Bill Belichick may claim not to know what the roster bubble is, but it’s very much going to be a factor for the 2019 New England Patriots.

This year’s team has some solid depth across multiple positions and is set for some tough cuts to get down to the 53-man roster before the Aug. 31 deadline.

We saw the first signs of that earlier this week when the team cut veteran punter Ryan Allen to pave the way for rookie Jake Bailey.

Who else is on the bubble and what are their chances of making the roster? Let’s take a look. These guys will get a chance to make their case when the Patriots play their third preseason game Thursday against Carolina.

QB BRIAN HOYER

Hoyer has been a solid backup for the Patriots for a while and projects as a stable presence behind Brady should things go south.

However, with rookie third-round pick Jarrett Stidham having some good performances this preseason, letting Hoyer go for a younger, cheaper backup has emerged as a legitimate possibility. The Patriots have gone with just two quarterbacks on the roster in recent years and Hoyer doesn’t come cheap. Is it worth it to keep him around if Stidham can move the ball and develop?

We’re not there yet, as Hoyer is a better player than people give him credit for. But the conversation has started, with some outlets projecting Hoyer to fall short of the final 53. This QB battle could be a storyline to watch for the next two preseason games. Projection: Safe

WR PHILLIP DORSETT

Dorsett has been sort of lost in the mix at receiver the past few years, but is the sort of stable veteran the Patriots can call upon when things get dicey elsewhere. Josh Gordon’s return complicates things, but not for Dorsett. Projection: Safe

WR BRAXTON BERRIOS

With Julian Edelman off the PUP list, the chances that Berrios breaks out as a punt returner and slot receiver seem slim. He’s been effective as a returner, but has struggled to improve as a pass catcher. Projection: Cut

WR MAURICE HARRIS

Harris was considered a dark horse to make an impact this year for the Patriots at the start of camp. Then Jakobi Meyers broke out, Gordon came back from suspension and the Patriots got Edelman and Demaryius Thomas back from the PUP list. Meanwhile, Harris is reportedly dealing with an injury. Projection: Cut/injured reserve

TIGHT ENDS

We’re going to do all five of these guys at once, because someone has to make this roster while Ben Watson serves his suspension, and none of them is a lock.

Lance Kendricks is the biggest name, Stephen Anderson is the best receiver, Ryan Izzo is the best blocker, Matt LaCosse is probably the best balance and Eric Saubert presents the newest prospect to examine. Who makes it in the end? Honestly, we need more preseason games to watch. Projection: In the meantime, let’s go with LaCosse and Izzo as the two who make it.

OT DAN SKIPPER

Skipper got most of the first-team reps at left tackle before Isaiah Wynn fully returned to the fold. The 6-foot-9 tackle now projects as a possible swing option for depth. However, he remains very much a developmental player. Projection: Safe

DL BYRON COWART

Previously, Cowart’s low draft status as a fifth-round pick and quiet preseason made it seem like he was a long shot to make the roster. Then he blew up Tennessee’s high-priced free agent guard, Rodger Saffold, for a sack last week. He’ll probably be worth a longer look. Projection: Safe

DE DEREK RIVERS

A third-round pick in 2017, the Augusta, Maine, native missed his rookie season with an ACL tear and played sparingly in 2018. However, he’s taken steps forward this preseason and could be poised to finally break out. At least that was the case before he went down with an injury in Saturday’s game against the Titans. Projection: Uncertain, due to injury

DE DEATRICH WISE

Wise has shown flashes of brilliance early in his career, but he could be schemed out of a natural spot in the Patriots defense this year as the team seemingly moves to bigger linemen and speedier pass rushers off the edge. He could be a candidate for a trade – or force the Patriots to keep him around if he proves his talent. Projection: Cut

CB KEION CROSSEN

One of the few Patriots draft picks that actually managed to stay healthy over the past two seasons, Crossen was a special teams standout and had some spot duty at cornerback. The 2018 seventh-round pick is a tremendous athlete but still raw – and is fighting for a spot in a pretty loaded secondary. The Patriots will have a tough call to make here. Projection: Safe

CB DUKE DAWSON

While Crossen was improving as a rookie, Dawson never saw the field last year. In the meantime, the 2018 second-round pick hasn’t done a whole lot to impress so far in training camp or the preseason. Time is running out for him to live up to his draft pedigree – though he has reportedly had some improved performances in practice as of late. Projection: Cut

S OBI MELIFONWU

A great athlete with tremendous size, Melifonwu has been trying to put it all together as a defender. After playing sparingly in 2018, he’s been lost in the shuffle as part of a loaded safety group this year. He needs to make a big step forward if he’s going to prove himself over guys like Terrence Brooks. Projection: Cut

DB/ST NATE EBNER

Ebner has been a special teams ace in New England for a while, but faces some stiff competition in the form of Terrence Brooks (also a standout special teamer) and Melifonwu, who has great physical potential. Projection: Safe


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