NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Patriots play their first pre-season game tomorrow night with vs. the Saints, which means the Patriots are two weeks into their season and a lot has already changed. We have seen the retirement of a well known offensive linemen, some injuries and the emergence of young players. Although the competition for positions is fierce, the picture has gotten a little clearer.
Here is my second attempt at predicting how the Patriots roster will breakdown at the end of August.
Quarterbacks (3):Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett
Running Backs (3): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead
Fullback (1): Spencer Larsen
Tight Ends (3): Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Visanthe Shiancoe
Wide Receivers (6): Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Jabar Gaffney, Julian Edelman, Deion Branch, Matthew Slater
Offensive Tackle (3): Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon
Offensive Guard (4): Logan Mankins, Brian Waters, Donald Thomas, Nick McDonald
Center (2): Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell
Defensive Tackle (4): Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Jonathan Fanene, Brandon Deaderick
Defensive Ends/Rush LB (6): Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Trevor Scott, Jake Bequette, Justin Francis, Jermaine Cunningham
Linebackers (6): Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Bobby Carpenter, Dane Fletcher, Jeff Tarpinian
Cornerbacks (5): Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, Sterling Moore, Alfonzo Dennard
Safties (4): Patrick Chung, Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson, James Ihedigbo
Specialists (3): Steven Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, Danny Aiken
Last Cuts: Dan Koppen (OC), Gerard Warren (DT), Josh Barrett (S), Tracy White (LB), Donte Stallworth (WR), Matt Kopa (OT)
Practice Squad: Brandon Bolden (RB), Matt Kopa (OT), Alex Silvestro (TE/DE), Nate Ebner (S), Jeremy Ebert (WR), Marcus Fortston (DT), Kyle Hix (OT)
Placed on PUP: Daniel Fells (TE), Myron Pryor (DT), Markus Zusevics (OT)
Injured Reserve: Jake Ballard, Brad Herman
Breakdown: Dan Koppen is a tough cut, but Dan Connolly is a better and more versatile player right now. If the team decides to keep Koppen, it will mean that either Wendell or McDonald will be cut. With McDonald getting reps at OT and the Patriots dangerously thin at tackle McDonald is a valuable player to have on the roster. Gerard Warren also is among the last cuts.
If the Patriots keep a fifth DT, he would be the guy. But, with Justin Francis and Jake Bequette getting sub package reps at DT, the Patriots opt to keep the edge players over interior run stuffer. A much longer breakdown will come out in the weeks to come.