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Patriots Roster Projection, Pre-Training Camp Edition

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Stevan Ridley, left, and Tom Brady, right, will lead the Patriots roster and be the nucleus of the Patriots offense, barring any injuries. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images.
Stevan Ridley, left, and Tom Brady, right, will lead the Patriots roster and be the nucleus of the Patriots offense, barring any injuries. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images.

Things have changed in Foxborough in the last two months. With the Aaron Hernandez troubles, Gronkowski’s multiple back surgeries, Dennard’s uncertain future, a change at DT, and the signing of Tim Tebow, the May version of the 53-man roster projection is looking a bit dated. With practice set to start on Friday, let’s try projecting the roster again. 

Quarterback (2)

Tom Brady

Ryan Mallet

Tebow is not valuable enough to stick around on the roster as a third-string QB. Unless he’s made significant improvements or is willing and capable of making a position-change, there’s no way he makes the team. Unless Mallet has a really bad preseason, he’ll be Brady’s backup for a second straight year. 

Running Back (5)

Stevan Ridley

Shane Vereen

Leon Washington

Brandon Bolden

LaGarette Blount

Nothing has changed here, with the top three locks. If the Patriots decide to keep Tebow, Bolden or Blount will have to fight for that final spot. If Blount can hold onto the ball a little bit more, he could be a dangerous goal-line back. Bolden’s growth was stunted last year with an injury and suspension, relegating him to special-team duties late in the season. If he can show what he did against the Bills in week four last year, Bolden could split carries with Ridley. 

Wide Receiver (6)

Danny Amendola

Michael Jenkins

Aaron Dobson

Julian Edelman

Josh Boyce

Matthew Slater

The Patriots offense will change in 2013 after the departure of Welker, Hernandez, Lloyd, and Woodhead and the uncertain future of Gronkowski. Because of it, there will be more tinkering than usual, which means more wideouts for Brady to throw to. The WR position will be the most interesting to watch, and the one that will change the most from now until final cut-downs. While Michael Jenkins, who was consistently lining up with the first-team in mini-camp, is the only addition here, there could be more. One name to watch will be undrafted rookie free-agent Kenbrell Thompkins, who also took some reps with the first-team in mini-camp. 

Tight End (4)

Rob Gronkowski

Jake Ballard

Daniel Fells

Michael Hoomanawanui

Hernandez’s situation has had a big impact on the roster, and probably signals an end to the Patriots favoring two-TE packages. Because of that, one of these guys will probably get cut when Gronk returns from injury. If Ballard can stay healthy and regain his previous form, he will produce in Gronk’s absence. Fells looks to rebound after a disastrous first year with the team. Undrafted free-agent Zach Sudfeld is one to watch, who could battle for a spot with Fells. 

Offensive Line (8)

Nate Solder (T)

Logan Mankins (G)

Ryan Wendell (C)

Dan Connolly (C/G)

Sebastian Vollmer (T)

Marcus Cannon (T/G)

Nick McDonald (T/G/C)

Markus Zusevics (T/G)

Despite being unchanged from version one, the offensive line reserve lineman remain hard to predict. McDonald is currently on the active PUP, while Cannon looks primed to battled Connolly for the RG job. We’ll get a clearer picture on how the battle is going during camp. Zusevics sticks over Will Svitek because of positional versatility, youth, and more upside. 

Defensive Line (7)

Chandler Jones (DE)

Vince Wilfork (DT)

Tommy Kelly (DT)

Rob Ninkovich (DE)

Armond Armstead (DT)

Justin Francis (DE)

Jake Bequette (DE)

Turns out both Love and Deaderick didn’t even make it to training camp. Going light here because the feeling here is the Patriots could run a bit more 3-4. Buchanan probably lands on the practice squad. Bequette could be a surprise cut if he doesn’t show enough improvement. Marcus Benard, a veteran from Cleveland, could battle for a final spot after two injury-riddled seasons with the Browns. 

Linebacker (6)

Jerod Mayo

Dont’a Hightower

Brandon Spikes

Dane Fletcher

Jamie Collins

Niko Koutouvides 

Collins position remains a bit of a mystery, but there’s a good chance he’ll be some type of edge player, whether that be OLB or DE. Koutouvides gets the nod over Steve Beauharnais because of his excellent special-team contributions. Fletcher will be one to watch to see how far he’s come from his ACL tear last summer. 

Safeties (6)

Devin McCourty

Tavon Wilson

Adrian Wilson

Steve Gregory

Duron Harmon

Nate Ebner

Gregory makes the cut here simply because Ebner and Harmon play more special-teams than they do safety. Gregoy will be relegated to a backup spot while Adrian Wilson or Tavon Wilson takes the starting spot next to McCourty. 

Cornerbacks (6)

Aqib Talib

Alfonzo Dennard

Kyle Arrington 

Logan Ryan

Ras-I Dowling

Marquice Cole

The big question mark in the group is Dennard. If Dennard is forced to miss time, Arrington, Ryan, or Dowling could be thrust into a starting role. Dowling had a strong mini-camp after two disappointing seasons and remains one to watch in camp. In this edition, Cole was added on for his special teams contributions while also bringing a certain amount of veteran experience (Cole is 29). 

Specialists (3)

Stephen Gostkowski

Zoltan Mesko

Danny Aiken

One of the under-the-radar stories to watch during camp will be the battle between Mesko and undrafted rookie free-agent Ryan Allen. Allen will be a prime candidate for the practice squad. 

Practice Squad

WR Kenbrell Thompkins

TE Zach Sudfeld

DE Michael Buchanan 

LB Steve Beauharnais 

P Ryan Allen

OL R.J. Mattes

DB Kanorris Davis

Unknown QB

A lot of these young guys, especially the first five, will fight for roster spots, with some of them possibly making it. If the Patriots do carry two QBs, it would be beneficial to have a third on the practice squad in case of injury.