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

With roster cuts taken care of, on Wednesday the New England Patriots moved onto the next step of getting their roster set for the 2023 NFL regular season – building their practice squad.

Throughout the day signings were reported, and the attendance at Wednesday afternoon’s practice lent clues as to what the group would eventually end up being. On Wednesday night, the team released all 15 practice squad signings in full. Notably, there is still an open spot, meaning the Patriots can made one more addition if they want.


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NFL practice squads are made up of a group of players who are under contract with the team, but not a part of the active roster. It used to be there was no way these players could play in games without being signed to the 53-man roster. As of 2020 though, a select number of players each week can be ‘elevated’ from the practice squad for gameday, but each player is limited to a certain number of elevations per season. For 2023, two players can be elevated each week, with each player eligible to be elevated up to three times.

This new flexibility has had a major impact in the way teams construct their rosters early in the season. We’re already seeing that with the Patriots, who kept Mac Jones as the lone quarterback on their initial roster.

Practice squad players are also sort of free agents. Teams around the league can sign any player of their own or another team’s practice squad to their 53-man roster. However, practice squad can’t be signed to another practice squad.

So, who made the Patriots’ initial practice squad in 2023? Let’s take a look…

  • QB Bailey Zappe

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 19: Bailey Zappe #4 of the New England Patriots throws a pass in the 3rd quarter against the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 19: Bailey Zappe #4 of the New England Patriots throws a pass in the 3rd quarter against the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

    The panic about the Patriots only having one quarterback on their roster was short-lived, as Zappe stays in New England via the practice squad. Pending the signing of a veteran, look for Zappe to be an early-season elevation as the gameday backup, and don’t be surprised if he ends up back on the 53-man roster later in the season.

  • QB/WR Malik Cunningham

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 10: Quarterback Malik Cunningham #16 of the New England Patriots reacts during the fourth quarter during the preseason game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on August 10, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

    Foxboro, MA: Quarterback Malik Cunningham of the New England Patriots during a preseason game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10, 2023. (Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

    After a strong showing from Cunningham in the preseason opener, he didn’t do much over the final two weeks. That probably helped the Patriots get him to the practice squad. He’ll continue to work on his development both as a quarterback and wide receiver there, but could also be a candidate to be elevated later in the season if the Patriots want to add another wrinkle to their offense – something we saw them do in camp this year.

  • RB Kevin Harris

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 26: Running back Kevin Harris #36 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half of a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium on August 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 26: Running back Kevin Harris #36 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half of a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium on August 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    For the second year in a row, Harris – a 2022 sixth-round pick – begins the season on the practice squad. With Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott both primarily power backs, there likely won’t be much playing time available for Harris early in the year. That being said, given he’s been around the team for a year already, he’s a good insurance option at the position.

  • RB/WR Ty Montgomery

    Jul 26, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Ty Montgomery II (14) makes a catch during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots wide receiver Ty Montgomery II makes a catch during training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    This was an interesting training camp for Ty Montgomery, who began playing well only to miss most of camp due to a knee injury. Injuries have been an issue for him for a few years now, so it makes sense the Patriots wouldn’t want to commit an active roster spot to him. Still, he could help as a passing-down back, and is another strong candidate to be elevated and/or outright signed down the road.

  • WR Thyrick Pitts

    Aug 1, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Thyrick Pitts (13) runs with the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 1, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Thyrick Pitts (13) runs with the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Pitts closed camp on a high note, which may have led to him sticking around. At 6-foot-1, 201 pounds he plays a traditional ‘X’ receiver game, which should help the Patriots’ scout team.

  • TE Matt Sokol

    Jun 12, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Matt Sokol (87) makes a catch while doing a footwork drill at the Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots tight end Matt Sokol makes a catch while running a drill at 2023 minicamp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    For most of training camp, things were trending towards Sokol being the Patriots’ third tight end. The question was, would that be on the active roster or would he hold that role from the practice squad. He brings an element as a blocker the Patriots don’t get from their two tight ends on the active roster, so look for him to be elevated against teams with stronger defensive fronts.

  • TE Pharaoh Brown

    HOUSTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 03: Pharaoh Brown #85 of the Houston Texans catches a pass for a touchdown over David Long #51 of the Tennessee Titans during the second half of a game at NRG Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON,TX: Pharaoh Brown of the Houston Texans catches a pass for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on Jan. 3, 2021. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    Brown is the only player on the Patriots’ practice squad who didn’t spend the summer with the team (he was with the Colts). A six-year NFL vet who entered the league as a UDFA in 2017, he has 55 games of NFL experience. That includes playing for Bill O’Brien in Houston in 2020. At 6-foot-6, 258 pounds Brown can be a factor in the run game, so once he gets more familiar with the Patriots’ offense he could also help augment the Patriots’ tight end position at some point.

  • OL Andrew Stueber

    Andrew Stueber (64) and Sidy Sow (54) of the New England Patriots take the field before practice at 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Credit: 98.5 The Sports Hub)

    Andrew Stueber (64) and Sidy Sow (54) of the New England Patriots take the field before practice at 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Credit: 98.5 The Sports Hub)

    A seventh-round pick in 2022, Stueber missed his entire rookie season due to a torn quad. Now healthy, he’ll continue to work on his game on the Patriots’ practice squad.

  • OL Kody Russey

    Aug 1, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots center Kody Russey (66) works on the tackling sled during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots center Kody Russey (66) works on the tackling sled during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    The Patriots signed Russey last year as a UDFA, initially kept him on the practice squad, then signed him to the active roster late in the season. He’s a player the Patriots trust, and could end up with a role if injuries continue to pile up on the offensive line.

  • OL James Ferentz

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 11: James Ferentz #65 of the New England Patriots during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 11: James Ferentz #65 of the New England Patriots during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Speaking of offensive linemen the Patriots trust, Ferentz is back for his seventh season in New England. Don’t be surprised if he suits up for a game or two this year.

  • LB Ronnie Perkins

    Aug 25, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Julius Chestnut (36) is tackled for a loss by New England Patriots linebacker Ronnie Perkins (51) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 25, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Julius Chestnut (36) is tackled for a loss by New England Patriots linebacker Ronnie Perkins (51) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Perkins, a third-round pick in 2021, was injured for the most crucial stretch of camp including joint practices with the Packers. Yet he put together a good game in the preseason finale, and now hangs around on a deep very deep when it comes to edge rushers.

  • LB Calvin Munson

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Calvin Munson (43) in game action during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Calvin Munson (43) in game action during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    When Munson was released on Tuesday, it was reported he was a candidate for a 53-man roster spot once players were put on IR. The Patriots do have an open spot after IR’ing Tyquan Thornton on Wednesday, so Munson’s stay on the practice squad may be short.

  • LB Joe Giles-Harris

    Aug 25, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Joe Giles-Harris (53) runs with the ball after an interception during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 25, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Joe Giles-Harris (53) runs with the ball after an interception during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Giles-Harris is one of the more surprising practice squad signings, having not signed with the Patriots until well into camp on Aug. 9. He should give the team some emergency linebacker and special teams depth.

  • S Joshuah Bledsoe

    Safety Joshuah Bledsoe of the New England Patriots practices during 2023 mandatory minicamp in Foxboro. (Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    Safety Joshuah Bledsoe of the New England Patriots practices during 2023 mandatory minicamp in Foxboro. (Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    After missing his entire rookie year due to injury, Bledsoe appeared in three games for the Patriots last year. He’s another defensive depth and special teams player.

  • P Corliss Waitman

    Jun 12, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots punter Corliss Waitman (15) during a break in action at the Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots punter Corliss Waitman during a break in action at 2023 minicamp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Waitman kept things close with Bryce Baringer in camp, but still ended up losing the punter battle. Still, he provides value on the practice squad, allowing returners to get used to working against a left-footed punter.

  • 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 abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.

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