Devin Lucien is yet again on the roster bubble for the New England Patriots this summer. It seems that in every offseason since 2016, the UCLA and Arizona State wide receiver is battling for a spot on the 53-man roster. This time around, there seems to be something different in the air. Lucien has more than a fighting chance to make the 2018-2019 team.
Third Time’s A Charm
Lucien was drafted 225th overall in the seventh round of the 2016 draft by the Patriots. This moment was arguably his most significant one in the NFL to date. Lucien struggled to find his footing with the Pats in training camp and was one of the final cuts that summer. He was subsequently signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers.
The Patriots would go on to win the Superbowl that season (28-3, need I say more?) and Lucien would never see the field. That Patriots team was stacked at wide receiver with the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and fellow rookie Malcolm Mitchell. There simply wasn’t room for Lucien on the 53-man roster in the 2016-2017 season.
From there, things continued to spiral out of his control. On February 7th, 2017, he signed a futures contract with the Patriots but was subsequently placed on injured reserve on September 2nd with a bad foot. He was ultimately released with an injury settlement on September 6th.
The next four months must have been a blur for Lucien, as he suffered through short practice squad stints with the Colts, Chiefs, Texans, and Buccaneers. Finally, less than a month ago, Lucien signed yet again with the Patriots.
A Clean Slate
The new-look Patriots could be a much more favorable home for Lucien this season. The wide receiver corps is already in a precarious position. It looks quite different than it did during Lucien’s rookie tenure on the practice squad. Gone are the days of Amendola and Mitchell catching passes from Tom Brady. Hogan is still here, but he has never been a targets hoarder. Edelman is on the shelf for the first four games of the season.
While there’s plenty of space for Lucien to find his niche at wideout, he’s not entering the second week of the preseason without considerable competition. As of right now, the only locks for the roster are Hogan, Edelman, Matt Slater, and Cordarelle Patterson. Lucien will be battling amidst journeymen veterans (Eric Decker and Kenny Britt), rookie hopefuls (Braxton Berrios), practice squad mainstays (Riley McCarron), and players defined by unfulfilled potential (Phillip Dorsett and Paul Turner).
What Lucien has at his advantage is a few seasons working out with Brady and Co. Guys like Decker, Britt, Berrios, and Turner are experiencing their first summer this season in New England. We all know how daunting that can be. Lucien has been a preseason regular for the Pats over the past three seasons. He often showcased some burgeoning chemistry with Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jacoby Brissett. Now, it’s time for Lucien to break his way through that circle of trust with Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling.
Opening Game Highlight Reel
Lucien looked well on his way to separating himself from the pack in the Patriots first preseason game last week. He notched four catches on six targets for 71 yards, including two crucial snags to lead the team down the field for three points right before halftime. He looked convincingly more prepared than many of his teammates and has been heralded as an under-the-radar standout in practice.
One Game At A Time
“I think that was one of the great things about coming back was having a fresh start,” Lucien said in an interview on Monday. “That was one of the things I really wanted to build upon when I got here. Not being known as a practice squad guy, but possibly being known as a guy who could make the team. I’m just trying to take it day by day. Whatever happens is going to happen. I’m just trying to be as happy as I can while I’m enjoying this.”
Time will tell if Lucien can make the final jump to the 53-man roster. Look for his number to be called early and often on Thursday night against the Eagles.