NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Patriots have their final dress rehearsal tonight against the Giants. It will be the last chance for players on the bubble to make this team or practice squad. The team was cut down to 75 earlier in the week, during which some solid veteran players were released. The roster has gotten a little clearer, but there still a couple things that have yet to sort themselves out. Who makes the cut this time and who will be looking for a job on Friday?
Quarterbacks (3): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer
Running Backs (5): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Bolden, Jeff Demps
Tight Ends (3): Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells
Wide Receivers (5): Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, 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 (6): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Trevor Scott, Jake Bequette, Jermaine Cunningham, Justin Francis
Linebackers (5): Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Bobby Carpenter, Niko Koutivides
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: Tracy White (LB), Vistanthe Shiancoe (TE), Jeff Tarpinian (ILB), James Ihedigbo (SS), Donald Thomas (OG)
Practice Squad: Jeremy Ebert (WR), Alex Silvestro (TE), Matt Kopa (OT), Marcus Forston (DT), Eric Kettani (FB), Jeff Tarpinian (ILB),
Placed on PUP: Myron Pryor (DT), Markus Zusevics (OT)
Injured Reserve: Jake Ballard, Dane Fletcher, Josh Barrett, Will Allen, Spencer Larsen
Breakdown: There aren’t too many changes from my last roster projection. 95% of the jobs are already decided with 2-3 spots available to be won. Brandon Bolden and Justin Francis are two players I keep going back and forth on. While both players may clear waivers, I don’t think the team wants to risk losing them. The Patriots may have learned their lesson from last year when they lost both Will Yeatman and Lee Smith, trying to get them through waivers.
To keep Bolden who would be the 5th running back on the roster, Vistanthe Shiancoe (4th TE) has to be cut. I see the last roster spot on offense essentially coming down to those two players. In order to keep Justin Francis, a sixth natural linebacker has to be cut. While only carrying five linebackers is a little light, Rob Ninkovich can easily play OLB in emergency situations. Francis’ ability to move inside to DT and also rush off the edge keeps him around, but barely.
There are no changes to the defensive backfield. The Patriots will keep ten defensive backs in my opinion. Marquice Cole has solidified his roster spot with a strong preseason showing. Alfonzo Dennard is finally healthy, so I.R. is out of the question. They have shown a willingness to carry six corners in the past and they will do it again this year. James Ihedigbo is a last minute tough cut, but in order to keep Cole, Dennard and Ebner he has to go.