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Reasons I am writing this article less than four hours before game time in a Starbucks:
- This game snuck up on me.
- This game will feature exclusively backups.
- I try not to repeat players in the preseason. I’ve already used 15, meaning I’m running low on feasible Y Factors.
- I’m not going to be able to watch most of this game, so I haven’t paid as much attention leading up to it.
- Starbucks has free WiFi.
Geneo Grissom, DE: Grissom is one of two players where I’m getting a similar vibe to Kony Ealy predictions of last week: “he’s not great, but the Patriots will keep him because who else do they have at the position.” (Cyrus Jones is the other.) As Ealy is gone, Grissom will have to put up a strong performance to avoid the same fate. Bill Belichick has shown repeatedly that he would rather cut a middling player and enter the season with less depth at that position than have to chance using that player in a critical situation. Grissom does have significant special teams value, always a plus with Belichick, but I do not think his roster chances are as locked-in as some. I could see him on or off the team depending on tonight, and on other moves.
Cole Croston, T/G: I nearly put Croston on this list twice already, but I think he is an interesting player to watch. Croston is really the only tackle/guard hybrid on the team and is among the team leaders in preseason snaps, which might make him a player New England tries to keep around, particularly after a report last week (I don’t remember whose) that other teams might be interested in claiming Croston or Conor McDermott if cut. With minimal noticeable depth on the offensive line, Croston could be in an interesting situation leading up to Saturday’s cuts.
David Jones, S: Jones makes this list because he was a player who was projected to go fairly high in the draft (third round or thereabouts) before an injury knocked him into the realm of the UDFAs. Jones’ play has admittedly been difficult to watch at times, but I am wondering how much of that was due to falling behind from injury and how much of that might be due to his talent level. His performance tonight could give a clearer indication as to whether New England wants to keep him around to develop or not.
Marquis Flowers, LB: Can’t leave the newest Patriot off the list. Acquired from Cincinnati, Flowers projects as a core special teams player who can contribute on defense if needed; I have already seen multiple comparisons to Tracy White. While the fourth preseason game is traditionally a backups-only game, it could give fans an idea of what role Flowers might have on defense, if he is used at all tonight.
Jason Thompson, S: Thompson has seen some time on defense, but he makes the list because of special teams. When Thompson was signed, many pointed out that he was a special teams standout at Utah, but with so many core STers already on the Patriots’ roster, his odds are long at pulling a Jonathan Jones and making the 53 out of camp. While a roster spot is possible, percentages are higher that he develops through the practice squad.