The New England Patriots wrap up their preseason on Friday against the Tennessee Titans. It's almost time for regular season football! For some, the preseason finale is a dress rehearsal for the regular season. For others, however, this is their last chance to prove that they are capable of being on a 53-man roster in the NFL.
Just like the 31 other teams in the NFL, the Patriots also have players who are fighting for roster spots. But who are they exactly?
Five Patriots bubble players fighting for roster spots in Tennessee
In the first couple of days of training camp Matt Sokol looked like a diamond in the rough as the offense struggled to get going. But since then, Sokol has been quiet as the offense is getting better each and every day. Obviously, the top two tight ends are Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki but a third spot is up for grabs. So far in the preseason games, Sokol has one reception for four yards. This is not great, but, his run blocking ability makes up for his lack of offensive production.
Sokol will need to do more than just run blocking against the Titans. He will need to show he can go out and make plays with catching the ball or even scoring a touchdown in the red zone. Otherwise, it could be possible this is the last time Sokol see's a football field as a member of the Patriots.
The Patriots defensive line is loaded. Players like Christian Barmore, Keion White (rookie), Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy Sr. and Deatrich Wise Jr. are all roster locks. Carl Davis has been part of the Patriots since the 2020 season. During his time he has appeared in 36 games but has only tallied 33 tackles and two sacks.
Davis is a backup that needs to do more if he wants to be noticed on this loaded defensive line. Keion White has stolen the show this training camp and Davis needs to become the center of attention for the right reasons to make the roster. Otherwise, he most likely will be placed on the practice squad.
Chad Ryland and Nick Folk
These two are being combined because the same can be said about both players. There's a kicking competition that will come to an end in Tennessee this week. Nick Folk is the seasoned veteran in New England that at times has been clutch for the Patriots. Folk had his best year in 2020 where he successfully kicked 92.9 percent of his field goals, a career high. He had a down year in 2022, and is yet to miss a kick of any kind this preseason.
As for Chad Ryland, the Patriots used a fourth round pick in this year's NFL Draft. Ryland was one of the best kickers coming into the draft and it has shown throughout training camp. Just like Folk, Ryland is also yet to miss a kick in the preseason. It's unknown what Belichick is thinking for who will be the kicker, but most likely the loser of this kicking battle will be sent to the waiver wire.
To nobody's surprise, J.J. Taylor is fighting for this spot on the roster once again this season. Taylor has spent his entire career with New England, but has spent a lot of time on the practice squad. With the addition of Ezekiel Elliott, Taylor now has to fight even harder to make the 53-man roster.
In simple terms, it comes down to who will want it more between J.J. Taylor and Kevin Harris. Harris saw more playing time than Taylor did a season ago and has had more playing time this preseason. Taylor, who is always a candidate for the practice squad will need to do something spectacular to earn his spot on the roster.