The New England Patriots continued their flurry of roster movement Wednesday by putting together their initial practice group. Despite the chaotic movement across the league, New England still has one open spot remaining on their 16-man developmental squad.
The initial members are not set in stone, as teams across the league continue to fine-tune their rosters ahead of Week 1. New England should be one of those, as players like Tyquan Thornton could be shifted to the injured reserve.
For now, however, here are some quick-hit thoughts on the squad.
Keeping it in house
Out of the 15 players New England announced to their practice squad, all 15 were with the team throughout training camp. The Patriots showcased some solid depth throughout the preseason, and hung on too much of that potential. New England potentially will look outside the facility to fill their last remaining spot. An unidentified offensive lineman, wearing No. 68, was spotted at practice on Wednesday, but no official move was made.
One player who did escape the Foxboro headquarters was tight end Devin Asiasi, The third-year tight end was set to join the Patriots practice squad but was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals on waivers.
With the rule change that teams can elevate a practice squad player to the active roster three times instead of two, several members could be relied on immediately.
Most notable is wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey. The Patriots 53-man roster has just four healthy wide receivers and two tight ends. Humphrey could provide insurance at both spots in Week 1 against Miami.
New England could also look to the practice squad for help along the offensive line. While rookie sixth-round pick Chasen Hines made the roster as the top interior backup, elevating a veteran like James Ferentz could be in the cards early on in the season. Running back J.J. Taylor could also see time early if Ty Montgomery (ankle) misses any time.
New England’s 53-man roster featured 10 total rookies. They added four more on their practice squad with running back Kevin Harris, tight end Jalen Wydermyer, offensive lineman Kody Russey, and defensive lineman LaBryan Ray.
While Harris and Wydermyer seem more like developmental pieces, Russey and Ray had strong summers and made strides towards the 53-man squad. The two UDFAs flashed promise throughout the same and could likely contribute in a pinch if needed in 2022.
And while he may not be a rookie, second-year linebacker Cameron McGrone - who missed all of last season with a torn ACL - is an enticing player to clear waivers. The athletic linebacker can provide depth at the position while continuing to adjust to the mental side of the NFL game.
Besides retaining several rookies, New England hung on to three of the four vested veterans (players with 4+ seasons in the league) they released on Tuesday. Those three include Ferentz, Harvey Langi, and Terrance Mitchell. Justin Bethel was the lone veteran that did not make his way back to New England.
While Ferentz will provide depth along the interior of the offensive line, Mitchell will bring a valuable veteran presence to a young cornerback room that has an average age of 25 years old. Langi is a sturdy linebacker if needed that has proven special teams ability.