New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots center Kody Russey (66) (facing camera) huddles with the team during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

With another New England Patriots preseason game in the books, it’s time for a new roster projection. After a week in Green Bay consisting of two joint practices and a preseason game, what’s changed since we last checked in on the roster following the preseason opener against the Houston Texans?

At this time of year, it’s important to remember that not every training camp practice is valued the same when it comes to player evaluation and making roster decisions. A non-padded practice in the first week of camp doesn’t carry nearly as much weight as joint practices later in the summer. The Patriots’ two joint practices this week represented the most high-intensity, highly-scrutinized reps the players have seen so far. With next weeks’ joint practices with the Titans being canceled, they should end up as the most important non-game reps of the summer.


READ MORE:

Patriots issue positive update on injured rookie cornerback Isaiah Bolden, cancel joint practices
— Ups & Downs from Saturday night in Green Bay
— 12 takeaways from the Patriots’ preseason matchup with the Packers


Of course, game reps are important when it comes to figuring out the initial roster as well. Unlike last week, the Patriots played the majority of their roster in this game – as did the Packers. So not only did we get to see players fighting for depth chart spots as well as roster spots, but we got to see them against comparable competition.

Given all of that, where does the roster stand heading in to the final week of training camp? Which players put themselves in the best position with one preseason game left to play? And who could get left on the outside looking in? Let’s take a look with Roster Projection 3.0.

Note: Players are listed alphabetically by position, not as a projected depth chart. Rookies are in italics.

  • Quarterbacks (3)

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 19: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots drops back to pass during the first half 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: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots drops back to pass during the first half 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)

    –Malik Cunningham
    –Mac Jones
    –Bailey Zappe

    Still no changes here. Although we didn’t get to see Cunningham at QB in Saturday night’s game, we played plenty of wide receiver and got a chance to return a kickoff as well. That, combined with his continued involvement during joint practices as a package player makes it clear the Patriots do have a plan for him in 2023. We just don’t know what it is yet, and won’t until the regular season begins.

    Changes from Roster Projection 2.0: None

  • Running backs (3)

    Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) greets teammates before game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) greets teammates before game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    –Ezekiel Elliott
    –Rhamondre Stevenson
    –Pierre Strong

    Last week we went a little off the grid and included a ‘TBD’ running back in the projection. That turned out to be the right call, as we can formalize Elliott into that spot this week.

    After Elliott and Stevenson though, this group is one of the toughest to project. Strong still gets the nod because it’s rare for a fourth-round pick to be cut after just one season, and he adds a much-needed speed element the other two backs here don’t. However, if he can’t get healthy soon he could face a challenge for that spot.

    That could come from fellow 2022 draft pick Kevin Harris, although his skillset overlaps heavily with Elliott and Stevenson. There could also be a case made for J.J. Taylor, who does have more of a passing-down skillset and was one of the Patriots’ best players on Saturday night. At the same time, given the fact that the Patriots could probably get Taylor, Harris, or even potentially Ty Montgomery to the practice squad, it’s still very possible they’re initial cuts and then brought back later on as practice squad elevations or signed if players go on IR.

    Changes from 2.0: Replaced ‘TBD running back’ with Ezekiel Elliott

  • Wide receivers (6)

    Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kayshoun Boutte (80) gestures after scoring a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kayshoun Boutte (80) gestures after scoring a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    –Kendrick Bourne
    –Kayshon Boutte
    –Demario Douglas
    –DeVante Parker
    –JuJu Smith-Schuster
    –Tyquan Thornton

    The entire week in Green Bay, but Saturday night especially, was a strong affirmation that the idea the Patriots could keep six wide receivers is alive and well. They certainly have six NFL-caliber wide receivers, it’s just a matter of making the numbers work with the rest of the roster – which we’ve done here.

    Boutte and Douglas both flashed significantly against the Packers. Meanwhile, Thornton suffered a shoulder injury on Thursday that resulted in him not dressing for the game, and his injury has since been qualified as “week-to-week.” It would be surprising to see Thornton get cut given his status as a second-year second-round pick, but his spot on the depth chart is slipping and will continue to slip if he continues to miss time. If Thornton needs to spend time on IR, that should almost guarantee both rookie receivers make the team.

    Changes from 2.0: None

  • Tight ends (2)

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    –Mike Gesicki
    –Hunter Henry

    Despite Gesicki’s shoulder injury that could put his Week 1 status in doubt, we’re sticking with just two tight ends on the initial roster. Why? Because none of the depth tight ends have shown enough where the Patriots would risk losing them trying to get them on the practice squad. Whoever ends up winning the third tight end battle (Anthony Firkser seems to have the edge for Matt Sokol right now) could be released and brought back on the practice squad, or brought back outright after another player is placed on IR.

    Changes from 2.0: None

  • Offensive linemen (9)

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots offensive lineman Sidy Sow (61) lines up against the Houston Texans during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots offensive lineman Sidy Sow (61) lines up against the Houston Texans during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    –C David Andrews
    –C/G Jake Andrews
    –T Trent Brown
    –G Atonio Mafi
    –T Conor McDermott
    –G/T Mike Onwenu
    –T/G Riley Reiff
    –T/G Sidy Sow
    –G Cole Strange

    Sow is back on our roster after plugging in at right tackle for the majority of the week since that Houston game. If the plan isn’t for him to start at right tackle, the Patriots seem to at least want him to factor in there somehow.

    The other big question here is what happens with players still on the inactive lists with the season quickly approaching. We have Onwenu on the roster right now despite the fact he’s still on PUP. If he begins the season on that list, it could mean either the Patriots keeping eight offensive linemen or potentially open up a spot for 2022 sixth-round pick Chasen Hines, who has looked good.

    At tackle, Calvin Anderson remains on NFI. If he is activated in time and is in game shape, he could push McDermott for the third tackle spot.

    Changes from 2.0: ADDED Sidy Sow

  • Defensive linemen (6)

    Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, WI, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (92) tackles Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon (28) during their preseason football game at Lambeau Field. Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, WI, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (92) tackles Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon (28) during their preseason football game at Lambeau Field. Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

    –Christian Bamore
    –Daniel Ekuale
    –Davon Godchaux
    –Lawrence Guy
    –Keion White
    –Deatrich Wise

    We reach the position of another player right on the Patriots’ roster bubble – nose tackle Carl Davis. One one hand, the Patriots struggled against the run on Saturday night which could be a sign they need more big bodies in the middle of their defensive line. On the other hand, Davis was on the field for many of those plays, and struggled to close lanes at the point of attack.

    Davis is still very much in the picture to earn a roster spot with the Patriots. But for now, we have him just off the roster and a likely candidate to come back via a veteran practice squad spot.

    Changes from 2.0: None

  • Linebackers (7)

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Anfernee Jennings (33) waits on the snap of the ball 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 Anfernee Jennings (33) waits on the snap of the ball during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    –Ja’Whaun Bentley
    –Chris Board
    –Anfernee Jennings
    –Matthew Judon
    –Marte Mapu
    –Jahlani Tavai
    –Josh Uche

    There’s very little overlap between the skill sets of players in this group, which is how so many linebackers end up making the roster. The Patriots would probably like to have Mack Wilson too as a potential backup/insurance plan for Mapu, but the cuts have to come somewhere. He ends up just off the initial roster.

    Changes from 2.0: CUT Mack Wilson

  • Cornerbacks (5)

    Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, WI, USA;   New England Patriots cornerback Myles Bryant (27) breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed (11) during their preseason football game at Lambeau Field. Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, WI, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Myles Bryant (27) breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed (11) during their preseason football game at Lambeau Field. Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

    –Myles Bryant
    –Christian Gonzalez
    –Jack Jones
    –Jonathan Jones
    –Marcus Jones

    The Patriots are clearly trying to find an answer for a third true boundary corner behind Gonzalez and Jack Jones (that role is currently held by Jonathan Jones, who should return to being the team’s top slot corner this year). Shaun Wade and rookie Ameer Speed are in contention for that spot, as was Isaiah Bolden before Saturday night’s injury. One of those players could hold that spot from the practice squad and be elevated as needed, but to this point nobody has impressed enough to win the spot with a 53-man roster placement.

    Changes from 2.0: None

  • Safeties (5)

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 19: Josiah Deguara #81 of the Green Bay Packers is tackled by Jalen Mills #2 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 19: Josiah Deguara #81 of the Green Bay Packers is tackled by Jalen Mills #2 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    –Joshuah Bledsoe
    –Kyle Dugger
    –Jalen Mills
    –Jabrill Peppers
    –Adrian Phillips

    Bledsoe sneaks on the roster here. for now He played wire-to-wire in the Patriots’ preseason opener then was second on the team in snaps Saturday night with 41. The Patriots clearly like him, and he sticks around.

    Changes from 2.0: ADD Joshuah Bledsoe

  • Specialists (4)

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (38) kicks the ball to the Houston Texans during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (38) kicks the ball to the Houston Texans during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    –K Nick Folk
    –K Chad Ryland
    –P Bryce Baringer
    –LS Joe Cardona

    That’s right, the two kicker talk isn’t going anywhere. The Patriots split the reps evenly between Folk and Ryland on Saturday night, a sign that the competition still exists. Yet it is highly unlikely they’ll part ways with Ryland – every healthy Patriots fourth-round pick in the Bill Belichick era has made the initial roster as a rookie. That all leaves the possibility of the team initially keeping two kickers – Folk as the short field goal kicker and Ryland as a kickoff and long field goal specialist – on the table.

    Meanwhile, Baringer bounced back from a rough couple of days in Green Bay with a very good performance in Saturday night’s game. He’s still the leader for the punter job.

    Changes from 2.0: None

  • Special teamers (3)

    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

    –Calvin Munson
    –Brenden Schooler
    –Matthew Slater

    On one hand, the Patriots seem ready to carry less dedicated special teams coverage players than usual after releasing Jourdan Heilig and DaMarcus Mitchell last week. At the same time, Munson has been getting a ton of run not only with the special teams units, but also the top defensive units as a reserve linebacker. He’s another player the Patriots clearly have a plan for, so expect him to stick around.

    Changes from 2.0: ADD Calvin Munson, CUT Jourdan Heilig, DaMarcus Mitchell

  • Bubble watch

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 19: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 19: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    Last 3 on:

    –K Nick Folk
    –OT Conor McDermott
    –S Joshuah Bledsoe

    Last 3 off:

    –LB Mack Wilson
    –DL Carl Davis
    –RB J.J. Taylor

  • 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 [email protected].

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.