In an attempt to give teams further to time to evaluate their talent on the roster, there is no roster reduction from 90 players to 75 this year. NFL teams can have rosters of up-to 90 players until this Saturday when it has to be cut down to 53 players. For a team like the Patriots with so few roster spots available will have a chance to get one more game before making their decisions of who makes the team and who doesn’t. With that being said, let’s look at some players who are on the roster bubble right now who need a big game to have a shot at making the final 53-man team.
Jacoby Brissett, Quarterback
- While it may seem crazy to believe that Brissett is on the roster bubble, he is fighting for his roster spot going into this week’s preseason finale. Drafted last season in the third round, Brissett showed well when thrust into some game action. He unfortunately hasn’t taken a leap yet this training camp/preseason and didn’t even play this past weekend against the Lions. With the team losing some key depth recently, they cannot afford to waste any roster spots.
- The team typically only carries two quarterbacks, which we have seen in many years past. As a third-string quarterback behind players who are very well-equipped to play quarterback, Brissett could be stashed on injured reserve and/out just waived altogether with the team hoping he will clear waivers and sign on to their practice squad.
Brandon Bolden, Running Back
- A core special teams player for the Patriots, Bolden provides little to no support for this team other than special teams. With the running back depth much better this season, Bolden is currently on the outside looking in. After the acquisition of special teams star Marquis Flowers on Tuesday, the Patriots may not be able to dedicate another spot for a player who only plays on special teams. This might finally be the end for Bolden on the Patriots (for the time being).
D.J. Foster, Running Back
- Foster made the team last season as an undrafted free agent and was on the roster for the entirety of the season. While he was a healthy scratch in 13 of their 16 regular season games last season, he is having a very solid preseason. He has seen a lot of work, which has resulted in 215 yards from scrimmage so far for Foster, which is good for eighth most heading into week four. His versatility as a running back, wide receiver (which he played in college) and on special teams as a returner will be highly coveted with the loss of Edelman for the season.
- If Foster has another solid outing on Thursday, he very well could have played himself onto the roster.
Austin Carr, Wide Receiver
- Carr has been one of the most polarizing players for the Patriots this training camp/preseason with his play in both practice and in games as well. He is tied for third heading into week four with 11 catches (on 16 targets, tied for fifth most). His ability to play out of the slot has created buzz about his probability of making the final roster for the Patriots especially with Edelman’s recent season-ending surgery. With the team down to four wide receivers (Matthew Slater rarely plays the position), Carr could make a push for the now vacant fifth spot with a strong week four performance.
Jacob Hollister, Tight End
- Another undrafted rookie free agent, Hollister broke out in week one of the preseason with 116 yards and seven catches on nine targets. Since then however, he only has one catch for four yards in the last two games. Even with Matt Lengel on injured reserve, Hollister faces an uphill battle for the third tight end spot with James O’Shaughnessy. Hollister will hopefully produce some of the highlights we saw from week one this week in the preseason finale or he could find himself being given his walking papers this weekend.
Conor McDermott, Offensive Tackle
- Traded up for in this past April’s NFL Draft, McDermott has been on the roster bubble since the beginning. With Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon manning the starting tackle spots, Tony Garcia being a lock for the team and Cameron Fleming getting a lot of snaps at left tackle, McDermott is squarely on the bubble heading into week four. It could be difficult for the team to carry five offensive tackles when they only have one true back-up among the interior offensive line positions (Ted Karras) with a shot of making the team right now.
- McDermott is sure to get plenty of snaps on Thursday and will have to make the most of it to ensure his spot on the final roster.
Adam Butler, Defensive Tackle
- Butler has been a pleasant surprise this preseason with his dominant play at defensive tackle. He has been able to cause havoc for opposing teams with his ability to get through their offensive lines and make plays in the backfield. An undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt, Butler has turned many heads since coming in with low expectations. Even at a position with plenty of depth, Butler could lock up a roster spot with another good performance against the Giants. With the team likely going with more five-man defensive fronts, Butler’s potential addition could be big for the Patriots plans on defense this season.
Elandon Roberts, Linebacker
- While Roberts has been able to make some big plays this summer like he did this time last season, his chances of making the team are perhaps slimmer this season. He has shown the ability to make big plays against the run and blow them up but he still struggles with tackling, properly diagnosing plays and attacking the right gaps. His “do-or-die” play style has been on full display and has hurt his chances a little bit. He did make a quick recovery from a scary ribs injury but he needs to have a strong game on Thursday to give him a good chance to make the final roster.
Trevor Bates, Linebacker
- A second-year player out of local University of Maine, Bates has impressed with his play on defense at linebacker and also on special teams. With Dont’a Hightower (and Harvey Langi probably) transitioning to more of a EDGE/defensive end position, the Patriots will need extra linebackers to help accommodate the switch. Like Roberts, he is a linebacker looking to secure his spot on the 53-man roster. With another solid performance, Bates may not have as good of chance to make the roster as Roberts, but will give himself a realistic shot of making the team.
Cyrus Jones, Cornerback
- Jones’ draft pedigree likely as a second-year, former second-round draft pick probably makes him pretty safe to make the final roster. But Jones has shown no improvement whatsoever as a defensive back, which is what he was drafted to be. He gave up some big plays this preseason and is not in consideration for the team’s slot cornerback role. Jones’ best shot of making the team is as a kick/punt returner, which he has gotten a good amount of time at. He has shown some improvement there with some big returns but still has a ways to go. Unless Jones has an absolutely horrible game, he should make the team but is certainly far from a lock right now.
Jordan Richards, Safety
- A failed second-round draft choice from 2015, Richards was viewed at first as a potential replacement for Patrick Chung once he left/retired. That seems like a pipe dream now as Richards has made no progression and finds himself on the roster bubble heading into week four. He did see some action as more of a linebacker in week three in the Patriots “big nickel” formation but still showed a lot of flaws in his game. Perhaps this was the Patriots trying to experiment and see if he could show some versatility, which he didn’t. With the top three safeties in Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon likely taking up the majority of snaps, Richards isn’t a necessity. Unless he blows up for a big game on Thursday, he could very well be waived following it.