The Patriots continued to trim veterans from their roster on Monday, slowly working their way toward the 53-man cutdown that will happen Saturday by 4pm EST. Along with an afternoon practice session with a new and notable absence, there was locker room access as well as assistant coach availability.
Here's all that happened on a busy Tuesday at Gillette Stadium!
The team released another veteran early, giving Mike Pennel a jump on the weekend craziness. Pennel failed to adapt to the Patriots defensive tackle position and was beaten out by Danny Shelton, who had similar trouble adjusting last year. Shelton started to figure it out as the season progressed and after re-signing with the team on a one-year deal, he's look far more comfortable at nose tackle in the regular defense. Shelton dropped some weight and has been a surprise of camp that made free agent Pennel expendable.
Cole Croston was the lone new addition not to be spotted, a potentially significant development as he's locked fighting for a third and final tackle spot. After starting camp on PUP, then getting released and returning, another injury setback would be unfortunate for Croston, though he was seen in the locker room later that afternoon.
Other notable absences from Sunday included David Andrews and Damien Harris who were not seen at Sunday's practice either. Ben Watson, Lance Kendricks, Derek Rivers and Shilique Calhoun were also not present.
Andrews remains the most significant player to watch for, though Harris, Rivers and Calhoun should all be making roster pushes.
One unpredictable factor for the process of putting together the 53-man roster is the addition of external players currently on other teams and about to be cut. Bill Belichick was asked about monitoring all those players and how they go about finding ones who might be able to step in and help the team despite spending the last two months elsewhere:
"Look, there's a lot of moving parts at this time of year. I don't think anybody really knows. There's other factors externally that could affect us as well, we don't know what those are. We'll just see how it goes, try to do the best we can, put together the most competitive team we can this year. I don't know how exactly that's going to work out."
"I think Nick [Caserio] and Dave Ziegler and the guys in that department do a great job. I think they're on top of it. I can ask them about any player in the league and they can tell me what that player's situation is, who he's in competition with, how he's looked, what game's he's played in, better than last year, not as good as last year. Whatever it is, they'll be on all of those guys. And at thirteen hundred guys or whatever, there'll be some kind of transaction. With thirteen hundred-plus that'll have a transaction here in the next few days, there'll be very few – if any – guys that we'll – we'll be way over the thirteen hundred. We're looking at maybe thirteen hundred and then some guys are going to make it, some guys aren't, but the guys that are there will be on. So I'd be surprised if there's somebody in that group that we haven't looked at tape on, had a preseason evaluation on, and that we're not up to speed with. That's what the pro personnel department does."
Locker Room Sound Bites
James White on the mindset for the team this week:
"Just focus on you. Focusing on getting better. It's your last and final game, nobody knows who's gonna be here or who's not. Line up with your best foot forward and play the best you can. [For the veterans] it's the same mindset. It's continuing to get better, still trying to figure ourselves out as a team. Still trying to come together."
Braxton Berrios on staying focused through training camp:
"You try not to [ride the emotional rollercoaster]. We know camp is a long 6-week process and going into that you kinda mentally prepare and you've been through it in college. You understand what it takes, maybe not at this extent, but you understand in a general sense. You try not to get too high, not get too low and try to stay even keeled throughout it all."
Patrick Chung on the mindset of the team in the final week of preseason:
"Really, it's just trying to get better. It takes a lot. We're just starting, we've only played three preseason games. It's about building and trying to get that relationship and bond with the guys so we're all on the same page. It's gonna take a little time and I think we've been doing that. We just gotta keep pushing and getting better."
Jerod Mayo on piecing together the Pats versatile defensive front:
"We've always been a gameplan defense, a defense that changes every week. We're not a team that goes out there and does the same thing every week, it's been that way since I was here and before I was here. It's always good, so the offense doesn't really know what to prepare for."