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Who are Patriots' top practice squad candidates after roster cuts?

/ by Darren Hartwell
Presented By DraftKings
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Kevin Harris

The New England Patriots need to release more than 25 players from their active roster between now and 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

But there's a chance several of those players could stick around in New England.

NFL teams are allowed to carry up to 16 players on their practice squad, which consists of players who aren't on the 53-man roster but practice with the team during the regular season and can be elevated to the active roster up to three times in a season.

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

While 10 of those 16 players can't have more than two seasons of NFL service time, the other six spots have no restrictions, meaning veterans can wind up on the practice squad if they go through waivers without being signed by another team.

So, what will the Patriots' practice squad look like in 2022? Practice squadders are usually players whom the team values enough to keep in the organization as roster depth, but perhaps haven't shown enough for another team to sign them following their release.

Here are 12 players on New England's current roster who seem most likely to land on the practice squad.

J.J. Taylor, RB

If Ty Montgomery's injury isn't serious, the Patriots should give him a spot on the 53-man roster. They could then place Montgomery on short-term injured reserve, allowing him to return after Week 4.

That scenario likely would lead to Taylor's release on cutdown day. But the shifty running back has appeared in 11 games for the Patriots over the least two seasons and has shown flashes of playmaking in the running and passing games. He's worth keeping around as running back depth.

 

Kevin Harris, RB

The Patriots drafted two running backs this year in Pierre Strong Jr. (fourth round) and Harris (sixth round), and neither should threaten Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson or Montgomery for playing time. Strong is the higher draft pick and is better in the passing game, so we'll say he makes the 53-man roster while Harris lands on the practice squad.

Tre Nixon, WR

There's simply too much depth in the Patriots' wide receiver room for Nixon to earn a roster spot. But Bill Belichick clearly likes the 2021 seventh-round pick, who spent last season on the practice squad. If New England loses any more wideouts to injury this season, we could see the Patriots calling Nixon's number from the practice squad.

Kristian Wilkerson, WR

Wilkerson didn't travel with the Patriots to Las Vegas last week due to a concussion he suffered in joint practices with the Carolina Panthers. He has experience at the NFL level, however, and caught two touchdown passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17 last season after getting called up from the p-squad.

Matt Sokol, TE

Our Phil Perry projects Devin Asiasi to make the 53-man roster as depth behind Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. New England likely will keep at least one tight end on the practice squad as added insurance, however, and we'll give the edge to Sokol -- who caught four passes for 24 yards in three preseason games -- over the recently-signed Jalen Wydermyer.

Kody Russey, OL

Russey saw some action with the Patriots' offensive starters in the team's preseason game against the Panthers and held up well in joint practices. New England will need plenty of depth on the offensive line this season, and the Houston product could be among the first call-ups.

Will Sherman, OL

The Patriots' sixth-round pick out of Colorado in 2021, Sherman is behind the likes of Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste on the tackle depth chart but should stick around as a practice squad depth option.

Chasen Hines, OL

New England used a sixth-round pick on Hines this year, so there's value in keeping the LSU product on the practice squad with the goal of developing him into an NFL-level lineman.

Arlington Hambright, OL

It wouldn't be a surprise for the Patriots to keep at least five or six offensive linemen on the practice squad, and Hambright, who came over from the Chicago Bears in January, can provide more depth at the tackle spot.

 

Sam Roberts, DL

Roberts recovered a Panthers fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in Week 2 of the preseason and may have done enough to earn himself an active roster spot with another team. If he clears waivers, though, the Patriots likely would welcome the Northwest Missouri State product on the practice squad.

Cam McGrone, LB

We've heard plenty about McGrone's potential as a speedy impact linebacker in New England. But the 2021 draft pick out of Michigan has yet to play a snap in Foxboro and didn't play in any of the team's preseason games. His injury history may help him clear waivers if the Patriots release him, making him a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Harvey Langi, LB

Langi played 98 special-teams snaps for the Patriots last season and signed a one-year extension with the team in January. He probably won't crack the active roster, but Belichick values special teamers and likely would prefer to have Langi in the organization for extra depth.