The Patriots have their first set of joint practices this week, hosting the Carolina Panthers for two days before playing their second preseason game on Friday (7 p.m.).
Here are four things to know with the Panthers coming to town on Tuesday . . .
There is an ongoing quarterback battle in Carolina.
The Panthers are holding an “open” quarterback competition between incumbent Sam Darnold and newcomer Baker Mayfield. Coach Matt Rhule said he doesn’t plan to make a decision until after they play the Patriots.
Mayfield, who requested out of Cleveland following the Deshaun Watson trade, joined the Panthers in early July and started Saturday’s preseason opener. He played one series, completing 4 of his 7 passes for 46 yards, while Darnold played two possessions, connecting on 2 of his 3 passes for 16 yards and a touchdown. Both players work with the first team during practice.
“For me, personally, it’s doing everything I can with the plays that I have,” Darnold said. “That’s how I’ve got to take it at this point.”
The Patriots are familiar with Darnold, as he spent his first three seasons with the New York Jets. In four games against New England, Darnold threw for 691 yards, 9 interceptions, and 1 touchdown, with a passer rating of 41.2.
There are some other familiar faces on the Panthers.
A few names on Carolina’s roster should ring a bell for Patriots fans:
⋅ According to multiple reports, the Patriots explored a potential trade for Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson this offseason. A deal, obviously, never came together, and the Patriots instead bolstered their receiving corps by trading for DeVante Parker.
⋅ Cornerback Duke Dawson signed with the Panthers at the end of July. The Patriots drafted Dawson in the second round in 2018, but he never suited up for a game and was traded in 2019 to the Broncos for a sixth-round pick.
⋅ Tight end Ryan Izzo, who spent his first three NFL seasons with the Patriots, signed with the Panthers last week.
⋅ Defensive end Brian Burns made headlines last season when he and other Panthers called out quarterback Mac Jones for a “dirty play” in their Week 9 matchup. Jones later said he “didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
Expect at least one transaction by Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The Patriots must bring their roster down to 85 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Clubs are currently permitted to carry 90 players, but the Patriots only have 86 following the retirement of running back James White.
To get below the limit, the team could trade or release a player. Another possibility is moving rookie offensive tackle Andrew Stueber to the reserve/non-football injury list. Stueber has yet to practice during training camp, after getting drafted in the seventh round out of Michigan. Rookie guard Chasen Hines is also on the non-football injury list.
Clubs have to cut their rosters to 80 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23 and to 53 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
The rookies will no longer be in the 50s.
Ahead of Thursday’s preseason opener, Patriots rookies received their official jersey numbers, marking a training camp custom.
First-round pick Cole Strange took No. 69, last worn by right guard Shaq Mason, and second-round pick Tyquan Thornton took No. 11, last worn by wide receiver Julian Edelman.
The rookies donned temporary numbers throughout spring practices and the first two weeks of training camp, with Strange in No. 50 and each subsequent draft pick taking the next number (i.e. Thornton in No. 51). Now, the class has made permanent selections.
The rest of the rookies’ official numbers are as follows: quarterback Bailey Zappe, No. 4; cornerback Marcus Jones, No. 25; cornerback Jack Jones, No. 34; running back Pierre Strong Jr., No. 35; running back Kevin Harris, No. 36; Hines, No. 63; Stueber, No. 64; and defensive tackle Sam Roberts, No. 96.
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The Patriots announced the re-signing of 24-year-old defensive back Devin Hafford on Sunday. The 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound rookie free agent out of Tarleton State was initially signed on May 9 and released May 16. He played with the USFL’s Pittsburgh Maulers after his release.