4 risks the Patriots are taking with their final 53-man roster

Will these risks be worth it in the end?
New England Patriots v Tennessee Titans
New England Patriots v Tennessee Titans / Silas Walker/GettyImages
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Going with rookies at kicker and punter

Although it wasn't the most shocking move of the roster cutdowns, Bill Belichick has entrusted a lot of special teams success on the shoulders of two rookies: Bryce Baringer and Chad Ryland.

Because the Patriots have struggled to find a reliable kicker in the wake of Jake Bailey's injuries and eventual release, it was apparent early on that Baringer wouldn't face much competition throughout the summer to win the job. So, no one batted an eye when he was the last punter remaining on the 53-man roster.

The news of Nick Folk being traded to the Titans caught some off guard.

There was an obvious kicker competition brewing throughout the offseason, as Belichick traded up to select one of the best kickers of the class in Ryland. Additionally, Folk's age was undoubtedly going to become a factor at some point, even though his performance last season was only slightly down from his usual impressive outings.

Judging how Folk and Ryland looked during the preseason, the consistency from the veteran was one of the biggest differences in their performances, other than Ryland having a deeper range with his kicks. Because of that, it was assumed Folk would, at the very least, be kept on the practice squad, especially since other recent kicker trades didn't yield much return.

Now that it's clear the rookie will be handling things this season, it's an unusual risk that Belichick is willing to take. As the team hopes to have a much improved special teams unit this year, with the added guidance of Joe Judge, Ryland will be pressured to perform accordingly, particularly with no kicker signed to the practice squad for insurance.

Barringer will face his fair share of pressure, too, but without anyone to follow from last season and Corliss Waitman being re-signed to the practice squad, he will likely have a bit more leniency than his fellow rookie teammate.