The Patriots roster for Sunday's home tilt against the Commanders is set after the team made two roster moves on Saturday.
After creating an open roster spot by placing OL Calvin Anderson (illness) on injured reserve, the Patriots signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Pharms to the 53-man roster. Pharms had already reached the maximum three standard elevations from the practice squad in Weeks 4-6, so this allows the run-stuffing defensive tackle to have a game-day role once again.
Along with signing Pharms to the active roster, New England also elevated OT Conor McDermott from the practice squad for the second consecutive game. Although he was active following a standard elevation last week, McDermott did not play in Week 8 vs. the Dolphins. The veteran tackle has one more standard elevation this season.
Beginning with McDermott, starting left tackle Trent Brown is officially questionable for Sunday's game vs. the Commanders due to ankle and knee injuries. Brown was clearly compromised by the ailments in last week's loss in Miami, allowing a season-high four pressures and three quarterback hits. The Pats starter missed the first two practices this week before returning for Friday's session. The expectation is that Brown will try to give it a go again this week, but it makes sense to have insurance available in case Brown either is a late scratch or can't play the entire game.
With the Patriots other healthy option, OL Vederian Lowe, also questionable due to an ankle injury, New England is short-handed at the tackle position. Last season, McDermott started six games at right tackle for the Pats and fared well. In 239 pass-blocking snaps, McDermott allowed only 11 quarterback pressures without surrendering a sack.
The hope is that Brown will be able to play through his injuries for the Patriots to maintain continuity along the offensive line again this week. In the last two games, New England has had the same starting five: LT Trent Brown, LG Cole Strange, C David Andrews, RG Sidy Sow, and RT Mike Onwenu. The Patriots could field the same group, at least to start, on Sunday against Washington, with McDermott serving as a top swing tackle with Brown's availability uncertain.
As for Pharms, the former USFL standout has now carved out a semi-permanent role with the Patriots as an interior defensive lineman. Pharms logged 23 defensive snaps while being a standard elevation three weeks in a row from the practice squad, recording one stop. Following a solid summer, 19 of Pharms's 23 snaps came against the run, where he has shown flashes of upper-body power as a wide body that is difficult to move in the running game.
It's also worth noting that starting nose tackle Davon Godchaux is questionable due to an illness. Godchaux sat out Thursday's practice before returning on Friday in a limited capacity. It's unlikely that Pharms would be Godchaux's top backup in the game, with third-year DT Christian Barmore playing more over the nose in the past when Godchaux wasn't available. Still, Pharms will provide another layer of depth.
As always, the 53-man roster is a fluid situation. As great as it is to see Pharms carve out a role, let's not forget that QB/WR Malik Cunningham was signed to the active roster and released ten days later. There aren't any guarantees that Pharms will remain on the roster permanently.
Speaking of Cunningham, despite a slew of injuries at wide receiver, including a season-ending torn ACL for top wideout Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker's concussion that ruled him out on Friday, the Patriots did not elevate a pass-catcher from the practice squad, which bodes well for the availability of second-year WR Tyquan Thornton (foot, questionable) and likely guarantees that rookie Kayshon Boutte's streak of healthy inactives will end at seven games this week.
With two top veterans ruled out for this one, the wide receivers for quarterback Mac Jones will likely be JuJu Smith-Schuster, Demario Douglas, Jalen Reagor, Boutte, and Thornton.
The Patriots game-day roster is set as the team hosts the Washington Commanders at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.