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Patriots cutdown day survivors recall ‘bittersweet’ emotions of NFL roster-trimming process

Related: Making the Patriots roster was an emotional experience for DaMarcus Mitchell, Brenden Schooler

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

The final cutdown day before every NFL season is always a tough yet exciting one for franchises around the league. On one hand you have teams releasing players who have worked hard for months in an attempt to crack an NFL roster, while on the other you have players finding out that they have earned a spot on the team. It is all a lot to process and definitely has an impact on every player and team.

Multiple New England Patriots players met with the media after cutdown day, sharing their thoughts on the event.

“The NFL is a business and it’s different from college, not everyone gets to play and everyone I have worked with here in my first two years has worked very hard,” said starting quarterback Mac Jones.

This adjustment from college to the NFL is a tough one for some younger players as they may not fully process the business side of things. A lot of the younger players are fighting for their NFL lives and they work extremely hard at rookie minicamps, OTAs and every offseason workout to try and make the team.

“Only so many guys that can play every snap. There are only so many guys that make the 53. There are only so many opportunities that guys get,” pass rusher Matthew Judon added.

Opportunities are scarce for a shot to play in the NFL and only so many guys get that chance. With all of these limits it is very hard to get this opportunity despite working so hard.

“I hope the best for all of those guys who are not with us anymore and the guys who are on the practice squad are happy to be back and we are happy to have everybody,” said Jones.

Jones seemed very optimistic about the practice squad, with 15 guys who the Patriots released signing back. This allows players such as wide receivers Tre Nixon and Lil’Jordan Humphrey and tight ends Matt Sokol and Jalen Wydermyer more opportunities to work with the quarterbacks and impress the coaching staff.

With rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton now on injured reserve, we could see the Patriots dip into their practice squad early on in the season and elevate a guy like Nixon or Humphrey. These guys are already familiar with the system and playbook which gives them an advantage to get the call on short notice before Week 1.

“It’s bittersweet for me, honestly, because I’m happy for a lot of guys who made it including myself,” said wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. “But it is a lot of brothers who just lost their job.”

Roster cutdowns put players in a difficult situation: guys are competing against other guys that they build relationships with throughout camp. This aspect makes it a challenging experience, as players are excited that they made the team but at the same time feel for those who were let go.

“It reminds me I have work to do and there’s still work to be done, it is just humbling more than anything for me,” said cornerback Myles Bryant.

Bryant is a player who did not make the initial 53-man roster last season and started on the practice squad. This opportunity he received with allowed him to work hard and eventually be elevated to the active roster, however. This opportunity will present itself to other practice squad players this season.

Despite not making the initial 53-man roster, several practice squad players will have a role with the Patriots — or other teams — at some point this season. Whether it is helping out at practice, getting the call up on game day or just being a good teammate, practice squad players can help an organization in more ways than one.