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New England Patriots 2018 roster breakdown: #50 LB Nicholas Grigsby

Grigsby tries to carve out a role on a crowded linebacker depth chart.

NFL: AFC Championship-Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots currently have 89 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the next weeks, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Today, the series continues with one of New England’s depth linebackers.

Name: Nicholas Grigsby

Position: Linebacker / special teamer

Jersey number: 50

Opening day age: 26

Experience: 2

Size: 6’2, 230 lbs.

2017 review: Nicholas Grigsby entered 2017 with the team that had signed him to an undrafted rookie contract one year earlier, the Los Angeles Rams. As opposed to 2016, however, he failed to stick around and was not signed to the practice squad after being cut in September. Instead, Grigsby remained on the open market for two weeks before the Baltimore Ravens added him to their practice squad.

The Pittsburgh product spent more than two month with the Ravens but left the team in late November after getting signed to the Patriots’ 53-man roster. In New England, Grigsby saw regular action right from the start: playing primarily on special teams, he was active for the team’s final five regular season games and also appeared in all three of his new team’s playoff contests.

Grigsby played a combined 56.6% of kicking game snaps during his eight games with the Patriots last season (129 of 228), but was only on the field for 4.0% of defensive snaps (22 of 549). And while his defensive contributions are not particularly noteworthy – he had one tackle and allowed a one-yard catch on two targets –, Grigsby was a productive player on special teams: he registered a total of five tackles, tied for eighth-most on the team.

2018 preview: Entering the final year of his contract with the Patriots, Grigsby is far from a lock to make the team when judged by his defensive impact last season. However, his abilities on special teams may ultimately be enough for him to earn a spot on the team’s 53-man roster yet again. That being said, the 26-year old will still need to fight off the competition he will face over training camp.

Going against veterans Elandon Roberts and Marquis Flowers, second-year man Harvey Langi, and rookies Ja’Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam, Grigsby will have to prove his value as a kicking game player and depth option on defense. And while he did so last year, the circumstances looked drastically different: both defensive captain Dont’a Hightower and Langi were already out for the year when Grigsby came on board last season.

With Hightower and Langi back in the fold, and with other players fighting for depth spots at linebacker, seeing Grigsby become one of the odd men out would not be a surprise – especially if he fails to show defensive improvements. If he does, however, he could very well make New England’s active roster as a core special teamer and rotational depth player behind Hightower and Kyle Van Noy.