The New England Patriots‘ 2016 training camp is underway. Players fight for practice repetitions and playing time to earn one of the 53 spots on the roster. They have until late August, when each team has to start making its roster cuts, to secure a role.
Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we’ll continue the series with defensive tackle Markus Kuhn.
Name: Markus Kuhn
Position: Defensive tackle
Jersey number: 94
Size: 6’4, 315 lbs.
2015 review: Kuhn entered the season as a depth player at defensive tackle with the New York Giants – a role he has held throughout his entire three-year career up to that point. 2015 was no different, as he was the Giants’ number four player at the position and finished with a playing time percentage of 27.0% (312 of 1,157) on defense, while he also played 68 snaps on special teams (of 498; 13.7%).
Kuhn appeared in 10 games as a rotational player last year and finished with 20 tackles and 0.5 sacks. However, his season ended early when he was placed on injured reserve following a knee injury he suffered in week 14. The Giants did not re-sign Kuhn after the season, so the Patriots were free to sign him to a 1-year, $1.08 million contract in early April.
2016 preview: The Patriots have a deep depth chart at defensive tackle with four players already (near-)locks to make the final roster. However, that does not mean that Kuhn does not have a chance to make the team. After all, he has seen a lot of repetitions with the projected top defensive line this training camp and currently seems to be the fifth option at the position.
Realistically, to make the team, the 30-year old will either have to beat out Terrance Knighton or Alan Branch or hope that New England opts to carry five defensive tackles on its roster. While both could happen, especially if Kuhn can make the best out of his practice reps, it is more likely that neither will take place and the veteran’s tenure in Foxboro ends after only one summer.
Markus Kuhn does neither offer a lot of upside nor a lot versatility. Therefore, it would be a surprise to see him make the team over some younger and higher-ceiling options at other positions. Of course, there is still a long way to go until roster cuts, so Kuhn might still be able to improve his roster prospects.