Phil Perry’s final Patriots 53-man roster projection
Phil Perry’s final Patriots 53-man roster projection
Now that the Patriots have finished up their preseason schedule, they'll have to trim their roster from 75 players to 53 by Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline.
Who played well enough against the Giants to earn a spot? Who may benefit from a late-summer injury? We make our best guess here . . .
Who's in and who's out for the Patriots?
QUARTERBACK (2): JIMMY GAROPPOLO, JACOBY BRISSETT
No changes here. Brissett continues to look somewhat improved with each outing, and it seems as though the team is ready to trust him in an emergency situation. To bring in a free-agent quarterback at this point in the year and expect him to catch on quickly would be asking a lot.
RUNNING BACK (3): LeGARRETTE BLOUNT, JAMES WHITE, DJ FOSTER
I had Foster making the team on the roster projection that was released prior to the preseason finale and his 110-yard receiving performance did nothing to change that opinion. To release him and expose him to waivers in order to try to re-sign him to the practice squad feels like it would be playing with fire. Tyler Gaffney suffered an apparent injury late against the Giants, but he's still a practice-squad candidate if healthy. Brandon Bolden did not play in preseason game No. 4, which could be an indication his spot is safe due to his special teams ability, but he has not taken a running back snap since fumbling against the Bears in preseason game No. 2.
RECEIVER (6): JULIAN EDELMAN, DANNY AMENDOLA, CHRIS HOGAN, MALCOLM MITCHELL, KESHAWN MARTIN, MATTHEW SLATER
This projection will depend largely on the health of Martin, who left Thursday night's game with an apparent left-foot injury. If he's healthy enough to play at some point in the near future, he would seem to have the inside track on a spot. If not, that could leave the door open for Aaron Dobson.
TIGHT END (4): ROB GRONKOWSKI, MARTELLUS BENNETT, JAMES DEVELIN, AJ DERBY
Bennett struggled in his final preseason game with a drop and a fumble, but his upside in the team's two-tight-end sets is too enticing to pass on. Derby appeared to outperform Clay Harbor this preseason, although Harbor showed proficiency as a blocker. He simply wasn't given many opportunities to show his value in the passing game.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE (4): NATE SOLDER, MARCUS CANNON, CAMERON FLEMING, LAADRIAN WADDLE
Cameron Fleming was the first player to sub in at left tackle when Solder went down with an injury early against the Giants. Was that a sign he's the swing tackle for 2016? The Patriots might like to keep just three tackles on the roster, but with a spot opening up due to the four-game suspension that Rob Ninkovich will face to start the regular season, the Patriots can hold on to both Flemming and Waddle to provide some added depth at a crucial position. Fleming provides the added benefit of serving as an effective blocking tight end in jumbo sets.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE (6): JOE THUNEY, SHAQ MASON, JOSH KLINE, JONATHAN COOPER, DAVID ANDREWS, TED KARRAS
Karras could be one of the last players to secure a roster spot, but he provides depth at both guard and center. Given the injuries still plaguing Mason and Cooper, having an extra body on the interior could prove to be beneficial.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (4): MALCOM BROWN, ALAN BRANCH, VINCENT VALENTINE, ANTHONY JOHNSON
The last time we projected the final four at this spot, Markus Kuhn was in and Johnson was out. That could still be the case if the Patriots value Kuhn's size and strength over Johnson's explosiveness in the passing game. Another standout performance from Johnson in the preseason finale, however, earns him a job here. The Patriots have plenty of defensive ends who can rush from the inside, but Johnson gives them one more high-motor player who could give guards and centers fits on third down. If Kuhn doesn't make the cut, the Patriots would be forced to rely heavily on Valentine to be a significant part of the rotation on the interior. Whether or not the team feels he's ready for that kind of workload could be a factor here.
DEFENSIVE END (5): JABAAL SHEARD, CHRIS LONG, SHEA McCLELLIN, TREY FLOWERS, GENEO GRISSOM
No Rob Ninkovich, who has been suspended for the first four games for testing positive for a banned substance. Grissom continues to see extensive work at defensive end in preseason games in order to give him some seasoning there. While he hasn't necessarily put a stranglehold on a defensive role, he's valuable enough on special teams -- and his athleticism gives him enough promise defensively -- that he should make the squad.
LINEBACKER (5): DONT'A HIGHTOWER, JAMIE COLLINS, JONATHAN FREENY, BARKEVIOUS MINGO, KAMU GRUGIER-HILL
Mingo's spot on the roster was safe as soon as the Patriots traded a fifth-round pick for him. But did his performance against the Giants -- and the potential he showed for the regular season -- make anyone else at this spot expendable? I don't think so. Grugier-Hill is an explosive athlete who could contribute on special teams immediately (perhaps helping to make up for Bolden's loss, if that's what the Patriots choose to do), and who has upside to serve a unique role as a hybrid linebacker-safety defensively. He seems like the kind of player the Patriots would like to work with long-term.
CORNERBACK (5): MALCOLM BUTLER, LOGAN RYAN, CYRUS JONES, JUSTIN COLEMAN, CRE'VON LeBLANC
Coleman has consistently seen time as the team's third or fourth corner, and while he hasn't been perfect in coverage, he's shown a willingness to provide run support, and he's been a sure tackler. That'll help you keep a job in New England. LeBlanc missed Thursday's game with what the Boston Herald has reported as a hip injury, but if it's not serious, he could be worthy of a roster spot. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has invoked the names of Malcolm Butler (when it comes to overcoming testing measurables) and Logan Ryan (when it comes to having the difficult-to-evaluate skill to play the football in the air) when asked about LeBlanc this summer.
SAFETY (6): DEVIN McCOURTY, PATRICK CHUNG, DURON HARMON, JORDAN RICHARDS, BRANDON KING, NATE EBNER
No changes here. It's still perhaps the deepest position group on the roster, it is loaded with special teams ability.
SPECIALISTS (3): STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI, RYAN ALLEN, JOE CARDONA
Allen may have had his best preseason game of the summer against the Giants. The operation between him and Cardona -- on both punts and field-goal attempts -- seemed to be smooth in their final game action before the regular season.