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#PostPulpit Mailbag: Are the Patriots’ young defenders enough along the edge?

Related: Cameron McGrone looks like one of New England’s top-four linebackers

New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

We are officially less than three weeks away until the New England Patriots take the backfields of Gillette Stadium for the start of training camp. With plenty of interesting storylines on the horizon, let’s hop right into this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.

@KBsports31 Does Tre Nixon get into the 53 man roster?

After stealing the show throughout Patriots minicamp earlier this offseason, the hype is strong for Tre Nixon entering training camp. However, it appears he still is facing an uphill battle for him to stick around on the 53-man roster. With the Patriots acquiring DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton this offseason to pair with Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor, the receiver room is extremely deep.

Nixon’s best chance could be Thornton having a strong summer and bumping out Agholor from the picture — which would also save the Patriots some salary cap space. Either way, the team would certainly like to see their 2021 seventh-round pick stick around in some sort of capacity, perhaps as a potential slot replacement for Meyers down the road.


@samgash33 How can we get Wilkerson on the roster?

Kristian Wilkerson faces the same battle Nixon faces in a crowded wide receiver room. I think Wilkerson’s best chance to crack the roster will be on special teams. One of the underrated parts of his strong training camp last season was the time he spent off to the side with Matthew Slater working on gunner drills. Like many people on the roster bubble, special teams is always the best way to sneak into one of the last spots available.


@Brandon47384968 How yall see our OL Looking this season?

The starting offensive line looks set: Trent Brown — Cole Strange — David Andrews — Michael Onwenu — Isaiah Wynn.

While the line includes starters at four new positions compared to last year’s unit, the only real surprise is the swap of Brown and Wynn. Wynn has been a staple at left tackle throughout his New England tenure, but it was Brown who managed Mac Jones’ blindside in minicamp. The move is likely a way to balance out the size and athleticism across the offensive line, but we’ll see if it sticks when training camp opens in several weeks.


@palmerking11 Chances of bringing back Hightower?

@AceCannon1 Do you think we should get another DE & LB vet for depth

@PatsSTH1969 Does Bill need to see Uche and Perkins hitting in camp before considering Tre Flowers to be signed? Or is Steve B so sold on Uche making a leap that he is set?

After releasing Kyle Van Noy earlier this offseason and not making any veteran additions along the edge, it appears the Patriots will open camp with Josh Uche, Ronnie Perkins and the forgotten Anfernee Jennings at the position. It’s a risky move as none of the three are proven commodities, but they all have intriguing athletic traits. A reunion with a player like Trey Flowers still makes sense in my mind, as the team would then have a proven veteran at the position.

As for Dont’a Hightower, the team could look into a potential return at the edge position. The Patriots spent the offseason opening the door for playing time for their younger and more athletic linebackers and re-signing Hightower at that position would be a step backwards. If the veteran is fine playing the edge, perhaps he could provide value as a rotational piece with Uche, Perkins and Jennings.

We’ll see what happens when the pads come on.


@Dwsam22Dave The defensive line hasn’t been addressed. Why was Bryan Cowart not at OTA’s

Entering the draft I thought the Patriots roster could use a true, big-body nose tackle. That did not happen. To me, it appears they’ll bank on Christian Barmore becoming a full-time player and continuing his impressive progression into a Pro Bowl player, as well as players like Davon Godchaux taking a step forward in year two with the team.

It will also be noteworthy to see how the new core of linebackers help in the run game. While the unit is certainly lighter, perhaps their speed will help plug holes faster and limit runners to getting outside the tackles.

As for Byron Cowart, who spent 2021 on physically unable to perform, I have not seen specific reason he was absent, but Bill Belichick confirmed all absences were excused and discussed prior to minicamp.


@MacAttackLFG Are you at all concerned with the coaching staff, specifically on offense? Because I have this team going 5-12 instead of 8-9 or 9-8 just because we don’t have an OC

I am not concerned about the coaching staff yet because we have no reason to be. The team has not even practiced with pads so we have yet to see how things will really look. I get why they're may be concerns, but I will not be concerned until they give me a reason to be. Give it time.


@Objectivefan12 Why is BB drastically worse without Brady?

I’d imagine any coach and team would get worse after losing Tom Brady. Just watch the Buccaneers in a few years.


@RJF05914332 Who makes it: Harry, Keene, Asiasi or JoeJuan?

It’s Dalton Keene SZN, baby.

I still have a hard time imagining N’Keal Harry and Joejuan Williams cracking this roster, so the battle appears to be at the third tight end spot. I’ll go with my guy Keene due to his versatility, which should intrigue the Patriots as they transition to an offense without a traditional fullback.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!