The New England Patriots saw their roster dwindle to 53 players Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, their attention then shifted to building their 16-man practice squad. That 16-man unit features 15 players that spent the summer with the team, while one open spot remains. One unidentified offensive lineman was at practice on Wednesday, but no official move was made.
One player who did not make it through waivers to the practice squad was tight end Devin Asiasi. The former third-round selection was at Gillette Stadium Wednesday morning with plans of being placed on the practice squad, but was claimed on waivers by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Moving forward, many of New England’s practice squad players should expect to see time on the active roster throughout the season. The NFL increased the amount of times a player can be elevated to the active roster from two to three times this season.
While the practice squad is certainly not set in stone – especially as New England currently has one open spot remaining – lets meet the Patriots’ initial developmental roster.
RB Kevin Harris: The rookie sixth-round pick stays in New England on the practice squad. Harris is a powerful runner and the team tried to involve him in the passing game. Harris could be in for a larger role his sophomore season (Damien Harris is an unrestricted free agent after the season) after a development year.
RB JJ Taylor: New England kept just four running backs on the active roster, which included a banged up Ty Montgomery. If Montgomery is forced to miss time, Taylor will likely be elevated in his place.
WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey: It was a surprise that the standout of the preseason did not make a single 53-man roster, but New England will gladly take Humphrey back on the practice squad. The initial 53-man roster has just six healthy pass catchers, meaning Humphrey could see time on the active roster rather quickly – perhaps being elevated after Tyquan Thornton is shifted to the injured reserve.
WR Tre Nixon: The spring standout did not have the same success throughout the summer, but lands on New England’s practice squad for the second straight year. He impressed running routes out of the slot with his quickness. His vertical speed is no joke either, but needs to be more physical downfield. He’ll look to continue his progression this season on the developmental team with a potential larger role waiting for him next season.
TE Jalen Wydermyer: Despite signing with New England two weeks ago, the 21-year olds potential proved worthy to keep around. The Patriots will continue to take a closer look at the former four-star recruit on the practice squad.
TE Matt Sokol: With just Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith as the lone tight ends on the active roster, the Patriots needed some tight end depth on the practice squad. Besides Wydermyer, New England keeps Matt Sokol around too. Sokol had a solid preseason, often making more plays than Asiasi.
OL James Ferentz: After the Patriots kept rookie Chasen Hines as the lone interior depth option on the offensive line, bringing back the veteran Ferentz – who did not need to clear waivers – seemed likely. Ferentz provides versatility along the interior of the offensive line and could be counted on for depth early in the season.
OL Kody Russey: Russey’s improvement throughout camp resulted in legitimate chance to make the roster. The former Houston captain showcased his nastiness and plus-IQ during the preseason. It would be no surprise to see the UDFA be apart of the team’s plans in the future.
OG Bill Murray: Murray’s switch from defensive tackle to offensive guard was delayed due to an injury in New England’s first preseason game. In limited action, Murray’s athleticism impressed at the position. He’ll stick around on the practice squad for the third straight season as he continues to develop and adjust to life on the offensive side of the ball.
DL Jeremiah Parms Jr.: Pharms had some solid moments throughout the preseason. The big-bodied defensive tackle was solid in the run game and showcased some burst as a pass rusher.
DL LaBryan Ray: The UDFA from Alabama made a strong push to make the initial roster but was ultimately buried in a deep group of interior defensive lineman. He stood out on the practice field where his NFL frame made plays against the run. New England should certainly be happy to get Ray to the practice squad.
LB Cameron McGrone: Entering training camp, McGrone was one of the most hyped-up members of the Patriots. However, his momentum never turned into major production as he spent the summer mainly on the scout team – perhaps as he mentally adjusted to the pro game after missing his entire rookie season with a torn ACL. His athletic ability is no joke and he’s a perfect fit for the practice squad where he can continue to adjust physically and mentally.
LB Harvey Langi: The second vested veteran on the practice squad is Harvey Langi. Langi ended last season with New England with an MCL sprain, but returned on a one-year extension. He provides versatility at the position and proven special teams ability.
CB Terrance Mitchell: The Patriots opted for youth over experience at the cornerback position on their 53-man roster. As 23-year old Shaun Wade took the final cornerback spot over Mitchell, the Patriots bring back the 30-year old veteran on the practice squad. Mitchell will provide some valuable depth if needed throughout the season.
S Brad Hawkins: Hawkins is another late signee who makes the practice squad. In a deep safety room, his path to playing time will come on special teams. Throughout his collegiate career at Michigan, Hawkins was a core special teamer.