Getting a head start on their upcoming roster cuts, the Patriots waived cornerback Michael Jackson and defensive tackle Michael Barnett on Thursday.
The team also officially released veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
Barnett, an undrafted rookie, was waived with an injury designation. If he clears waivers, he will return to the team and land on injured reserve. The Pats signed Barnett less than two weeks ago to provide depth up front.
Jackson was acquired via trade in early August for a conditional late-round pick. The second-year cover man was hampered by injury late in training camp and missed the last several practices. He faced a steep climb on the Patriots’ cornerback depth chart, one topped by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.
The Pats are now down to 77 players. They must reach 53 by Saturday afternoon’s league-wide roster cut deadline.
Harris could miss opener
Patriots running back Damien Harris has missed the team’s last several practices due to injury and may now be in danger of missing its season opener on Sept. 13.
According to the NFL Network, Harris recently underwent surgery on his pinkie finger, which will require a couple weeks to heal. The second-year back led the Pats in carries during training camp and was considered the favorite to start Week 1. While incumbent starter Sony Michel sat out most practices as he recovered from foot surgery, Harris showed improved burst and receiving skills.
Michel, and recently signed veteran Lamar Miller, are now both practicing, lifted off the Physically Unable to Play list. While Miller is the most proven among them, he’s only a year removed from a torn ACL at age 29. Without Harris, the running back picture remains as muddy as ever heading into the opener.
O Captain! My Captain!
The Patriots announced the election of eight team captains Thursday: quarterback Cam Newton, running back James White, center David Andrews, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty and special teamer Matthew Slater.
As a first-year captain and Patriot, Newton’s selection made the most headlines. Bentley, Guy and Jason McCourty are also first-time captains. Slater and Devin McCourty will soon enter their 10th season as captains. Andrews and White have been honored for their fourth and third years, respectively.
Jackson, Wynn return
Cornerback J.C. Jackson and left tackle Isaiah Wynn were back at practice Thursday after an off day for players. Jackson missed the team’s prior practice on Tuesday. Wynn’s return restored the Pats’ starting O-line for the first time since training camp ended last week. Jackson
Wide receiver Gunner Olszewski was the only new absence. Defensive linemen Beau Allen and Nick Thurman and linebackers Scoota Harris and Tashawn Bower were also missing.