In the last 24 hours, we have found out the New England Patriots first 53 man roster of 2016. A few experienced heads lost their jobs and some rookies have pushed themselves up the pecking order with impressive preseason performances.
The difficult decisions in terms of cuts were at running back, tight end and at defensive tackle.
Veteran players Released: OL Chris Barker, WR Aaron Dobson, RB Tyler Gaffney, DL Geneo Grissom, LB Rufus Johnson, DL Markus Kuhn, WR Keshawn Martin, DB Darryl Roberts, DB Vinnie Sunseri and DL Joe Vellano.
First-year players released: WR DeAndre Carter, OL Jon Halapio, WR Chris Harper, RB Joey Iosefa and LB Kevin Snyder.
Rookies players released: DL Woodrow Hamilton, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, CB Cre'von LeBlanc, WR Devin Lucien and TE Bryce Williams.
G Jon Halapio announced on Twitter:
I've been released by the @Patriots , but I want to thank Coach Belichick & the entire organization for believing in me. More to follow...— Jon Halapio (@Jhalapio67) 3 September 2016
At wide receiver, the most high profile release is definitely Aaron Dobson. He just hasn't developed into the weapon the Patriots wanted, but standing at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds Dobson has all the physical attributes to succeed in the NFL. A combination of Bill Belichick being fed up of waiting for Dobson and newly-acquired receiver Chris Hogan from the Bills in the offseason, there was no place in New England for Dobson. Harper and Carter were expected to be cut but for Lucien and Martin, injuries in the final game of preseason against the Giants sealed their fate.
We all knew LeGarrette Blount, James White and Brandon Bolden were going to make the team at running back as they have performed in the past for Belichick. So this left one position that would have been for Dion Lewis but he is out due to complications from his knee surgery. This left Tyler Gaffney and D.J. Foster fighting it out for the last roster spot. The coaching staff most likely cut Gaffney due to the injury he picked up Thursday night against New York and they were comfortable with what they had in Foster. Gaffney will probably return to New England if he passes through waivers.
Joe Vellano being cut was a bit of surprise but there is a real depth at the defensive tackle position this year with four wrecking balls upfront. Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown and Vincent Valentine were pretty much all roster locks leaving only one space left. Anthony Johnson then grabbed his chance with both hands in preseason with some destructive displays that ultimately cost veteran Markus Kuhn his job.
Most of the game time during the preseason at tight end went to A.J. Derby so he was always going to be on the team behind star duo Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. The final fourth spot went to Clay Harbor which is a wise decision by Belichick and great for him. Not much playing time in preseason could have seen him frozen out but he obviously has shown the management enough to keep him on. Harbor is a tight end with safe hands and is a brilliant blocker which is the kind of dependable player the Patriots need if it gets to a stage of Roger Goodell banning Gronk and Bennett for being too good because anything can happen when it's the Pats.
Patriots 53 man roster:
Quarterbacks - Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett (Tom Brady Suspended)
Running Backs - LeGarrette Blount, James White, Branden Bolden, D.J. Foster, James Develin (Dion Lewis on PUP)
Tight Ends - Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, AJ Derby, Clay Harbor
Wide Receivers - Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater
Interior Offensive Lineman - Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline, Ted Karras, Jonathan Cooper (Tre' Jackson on PUP)
Offensive Tackles - Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle, Cameron Fleming (Sebastian Vollmer on PUP)
Defensive Tackles - Malcolm Brown, Vincent Valentine, Alan Branch, Anthony Johnson
Edge Rushers - Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, Chris Long, Shea McCLellin, Barkievous Mingo
Linebackers - Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jonathan Freeny, Elandon Roberts, Brandon King
Cornerbacks - Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones, Justin Coleman, Jonathan Jones
Safeties - Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner
Specialists - K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona
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