The schedule of the New England Patriots over the next 10 days clearly does not lend itself to taking the process of preseason football at a leisurely pace.
The Patriots enter a hectic period of their schedule this week as they prepare for the preseason finale, face two rounds of roster cuts and then turn their attention to the regular season opener. The team will make its first round of cuts down to 65 (non-exempt) players by the end of the business day tomorrow, two days before their last preseason contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday. The final cut-down date to the 53-man roster is three days later on Sept. 5, which is just four days before the season-opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
"Right now we are scrambling a little bit like you usually are at this time of year, coming off the Carolina game and going over the tape of the players and the corrections and so forth," Head coach Bill Belichick said. "We have a really short week now for Jacksonville. Then we will turn around and open the season in about 10 days."
The Patriots began that process Monday, releasing rookie punter/kicker Cody Skates and rookie long snapper Brian Sawyer. Rookie safety Guss Scott was also officially placed on injured reserve with an injured knee and is out for the season.
"We have a couple of more things that we have to do to comply with the roster limit for tomorrow at 4 p.m.," Belichick said. "Naturally they will get done, but it is just a couple of moves that we will have to make here."
The Patriots roster currently sits at 77 active players following Monday's roster moves. The team also holds nine NFL Europe roster exemptions for players who played in the 2004 season and do not count against the preseason roster limits. Those players include quarterback Rohan Davey, receivers Michael Jennings and Chas Gessner, cornerback Earthwind Moreland, linebackers Grant Steen and Lawrence Flugence, safety Scott Farley, defensive linemen Buck Rasmussen and offensive linemen David Pruce and Jamil Soriano. That means Tuesday's cuts could be less-than-dramatic, as a minimum of three roster moves need to be made for the team to reach the NFL-mandated number.
As the Patriots move forward from the preseason finale and look towards the regular season, they have the unique position of preparing for Indianapolis while simultaneously making decisions on the final roster. Belichick doesn't foresee making any cuts before Sunday's deadline for the 53-player roster so that the team may better prepare for the opening game.
"We're kind of in a unique situation there in that we'll be starting our preparations for the opening game probably earlier than most other teams will, and that also will coincide with the final cut-down date," he said. "I would imagine that our final cuts will come Sunday. We may or may not do some before that, but I think that our final cuts will probably come Sunday like everybody else's. That would be my best guess."
No News On Brown
The official news on veteran wide receiver Troy Brown is that there is no news. Brown was injured on a punt return during the first quarter of Saturday's preseason loss to Carolina. He was later announced as probable to return with an undisclosed leg injury, but never returned to the game and was not on the sidelines in the second half. Belichick did say Monday that he wasn't worried the injury could keep Brown out an extended period of time, but gave little else in terms of an update.
"No, I don't have any update on that," Belichick said. "When we have something that we can pass on, we will."
Patriots defensive linemen Dwight Johnson is a proud father with quite a story. Following Saturday's game, Johnson rented a car and made the three-hour trip from Charlotte to Atlanta, Ga., arriving at 4:30 a.m. for the birth of his first son. Johnson's wife Mia gave birth to Dwight O'Neal Johnson Jr. on Sunday night after 18 hours of labor. "I got there on time," he said. "I was there all day waiting and anticipating." … Belichick said wide receiver David Givens, who did not play Saturday because of a leg injury he suffered against Cincinnati, is "getting better day by day" and has a chance to play against Jacksonville. … Quarterback Tom Brady isn't surprised rookie tight end Benjamin Watson has picked up the offense so quickly after missing much of training camp. "He went to Duke for a while, so he must be smart," Brady said. "He has really come in and picked up the offense much faster than I ever did, which isn't saying much."