New England Patriots: 3 things to watch for in preseason finale

Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Jalen Mills #2 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots thing to watch No. 2: Who stands out at corner?

The cornerback competition quickly became one of the more interesting stories of this game when the Pats swung a trade for Shaun Wade with the Baltimore Ravens. New England’s cornerback room has been a hot topic all offseason long, especially considering Stephon Gilmore’s contract situation is still unresolved, but the addition of Wade certainly put an emphasis on the position coming into this game.

Looking at the group, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, and Jalen Mills are all locks to make the roster. But Mills has been inconsistent at times throughout camp, which is expected considering he’s been playing all over the place in a new defensive scheme. And Jones has dealt with various injuries throughout camp; he picked up another one just hours before the team traded for Wade, but it sounds like they dodged a bullet there.

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Afterwards, the depth is perilously thin. Adding Gilmore back would certainly help, but the team can’t count on his situation getting settled at this stage in the game. There’s a spot or two at the cornerback position there for the taking, the question is who is going to grab it.

The addition of Wade makes the situation much more interesting. For most of camp it has seemed like Joejuan Williams has had an inside track to breaking the roster again, but Wade’s arrival potentially throws that in doubt. This is set to be Williams third season in the NFL, but the former second round pick has failed to make his mark on the team yet, making it possible the team moves on from him.

That opens a door for guys like Wade, Dee Virgin, Myles Bryant, D’Angelo Ross, and Michael Jackson Sr. The fact that all these guys have stuck around this far shows just how open this competition is. No one has been awful, but nobody has stood out either to put things to bed either.

Simply put, watching these guys compete for the final couple roster spots in the secondary is going to be one of the more compelling parts of this preseason game. Maybe Gilmore returns and deems it somewhat irrelevant, but even if he returns there’s a good shot at least one of those guys cracks the final roster. Don’t be surprised to see this game play a major part in how the final cornerback depth chart shakes out for the Pats.