Now that their initial 53-man roster is set for the 2019 season the Pittsburgh Steelers are ramping up their preparations for their regular season Sunday night at Gillette Stadium against the New England Patriots. The Patriots, however, recently made quite a few interesting roster moves in the last several days that add quite a bit of intrigue to the Sunday night contest and especially on the offensive side of the football.
After losing starting center David Andrews for the entire 2019 season last week due to blood clots in his lungs, the Patriots acquired veteran center Russell Bodine in a trade with the Buffalo Bills for depth purposes. Ted Karras, who was selected by the Patriots with the 221st pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has played in 45 games — starting in five — over the course of his three-year tenure in New England, is expected to be the team’s starting center Sunday night against the Steelers.
The Patriots also had more recent shuffling on their offensive line depth chart as they acquired tackle Korey Cunningham from the Arizona Cardinals and guard Jermaine Eluemunor from the Baltimore Ravens via trades over the weekend.
Offensive line isn’t the only position group that the Patriots performed some last-minute shuffling at as the wide receiver group also underwent some minor adjustments as well, On Monday, veteran wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was re-signed back to the Patriots roster following his release a few days earlier. Thomas was released with the understanding he would be re-signed on Monday after the Patriots placed rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry on their Reserve/Injured list, which ultimately happened.
With Thomas now back in the fold, the Patriots appear set to have a Week 1 wide receiver depth chart that also includes him, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Matthew Slater, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. In last year’s game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh the Patriots wide receivers were Edelman, Gordon, Dorsett, Slater, Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson. Hogan and Patterson left via free agency this offseason.
Currently tight end for the Patriots following the team’s weekend cutdown to 53 players are Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Ben Watson and Lance Kendricks. Watson and Kendricks, however, will be moved to the Reserve/Suspended list on Monday or Tuesday so the Patriots might look to fill their roster spots with at least one more tight end. LaCosse missed most of the preseason due to an ankle injury while Izzo caught just three passes for 44 yards during the preseason.
Last year against the Steelers the Patriots had Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen as their two active tight ends. Allen was released this offseason while Gronkowski decided to retire.
If that’s not enough when it comes to the Patriots roster shuffling, they’ll also have a new backup quarterback behind starter Tom Brady in 2019. Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, who backed up Brady the last seasons, was cut a few days ago and has since signed with the Indianapolis Colts. His recent departure leaves rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who was drafted this year by New England in the fourth-round, as Brady’s lone backup for Week 1 pending any last-minute additions.
The Patriots have obviously had a few defensive changes during the offseason as well as veteran defensive tackle Michael Bennett was added via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles while defensive end Trey Flowers left for the Detroit Lions via free agency. Bennett replaces defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who also left during free agency. It’s also worth noting that linebacker Jamie Collins is now back with Patriots after spending the last two-plus seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Those few changes, however, are the only real notable ones on the defensive side of the football.
The Patriots even changed their punter recently as well as Ryan Allen, who handled those duties the last six seasons for New England, was released in mid August in favor of rookie Jake Bailey, who was drafted by the team in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
It’s not worth itemizing them, but the Patriots also changed out five members of their coaching staff this past offseason.
Of the players that were on theactive 53-man roster when they played the late last season, 20 are no longer on their current 53-man roster (some are on IR). That number for the is 13.