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Perry: Final Patriots 53-man roster projection ahead of cutdown day

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Bill Belichick

LAS VEGAS -- With the preseason finale now in the books, let's take a stab at what the active roster will look like come Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET when the Patriots have to pare down from 80 players to 53.

Unfortunately for them, after a sluggish night against the Raiders on Friday, there wasn't exactly a bubble player who stood up and demanded he make the initial active list based on what he put on tape in exhibition No. 3.

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But, as a coach one said, it is what it is. The Patriots still have to get to 53 one way or another. These are the 53 who make the most sense to us based on what we've seen and heard to this point.

Quarterback (3)

Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe

Brian Hoyer was guaranteed $3 million when he re-signed with the team this offseason. This should be the group come September. 

Running back (4)

Rhamondre Stevenson, Damien Harris, Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong

What the Patriots end up doing with Pierre Strong will be fascinating. Outside of being drafted in the fourth round, he probably isn't deserving of a roster spot at the moment. He ran twice for four yards Friday. Does he end up on a reserve list somehow? Does he end up on the team as a game-day healthy scratch, the way James White was in 2014?

 

Montgomery was carted off the field Friday and got the kind of send-off from players that often indicates a player is dealing with something serious. And Montgomery may be. But what Bill Belichick told WEEI on Monday made it sound as though Montgomery’s ailment is not season-ending.

That may mean, like Tyquan Thornton, Montgomery could end up on injured reserve after making the initial 53. That way he’d be eligible to return during the season. He’s had a strong enough summer — as a runner, pass-catcher and special-teamer -- to warrant that initial active roster spot.

OUT: J.J. Taylor, Kevin Harris

Wide receiver (6)

DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton, Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Lil'Jordan Humphrey

This is a hefty group of wideouts. Particularly for a team that will be using a lot of two tight end sets. But Thornton is likely headed to IR soon after the initial roster has been set, which would allow him to return later this season.

Patriots Talk: Patriots flounder in preseason finale against Raiders | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Meanwhile, Humphrey feels like valuable insurance at receiver, tight end and in the kicking game. Tre Nixon had a strong start to the offseason with highlights in OTAs, and he's been complimented by Belichick consistently. But Nixon may be someone who could make it through waivers and onto the practice squad based on a relatively quiet last few weeks.

OUT: Tre Nixon, Kristian Wilkerson, Josh Hammond

Tight end (3)

Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi

Asiasi hasn't done much to earn this spot based on his production in practices or preseason games. But he plays a position the Patriots value. And if they need an emergency fill-in behind Smith or Henry, he's likely their best option. 

OUT: Jalen Wydermyer, Matt Sokol

Offensive line (7)

Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Mike Onwenu, Isaiah Wynn, Justin Herron, Yodny Cajuste

The Patriots may want one more body in this group on their 53-man roster. And they may be able to add one after reorganizing their roster Week 1. But the reason they may be able to get away with seven here now? Players like Will Sherman, Chasen Hines, Arlington Hambright and Kody Russey could potentially get through waivers and onto the practice squad.

The same is likely true for veteran on-the-practice-squad-again-off-again interior lineman James Ferentz. So long as Ferentz doesn't find a job elsewhere, if he's released, perhaps he could be brought back to be the center/guard option the Patriots would like to dress on game days.

 
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Herron hasn't been all that impressive this summer. He gave up a strip sack of Hoyer on Friday. But there simply aren't many developmental tackle options out there, league sources say. So he may be safe. Plus, Cajuste has dealt with injury at times this summer -- as well as for the majority of his pro career -- so having some potentially-competent depth with Herron is critical.

OUT: Kody Russey, Yasir Durant, Arlington Hambright, Drew Desjarlais, James Ferentz, Will Sherman, Chasen Hines, Andrew Stueber (NFI)

Special teams (7)

Matthew Slater, Cody Davis, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona, Nick Folk, Brenden Schooler, Justin Bethel

Brenden Schooler looks like a Day 1 core special-teamer. The Texas product has had a fascinating road to the pros. He played at Oregon, Arizona and Texas, as well as four different California high schools, getting experience on both sides of the ball along the way. But he seems to have found a home in special teams coach Cam Achord's meeting room.

OUT: Tristan Vizcaino, Ross Reiter, Jake Julien

Defensive line (6)

Christian Barmore, Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Deatrich Wise, LaBryan Ray, DaMarcus Mitchell

Do the Patriots have enough size here? Do they need a Carl Davis to eat space in the middle? How about a Henry Anderson, who can bring some muscle to the edge of Bill Belichick's front? What about Division II sixth-rounder Sam Roberts, who has popped at times with his power this preseason? 

The top four here are locks. And given the way they've played in preseason games and camp practices, Ray and Mitchell are deserving as well. Mitchell is also a kicking-game contributor, which should help his odds.

OUT: Sam Roberts, Carl Davis Jr., Bill Murray, Daniel Ekuale, Jeremiah Pharms, Henry Anderson

Linebackers (7)

Matt Judon, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Ja'Whaun Bentley, Raekwon McMillan, Mack Wilson, Jahlani Tavai

Belichick seems to really appreciate Tavai, who has contributed early and often in the kicking game in these preseason games and joint practices.

This is a deep group with some players who have positional versatility -- Jennings, Bentley and Wilson have all shown at times they can play off the line and on -- so they aren't all that hard to picture as active-roster pieces.

OUT: Cam McGrone, Harvey Langi, Nate Wieland

Safeties (5)

Devin McCourtyKyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers, Joshuah Bledsoe

Bledsoe has consistently found himself around the football. In practices. In last week's preseason game with the Panthers. He's also been one of the team's heaviest special-teams snap recipients. He's someone who's earned a gig, it seems.

OUT: Brad Hawkins

Cornerback (5)

Jalen Mills, Jack Jones, Marcus Jones, Jonathan Jones, Myles Bryant

 

No questions with this group of five. Jack Jones was flying Friday and buzzing around the football. He and Marcus Jones will be around, as will Myles Bryant, it appears. Bryant had the honor of seeing slot dynamo Hunter Renfrow on a consistent basis during joint practices in Vegas this week. 

But what about Shaun Wade? He seemed like an intriguing active-roster fit last week. But he's been dealing with an injury that had him limited in the joint practices this week. He then wasn't able to play in the game on Friday.

Will he land on a reserve list? Will he be kept and perhaps placed on IR later, giving him an opportunity to return? The Patriots would like to keep him around in some way shape or form, but it's unclear whether that'll be on the initial 53.

OUT: Terrance Mitchell, Shaun Wade, Devin Hafford