New England Patriots cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
5:05
PM ET
Most significant move: Waiving 2013 fourth-round draft choice Josh Boyce. When training camp began, he was projected as the New England Patriots' top kickoff returner and was part of a deep receiving corps in which his speed was supposed to be an asset. But Kenbrell Thompkins, an undrafted free agent from the same 2013 class, once again outperformed him as Boyce couldn't gain enough momentum. He'd be a strong practice-squad candidate if he clears waivers.

Linebacker depth on radar: Arguably the second-most notable move was second-year linebacker Steve Beauharnais being waived. The Patriots don't have much depth at their off-the-line linebacker spots (evolving depth chart here), but they're probably factoring Dont'a Hightower into that mix, and perhaps even Rob Ninkovich in an emergency. Beauharnais was on the bubble and had value in terms of his knowledge of the defense and ability to lead the huddle and get everyone lined up correctly, so perhaps he returns on the practice squad if he's not claimed.

Three quarterbacks for now: The Patriots kept both Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo behind Tom Brady, marking the first time since 2011 that they'll enter the season with three players at the position. The next question: Who's No. 2?

If history is any indication, expect more movement: The Patriots seldom set their 53-man roster and stand pat. With this in mind, it would hardly be surprising if there aren't more moves ahead, with the club claiming a player or two on waivers, or entertaining trade possibilities in certain areas. Like some of the lower-level players on the roster should be, we're still on edge for potential surprises.

A change at snapper: In releasing Danny Aiken, the Patriots don't have another snapper on the roster outside of Rob Ninkovich. The Patriots could always bring in another player at the position, but for now, it looks like Ninkovich's job unless Aiken returns or the team signs someone else.

Patriots cuts: LS Danny Aiken, LB Steve Beauharnais, DE Jake Bequette, WR Josh Boyce, C Braxston Cave, LB Ja'Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, RB Roy Finch, WR Jeremy Gallon, S Shamiel Gary, RB Jonas Gray, OL Jon Halapio, TE Steve Maneri, DL Eathyn Manumaleuna, FB Taylor McCuller, LB James Morris (injured reserve), CB Daxton Swanson, DL L.T. Tuipulotu, DL Jerel Worthy.

What's next: Bill Belichick is scheduled to hold a 10 a.m. ET conference call Sunday to answer questions on the roster, and more.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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