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3 Patriots players who helped their roster chances vs. Titans

Here are three Patriots who made a strong case against the Titans for a roster spot.

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The Patriots wrapped up their 2023 preseason with a loss to the Titans on Friday night, but it served as a showcase for a number of Patriots players who are trying to make the roster.

There's plenty of uncertainty at the bottom of the roster, especially at positions like linebacker, cornerback and along the offensive line. But perhaps the biggest factor is special teams, where it's never quite obvious how the roster puzzle will come together. Everyone wants to talk starters and roles on offense and defense, but the final roster decisions are almost always heavily influenced by those who can make a difference in the kicking game.

Here are three Patriots, not surprisingly all on the defensive side of the ball, that made a strong case for a roster spot just a few days before final cuts.

The New England Patriots take on the Tennessee Titans in a preseason game at Nissan Stadium on Friday August 25, 2023.

Ronnie Perkins

The third-year outside linebacker had a quiet training camp that was punctuated by an injury that held him out of joint practices with the Packers, as well as the preseason game in Green Bay. Perkins returned to practice this week, just in time to suit up for the game against the Titans, and turned in perhaps his best performance since his arrival in Foxborough.

Perkins registered nine total tackles, including one for a loss and a QB hit, showing the kind of active disruption that played a part in the Patriots selecting him in the third round of the 2021 draft. However, there was still cause for concern with Perkins making a brief trip to the blue medical tent late in the game. He was later seen riding a stationary bike on the sideline, perhaps a positive sign for his prognosis.

Anfernee Jennings had an excellent summer and will provide the team with a solid all-around presence to complement Matthew Judon and Josh Uche, but Perkins plays with good energy and could be a valuable depth piece in the position group. He has yet to play a regular-season game, and Perkins played like he knew his job was on the line and stood out because of it.

Perhaps the biggest question facing him is if he can contribute on special teams, that might be his most immediate route to making a contribution.

Sam Roberts

Roberts was a wrecking ball against the Titans, filling up the stat sheet with seven combined tackles, a sack, three quarterback hits and two tackles-for-loss. It was a nice bounce-back effort after two penalties marred his performance against the Packers last week.

Roberts offers rare youth along the defensive line. The entrenched starters have occupied their spots for going on three seasons and while that's a reliable group, the pipeline behind them after third-year player Christian Barmore, is sparse. But Roberts and rookie Keion White have offered some intrigue during the preseason that a youth movement could be underway.

Unlike Perkins, Roberts did get his feet wet last season as a rookie, appearing in five games. This summer he's shown he could be capable of even more, but as Paul Perillo pointed out on the Post Game Show, there's still a question of where he fits best along the line. Is he a true early-down hand-down defensive end in the mold of Wise or Guy, or is he more of a passing-down penetrator?

"We've played him some inside, some outside. So, yeah, we'll see how it goes," said Belichick early in camp of Roberts' versatility. 

Against the Titans, Roberts looks like he could do whatever is asked of him. He's an ascending player that the Patriots would be smart to keep around.

Calvin Munson

Don't feel bad if you didn't realize that Munson is already on his third stint with the Patriots after splitting time between New England and Miami since 2019. There's a reason the Pats keep bringing him back and on Friday night, Munson had one of the most productive outings of his entire four-year career, leading the team with 10 tackles and picking up an interception along the way.

Make no mistake, Munson already had an inside track to a roster spot because of his special teams' prowess, but his performance against the Titans offered a glimpse of the quality depth he could provide at linebacker as well. That kind of versatility is what the final roster spots are all about. In 2019 upon his initial arrival with the Patriots at training camp, Bill Belichick called him a "smart, instinctive player."

"I love it," said Munson of his feeling about being a Patriot after the Titans game. "I love the way we work, get after it. Awesome leaders here. I want to find a role."

The Patriots have made an effort to upgrade their special teams this season, and with Cody Davis remaining on PUP, Munson could be one player who benefits. As for his linebacker spot, there's no debate that Ja'Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai will lead the way, but Munson's late push could give the staff something to consider on defense as well.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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