FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots open the regular season against the Miami Dolphins in less than two weeks. They have their preseason finale against the New York Giants on Thursday.
And by 4 p.m. Tuesday, the roster needs to be trimmed from 83 to 75 players.
The final days of preseason will be chaotic with all the moving parts, but it’s something Bill Belichick and his personnel staff have become accustomed to.
“It’s one of the toughest times of the year for the coaches,” Belichick said Tuesday, before the Logan Mankins trade was announced. “We’re dealing with roster movement, dealing with trying to develop our scheme and get it ready for the season, not just the opener but the entire season, trying to get ready for preseason games, in this case the Giants, and also looking ahead to Miami.
“There’s a lot of balls in the air, a lot of things going on, you can’t just look at one thing and ignore the other. It’s a stressful time for players as we come into the cuts, a stressful time for coaches in terms of all the things I mentioned, but that’s training camp. It’s that way every year. It’s not a surprise, but it’s a challenging time.”
Before Tuesday’s practice began, it was reported that the Patriots had released wide receivers Wilson Van Hooser and Derrick Johnson, as well as linebacker Deonte Skinner and defensive back Travis Hawkins. Then news came of Mankins being traded to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a draft pick.
The Patriots began making cuts Sunday when they released Tommy Kelly, James Anderson, and Will Smith, and tight end Justin Jones was cut Monday.
“We did what’s best for the football team,” Belichick said. “There’s no negatives on Tommy, there’s no negatives on any of those guys — Will, Tommy, James. They all came in here, did what we asked them to do, worked hard, there’s nothing negative about those guys.”