When the Patriots announce their initial 53-man roster, Demaryius Thomas won't be there. But that doesn't mean Thomas is done in New England.
According to Ian Rapoport, the 31-year-old who reeled in two touchdown receptions in the preseason finale on Thursday is being released less than 48 hours later. But unlike younger players, Thomas isn't subject to waivers. That means that if he wants to wait for Bill Belichick's call to return to the Patriots locker room, he can do that.
The Patriots are in roster-shuffling mode right now, and one way for them to optimize the talent they're able to keep in-house is by placing injured players on the initial 53-man roster before moving them to injured reserve. Those players can then return off of IR at midseason to provide a lift. Perhaps, then, if the Patriots clear a roster spot for Thomas soon, he'll make his way back.
It certainly looked like Thomas was capable of helping the Patriots when he was targeted eight times against the Giants in the fourth preseason game and caught seven of them for 87 yards and two scores. About eight months removed from an Achilles tear, Thomas broke off routes relatively sharply and looked strong coming off the line of scrimmage.
"I was excited," he said after the game, "especially first game coming back from tearing my Achilles, getting out to make a couple plays. You know, I was excited about it and I look to build on it and keep getting better."
As of now, it looks like the Patriots receiver depth chart will include Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, N'Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers. The team will also keep Gunner Olszewski on the active roster, and he has worked out with Patriots receivers all summer. Olszewski's value as a return man, though, is probably what earned him a spot.
For now, Thomas isn't factoring into the Patriots 53-man equation. But that could only be temporary.
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