BOSTON (CBS) — After New England’s 35-0 trouncing of the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, just one preseason game remains before things kick off for real. That means there is just one more game for players on the roster bubble to show they’re worthy of a spot.
That final opportunity won’t come until Aug. 29 against the New York Giants, though players will get to show what they can do in a pair of joint practices with the Giants next week in Foxboro. Several players helped their stock during Thursday night’s win, while others did not.
On The Up
Running back is one of the deepest spots on New England’s roster, and Taylor had an uphill battle coming into camp with Damien Harris, Sony Michel, Rhamondre Stevenson and James White all ahead of him on the depth chart — not to mention special teamer Brandon Bolden. But the 5-foot-6 Taylor was downright awesome on Thursday, racking up 93 yards on 12 carries to go with a third quarter touchdown.
It’ll be hard to part ways with Taylor after a solid preseason thus far. The Patriots are going to be a run-heavy team in 2021, so keeping the stable fresh will be important throughout the season.
He got the start at defensive tackle and clogged holes throughout his time on the field. Davis has had a solid summer so far and is firmly in the mix for a roster spot.
Langi bounced back from a tough week against Washington and played more than any other linebacker on Thursday night. He finished with a sack, five tackles, and an interception over his 31 snaps. He’s a longshot for the 53-man roster, but his role on special teams should help his cause.
Another linebacker hopeful, Maluia racked up four tackles and a sack on Thursday night. It will be tough for the former sixth-rounder to make the team, but he at least gave the Bill Belichick and company something to ponder with his performance in Philly.
Williams got the start opposite JC Jackson, and was tasked with covering DeVonta Smith. He was all over the rookie receiver, who didn’t record a catch when Williams was shadowing him. Williams may not see much time at corner when Stephon Gilmore returns, but he can also play safety and has carved out a role on special teams as well.
He was never going to get cut, but Gunner made a case to be more involved in the passing game with four catches for 57 yards on Thursday night.
The veteran kicker didn’t even play but saw his stock go up when New England’s undrafted rookie kicker struggled to put the ball between the uprights.
On The Way Down
Folk’s job security got a lot stronger because Quinn Nordin struggled immensely. After a solid first game last week, he missed a 36-yard field goal and two PATs, going wide right on all three. He managed to stay true on a 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but leaving five points on the field certainly won’t help his cause to supplant Folk on the roster.
N’Keal Harry and Kristian Wilkerson
Harry’s bubble was a fragile one to begin with, and injuring his shoulder while sprawling out for a Mac Jones deep ball before halftime puts it on the verge of bursting. He had one reception for 19 yards before his night came to an end.
Wilkerson helped his cause slightly with three catches for 36 yards, but he saw a decline in his play on special teams. Mix in Gunner’s emergence in the passing game, and Harry and Wilkerson could be running out of time.
The third-year pass rusher made his 2021 debut after starting the season on PUP. He picked up a roughing the passer penalty during his first series on what should have been a third down incompletion by Joe Flacco. Wino bounced back to finish with a pair of sacks and one tackle for loss, but he’s going to have to play a lot better against the Giants to earn some regular season playing time.
He won’t be cut after the Patriots used a third-round pick on him in 2019, but Winovich could be a trade candidate before cutdown day.