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Patriots 53-man roster: Reviewing New England’s initial 2022 team after cutdown day

New England’s roster is set, for now.

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

One of the busiest days in the NFL season is winding down and the New England Patriots have officially trimmed their roster from 80 to the league-mandated 53 players. That does not mean this 53-man squad will be the one hitting the road to Miami in under two weeks, however.

The Patriots will be closely monitoring the hundreds of transactions across the league in search of potential upgrades from the outside. On Wednesday at noon, teams will be notified if they were rewarded any waiver claims. From there, teams can then start filling out their practice squad.

Also on Wednesday at 4 p.m., teams can move players on the active roster to the injured reserve list with an eligibility to return after a minimum of four games. The Patriots will likely do so with rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton, creating another roster spot.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at New England’s original 53-man roster.

(Note: The order of players does not reflect a projected depth chart)

Quarterbacks

In (3): Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe

Out (0): N/A

No surprises here, as Mac Jones enters the year as the unquestioned QB1 with Brian Hoyer serving primary back-up duties.

Running backs

In (4): Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong

Out (2): Kevin Harris, J.J. Taylor

Despite Ty Montgomery suffering an ankle injury in the preseason finale, New England only kept three other running backs - perhaps foreshadowing the injury is not as serious as originally expected. Barring the severity, New England would likely keep J.J. Taylor around in some fashion, or explore elsewhere on the market.

As for the rookies, Pierre Strong Jr. had a quiet summer, as he began training camp limited with an injury, but was not going anywhere as a fourth-round pick. Sixth-round pick Kevin Harris had a productive preseason and is a strong practice squad candidate.

Wide receivers

In (5): Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton

Out (3): Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Tre Nixon, Josh Hammond

Injured reserve (1): Kristian Wilkerson

The story in this group is the absence of Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who put together an impressive summer. Humphrey not only showcased his receiving skills, particularly in the middle of the field, but also on special teams and as a blocker. However, it wasn't enough to crack the Patriots’ original 53-man roster. He’s a strong practice squad candidate, but it may be difficult for him to clear waivers.

Beyond Humphrey, the Patriots top five at the position was never in question. Despite recent trade chatter, the injury to Tyquan Thornton results in New England hanging onto their main core. The Patriots would prefer to keep Nixon around on the practice squad, while Wilkerson will miss the entire season unless he is released with an injury settlement.

Tight ends

In (2): Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry

Out (3): Devin Asiasi, Matt Sokol, Jalen Wydermyer

Despite the fact that New England plans to use their high-priced tight end duo on the field more together this season, they did not leave any depth behind them. However, they’ll still have options. New England will be able to elevate potential tight ends off the practice squad (likely Asiasi and/or Sokol) if needed on a weekly basis, and could then outright sign one if Henry or Smith suffer a significant injury.

Offensive line

In (8): Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Michael Onwenu, Isaiah Wynn, Chasen Hines, Justin Herron, Yodny Cajuste

Out (7): James Ferentz, Yasir Durant, Kody Russey, Will Sherman, Arlington Hambright, Bill Murray, Drew Desjarlais

The starting five along the offensive line was set since day one as long as Isaiah Wynn was healthy and did not get traded. A noticeable battle throughout camp was who would back up Wynn, and Trent Brown, as the third offensive tackle. Both back-up tackles, Yodney Cajuste and Justin Herron, made the initial 53-man roster. With Brown and Wynn’s injury history, the depth at the position was a priority.

Exploring the depth along the interior, the Patriots opted for only rookie Chasen Hines on the initial roster. Despite starting the summer on the non-football injury list, he showed his power in the run game when activated in the preseason.

As for those who did not make it along the interior, Kody Russey was one of the more improved players throughout camp and seemed to be making a surge for a roster spot. The team would like the UDFA back on the practice squad. Both Will Sherman and Arlington Hambright showcased plus-athleticism as well as positional versatility. Veteran James Ferentz was also cut, but does not need to clear waivers and could be brought back. Bill Murray’s athleticism also stood out along the interior, likely leading to a practice squad spot.

Defensive line

In (6): Christian Barmore, Davon Godchaux, Lawerence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr., Sam Roberts, Carl Davis Jr.

Out (2): LaBryan Ray, Jeremiah Pharms Jr.

Suspended (1): Daniel Ekuale

Injured reserve (1): Henry Anderson

New England’s defensive line featured a battle of youth versus experience for roster spots. In the end, they opted for one rookie and one veteran in sixth-round pick Sam Roberts and Carl Davis Jr. Roberts showcased some explosiveness as an interior pass rush while Davis is the teams only true nose tackle.

Despite a strong camp, UDFA LaBryan Ray did not make the roster. Henry Anderson also lands on IR for the second straight season. His season is over unless he is released with an injury settlement.

Edge defenders

In (4): Matt Judon, Anfernee Jennings, Josh Uche, DaMarcus Mitchell

Out (0): N/A

The emergence of Anfernee Jennings has been one of the biggest storylines for the Patriots this offseason. The 2020 third-round pick has been a staple along the edge opposite of Matt Judon, impressing will doing so. Jennings has been solid against the run and shown pass-rush promise, but likely will be spelled by Josh Uche in obvious pass-rush situations.

As for UDFA DaMarcus Mitchell, he carved out a quality role on special teams with his size and athleticism. He also showed some promise as a pass rusher.

Linebackers

In (4): Ja’Whaun Bentley, Raekwon McMillan, Mack Wilson Sr., Jahlani Tavai

Out (3): Cameron McGrone, Harvey Langi, Nate Wieland

The new-look Patriots’ linebacking core certainly was faster, as Raekwon McMillan and Mack Wilson Sr.’s athleticism impressed throughout the offseason. Next to them is the reliable Ja’Whaun Bentley, as well as Jahlani Tavai who has been heavily praised by Bill Belichick throughout the offseason and could have a four-down role with the team.

Cameron McGrone’s plus-speed and athleticism was apparent during the preseason, but he seemed behind the eight ball after missing over a year with a torn ACL. He seemed to play his best game of the preseason against Las Vegas and the Patriots would certainly like to continue working with him on the practice squad. Harvey Langi could also be a practice squad candidate due to his versatility at the position and proven special teams ability.

Cornerbacks

In (6): Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Jack Jones, Myles Bryant, Shaun Wade

Out (1): Terrance Mitchell

With Jonathan Jones moving to the outside and the recent emergence of Jack and Marcus Jones, the Patriots sixth and final cornerback spot came down to Shaun Wade vs Terrance Mitchell. Despite Mitchell beginning camp as the starting boundary cornerback across from Mills, the 23-year old Wade came on strong to end the summer as Mitchell took a backseat. The Patriots end up going with the intriguing prospect in Wade.

Safeties

In (5): Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Jabrill Peppers, Joshuah Bledsoe

Out (1): Brad Hawkins

When asked what positional group he was most confident about heading into roster cuts, Bill Belichick called upon his safeties. The “impressive group” is filled with talented and versatile players, who can combine to create unique and dynamic defensive looks. The only real question mark in this group was Joshuah Bledsoe, who ends up on the roster after a strong summer.

Coverage Specialists

In (3): Matthew Slater, Brenden Schooler, Cody Davis

Out (1): Justin Bethel

The release of Justin Bethel was one of the more surprising moves of the afternoon for the Patriots. As the veteran does not need to clear through waivers, he could be brought back after New England shuffles around their original 53-man roster. However, Bethel delivered what seemed to be a serious goodbye post on Instagram.

With Bethel out of the picture, UDFA Brenden Schooler caps off his strong summer with a roster spot. Schooler was a staple on several first-team special team units and worked exclusively with Matthew Slater and Bethel during practice. Cody Davis also hangs around for another season.

Specialists

In (3): Nick Folk, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona

Out (1): Tristan Vizcaino

No surprises here. Nick Folk was consistent as ever throughout the preseason. Whether Vizcaino was here to actual compete for the job or just limit Folk’s workload was in question, but Folk has the job. Vizcaino was solid as well this summer and will likely be on the team’s radar if Folk is forced to miss time.

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