Though the bulk of the preseason – game and practice action – is in the books, there clearly will be some jobs and roster spots on the line tonight at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots take on the Giants.
By Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., all 32 teams will have to cut their rosters down to 53 men. Though some guys on the current roster could end up on injured reserve (IR) or the physically unable to perform list (PUP), that means a lot of guys on the field tonight could be out of work before most of us are sitting down on our coaches for Saturday night's LSU/Oregon game. With that in mind I've thrown together a list of guys who might see significant action tonight against the Giants and who might be playing for their Patriots lives. Sure Bill Belichick probably has a pretty good idea what most of his players offer at this point, but a major last-minute success or failure could probably change his mind.
Here are some guys who I think need to make things happen on the Gillette Stadium turf:
S Josh Barrett – The oft-injured coverage ace needs to show something, anything in New England game action.
S James Ihedigbo – A special teamer and pass rush specialist with the Jets, the Amherst-native's late arrival has him fitting the clock to prove himself.
WR/KOR Brandon Tate – Tate was slowed by an injury early in camp and by the Lions coverage units when he did get on the field last weekend. If a man is left of the wide receiver depth chart at this point it would seem to be Tate.
OL Rich Ohrnberger – The third-year G/C got killed filling in for Dan Connolly last week. Of course he was facing maybe the best young defensive lineman the game has seen in some time. Regardless, as the final roster spots play out on the line, Ohrnberger needs to show he's worthy of sticking on more than just the practice squad.
TEs Will Yeatman/Lee Smith – Right now I think the undrafted lacrosse-playing Yeatman makes the team, but he certainly shouldn't rest on his laurels. Smith has done little to impress in August, but he's a draft pick and a late push might get him back on the roster.
LBs Niko Koutouvides/Tracy White – Is there room for two veteran special teams-only linebackers on the roster? Maybe not. If that's the case, these two should fight to the final gun to remain employed in New England.
RB Richard Medlin – The undrafted rookie isn't going to make the team. But he could be kept on the practice squad. He's looked solid in the preseason and another good performance could land him a paycheck on the eight-man taxi team.
LS James Dearth – The veteran is the only long snapper. Even so, I wouldn't assume anything if I were him. He needs to show clean snaps throughout or he could have a short stay in town. The long snapping job is anything but settled and may not be for some time as their simply seems to be a dearth of talent at the position. (See what I did there!)
And don't forget to tune your computer or smart phone to the Patriots Pre-Game Social at 5:15 p.m. for all the latest news and information leading up to the fourth preseason game against the Giants. Check it out on the official Patriots Facebook page, ITunes Live or the official Patriots app on your phone!