Currently operating with a bloated roster, they need to pare their squad down to a svelte 53 players when it's all said and done. Now that they have some game action under their belts, there are players sitting squarely in the crosshairs when it comes to the roster bubble.
The fates of the players whose New England futures are up in the air aren't set in stone. However, as preseason winds down, they have created more questions than provided answers.
Here are five players in danger of being cut:
Quarterback Tim Tebow: If being a good citizen was all that counted, the left-handed signal caller would be a lock for the roster. He has been nothing short of stellar as a teammate and handling intense media scrutiny. Unfortunately, production counts, too, and Tebow has done little on the field to help his case.
He has struggled in practices, showing inconsistent form and results.
After looking tentative and taking three sacks in the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he was putrid the following week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In that game, he completed just one of his seven passes for -1 yards and an interception, which translated to a QB rating of 0.0.
Even though MassLive.com's Nick Underhill reported Tebow appears to be running multiple styles of offense, his performance this preseason has been disappointing to say the least. If New England isn't willing to make his development a long-term project, he could find himself out of a roster spot in the coming weeks.
Running Back Brandon Bolden: After joining the team last year as an undrafted rookie, Bolden flashed talent on his way to a surprising 274 rushing yards and two scores.
Despite last season's success, he is not being given anything this year, as the Patriots brought in former 1,000-yard rusher LeGarrette Blount, who is pushing hard for a backup spot behind Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
Blount has out-rushed Bolden 111 yards to 52 in the first two preseason games. Although he is 30 pounds heavier, he showed excellent athleticism on a catch out of the backfield against the Buccaneers.
WEEI's Christopher Price believes Bolden is in serious danger of losing his job to the more experienced Blount. Everyone loves an underdog, but this is one Cinderella story that may be coming to an end.
Cornerback Ras-I Dowling: The 2011 second-round pick has played just a total of eight games, recording only eight tackles and no interceptions in his first two seasons with the Patriots.
Dowling has rarely seen the field during this year's training camp, and has yet to get on the field in a preseason game due to more injuries. Players can't make the team from the sidelines, and he is so far behind the other defensive backs that he faces a monumental task to keep a job.
Defensive End Jermaine Cunningham: Coming out of the University of Florida as a second-round pick in 2010, Cunningham offered great potential as a pass rusher. However, injuries and a lack of continued development have held him to just 36 games and 3.5 sacks in three seasons.
Cunningham is injured once again, and has yet to see preseason game action. He is also being pushed by newcomer Marcus Benard, who is a similar player, healthy and has a better track record of success, as he has 11.5 sacks in 25 career NFL games.
Although Cunningham offers great versatility to play on the inside and outside, his lack of growth and struggles to stay healthy make him a candidate to be cut.
Safety Tavon Wilson: It's rare for a team to cut a second-round pick after just one season but that may be what happens with Wilson.
He has not shown improvement following an up-and-down rookie season. He also looked terrible against Tampa Bay, getting beat on several plays and getting whistled for a costly holding penalty.
The Boston Globe's Erik Frenz wrote that Wilson appears to have been passed on the depth chart by rookie Duron Harmon. Since he was a backup to begin with, this is not an encouraging development for his future as a member of the Patriots.
Conclusion: Every practice and preseason game brings the Patriots closer to making the decisions that will ultimately shape their 2013 roster. While there is still time for turnarounds, the clock is already ticking more loudly for some players than for others.
In addition to the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written for Bleacher Report and a number of print publications and websites on the topics of history and sports. He also produces his own blog and has appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @historianandrew.
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