FOXBORO — The New England Patriots announced the release of running back J.J. Taylor on Monday, creating an open spot on their 53-man roster.
Taylor originally joined the Pats as a rookie free agent out of Arizona in 2020. In his three seasons with New England, played in 12 games, carrying the ball 52 times for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught six passes for 20 yards. Taylor also played a role on New England’s return team, having run back five kicks for 112 yards and one punt for 11 yards.
Having begun 2022 on the Pats practice squad, the 24-year-old was signed to the active roster on Nov. 5. Taylor rushed 10 times for nine yards, while catching his only target for an eight-yard gain during New England’s Week 9 win over the Indianapolis Colts. He was inactive for the Pats 10-3 victory over the New York Jets last Sunday.
Despite being a bit underutilized during his tenure in New England, his ability to receive out of the backfield should provide some additional help on third down attempts. Taylor is also quite effective between-the-tackles on early downs, and can contribute as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Still, at 5-6, 185-pounds, his size provides limitations in the amount to which he may contribute.
With Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris holding the top spots on the running backs depth chart, the team also employs a promising pair of rookies in Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris. Each possesses the speed, strength and field savvy to eventually grow into the role. Yet, their experience level prevents them from being an immediate help. The duo has combined for just 22 offensive snaps and four carries for 10 yards thus far.
Should Taylor clear waivers, he could re-sign with the Patriots practice squad. At present, the team is not carrying a running back on its scout team. Taylor’s experience and popularity among his teammates make him an intriguing option.
As for their open roster spot, New England may find itself in need of additional help along the offensive line. With the potential of center David Andrews and tackle/guard Isaiah Wynn missing time due their respective injuries, the Pats could use the spot to add depth in this area. New England also carries guards Bill Murray and Hayden Howerton, as well as converted tight end (turned tackle) Hunter Thedford available for elevation via their practice squad.
Former New Orleans Saints reserve tackle (and ex-Patriot) Yasir Durant may also be an available option. After appearing for the Saints in his first game of the season (a 27-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, he was released by New Orleans on Monday. Durant appeared in seven games for the Patriots in 2021, making one start. In total, the 24-year-old took 95 offensive snaps for New England, logging one fumble recovery.
In addition to Taylor’s release, the Patriots also welcomed kicker Tristan Vizcaino back to their scout team. Vizcaino originally signed with New England in June, but was cut at the end of training camp. Through the first two months of the season, the 26-year-old spent time on-and-off of the team’s practice squad. After his second release on Nov. 1, Vizcaino was signed to the Arizona Cardinals 53-man roster on Nov. 12. He kicked two field goals in the Cardinals’ Week 10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams before being released on Nov. 15. Vizcaino has played in eight NFL games and is 11-of-12 on field goal attempts and 15-of-20 on extra points in games with the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers and Cardinals.
New England will travel to the Midwest, as they take on the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving night. Kickoff is set for Thursday, Nov 24 at 8:20 p.m. from U.S. Bank Stadium.
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