Having played a game in nine straight weeks, the New England Patriots are now headed into their bye. This will give the team a chance to step away for a couple of days — players are off Thursday to Sunday — and to get ready for the home stretch of the regular season.
To make it a successful one, the Patriots need to start stringing some wins together. At 5-4, they are currently just the eighth seed in the AFC, and on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Obviously, though, the road to the postseason is still a long one for the Patriots and the rest of the league.
Let’s therefore use the bye to take a look at the players who will try to put New England in the best possible position — from those on the active roster, to those on the practice squad, to those eligible to return from the various injury-related reserve lists.
There will be a lot of information coming your way, so grab a drink, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s dive right in starting with New England’s starting QB.
Mac Jones: The 2022 season has been a challenge for the Patriots’ sophomore quarterback so far. Not only was Jones forced to miss three games because of a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3, he also appears to have a harder time get into a rhythm within New England’s new-look offense. The numbers — 111-for-168 (66.1%), 1,140 yards, 4 TDs, 7 INTs — only tell part of the story: Jones has been under pressure quite a bit, especially since returning from his injury, while the chemistry with his pass-catching corps has also not yet fully developed. There is still time for Jones and the entire offense to figure things out, but the first half of the season has put a break on a lot of the offseason optimism surrounding the former first-round draft pick.
Bailey Zappe: The Patriots’ fourth-round draft pick entered the season as the Patriots’ QB3 behind Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer, but injuries suffered by the two thrust the rookie into the starting lineup. Zappe fared quite well and led New England to back-to-back wins in his two starts. He had some issues in Week 7 against Chicago — a game that Jones started but that saw him pulled after three series — but overall New England can feel good about its young quarterback. In total, Zappe has gone 65-for-92 (70.7) for 781 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Garrett Gilbert (PS): When Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer were both out with injuries, the Patriots looked to the free agent market to bolster their depth at quarterback. Old friend Garrett Gilbert rejoined the club for a third stint and as a standard practice squad elevation spent two contests on the game-day roster to back up Bailey Zappe. He automatically returned to the developmental roster each time and remains there today.
Brian Hoyer (IR): Originally the Patriots’ primary backup behind Mac Jones, Hoyer took over as the starter in Week 4 against Green Bay. However, his first game as stand-in ended after just one quarter: Hoyer suffered a concussion, paving the way for Bailey Zappe to take over. The 37-year-old has since been sent to injured reserve and while already eligible to return remains there as of today. His status moving forward is in question, though, given how well Zappe has fared in his absence.
Rhamondre Stevenson: Coming off a solid rookie campaign, Stevenson has developed into one of the best running backs in football. Starting the year as the No. 2 in the rotation behind Damien Harris, he took over the lead role in Week 5 when Harris was out due to injury. Stevenson has not looked back, and remains the most potent of New England’s offensive weapons: seeing action both on early downs and as the James White replacement in the passing game, Stevenson has gained a combined 845 yards from scrimmage while also leading the team with five touchdown.
Damien Harris: Harris entered the final year of his rookie season as the top early-down back on New England’s roster, but he has recently taken a backseat to Rhamondre Stevenson. Two separate medical issues — a hamstring injury and an illness — forced him to miss time, which opened the door for Stevenson to see increased action. When on the field, however, Harris has been productive: ranking second on the team in all three categories, he has carried the ball 71 times for 302 yards and three scores. Despite being projected in more of a rotational role, Harris still has plenty of value moving forward.
J.J. Taylor: Taylor originally started the year on the practice squad but was promoted to the active roster ahead of Week 9. In his lone game action this season, the third-year man touched the football 11 times and gained a mere 17 yards. Realistically, he is the current RB3 behind Stevenson and Harris.
Pierre Strong Jr.: One of the Patriots’ fourth-round trio alongside Bailey Zappe and cornerback Jack Jones, Strong Jr. has seen the least amount of action out of the three rookies. The South Dakota State product has seen most of his action on special teams, playing only 10 offensive snaps and touching the ball once on a 5-yard gain. He is on the Patriots rookie running back plan and serving as a depth option at his listed position for now.
Kevin Harris: Sixth-round rookie Harris is in the same boat as Pierre Strong Jr.: he too is merely an emergency option at the running back position at this stage in his career. His numbers are a reflection of that. The 21-year-old has touched the ball three times in his 12 offensive snaps, gaining five yards.
Ty Montgomery II (IR): Free agency acquisition Montgomery started the year as the Patriots’ receiving back, but an undisclosed injury forced him to be moved to injured reserve after the opening game. He did score a touchdown in that contest in Miami and appeared to be poised to take on a prominent role in the offense, but he has been out ever since — despite already being eligible to return to practice.
Jakobi Meyers: The former rookie free agent left no doubt about his role in the Patriots’ passing offense through the first nine games of the season. He is the team’s clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver and leader in all important categories despite missing two games: Meyer leads the group in snaps (377), targets (52), receptions (40), receiving yards (457) and receiving touchdowns (3). Ideally, New England will start spreading around the ball more in the second half of the season but Meyers has been a reliable target so far.
DeVante Parker: Parker has had his ups and downs over the first nine weeks of his Patriots tenure. The offseason trade acquisition via Miami has seen regular action as the second wideout and top perimeter option, but he has been the target on three interceptions. That said, Parker has made some impressive plays as well and currently stands at 15 catches for 321 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Tyquan Thornton: After missing the first four weeks of the season due to a fractured clavicle, the Patriots’ second-round rookie made his presence felt right away. Serving as the second or third wide receiver at times, Thornton has been getting regular opportunities even though the production has not always been there: he has caught nine passes for 81 yards and a score, while adding another touchdown on one of his three rushing attempts. New England appears to be committed to get Thornton involved.
Kendrick Bourne: One of the biggest disappointments of the season so far, Bourne has been unable to build on his impressive first year in the system. The 27-year-old found himself in the proverbial doghouse in the summer and entered the season as WR4 — a role he started to shed only slowly. But while he has had his issues in the Patriots’ new-look offense, the team held onto him through the trade deadline. All in all, Bourne has caught 14 passes for 167 yards.
Nelson Agholor: Agholor started the year hot but has cooled off significantly since Week 5. Ball control issues — he has put the football on the ground twice and also let a pass go through his fingers for an interception — as well as a hamstring injury have led to him slipping down the depth chart. After catching 14 passes for 225 yards and a score in the first four weeks of the season, he has put up just one 2-yard reception since.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey (PS): Humphrey spent time on the active roster and practice squad this season, and has appeared in six games as a wide receiver/tight end hybrid. In that role, he was on the field for 128 offensive snaps, catching two passes for 20 yards and seeing some opportunities as a blocker. He has not played since Week 6, though.
Lynn Bowden Jr. (PS): The hyper-versatile Bowden Jr. joined the Patriots’ practice squad in September, and has seen action in one game. The team used a standard elevation to bring him up to its game-day roster versus Indianapolis last week, and the third-year man ended up playing 14 snaps. He did not register any statistics and reverted to the practice squad after the game.
Tre Nixon (PS): The sophomore wide receiver, who was hand-picked by long-time Patriots research director Ernie Adams in the draft, showed some promise in the spring. However, he failed to make the 53-man team through cutdowns and has spent all year on the practice squad. While never making the game-day roster, Nixon has been recognized as a practice player of the week.
Hunter Henry: Like the rest of the Patriots offense, Henry has not been able to duplicate his success from last year so far. That being said, he has seen regular action in the team’s offense and has put up some solid numbers: serving primarily as an in-line option and a big-bodied slot receiver, the 2021 free agency pickup has caught 19 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. He is ranked third on the team in catches and yards, and tied for second in receiving scores.
Jonnu Smith: While he was bothered by an ankle injury in early October, Smith has had some encouraging moments over the first half of the season. He has 16 passes for 154 yards on his résumé and is therefore on pace to slightly build on his production from a year ago. His price tag suggests that other levels of productions had been expected from the 2021 free agency addition, but Smith does look markedly better than he did a year ago. Additionally, he also helped replace fullback Jakob Johnson in the lineup.
Matt Sokol (PS): Serving as the Patriots’ de facto TE3 behind Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, Sokol was elevated to the game day roster once this year. When Smith was out with an ankle issue in Week 5, the 27-year-old saw action against his ex-club Detroit and played nine snaps between offense and special teams. He is a depth option heading into the second half of the season.
Scotty Washington (PS): Third-year man Scotty Washington joined the New England practice squad in late September and has remained there ever since. Given the depth ahead of him, the expectation is that he will not see any game action anytime soon.
Trent Brown: After serving as the Patriots’ right tackle a year ago, Brown has moved to the left side of the line and generally performed well. He did have a few miscues and is tied for the team lead with four sacks given up, but he has also gone up against some talented opposition. New England’s offensive line issues have little to do with Brown, who has been on the field for all 572 offensive snaps this season.
Isaiah Wynn: Wynn has been a solid but injury-prone left tackle through the first four years of the season. In Year 5, he was moved to the right side of the line and his play has deteriorated. While he did have some good moments as both a run blocker and pass protector, his inconsistency and mental errors have hurt the offense several times. The former first-round draft pick will be a player to watch going forward: he was benched multiple times and saw some action at guard recently. Everything from him starting at left tackle, right tackle, left guard and right guard, to him riding the bench seems possible.
Yodny Cajuste: After significant injury woes to start his career, the former third-round draft pick has finally started to hit his groove in Year 4. Yes, Cajuste missed time on injured reserve with a thumb issue, but he also established himself as OT3 and made third-year man Justin Herron expendable. His short- and longer-term future is tied directly to Isaiah Wynn’s status, so he too will be worth keeping a close eye on.
Marcus Cannon (IR): The veteran offensive tackle returned to New England in mid-September, was signed from the practice squad to the active roster shortly thereafter, and after starting two games at right tackle over Wynn... was moved to injured reserve with a concussion. Cannon is eligible to return to the lineup in Week 14, but time will tell how soon he will really be brought back.
Andrew Stueber (NFI): Seventh-round draft pick Stueber suffered a torn hamstring in the offseason and has not been able to take the field since. He spent all of training camp on the non-football injury list and the expectation is that he will not come off it anytime soon. The Patriots might give him a shot at some practice time later in the year, though, but it all depends on his medicals.
Interior offensive line
David Andrews: Before missing back-to-back games with a concussion, Andrews’ season looked like most of his previous seven in the league. He served as New England’s starting center, rarely left the field, and was pivotal in setting protection and communicating with the other offensive linemen. His importance became clear during his absence in Weeks 8 and 9, but the belief is that the team captain will be back for the game versus the New York Jets next Sunday. His return should give the battered O-line a significant boost.
Cole Strange: The Patriots’ controversial first-round draft pick immediately earned the starting left guard spot and played some quality football over the first seven weeks of the season. As soon as Andrews went down, however, his play suspiciously started to suffer. Strange has since been benched twice in favor of Isaiah Wynn, and his outlook remains somewhat murky. Ideally, though, he will regain his form once the starting center is back.
Michael Onwenu: You rarely hear Michael Onwenu’s name called during a game, and that is a good thing. The third-year man has not just been an iron man — like Trent Brown he has played all 572 offensive snaps so far — but also arguably the Patriots’ most consistent player on the offensive side of the ball. Onwenu was asked to fill some big shoes this year, replacing long-time starting right guard Shaq Mason, but he has fared quite well.
James Ferentz: The Patriots’ long-time backup interior option, Ferentz started the last two games in place of an injured David Andrews. He accounted well for himself, but the fact remains that he is a clear downgrade from the starter. Still, the 33-year-old plays an important role as the next man up at all three interior spots.
Kody Russey (PS): Russey has been elevated to the game-day roster in two straight games courtesy of David Andrews’ concussion, but the undrafted rookie has yet to play his first regular season snap. The Patriots, however, have to hope that it will not come at any point this yer: the Houston product is an emergency option on the practice squad.
Bill Murray (PS): After moving from the defensive to the offensive line this offseason, Murray was signed to the practice squad and has been there ever since. Like the other O-linemen on the developmental team he is merely a depth piece likely not to see any playing time.
Hayden Howerton (PS): An undrafted rookie, who started his career in Tennessee, Howerton joined the Patriots practice squad earlier this month. He is a lot closer to the bottom of the pecking order than the top.
Chasen Hines (IR): New England’s sixth-round draft choice spent time on the active and game-day rosters this season, but he has yet to take the field. In late October, Hines was sent to injured reserve due to an undisclosed ailment. He can return in Week 13.
Christian Barmore: Despite a strong rookie campaign, the Patriots’ second-year defensive tackle has not turned into a true difference maker in Year 2 — at least statistically. Make no mistake, though, Barmore has played some very good football for New England this season and his ability to command an offense’s attention has helped free things up for his teammates. He is a valuable member of the operation, even if the numbers do not back this up. Getting him back after he missed three games with a knee injury will therefore be big for the entire unit.
Davon Godchaux: Fresh off a new contract extension, Godchaux has played some quality football in the middle of the Patriots defensive line. A big-bodied two-gapper capable of standing his ground in the run game and pushing the pocket versus the pass, the 2021 free agency signing has seen action in all nine games so far this season. His 346 defensive snaps lead all defensive tackles.
Lawrence Guy Sr.: Even though he missed three games with a shoulder injury, Lawrence Guy remains Mr. Steady for the Patriots up front. He is an able run defender, can put pressure on the quarterback, and is one of the best tacklers on the team. Even at age 32, he is an important part of New England’s defensive line, and the No. 3 tackle alongside Godchaux and Barmore.
Daniel Ekuale: Ekuale started the season suspended but he has since returned to resume the role he already played last season. He is a member of the Patriots’ sub-pass rush packages and as such has been on the field primarily in passing situations. Once Barmore is back, however, his usage will likely decrease a bit compared to the last three weeks.
Carl Davis Jr.: While not a starter-caliber player by any means, Davis is a solid rotational option to have. His massive 6-foot-5, 320-pound frame sets him apart from his teammates up front, and allows New England to adapt to its opponents.
Sam Roberts: The sixth-round rookie out of Northwest Missouri State has seen action in four games so far this season, but he is mostly a depth option behind the more experienced players along the interior D-line. Roberts is in the developmental stage at this point in his young career.
Jeremiah Pharms Jr. (PS): After spending time in the Champions Indoor Football League and the USFL, Pharms Jr. found a home in New England. Sure, the home is the practice squad and he has not seen any game action this year, but still: he has successfully made the jump from near-obscurity to an NFL payroll.
LaBryan Ray (PS IR): A member of the Patriots’ undrafted rookie class, Ray has been on the practice squad all year. He was recently moved to the injured reserve but even when healthy is merely a “break glass in case of emergency”-type player — despite having shown some flashes in preseason.
Matthew Judon: There are not enough superlatives to properly describe the Patriots’ star outside linebacker so let’s just take a look at his numbers: he leads the NFL with 11.5 sacks, is first in the league with a 5.1-percent sack rate, and is third in total quarterback pressures. Additionally, Judon is an able run defender capable to set a stout edge and a tone-setter on and off the field. The 2021 free agency acquisition has a strong case as not just New England’s best defender through nine games this season, but as one of the top players in the entire NFL so far this year.
Deatrich Wise Jr.: Wise Jr.’s first five years in the NFL were solid but he was mostly a rotational option moving between the interior and the edge. In Year 6, however, he has made a jump unlike any we have seen in recent memory. The former fourth-round draft pick is the playing-time leader among the Patriots front seven with 461 snaps and has been a productive running mate opposite Matthew Judon: with 5.5 sacks, Wise Jr. has already surpassed his best single-season performance. On top of it all, he was also voted a team captain for the first time in his career. Talk about an unexpected breakout.
Anfernee Jennings: Jennings’ first two years in the NFL had been a struggle, but the 2020 third-round draft choice has finally turned a corner after being moved from the off-the-ball spot to his more natural position along the edge. While not an every-down defender just yet, he is a solid rotational option behind Judon and, to a lesser degree, Wise Jr. As such, he has played roughly one third of defensive snaps and registered 1.5 sacks.
Josh Uche: Uche started his third season in the NFL quietly and later missed time due to a hamstring injury. The last two weeks, however, he suddenly turned the heat up significantly. The pass rush specialist, who rarely is used outside of third downs, has registered four sacks — already setting a new career-high with eight more games left to play this season.
Ja’Whaun Bentley: In Year 1 after Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots turned to Bentley to lead the linebacker room into the future. The fifth-year man has done just that over the first half of the season, and has played some of the best football of his career. Being on the field for 421 defensive snaps — tied for fourth-most on the team — he has become a valuable player due to his communication skills and surprisingly well-rounded skillset. Is he prime Hightower? No, but he has been quite solid nonetheless.
Jahlani Tavai: Tavai started the year primarily as a special teams option, and he continues to see plenty of action in the game’s third phase (his 171 snaps are the second-most on the team through nine games). However, he has increased his defensive contributions significantly over the course of the half-season. Primarily an early-down option, Tavai is now the No. 2 off-the-ball linebacker behind Bentley. As such he has pushed Mack Wilson and Raekwon McMillan down the depth chart.
Mack Wilson Sr.: The offseason trade pickup from the Cleveland Browns is primarily a package player for the Patriots, and has seen most of his defensive snaps in passing situations. He has had some ups and some downs. The fourth-year man furthermore is a regular on special teams, ranking fifth on the team with 140 kicking game snaps.
Raekwon McMillan: Throughout the summer McMillan served as Ja’Whaun Bentley’s running mate in two-linebacker looks. However, the former second-round draft pick has not been able to carry that momentum into the regular season. He is now a role and special teams player first and foremost, but that does not mean he did not have his moments: he had a fourth-down stop in Week 5 against Detroit and a sack in Week 9 versus Indianapolis.
Jamie Collins Sr. (PS): Fourth time might not quite be the charm for Jamie Collins and the Patriots just yet, but the veteran is offering experienced depth on the practice squad. Collins rejoined the team in early October and has seen action in one game since, playing 27 snaps on defense and special teams in a loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 7.
Cameron McGrone (PS): The Cameron McGrone hype train never left the station this year, with the sophomore linebacker playing a limited role throughout the summer before his release on cutdown day. He signed with the practice squad and has been there ever since, but has not seen any game action. Like the aforementioned Tre Nixon, however, he has also donned the black practice player of the week jersey.
Calvin Munson (PS): Like fellow practice squadders Jamie Collins and Garrett Gilbert, Munson also has had multiple previous stints in New England. He is now on his third after returning in mid-October. So far, the 27-year-old has not made an impact outside of practice.
Jonathan Jones: After spending the first six years of his career primarily in the slot, Jones was moved to the perimeter this year to help replaced the departed J.C. Jackson. While not the same big-play threat as “Mr. INT”, Jones has played some high-quality football throughout the year and is the closest thing New England has to a true CB1 now. His best game was his latest one: Jones had not just a pick-six in Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts, he also returned an interception for a touchdown. In total, he has picked off two passes tied with three of his teammates for the in-house lead.
Jalen Mills: One of the other Patriots players to intercept two throws this season, Mills also has played some good football in his second year in the system. While he has given up a pair of passing touchdowns — tying him for most on the team as well — he is a valuable member of one of the NFL’s better secondaries. The 28-year-old is a solid starting outside cornerback opposite Jonathan Jones.
Jack Jones: With the exception of Cole Strange and, briefly, Bailey Zappe, no rookie has had quite the same impact on the Patriots roster as fourth-round pick Jack Jones. The Arizona State produce has emerged as the No. 3 cornerback in terms of playing time, lining up primarily on the outside as a rotational option alongside Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills. In this capacity, he has picked off two passes — including one against Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that was returned for a touchdown in Week 4.
Myles Bryant: While there is some competition on the roster, Bryant continues to be the Patriots’ top inside cornerback. The former rookie free agent, who is in his third year with the team, has seen action in nine games. The ride has not always been a smooth one so far: he has given up two touchdown passes but also picked off one throw and forced and recovered one fumble each.
Marcus Jones: A third-round draft pick earlier this year, Jones has progressed well over the first nine weeks of the season. While his defensive contributions remain limited, he has emerged as one of the best kickoff and punt returners in the NFL: Jones is currently ranked first in yards per kickoff return (24.3) and third on punts (13.4) among qualifying players.
Shaun Wade: Wade’s versatility to play both inside and outside might become an asset at one point, but at the moment he is merely a depth option. The second-year man has spent most of the season on the sidelines and seen action in only one game so far.
Devin McCourty: McCourty is one of the better safeties in all of football and the glue that holds the Patriots’ defense together. A team captain and important communicator, he is New England’s defensive signal caller and as such responsible for relaying information and getting his men lined up correctly. He also is the team leader in defensive snaps (559) and tied for the team lead in both interceptions (2) and pass breakups (5). Even at age 35, he is a foundational player and one of the most important people in the organization both on and off the field.
Kyle Dugger: The third-year man out of Lenoir-Rhyne has now fully arrived in the NFL and it shows: Dugger has missed time with knee and ankle injuries, but when on the field he has been a difference-maker for the Patriots. He is seemingly always around the ball, and capable of making big plays, catching an interception and also returning a fumble 59 yards for a touchdown in Week 5 against Detroit. Dugger also is a strong run defender and capable of holding his own in coverage, and a realistic candidate to see a contract extension come his way sooner rather than later.
Adrian Phillips: Adrian Phillips only being the third player listed here tells you all you need to know: the Patriots have arguably the best safety group in football, and the veteran is part of the reason why. He is one of the better box safeties in the NFL, well-versed in coverage and when playing downhill, and rarely leaves the field; his 421 snaps are tied for fourth-most on the team. He also is ranked ninth on the active team with 87 kicking game snaps, taking over the personal punt protector role after Cody Davis was lost for the season.
Jabrill Peppers: When the former first-round draft pick joined the Patriots as a free agent in April, he was still recovering from a torn ACL suffered the previous season. Now more than a year removed from the injury, Peppers is starting to leave his mark on the New England defense. He has played some very good football recently, and it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff opts to employ him over the second half of the season.
Joshuah Bledsoe: Given the impressive depth ahead of him, second-year man Joshuah Bledsoe spending most of his time as a game-day inactive is no surprise. He did show some promise in training camp, but thus far has not cracked the lineup. As long as McCourty, Dugger, Phillips and Peppers are healthy, he will continue to be emergency depth only.
Brad Hawkins (PS): Hawkins is in a similar position as Bledsoe, only on the practice squad. The undrafted rookie, who started his career with a brief stint in Atlanta, has been there throughout the season without the need for game-day elevation.
Matthew Slater: Despite having turned 37 in September there is no slowing down for Matthew Slater. Arguably the best special teams player of all time, he continues to perform at a high level despite a hefty workload: Slater is used on five kicking game units and is the team’s leader in snaps in the game’s third phase (193). His most important contributions to the team might come in the locker room, though. A team captain, Slater continues to be a prominent voice inside Gillette Stadium and one of the most respected players not just on the Patriots roster but throughout the entire NFL.
Brenden Schooler: His career is still young but undrafted rookie free agent Brenden Schooler already looks like a special teams superstar in the making. He has seen action in all nine of the Patriots’ games and as a five-unit performer is ranked third with 167 snaps. He has made the most out of them: Schooler is first on the team with eight combined tackles, has registered a league-high two kicking game takeaways (both via fumble recoveries), and also scooped up a Jonathan Jones blocked punt last week.
DaMarcus Mitchell: While not making the same big plays as fellow rookie Brenden Schooler, UDFA DaMarcus Mitchell has also played a valuable role. He too is used on five special teams units and has been part of the group that picked up the slack after veteran Cody Davis was lost for the season with a knee injury. In total, Mitchell has played 146 snaps in the game’s third phase — fourth-most on the team.
Raleigh Webb: When Cody Davis went down, the Patriots had a void to fill on special teams. They did not pick one player to do so, but instead made it a group effort. Part of that group is another undrafted rookie, Raleigh Webb, who was signed off the Baltimore practice squad in October. Webb has seen action in three games since then, being used on three units.
Nick Folk: Nick Folk might just be one of the most trustworthy players in the entire NFL. The veteran kicker, who is in his fourth season as a Patriot, has been nothing short of impressive so far. Folk has made 19 of 21 field goal attempts (90.5%) as well as all 20 of his point-after tries. His combined success rate of 95.1 percent is ranked fifth in the league among qualifying players.
Jake Bailey: The Patriots signed Bailey to a three-year, $9.1 million contract extension in August, but he has had a difficult season so far: his punting has been erratic at times, and he is ranked near the bottom of the league in most statistics. While numbers alone do not make a good kicker, Bailey has not been his usual reliable self outside of his kickoff and holder gigs. For a team preaching complimentary football, getting better play out of the 25-year-old will be imperative.
Joe Cardona: Have you heard Joe Cardona’s name so far this season? Probably, but not because of any bad snaps or other miscues as part of the field goal, extra point and punting procedures. Cardona’s relative anonymity is good news for New England’s kicking game operation.
Michael Palardy (PS): The Patriots recently signed Palardy to their practice squad to help prepare rookie returner Marcus Jones for left-footed punters. With Bailey struggling, though, New England might also use him to put some pressure on the former All-Pro.
Cody Davis (IR): As noted above, Cody Davis will not be back this season. The veteran special teamer suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns and has already undergone surgery. A free agent next year, his future is in question.