Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com writes that Patriots WR Deion Branch has been returning punts at Patriots OTAs. Reiss believes that Brach could be an option as a kick returner at some point in 2012. Returning punts would only increase Branch's standing in a crowded group of receivers that will be fighting for a roster spot this offseason.
Mike Reiss also writes that Devin McCourty was used exclusively as a cornerback during OTAs last Thursday. After playing safety during stretches of the 2011 season, McCourty projects as the Patriots starting left cornerback. "All along, that has made the most sense from this view, as it's too early in his career to permanently switch his position," writes Reiss. "We’ll see if it sticks."
Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald writes that Patriots C Dan Koppen has reiterated that he is completely recovered from the broken ankle that held him out for the majority of the 2011 season. "I'm good," Koppen said. "I don't even feel it anymore." The battle for the starting center job will be a two-Dan competition, according to PFW's Andy Hart.
Jeff Howe also notes that RB Shane Vereen was working as the first-team tailback during last Thursday's OTA practice. While Howe admits that it's unknown whether this means anything, he puts Vereen high on his list of players to watch this offseason. In other running back news, Howe writes, "(Joseph) Addai got a decent amount of snaps, too, but I don’t think it’s a given that he'll make the roster. I do think, though, that with a young backfield, Belichick would like a veteran to stay in the mix."
Aaron Wilson of Scout.com reports that the Patriots have tried out veteran TE Bo Scaife, according to a league source. "The Patriots' interest in Scaife follows their recent meeting with tight end Dallas Clark, who wound up signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they traded Kellen Winslow to the Seattle Seahawks," writes Wilson. Scaife did not register any stats last season due to a shoulder injury, but was a former starter and franchise player for the Tennesee Titans.
Zuri Berry of Boston.com tries to project the Patriots depth chart at wide receiver. His projections are as follows:
Projected roster and cut list (6 receivers):
Chad Ochocinco (on the bubble)
Jeremy Ebert (practice squad eligible)
Britt Davis (practice squad eligible)
Matt Roark (practice squad eligible)