With three preseason games already played, the New England Patriots still have a number of position battles and roster decisions to sort through before opening their regular season in Arizona against the Cardinals on Sunday night. While the Patriots know that quarterback Tom Brady will be out the first four games of the season, there is more intrigue than simply whether quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will hold down the position until Brady returns.
There are a number of questions about the roster as the team has to be down to 75 by Tuesday and then down to 53 by Saturday after the final preseason game. There have already been a number of surprising cuts (and a release/trade/retirement/failed physical/rescind of trade/release of center Bryan Stork) with veterans such as running back Donald Brown, wide receiver Nate Washington, defensive linemen tackles Terrance Knighton and Frank Kearse (actually on injured reserve and not released as initially reported), cornerback E.J. Biggers and safety Cedric Thompson (along with the odd retirement/release of safety Brock Vereen).
With the roster at 82 players headed into Tuesday, most of the cuts are going to be made after the final preseason game Thursday night against the New York Giants.
On defense, the Patriots have a handful of young cornerbacks fighting a spirited battle for what is probably just one roster spot. With Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower potential free agents at the end of the year, at least one linebacker landed a contract (just not the expected pending free agent linebacker). On the defensive line there are young players stepping up and veterans sitting on the bench.
On offense at running back what was a wide-open battle seems settled heading into the last preseason game. On the offensive line a potential star has emerged. Finally, the wide receiver position still has questions that need answers before the regular season begins.
With these questions facing head coach Bill Belichick heading into September, the Patriots have a lot to figure out with less than two weeks to get it done. With many more cuts to be made before opening day, here is a deeper look into these issues and battles after three preseason games.
Next: DEPTH CORNERBACK BATTLE RAGES ON