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New England Patriots 2018 roster breakdown: #66 OC James Ferentz

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Will Ferentz be able to finally earn a roster spot in New England? It will not be easy.

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-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 course of the offseason, we 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 offensive linemen.

Name: James Ferentz

Position: Center

Jersey number: 66

Opening day age: 29

Experience: 4

Size: 6’2, 300 lbs.

2017 review: Shortly after the Denver Broncos released James Ferentz, the Patriots picked him up on a one-year deal. The son of Bill Belichick confidante Kirk Ferentz saw regular playing time during the preseason — he appeared in all four games and played 62.2% of offensive snaps (178 of 286) while also adding 10.9% of special teams snaps (14 of 128) — but failed to earn a roster spot along a deep New England offensive line.

But while Ferentz was released during roster cutdowns, he re-joined the team the very next day when the Patriots signed him to their practice squad. The Iowa product spent the entirety of the 2017 season on the developmental team and earned one practice player of the week title along the way. After the Super Bowl, New England signed Ferentz to a one-year futures contract.

2018 preview: With one year of experience in the Patriots’ system under his belt, Ferentz is again trying to crack the team’s 53-man roster this season. And while it will not be easy considering that six of a projected eight offensive line spots are already locked up, Ferentz appears to be one of the frontrunners for a backup spot along the interior offensive line.

A versatile player that has experience at both guard and center, New England used him as the second-team center during their first preseason game against Washington. In that role, Ferentz played 38 of 72 offensive snaps (53%), which was slightly less than his main competition for a roster spot, Ted Karras. But even if Ferentz came up short in the competition, his tenure in New England could continue.

After all, Ferentz is still eligible for the practice squad. He should therefore be expected to be on the Patriots’ payroll in 2018 — the next three weeks will determine in which capacity.