Patriots

Patriots

Each day, following Patriots training camp practice, we'll highlight one intriguing "long shot" to make the roster. What might that player bring to the table for Bill Belichick's club? Who's he competing with for a spot? And what does he have to do to make the club? 

FOXBORO -- Ryan Lewis was slow to get up. He had to have been a little exhausted. 

First, he ran deep down the field, stride for stride with Cordarrelle Patterson, picking off an underthrown Tom Brady pass to finish off the play. Moments later, he was chasing Julian Edelman across the field to break up a Brian Hoyer throw.

They were two of the most impressive plays of Day 5 of Patriots training camp, which happened to be the team's annual night practice inside Gillette Stadium. And those plays happened to be submitted by a young Patriots corner fighting for a roster spot.

Sound familiar? Of the five players we've highlighted in this space as "long shots," three have been corners. The other two were seventh-round pick Keion Crossen and undrafted rookie JC Jackson

 

Maybe it shouldn't be much of a surprise that the Patriots seem to have a surplus of solid young corners. In recent years, they've ended up releasing several who've earned jobs elsewhere. 

Last year, it was Kenny Moore, now with the Colts, who found a gig away from New England after being cut. The year before that, it was Cre'Von LeBlanc, who ended up starting nine games last year for the Bears after the Patriots let him go. In 2015, seventh-rounder Darryl Roberts ended up with the Jets after being released by Bill Belichick and started every game last season but one for them. 

Lewis may benefit from an injury Crossen suffered over the weekend, opening up reps for corners further down the depth chart behind Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Duke Dawson and Jason McCourty. We believe Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones, both currently on the physically unable to perform list, will be in the mix for jobs at some point . . . but they're out of the running at the moment.

The Patriots clearly like Lewis. As a rookie out of Pitt, they signed him to the practice squad. They liked him enough that eventually they gave him a raise, paying him like he was on the active roster after Buffalo reportedly showed some interest in acquiring him. 

Lewis went undrafted last season but tore up his pro day with a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and a 35-inch vertical leap. At 6-feet, 195 pounds, he has good size to go along with his athleticism, making him a good fit on the outside -- as well as on special teams if he can carve himself a role there.  

He'll probably have to if he wants a job come September. Otherwise he'll have to outperform (or outlast) just about every other young corner on the roster to even garner consideration for a spot. 

Though it's a deep group, Lewis will have a chance. A few more performances under the lights like Monday's -- the Patriots play all four of their preseason games at night this summer -- will only help his cause.

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