FOXBORO -- The Patriots have needs at receiver and in the front seven, but when they filled the practice squad spot that was left vacant when DJ Foster signed with the Cardinals, they signed a defensive back.
The move to bring aboard corner Ryan Lewis, a rookie free agent out of Pitt who began his pro career with the Cardinals in the spring, is an indication of how the practice squad can serve as a training ground for players who interest the Patriots regardless of position.
Lewis measures in at 6-feet, 200 pounds and started in all 12 games as a senior last fall, making two picks and recording eight pass breakups. He'll provide some depth for the corner group on the 53-man roster, which features Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones and Johnson Bademosi.
The Patriots also had in several players for workouts recently, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss, including receivers Daniel Braverman, Tevaun Smith, Jahad Thomas and Bryan Walters as well as quarterback Mitch Leidner.
Braverman's name is an interesting one in that he was touted by many -- including Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo on Quick Slants the Podcast -- as a fit for the Patriots in the 2016 draft due to his ability to contribute out of the slot. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder was drafted in the seventh round by the Bears and spent all of last season on Chicago's practice squad. He was waived earlier this month.
In separate statements Saturday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith each criticized President Donald Trump's verbal attack on NFL players.
The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.
And Smith's statement:
Whether or not Roger or the owners will speak for themselves about their views on player rights and their commitment to player safety remains to be seen. This union, however, will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks.
NFLPA president Eric Winston, a tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, also tweeted a statement critical of the President:
At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he encouraged NFL fans to walk out of games in protest.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump told the rally.
He also lamented that football has become less violent.
“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.
President Trump responded again on Twitter Saturday afternoon, saying players who don't stand for the anthem should, "Find something else to do!"