The preseason is over, the roster cuts have been made, the practice squad has been assembled, and now the New England Patriots are officially on to Miami.
With less than a week to go before the season opens, the Patriots do still have the look of a contender, although there are certainly still question marks that may need to be addressed.
By the end of the preseason, it appeared that veteran Nick Folk had a clear edge on rookie Justin Rohrwasser in the team’s kicking battle. Folk was far more consistent in practice, and when news broke Saturday that Rohrwasser had been released, it seemed as if Folk had the starting job locked up. But then, to everyone’s surprise, the Patriots cut Folk, too.
By the end of the weekend, the Patriots had re-signed both players to the practice squad, and now it appears that the kicker competition will continue into the regular season. The most likely outcomes are the Patriots will place someone on injured reserve and elevate Folk or Rohrwasser to the 53-man roster — or, the team could bring in a new kicker entirely.
After decades of stability with Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski, this level of uncertainty is unusual, and hopefully the Patriots will get everything squared away soon.
Throughout last season the New England Patriots consistently tried to improve their wide receiving corps with little success. Julian Edelman was terrific, but other than him the team was consistently forced to rely on players who were injured, rookies or both — to say nothing of the whole Antonio Brown fiasco.
Now? The situation remains pretty much exactly as it was at the end of last season. Julian Edelman is back, as are second-year pros N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. Damiere Byrd has replaced Phillip Dorsett as the speedy veteran. Mohamed Sanu, who the Patriots hoped would shore up the passing game, did not work out.
Is this group good enough? On paper, no, but truthfully we won’t be able to say for sure until we’ve seen what a healthy N’Keal Harry can do. If he’s an impact player, and if Meyers and Olszewski make strides in Year 2, then this group could work.