The preseason games are underway – on a field that’s 110 yards long, 65 yards wide, and has goal posts standing before end zones twice the size.
And with Canadian Football League rosters at 75 players before the final cutdown to 46 arrives the second week of June, it’s time to take a glance through the familiar names.
As things stand, there’s well over a dozen who are familiar to the New England Patriots. At one time or another, and in most cases only briefly, they were in Foxborough.
Now those ex-Patriots reside in the three-down game, and between the Calgary Stampeders, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa REDBLACKS.
Here are the names.
DaVaris Daniels, wide receiver – The former Notre Dame wideout was claimed off waivers by New England as rosters trimmed to 75 in August 2015, before being waived three days after playing in the team’s preseason finale. Daniels has since played in 24 games for the Stampeders over the last two campaigns, catching 98 passes for 1,628 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Ja’Gared Davis, linebacker – New England claimed Davis off waivers ahead of the 2013 season, and the Southern Methodist product went on to appear in four games for the Patriots over parts of two years. Davis, who also spent time on New England’s practice squad, has been with Calgary since 2016 to total 64 tackles, 16 sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception returned for a touchdown.
Kelcy Quarles, defensive tackle – Quarles was claimed by New England during roster cuts in 2014 and re-signed by the Indianapolis Colts off the Patriots’ practice squad three weeks later. The undrafted South Carolina defensive tackle rejoined New England on the practice squad in December 2015. Quarles signed with the Stampeders this May.
Alex Singleton, linebacker – The Patriots signed Singleton to the practice squad in September 2015, but the Montana State alum’s stay lasted one week. Singleton, a dual citizen, was taken No. 6 overall in the 2016 CFL draft, and named the league’s most outstanding defensive player of the year for a 2017 that consisted of a franchise-record 123 tackles to go with four sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
James Vaughters, linebacker – New England signed Vaughters, a first-year player out of Stanford, to a reserve-futures contract in January 2016. Vaughters was waived that May and proceeded to sign to Calgary’s practice roster two months later. After spending a summer with the then-San Diego Chargers, Vaughters returned to the CFL and logged 26 defensive tackles and six sacks for the Stampeders last season.
Shaq Evans, wide receiver – A New York Jets fourth-round pick out of UCLA in 2014, Evans spent eight days in October 2016 on the Patriots’ practice squad. Evans, who has also made stops with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys, signed with the CFL’s Roughriders this February.
Marcus Thigpen, running back – Thigpen has been rostered by eight NFL teams since going undrafted out of Indiana in 2009, playing in 50 games and recording three return touchdowns to go with one receiving TD New England witnessed firsthand. Thigpen, now with the Roughriders, spent one week on the Patriots’ practice squad to begin the 2014 season.
Quentin Gause, linebacker – Gause checked in on New England’s practice squad for the first month of the 2016 season. A stint with the Denver Broncos, which included a 53-man roster promotion, followed. Gause signed with the Blue Bombers this April.
Kenbrell Thompkins, wide receiver – Thompkins cracked the Patriots’ roster as an undrafted rookie via Cincinnati and El Camino Community College in 2013, and caught 32 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns that season. Waived the next fall having caught just six more passes, Thompkins returned to town on the practice squad in September 2015. The Blue Bombers signed the 29-year-old this May.
Eric Patterson, cornerback – Currently on Winnipeg’s suspended list, Patterson originally signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Ball State in the spring of 2015. Patterson, who was waived after one month and recorded three tackles during a later stint with the Colts, was added by the Blue Bombers in January.
Jalen Saunders, wide receiver – New England acquired Saunders from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft choice back in September 2015. But after one preseason appearance, Saunders was waived. He has been with the Tiger-Cats for the past calendar year, and caught 76 passes for 1,170 yards and four touchdowns in his debut CFL campaign.
Dwayne Thomas, cornerback – Thomas signed with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie last April. The LSU defensive back was waived by mid-August and made a stop with Jaguars before participating in The Spring League. He joined the Tiger-Cats within the month.
McCleod Bethel-Thompson, quarterback – Bethel-Thompson, who signed with the Argonauts in 2017, was once on the Patriots’ practice squad for nine days back in 2014. He has been under contract with five NFL teams, two CFL teams as well as one team apiece from the Arena Football League and now-curtailed United Football League.
Chase Farris, guard – Farris signed to the Patriots’ practice squad in October 2016 and re-upped on a futures contract following the Super Bowl LI season. Farris was later waived with the non-football injury designation after suffering a torn Achilles. The ex-Ohio State offensive lineman signed with the Argonauts earlier this May.
Chris Harper, wide receiver – The Patriots signed Harper as an undrafted rookie in 2015, and the Cal Golden Bear played in five games that season while catching one six-yard pass and returning three punts for 17 yards with one fumble. Harper has since been a member of the San Francisco 49ers and Jets, and joined Toronto in April.
Taylor Reed, linebacker – Reed, who has also accrued CFL time with the Blue Bombers, Tiger-Cats, Stampeders and REDBLACKS, agreed to terms with the Argonauts this February. Though all the way back in December 2013, the Patriots signed Reed to the practice squad and later to a futures deal. He’s appeared 69 career CFL games to notch 315 tackles, 17 sacks, two picks and five forced fumbles.
Brian Tyms, wide receiver – A member of the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX team, Tyms caught five passes for 82 yards and one touchdown over 11 games in 2014. He has been in the CFL since 2016, and posted 25 receptions for 2014 yards with the Tiger-Cats in 2017 before signing to the Argonauts’ practice roster.
Bruce Gaston Jr., defensive tackle – Gaston, who signed with Ottawa this May after a 10-team course in the NFL, landed on the Patriots’ practice squad back in August 2014. The undrafted rookie out of Purdue was released by New England four days later.
Among the other former Patriots recently in the CFL are running back Cierre Wood and wideout Nathan Palmer. Both were released by their last clubs at the 75-man roster deadline on May 1. Rusher and returner Roy Finch, who announced he would be putting his football career on hold after being arrested on charges of drug possession and assaulting a police officer last month, has been placed on the Stampeders’ retired list.