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 -- Damarius Travis has the unfortunate job of being a young safety on the Patriots depth chart. 

There are worse places to be, for sure, but in New England Travis finds himself behind two of Bill Belichick's favorite players and two of the best tacklers he says he's ever coached: Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty. Duron Harmon is locked into a role for the foreseeable future, and when healthy Nate Ebner is a staple of Steve Belichick's safety room as well. 

It's a tough position to crack the 53-man roster. Not impossible. But tough. 

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Travis signed with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie out of Minnesota last spring and spent the year on the practice squad. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder certainly has the frame to serve as a box safety, but he's impressed with his athleticism this camp. 

He broke up a pass from Tom Brady that was intended to Phillip Dorsett on the second day of camp. The next day, he bumped into Sony Michel and forced a fumble. On Thursday, Travis checked Rob Gronkowski and broke up a Brian Hoyer attempt. 

Travis seems to be in the right place at the right time often. So what does he have to do to help his chances of cracking the active roster leading up to the regular season? He has to show he can be a special teams maven. That may be difficult since he's not blowing anyone away with his long speed -- he ran a 4.65-second 40 at his pro day last year. Blinding speed isn't required, necessarily, to impact the kicking game. But almost. It helps. 

 

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Part of the reason Jordan Richards has stuck on the roster is his special teams ability. Were it strictly up to defensive performance -- particularly given what we've seen in camp -- then Travis would have a shot at beating out Richards. But because few safeties are going to factor into the equation defensively behind McCourty, Chung and Harmon, Travis will have to broaden the number of areas he can impact in order to be considered for a uniform for Week 1. 

Travis is likely competing with the likes of Richards and newcomer Eddie Pleasant for a roster spot. He does still have practice squad eligibility so if the Patriots want to keep him around and can't find room on the active roster, they could go in that direction for the second consecutive year. 

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