The New England Patriots’ offensive tackle position has been in the spotlight throughout the offseason. From Trent Brown re-signing in free agency, to him switching positions with Isaiah Wynn in the starting lineup, to the latter becoming the subject of trade rumors, the group has generated quite a few headlines over the last few months.
With roster cutdown day approaching fast, it remains the subject of speculation considering the performance of the offensive line as a whole this summer: the unit has struggled both in keeping quarterback Mac Jones protected and generating a push in the running game.
The tackles were not immune to uneven performance, in parts due to the fact that three of its members — Wynn as well as backups Justin Herron and Yasir Durant — missed extended time over the summer due to apparent injuries. They all were available for the preseason finale against the Las Vegas Raiders last Friday, however; Brown, Wynn, Herron, Durant and Yodny Cajuste all saw the field.
So, where does the group stand with rosters to be cut down from 80 to 53 players by Thursday afternoon? According to New England’s director of player personnel, Matt Groh, the team is feeling “very confident” in it.
“Everybody’s looking for good players right now. There are not too many teams in the league that aren’t looking for tackles,” Groh said about the state of the unit.
“We feel very fortunate in the guys that we have. Looking across the league, we feel very fortunate and very confident in those guys going forward. It’s up to them to keep working here and I think they’ve all taken a step under a lot of direction, a lot of hard work from everybody in the building. We feel good about that.”
Groh’s statements were later echoed by offensive line coach Matt Patricia as well as head coach Bill Belichick.
“Not bad,” Belichick said when asked his thoughts on the tackle depth on his roster. “We have two players that are pretty established starters, and two young players that are continuing to get better, that have some playing time — Justin more than Yodny, and Yasir — but they both played.”
Realistically, the Patriots will keep no more than four tackles on their 53-man squad. At this point in time and regardless of any trade rumors, Brown and Wynn appear to be locks; Cajuste and Herron are probably also in a relatively safe spot; Durant might be a candidate for the practice squad.
At the end of the day, however, actions do speak louder than words. Accordingly, there will be speculation about the unit until the start of the regular season on Sept. 11. Monday’s statements, however, seemingly put the breaks on the rumors that have recently been flying around — especially regarding Wynn’s status on the team.