The Patriots were back at it on Sunday afternoon both on the field and off it as the news and fallout after the third preseason game began to hit.
Here’s what we gathered from the field and in the locker room.
Gordon off NFI
The receiver corps continued their upward trajectory as Josh Gordon was present for practice in full pads, a sign that he was set to come off the NFI list and join the team full time. Now, with Gordon and Demaryius Thomas in the mix, along with Julian Edelman returning from a wrist injury, the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart looks far better than it did two weeks ago in Tennessee.
All three could possibly get a chance to knock some rust off against the Giants on Thursday night, or the Pats could just choose to spring their new-look offense on the unsuspecting Steelers. No one has any idea how the Patriots passing offense will look and they could play that to their advantage. It’s a pretty good bet Edelman and Gordon will lead the way.
Maurice Harris Released
Per ESPN.com’s Field Yates, wide receiver Maurice Harris was released, opening up a roster spot and giving the veteran a chance to get a jump on the free agency market. Harris had a great start to camp and was one of the nicest surprises early on. He had a touchdown in the preseason opener, a nice one-handed catch, but was hurt in the first joint practice with the Titans and did not see any action in the last two games. While Harris was a roster favorite for much of the early summer he got hurt at the wrong time and then multiple receivers returned to the team, pushing him irreparably down the depth chart.
Notable players missing from practice also included Benjamin Watson, Lance Kendricks, Damien Harris and David Andrews. Watson and Harris were banged up against the Panthers.
Shilique Calhoun and Derek Rivers remained out as well after getting hurt against the Titans. Of the new absences, only Andrews would expect to play a significant role in the opener, he’s the biggest one to watch for this week and next in practice.
There were two new players at practice, reported by ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss to be running back Robert Martin and linebacker Scooby Wright. With Damien Harris absent and Calhoun and Rivers still recovering, the two players should add some depth before the fourth preseason game.
Brandon King was placed on Injured Reserve.
Patrick Chung was out of his red no contact jersey.
Per The Athletic’s Nick Underhill, Keionta Davis was released with an injury designation.
Locker Room Report
Phillip Dorsett on former Colts teammate Andrew Luck’s retirement.
“Honestly, I was just speechless. He was a great guy to be around. Nothing but respect for Andrew. He was the first person to text me as soon as I got drafted - saying that he can’t wait to get me in and get going. We always worked just trying to get that camaraderie. He was always a joy to be around. I’m happy for him to get some relief but sad that he’s walking away because he’s such a great player and he loves football.”
Demaryius Thomas on picking up the Patriots offense.
“I’m getting the hang of it. When I was in Houston it was kinda similar, that’s helping me out. Still a couple things I’ve picked up. So far so good. Just trying to fit in. My main thing is being in the right spot and catching the ball. I still got a lot of work to do but it’s getting better and better every day.”
Matthew Slater on the final week of preseason before cutdown day.
“It’s a very difficult week. This is the part of the business that you really don’t enjoy. Guys that have worked so hard for so long to try to live out their dreams, no matter which stage of your career you’re in, it’s always tough to see guys go. In that regard, it does put things into perspective. I think for me as well as some other guys, we have a lot to be thankful for, that what we’ve been able to experience this NFL life, the abilty to play a child’s game as a grown adult, it’s a gift. You always want to remain thankful and take advantage of the opportunities while you have them. Try to get through this week as best you can.”