Training camp is here! The NFL's most quiet period has come to an end as the New England Patriots have started this year's camp earlier this week. The 88 players currently under contract are now in the process of fighting for spots on either the team's 53-man roster or its 10-man practice squad.
As we have done throughout the offseason, we will continue to take a look at the men fighting for those few select spots on the 2017 Patriots – and to find out who will and might be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we will continue the series with an undrafted rookie wide receiver.
Name: Cody Hollister
Position: Wide receiver
Jersey number: 81
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6'4, 210 lbs.
2016 review: Wide receiver Cody Hollister started his collegiate career at Nevada before transferring to Arizona Western and finally, in 2014, moving on to Arkansas. In his three seasons with the Razorbacks, he established himself as a rotational wide receiver as well as a core special teamer – and his 2016 senior season was more of the same.
Hollister appeared in 12 of Arkansas' 13 games, missing one contest because of a toe injury that required surgery after the season. When on the field, the Oregon native saw inconsistent playing time on offense and finished the year with just 10 catches for 140 yards. He also added 48 yards and a touchdown on two rushing attempts.
While his offensive contributions were limited, Hollister was a standout special teamer and finished the season with a combined eight kicking game tackles. As a result, he was voted co-special teams MVP by his team. However, due to his injury and lack of offensive output, Hollister was neither invited to the combine nor the Senior Bowl or East West Shrine game. He ultimately went unselected in the 2017 NFL draft.
2017 preview: While his twin brother Jacob, who was also signed by the Patriots as an undrafted rookie following the draft, has decent chances of making the team or practice squad, Cody Hollister faces an uphill battle. After all, wide receiver is one of the deepest positions on New England's roster: All projected six roster spots already appear to be taken.
Hollister's best chance of making the team therefore appears to be via the practice squad. However, the team is stacked there as well and already uses one of its wide outs – Matthew Slater – almost exclusively in the kicking game. And even making the practice squad, despite a solid outing at yesterday's practice, is no safe bet as the Patriots have two talented young wideouts also candidates to make the practice squad.
Both Devin Lucien and undrafted rookie Austin Carr have a far more impressive offensive résumé than Hollister. While neither offers the same special teams abilities Hollister does, it would therefore not be a surprise to see the undrafted rookie's tenure in New England come to an end in September.