Aug 11, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) knocks down a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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Over the weekend, the New England Patriots roster was sliced down to the mandatory 53-man requirement.
Some roster hopefuls found themselves on the outside looking in after final Patriots roster cuts, but these bubble players made the team. Here are eight players that we are especially happy for:
8. Jonathan Jones
Everybody was thinking that Cre’Von LeBlanc had the No. 5 job all locked up, but Jones ended up making the cut in the end. Jones displayed sticky coverage, awareness of ball location, and most of all… speed. The guy is blazing fast, and you can bet that the Patriots like his special teams ability. So now the Patriots have not one, but two rookie cornerbacks with the last name of Jones on their roster.
Like Jones, King is an undrafted Auburn product. King snuck onto the field last year as a core special teamer after initially getting cut, and there was some question as to whether or not the Patriots would retain him this year. But King held off other Patriots roster bubble players like Kamu Grugier-Hill for the precious few special teams roles, and here he is. Good for King.
Jul 30, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots fullback James Develin (46) runs with the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
6. James Develin
After he missed the entire 2015 season due to injury, Develin is a guy you just have to feel glad for now that he is on the final Patriots roster. Develin held off fellow snowplow Joey Iosefa for the power role in the Patriots’ backfield, and this writer couldn’t be happier. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who Tom Brady once called the best fullback in all of football. Develin is the Patriots’ representative at fullback union meetings, an ever-decreasing population in the NFL ecosystem.
Johnson caught on fire in the final three preseason games, forcing the Patriots’ hand. In fact, Johnson impressed so much that he vaulted over Terrance Knighton and Markus Kuhn on the depth chart to join Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and Vincent Valentine. The Patriots are extremely deep on the interior with Johnson bringing up the rear on the depth chart.
Jul 28, 2016; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive guard Ted Karras (75) takes the field for training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
4. Ted Karras
It’s always a sign of sound draft strategy when a sixth round pick makes the final roster. That’s the case here with Karras. Considered a long shot initially to last through the summer, Karras has been opportunistic and has proven himself; what has stood out the most is Karras’ obvious work ethic. He sweated for this job and deserves it. For more reading on Karras’ story, check out this Boston Globe story that details the football-centric history of the Karras family.
Speaking of work ethic, here is another back-end draft pick who exemplified the Patriot Way and made the final Patriots roster as a result. The leading solo tackler in the FBS with 88 of them last year, Roberts overcomes his slightly undersized stature for an inside linebacker with excellent tackling technique. The Patriots seem to like him in the Dont’a Hightower role, as Roberts was spotted with the control center headset in the preseason finale. The Pats were never going to take both Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill, so respect on Roberts for winning the job over the favorited party.
Sep 1, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots running back D.J. Foster (27) runs with the ball during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
2. D.J. Foster
You have to feel good for any undrafted rookie who makes the final Patriots roster, but especially Foster for overcoming an early preseason injury and battling back to win the job. The news of Dion Lewislanding on the PUP made room for Foster on the 53-man roster, so now the Patriots have not one, but two pass catching specialists in the backfield with Foster behind James White on the depth chart. Good for the Arizona State product.
The Patriots were always going to take Clay Harbor onto the final roster, but Derby deserves respect for making them take him along, too. It’s pretty unusual for a team to carry the same number of wideouts as tight ends (four), but the Patriots wanted to give Derby a roster spot over the likes of Aaron Dobson, Keshawn Martin, Chris Harper and DeAndre Carter. Derby did everything right in the preseason, save for a humanizing drop against the Carolina Panthers.