The list of Patriots players not expected to play in this one, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, includes running backs Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, linebacker Harvey Langi, safety Nate Ebner and tight ends Jacob Hollister and Ryan Izzo.
4 p.m. ET: The New England Patriots will take the field tonight in Charlotte for their third of four preseason games. Their opponents: Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
Click the link below for more on the Patriots’ various roster battles, and be sure to follow along throughout the evening for full Patriots-Panthers coverage.
While a rough sketch of the Patriots’ 53-man roster has begun to emerge over the past few weeks, several important spots remain up for grabs, including starting jobs at linebacker, cornerback, wide receiver and running back.
The absence of Hollister and Izzo should result in additional reps for tight ends Dwayne Allen and Will Tye, especially if Rob Gronkowski is held out for a third consecutive game.
The Patriots also will be without rookie offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, who reportedly tore his Achilles last Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Defensive end Trey Flowers and rookie cornerback Duke Dawson both were limited in practice this week, putting their status for tonight’s game into question. Flowers has yet to play in a game this preseason. Dawson played against the Washington Redskins but missed the Eagles contest.
The lone surprise on that list is Hollister, who has been a full participant throughout the summer and is expected to take on a larger role in the Patriots’ passing game this season. The exact reason for Hollister’s absence is unclear, but his situation is not considered serious, according to multiple reports.
As is customary in the third preseason game, the starters for both teams are expected to play into the second half. That includes Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was sharp last week, completing 19 of 26 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions before exiting the game just before halftime.
After watching several of New England’s young corners struggle against Philadelphia, it will be interesting to see if Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones make their preseason debuts tonight. The former looks like favorite to be the Patriots’ top slot corner, while the latter could begin the season as the team’s punt returner. Both are coming off season-ending injuries.