ESPN’s Mike Reiss is working on creating a 53-man roster projection and he’s decided to share some of the questions raised during the roster’s construction. Reiss is tapped into the Patriots front office, too, so his questions are sometimes more-than-educated guesses.
I’m not going to spoil all of his thoughts, but he addresses players that are most likely on the roster bubble in Brandon Bolden, Jordan Richards, James O’Shaughnessy, and Elandon Roberts- and the edge for all of these players come down to special teams.
Reiss leads off by wondering if EDGE Shea McClellin could “be headed for the IR,” noting that McClellin’s missed much of the preseason and training camp.
“Tuesday’s trade for linebacker Marquis Flowers, to me, might have been most related to McClellin not being available on special teams,” Reiss suggests.
McClellin has been an ideal back-up for the Patriots because he can play every linebacker position and defensive end, all while contributing as a core special teams player. The departures of Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, and Jabaal Sheard opened the door for McClellin to increase his role, but an undisclosed injury has prevented that from happening.
The NFL has changed the rules for the injured reserve and now teams are able to bring two players back and McClellin could be a good option for a middle-of-the-year return.
If McClellin is gone, then Harvey Langi should ascend into McClellin’s old role, behind Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy.
Reiss also wonders if rookie OT Tony Garcia is another option for the injured reserve because he has also missed camp- and raises a question of whether Conor McDermott is “someone [the Patriots] wouldn’t want to expose to waivers, given the value of the position and how hard it is to fill it.”