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Analysis: Patriots assemble initial 2021 practice squad

Patriots TE Matt LaCosse (83).
Patriots TE Matt LaCosse (83).

A day after cutting their roster down to the initial 53 players, the Patriots have begun filling out their 16-man practice squad, announcing 12 signings on Wednesday night, with reports of three additional signings.

With relaxed rules from 2020 once again being implemented, it gives teams much more freedom to add veterans to the expanded squad, many of whom can be expected to at least make a roster appearance at some point this season. It's little surprise this year's squad is filled with vets who should contribute at some point.

Younger players like Tashaun Bower, Myles Bryant and Will Sherman can continue to develop and could see an opportunity to get a taste of real NFL game action without worrying about passing through waivers.

Here's the breakdown of the initial 2021 Patriots practice squad with a few more signings to come!

Matt LaCosse, TE: LaCosse was having himself a solid camp before getting hurt in the first joint practice with the Eagles. While his long-term prognosis is unknown, he brings some valuable veteran depth behind Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry and Devin Asiasi.

Myles Bryant, DB: Bryant also battled injuries this preseason, most recently practicing in a red no-contact jersey prior to his release. He's a versatile option in the secondary, working as both a safety and slot corner throughout his rookie season in 2020 and during 2021's training camp.

Alex Redmond, OL: The veteran has 32 career starts along the offensive line and had a solid training camp with the Patriots. Though the team traded for guard Yasir Durant, Redmond provides another level of interior line security.

Tre Nixon, WR: The rookie 7th-rounder had his training camp derailed due to injuries but started to show up toward the end of camp with an impressive blend of size and quickness. He'll get the chance to develop behind the scenes, learning New England's offense and getting fully healthy.

Bill Murray, DT: The 2020 undrafted rookie is back for his second season with the Patriots practice squad. Murray was one of the few to not get a gameday elevation last season, but continues to develop.

Kristian Wilkerson, WR: Wilkerson had some of the standout plays from training camp, showing promising development after spending most of 2020 on the practice squad. He was elevated for one game in 2020 and could be knocking on the door of a more permanent elevation.

D'Angelo Ross, CB: Ross is back for his third go-round on the practice squad after capping off the 2021 preseason with one of the most impressive games of his career. Ross notched an interception and third-down stop in the game as he secured his chance to return to New England.

Brian Hoyer, QB: With just Mac Jones on the roster at the quarterback position, Hoyer's return to the practice squad isn't all that surprising. Could it be a short stay before he gets elevated to the main roster? The Patriots are getting their ducks in a row but it would still seem like at least one more QB will join the team.

Nick Folk, K: Quinn Nordin made the initial 53-man roster, but veteran Nick Folk is also on his way back to Foxborough. Folk had an excellent year in 2020, hitting two game-winning kicks that earned him Special Teams Player of the Week, he's a good insurance plan behind the rookie.

Tashaun Bower, LB:Bower returns to the practice squad for a third season after making some strides in training camp on the edge. He played in seven games in 2020 after being elevated to the regular roster.

James Ferentz, C: The veteran center was a valuable piece this preseason with both Ted Karras and David Andrews missing practice at various points.

Will Sherman, OL: The 6th-round pick comes back to the team as he looks to develop behind the scenes.

There are also three reported signings that would put the Patriots with just one more open spot.

Jahlani Tavai, LB (reported by Field Yates): A 2019 second-round pick by Matt Patricia with the Lions, Tavai had 69 solo tackles in his first two seasons with the Lions. An aggressive inside linebacker with good size, Tavai provides some experienced depth behind Ja'Whaun Bentley and Harvey Langi.

Ben Mason, FB (reported by Ian Rapoport): The fullback out of Michigan was a fifth-round pick of the Ravens this year, marking the second of their 2021 draft picks to move from Baltimore to New England. One of our fits on the 2021 Patriots big board, Mason's arrival provides depth behind Jakob Johnson and perhaps competition.

Garrett Gilbert, QB (reported by Field Yates): Gilbert is a long-time practice squad veteran quarterback that spent the end of 2014 and the early part of 2015 with the Patriots. He got the first start of his career last year for the Cowboys after working his way up as a backup for the Browns and Panthers. He'll offer a third layer of depth behind Brian Hoyer and Mac Jones.

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