NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
It’s wise to remember one thing in the NFL, a lot can change in a week.
Yes, that even includes during training camp. Between going to camp twice last weekend and both Wednesday and Sunday this week, I blew up my roster prediction and started all over again.
Sunday’s practice was perhaps the most concerning that I’ve been to this year and I’ll be using this roster prediction for what I saw at training camp Sunday. Be sure to check out my Twitter timeline (@DougKyedNEPD) for all practice observations.
QB: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett
Brady had a rare rough day Sunday at camp, over shooting many throws and cursing himself out on more than one occasion. Obviously he shined at times, most notably throwing to Julian Edelman, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd, but whether it was the heat or the wind dragging him down he wasn’t at his best.
Hoyer probably had the best day Sunday, but it’s also obvious when watching him that he doesn’t have the same set of tools that Brady and Mallett do. His accuracy and experience still trumps Mallett, which keeps him at no. 2 on my depth chart.
Mallett looks better on deep balls than he does on short or intermediate throws, but he’s still not completely there. I’m sure plenty of NFL teams would disagree and start him in a second though.
RB: Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, Spencer Larsen
Ridley still looks like the no. 1 option in the Patriots running back battle, but all of the backs looked good Sunday. Now that Tony Fiammetta and Kareem Huggins have come off the team in two straight days, it will be interesting to see if the Patriots sign another running back before their first preseason game on Thursday.
Spencer Larsen wasn’t on the field Sunday, so Eric Kettani got most of the snaps at fullback and struggled a bit.
WR: Wes Welker,Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater
Deion Branch was out in uniform and pads, but he barely participated in practice Sunday. Branch might be my toughest cut right now, but he was a very weak spot for the Patriots until the team got into the red zone last season. With more talented players all over this roster, it will be his familiarity in the system that could keep him on this team.
Brandon Lloyd looked good on a deep throw, but also jumped offsides and had to go for a lap. He’s still a star of training camp so far though.
Gaffney was being used on a double reverse, throwback to the QB. It was practiced so often that I would be surprised if it was used in a game.
Jesse Holley and Britt Davis are obviously the weak points at the position so far and Stallworth hasn’t flashed enough at practice for me to include him on the roster either. My chief reason to keep just five WRs is one man, Aaron Hernandez.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells
I’m still on the Daniel Fells bandwagon, and Visanthe Shiancoe standing on the sidelines on Sunday at practice helped to reinforce that for me. Fells is the more talented TE and should make the team if he can get healthy before September.
Alex Silvestro has been impressive in his transition to TE. The former DE has made the full transformation wearing number 49 and he looks comfortable catching the ball. The move to TE should help him slide onto the Patriots practice squad.
Hernandez continues to look like one of the best players out on the field. The team ran a drill today where skill position players went up against linebackers and safeties. Hernandez made Mayo and Hightower look foolish with his stutter steps. Gronk looks Gronk-like despite his recovering ankle.
OT: Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Markus Zusevics
What’s that saying about the unknown being better than the bad? Is there one? There should be if there isn’t and it applies to Markus Zusevics. Kyle Hix and Darrion Weems were less than impressive on Sunday, and it didn’t help that both came off the field due to injury.
Zusevics was a nice prospect coming out of Iowa and has been hindered by injury all offseason. Kopa was off the field with an injured leg.
With Vollmer’s continuing back injury, I feel that it will be necessary for the Patriots to carry a fourth tackle. That seemed all set since Robert Gallery had played the position earlier in his career, but with his retirement, it makes the position even more shallow. Solder and Cannon have had a strong camp so far, and Vollmer is an All-Pro when healthy, but he’s almost a guarantee to get injured at some point in the season and the Pats can’t be left without a backup tackle.
OG: Logan Mankins, Brian Waters, Donald Thomas
Thomas was getting the majority of Mankins’ reps at LG Sunday. His showing was hot and cold, jumping offsides and struggling to keep Brandon Deaderick at bay. Dan Connolly was getting RG snaps in place of the absent Waters. Nick McDonald was back on the field Sunday, but wasn’t a full participant. Rookie Jeremiah Warren was getting some first team snaps as well, but also struggled.
Ryan Wendell is another tough cut in this roster projection, but that will happen on a deep team like the 2012 Patriots.
OC: Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly
Dan Koppen is still getting all the Patriots first team snaps, so for now, I’ll pencil him in there. It’s going to be a battle for that starting job because Connolly, Wendell and McDonald all looked adept starting last season.
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