Phil Perry's Patriots Roster Projection 3.0
Phil Perry's Patriots Roster Projection 3.0
FOXBORO -- With one preseason game in the books and a handful of nagging injuries affecting the availability of certain Patriots, let's take a closer look at who we think could be in and who could be out when it comes time for Bill Belichick to determine his 53-man roster.
QUARTERBACK (2): JIMMY GAROPPOLO, JACOBY BRISSETT
Don't expect this position group to see any additions before Week 1, barring injury. Belichick was very clear on Sunday when he was asked about the possibility of adding a veteran free-agent signal-caller in the near future: "I don’t know that there are a lot of Hall of Fame players just sitting out there not on any team right now."
RUNNING BACK (5): LeGARRETTE BLOUNT, DION LEWIS, JAMES WHITE, BRANDON BOLDEN, TYLER GAFFNEY
Lewis (left) remains on the physically unable to perform list, but he was spotted on the field at the end of spring workouts, and the team may simply be managing his usage so as to ensure his readiness for Week 1.
If he begins the season on PUP, that could open a spot for Aaron Dobson, Bryan Stork or Ted Karras to stick.
Gaffney is an addition who did not make the cut in our last projection. The team is giving him plenty of work as one of two primary "big backs" along with Blount. He doesn't have game-breaking speed, but his frame and running style is somewhat reminiscent of former Patriots back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Steadiness and dependability can have value in the Patriots backfield.
RECEIVER (6): JULIAN EDELMAN, DANNY AMENDOLA, CHRIS HOGAN, MALCOLM MITCHELL, KESHAWN MARTIN, MATTHEW SLATER
The Patriots are banged up here, and if their overall health doesn't improve in the next few weeks, don't be surprised if another receiver is added to this mix. Edelman, Martin and Mitchell (who dislocated his elbow against the Saints) have all dealt with injuries that have limited them in camp, and Amendola remains on PUP. As of now, Mitchell's injury seems to be the only one that will jeopardize his availability for Week 1. As a result, Dobson could be kept as experienced depth.
TIGHT END (4): ROB GRONKOWSKI, MARTELLUS BENNETT, JAMES DEVELIN, CLAY HARBOR
Second-year tight end AJ Derby has had a strong camp, but he has practice-squad eligibility remaining and appears to be a prime candidate for that 10-man unit. When healthy, this is one of the deepest positional groups on the team.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE (4): NATE SOLDER, SEBASTIAN VOLLMER, MARCUS CANNON, LaADRIAN WADDLE
Waddle has performed reasonably well this spring and summer and has been used consistently as the second-team left tackle. Cannon (left) appears to be more comfortable on the right side and will be insurance for Vollmer, who remains on PUP. Given the injury issues at this position last year, keeping four who understand the system may be beneficial.
GUARD (4): JONATHAN COOPER, SHAQ MASON, JOE THUNEY, JOSH KLINE
Tre' Jackson is on PUP and could begin the season there. He dealt with injuries throughout the course of his rookie year, but he was trusted by the coaching staff to play significant snaps. Belichick may want to keep him around, but he may be willing to have him sit out for the first six weeks of the season to make sure he's healthy. Ted Karras (left), the sixth-rounder who has played all three offensive line positions and has impressed his veteran teammates, would be a tough cut here. He'd certainly be a practice-squad candidate and a versatile insurance policy if he can clear waivers.
CENTER (1): DAVID ANDREWS
Right now Andrews (left) appears to have the slight edge on Stork at center. That may be because Stork was unavailable to practice for about a week as he dealt with a reported head injury, but it will be interesting to see if Andrews can stay on the field and separate himself further.
Stork's injury issues could be a concern moving forward, and the team has worked to create some depth at center as Kline and Thuney could potentially bump to the middle if need be. The interior of the Patriots offensive line is crowded and Stork's future could be one of the team's toughest late-summer decisions.
DEFENSIVE END (6): JABAAL SHEARD, ROB NINKOVICH, CHRIS LONG, SHEA McCLELLIN, TREY FLOWERS, GENEO GRISSOM
Injuries are a factor here as well. Ninkovich (left) tore his triceps and may not be ready for Week 1. Sheard appeared to suffer some kind of lower-body injury against the Saints and missed Sunday's practice.
Having a player like Rufus Johnson in the fold could be beneficial down the line, but Long, McClellin, Flowers and Grissom (primarily for his special teams work) are ahead of him on the depth chart.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (4): MALCOM BROWN, ALAN BRANCH, TERRANCE KNIGHTON, VINCENT VALENTINE
Markus Kuhn (left) has seen significant reps through camp next to Brown and Knighton. He's built differently than some of the other interior-of-the-defensive-line behemoths that Belichick and Nick Caserio have acquired over the years. His uniqueness in that regard might earn him a roster spot, but the Patriots' affinity for using their ends inside could mean Kuhn is squeezed out.
LINEBACKER (4): JAMIE COLLINS, DONT'A HIGHTOWER, JONATHAN FREENY, KAMU GRUGIER-HILL
Grugier-Hill (left) has been all over the field during training camp as the Patriots figure out ways to use him. He's served on several different special teams units -- including as punt-team gunner -- and he's been seen at linebacker. He's shown a nose for the ball in practices, and could edge veteran special teamer Ramon Humber for a roster spot.
CORNER (5): MALCOLM BUTLER, LOGAN RYAN, CYRUS JONES, JUSTIN COLEMAN, JONATHAN JONES
The competition for the final two roster spots at this position has turned into one of the most competitive during training camp. Both Jonathan Jones and Cre'Von LeBlanc (left) put together good performances against the Saints, and both saw time with the first-team defense in Sunday's practice. Between Jones, LeBlanc, Coleman and Darryl Roberts, there may only be room for two. Jones gets the edge here because he was a productive player in the SEC at Auburn, he was one of the fastest players at this year's combine, and he's seen a good deal of special teams work. Though a bit undersized, Belichick recently praised his toughness.
SAFETY (5): DEVIN McCOURTY, PATRICK CHUNG, DURON HARMON, JORDAN RICHARDS, BRANDON KING
After competing in the Summer Games for the U.S. men's rugby team, Nate Ebner (left) may need some time before he's ready for the regular season. If that's the case, expect the Patriots to carry just five players at this spot coached by Steve Belichick. Top to bottom, this may be the deepest group on the roster.
SPECIALISTS (3): STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI, RYAN ALLEN, JOE CARDONA
No changes here. In the past, Belichick has sometimes brought in additional players at kicker, punter or long-snapper to create some competition, but once it was determined that Cardona (left) would be eligible to play this season, this group has been consistent.