On Wednesday, the New England Patriots formed their initial practice group to continue their roster movement. Despite the athletic chaos across the league, New England still has an open spot in their 16-man development lineup.
The original membership isn’t set in stone, as teams across the league continue to tweak their lineups ahead of Week 1. New England should be one of them, as players like Tyquan Thornton could be moved to injured reserves.
For now, however, here are some quick thoughts on the team.
keep it at home
Of the 15 players New England announced to their practice squad, all 15 were with the team throughout training camp. The Patriots have shown some solid depth throughout the preseason and have relied too much on that potential. New England may look outside the facility to fill their last remaining spot. An unidentified offensive striker wearing the No. 68 shirt was spotted on the training ground on Wednesday, but no official action was taken.
One player who did escape Foxboro HQ was tight end Devin Yasiassi, a third-year tight end who would join the Patriots practice squad but was waived by the Cincinnati Bengals.
With the rule change, teams can promote a practice squad player to the active roster three times instead of two, so can rely on several members at once.
Most notably wide receiver Lil’ Jordan Humphrey. The Patriots’ 53-man roster has just four healthy wide receivers and two tight ends. Humphrey could insure both positions in Week 1 against Miami.
New England could also turn to the practice team for help on the offensive line. While rookie sixth-rounder Chasson Hines makes the roster as a top inside bench, boosting veterans like James Ferenc could come early in the season. Running back JJ Taylor can also see time ahead if Ty Montgomery (ankle) misses any time.
New England’s 53-man roster has 10 rookies. They added four more running backs Kevin Harris, tight end Jaylen Wildmeier, offensive lineman Cody Lacy and defensive lineman LaBrian Ray to the practice lineup.
While Harris and Wildmeier looked more like developing players, Lacy and Ray had a strong summer and made strides toward a 53-man roster. The two UDFAs have consistently flashed commitments and may contribute in 2022 if needed.
While he may not be a rookie, second-year linebacker Cameron McGrone — who missed the entire season with a torn ACL — is an attractive player to clear waivers. An athletic linebacker can provide depth at the position while continuing to adapt to the psychological aspects of the NFL game.
In addition to retaining a few rookies, New England also retained three of the four veterans (players with 4+ seasons in the league) they released Tuesday. The trio includes Ferentz, Harvey Langi and Terrance Mitchell. Justin Bethel is the only veteran who didn’t return to New England.
While Ferenc will provide depth inside the offensive line, Mitchell will bring a valuable veteran presence to a young cornerback with an average age of 25. If needed, Langi is a solid linebacker who has proven exceptional team ability.