NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Patriots made some news yesterday with the release of DT Jonathan Fanene, which shakes up most roster projections. On Monday night against the Eagles we got to take a long look at the second and third teams, with some players solidifying spots and some losing jobs. With two preseasons in the books here is how I project the Patriots roster to look in two weeks, based on what we’ve seen so far.
Quarterbacks (3):Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer
Running Backs (4): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Jeff Demps
Tight Ends (3): Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells
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, Dan Connolly, Nick McDonald
Center (2): Dan Koppen, Ryan Wendell
Defensive Tackle (4): Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick, Ron Brace
Defensive Ends/Rush LB (5): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Trevor Scott, Jake Bequette, Jermaine Cunningham
Linebackers (6): Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Bobby Carpenter, Tracy White, Jeff Tarpinian
Cornerbacks (6): Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, Sterling Moore, Alfonzo Dennard, Marquice Cole
Safties (4): Patrick Chung, Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner
Specialists (3): Steven Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, Danny Aiken
Last Cuts: Brandon Bolden (RB), Donald Thomas (OG), Justin Francis (DE/LB), Gerard Warren (DT), Donte Stallworth (WR), James Ihedigbo (S), Will Allen (FS)
Practice Squad: Justin Francis (DE/LB), Alex Silvestro (TE), Mike Rivera (LB), Jeremy Ebert (WR), Brandon Bolden (RB), Matt Kopa (OT), Ross Ventrone (DB), Marcus Forston (DT)
Placed on PUP: Myron Pryor (DT), Markus Zusevics (OT)
Injured Reserve: Jake Ballard, Dane Fletcher
Breakdown: A couple changes from my last roster projection, I have added Dan Koppen back to the roster. I think based on his experience and the fact that it will allow Dan Connolly to rotate keeps him around. Connolly would be able to play OG and keep someone like Brian Waters fresh at times throughout the season. It comes down to having Koppen or Donald Thomas and I’d want Koppen.
I have cut both Brandon Bolden and Justin Francis, both started off camp with a bang, but have slowed down. Bolden isn’t very explosive and showed an inability to return punts last night. Francis just hasn’t shown much in the games. I have a feeling he would make it through to the practice squad.
I kept 10 defensive backs again, but kept a 6th CB Marquice Cole, who did a very good job as a gunner last night, over James Ihedigbo who struggles in coverage. The Patriots are thin after the top four cornerbacks and Cole who played on three special teams units last night can be active on game days to provide depth.
Nate Ebner’s play in the secondary also makes me more comfortable keeping only four safeties. With Fanene being released I have added Ron Brace who played really well last night, and has had a strong training camp. I ultimately think the team keeps Tracy White over Niko Koutivides, despite the fact he has missed alot of training camp. He was second on the team with 18 special teams tackles and appears closed to returning. Koutivides was beaten out last year by both White and Tarpinian for ST LB spot and it will be the case this year.
Jeff Tarpinian is the last player added. He is the 6th LB and a core special teams player, but with Dane Fletcher lost for the season the team needs a LB who can play on defense if injuries occur and Coach Belichick was confident enough in Tarpinian to throw him into the Jets game last year as a rookie. I was much more impressed with Tarpinian than Rivera and he was in the game early on.