Good morning; here are your weekly Patriots news 06-19, and some NFL notes this week.
The Patriots minicamp is in the books, the team is off until the players report to training camp in late July. We’ll be talking about our early, initial projections for the 53-man roster on our “4th and 2” podcast soon. But to get an early jump on things, I’ve included my thoughts below.
One caveat is that one can’t overreact too much to the t-shirt and shorts minicamp…however, (comma) we all tend to do that every year. So, we’ll try to balance what transpired at minicamp with some reasoning here.
Quick Hitters For the Patriots and the NFL:
Darryl Williams: The former Chief’s center has been signed to the Patriots’ 90-man roster according to NFL.com. Williams, a 6’3, 310 lb free agent was released by Kansas City after the team’s minicamp last week.
Williams spent most of his time on the Chief’s practice squad but did appear in limited action during last year’s preseason. He went undrafted out of Mississippi State in 2020.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey: The Patriots signed the veteran free agent to a one-year deal according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Humphrey is anything but “Lil” as his name suggests, tipping the scales at 6’4, 225.
A big, physical, possession type of wide receiver, Humphrey had 13 catches for 249 yards and two TDs last season with New Orleans.
Gillette Stadium: The Patriots’ home which is undergoing some big renovations this summer has landed two huge events one for college football, and the other for futbol.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body of association soccer, announced on Thursday that Gillette Stadium has been selected as one of 16 host venues for the 2026 World Cup.
And the Army-Navy football game is coming to Gillette Stadium in 2023 for the first time in the 130-year tradition of the big rivalry game between the two senior service academies…”GO ARMY, BEAT NAVY”
Jakobi Meyers/Pierre Strong: The Patriots have signed restricted free agent veteran WR Meyers and rookie RB Strong, according to Patriots.com. Meyers is entering his fourth season and caught 83 receptions (team-high) for 866 yards with two touchdowns. He also completed two passes for 45 yards.
Strong is a rookie RB out of South Dakota State who was drafted in the 4th Round, (127th overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft. The fastest running back in the draft, Strong had 11 touchdowns of 50-yards or more in his college career.
Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2”, in a bit, please check it out. Russ and I posted a video of our thoughts on the best Patriots tight ends of all time.
Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame and the fact that especially Francis isn’t is an absolute travesty. Francis along with the Raiders’ Dave Casper changed the game with how teams used the tight end position…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.
Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 1.0:
The Patriots will have some tough decisions to make, especially on some players that they’ve invested in but in the quest for the 53-man roster cutdown at the end of camp. There will be the inevitable injuries and cases of the “Foxboro Flu” during camp, so that may open up a few spots for players that could otherwise find themselves released.
So, we’ll take an initial, if early stab at the roster.
Quarterback — (3)
Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe
Training camp should be an interesting competition to see who is the backup to Mac Jones. But make no mistake, whether he is the #2 or the #3, Brian Hoyer who has a guaranteed contract worth $3 million, is going to be on the roster.
Bailey Zappe, who set NCAA records for TDs and yards last season isn’t going anywhere either. With a skill set similar to Jones, he’s the backup of the future.
Running Back — (4)
Rhamondre Stevenson, Damien Harris, Kevin Harris, Pierre Strong
PUP: James White, Cut: JJ Taylor
The 1-2 punch of Harris and Stevenson remains. James White begins the season on PUP which opens the door for the big, and under-the-radar Harris. Stevenson should see more targets in the passing game early. Strong is the “X-Factor” here. He is already a good pass blocker, something the Patriots insist on for their RBs. He’s also the most explosive back they’ve had in a long time. Don’t be surprised if he can work himself into the kicking game and is active on game days, that they try to get him the ball in space.
Wide Receiver — (5)
DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton, Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne
Trade: N’Keal Harry, Cut: Tre Nixon, Ty Montgomery, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Malcolm Perry, Kristian Wilkerson
While the constant refrain (for nearly 20 years) continues to be “the Patriots don’t have a #1 WR”, they won six (6) Super Bowls without one, but they have a lot of depth this year. The competition here will be an area to watch during training camp.
If Tre Nixon continues to impress as he did in minicamp, it could give the team the option of trading Nelson Agholor which would save the team a bunch of needed cap space. Harry’s time here is done, time to move on.
Tight end — (2)
Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith
Cut: Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Matt Sokol
With the Patriots having invested in Asiasi and Keene a few years ago in the draft, neither has made any impact and the clock is ticking. Look for the team to possibly bring back Asiasi to the practice squad or scour the waiver wire to add a third tight end later.
Offensive Line— (9)
Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Mike Onwenu, Isaiah Wynn, Justin Herron, Yodny Cajuste, Yasir Durant, Drew Desjarlais
PUP/IR: Chasen Hines, Andrew Stueber, Cut: Arlington Hambright, James Ferentz, Darryl Williams, Will Sherman, Kody Russey
With both starting tackles having had injury concerns, the team opts to go heavy with the tackles, initially. I’m sticking with Desjarlais early but he could find himself in a battle for the 53rd spot with Russey.
Defensive Tackle — (5)
Christian Barmore, Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Deatrich Wise, Carl Davis
Suspended: Daniel Ekuale, Cut: Henry Anderson, Byron Cowart, Bill Murray, LaBryan Ray, Sam Roberts
Was tempted to go with six DLs (Henry Anderson) here but for now, will stick with who they have. The defensive line was an area that I thought definitely needed an upgrade, so perhaps younger players Ray, who had talent but was always injured at Alabama, and Roberts who was a small-school stud could have a chance to carve out a roster spot.
Outside Linebackers— (4)
Matt Judon, Josh Uche, Ronnie Perkins, Anfernee Jennings
Cut: DaMarcus Mitchell
Judon is a stud, but Uche has had trouble setting the edge, although the team seemingly has big plans for him and Perkins. I’ve always believed in Jennings and the reports from minicamp had him getting quite a bit of play with the top units.
The Patriots have always put a premium on outside backers setting the edge and Jennings can be one of the players that can do that. He’ll be one of the players to watch this summer.
Inside Linebackers — (4)
Ja’Whaun Bentley, Mack Wilson, Cam McGrone, Raekwon McMillan
Cut: Harvey Langi, Jahlani Tavai
This is where (possibly) the Patriots could have a big change in how they’ve played the position for decades. Bentley is the only inside backer with experience in the system as Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Jamie Collins are all gone. Wilson, McGrone, and McMillan are all smaller, faster, and more athletic. Will it work? We’ll see, but this is what we’ve been saying for quite a long time.
Hard to part ways with Langi, who I’ve always rooted for. He and Tavai, who play STs are the throwbacks to the bigger players they’ve always coveted. It will be interesting to see how this position plays out. But some of these players will above will have to chip in on the Special Teams units.
Cornerback — (6)
Malcolm Butler, Jalen Mills, Terrance Mitchell, Jack Jones, Marcus Jones, Jonathan Jones
Cut: Shaun Wade, Joejuan Williams, Myles Bryant
Big changes here from the beginning of last year, gone are J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore. So, without a true shutdown #1 corner, there will probably be a lot of mixing and matching depending upon the opponent.
There is still a chance that they opt to keep seven CBs (Wade) to keep the depth up as high as they can. One player who will probably be relied on to play meaningful snaps is rookie Jack Jones who is one of three Jones’ in the secondary. He’s a player the team has high hopes for. Marcus Jones, the other rookie is recovering from offseason double shoulder surgery and could provide a big spark in the return game.
Safety — (4)
Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers
Cut: Joshuah Bledsoe
Plenty of versatility with this group, Bledsoe could still sneak onto the roster because of his versatility to play anywhere. Although he played mostly at the strong safety position. His teammates
But McCourty, Dugger, Phillips, and Peppers are a really strong group. Dugger may be freed up this year with Phillips and Peppers to play more in the center of the field, taking advantage of his athleticism.
Special Teams — (7)
Matthew Slater, Cody Davis, Justin Bethel, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona, Nick Folk, Brenden Schooler,
Cut: Tristan Vizcaino, Ross Reiter, Jake Julien
No surprises here, the usual suspects return, the only addition is Schooler, who is an excellent athlete. He could replace the former ST standout, Brandon Bolden. Schooler and Bledsoe could be competing for a spot.
“I mean a good part of it, certainly not all of it, by any stretch. Fundamentals are fundamentals, so, if you have good fundamentals they transfer to other plays. If you have to go back and reteach fundamentals, then it’s hard to execute plays no matter how many plays you have in or don’t have in. Having a good fundamental base is a big part of installation. We work on the fundamentals to go with the installation, and then hopefully we go out there and can execute those plays and then move the process along. So, I don’t even know what our full installation is going to be. It’ll just depend on how things go and what we’re able to do. There’s no like, set ‘all this is going to go in.’ We’ll see what we need. If we need it – there’s things we know we’re going to need, and then there’s other things that as they come up, if we’re ready for them we’ll do them, if we’re not, we won’t.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on how much of the offense and defense will be installed by the end of minicamp.
“So, how was your week?”
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Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Devin McCourty Jakobi Meyers James White Mac Jones Patriots Patriots edge rushers