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No joke - Patriots opening day lineup revealed

PFW reveals New England’s opening day depth chart.

It's that one day a year when you're allowed to lie, trick and abuse all the name of good humor.

It's April Fool's Day. And while former Patriots left tackle Matt Light thinks it's one of the major holidays on the calendar, it can be difficult for a newspaper or website to celebrate.

Go too far with a prank or a false headline and jobs are lost. Nothing funny about that.

So we here at will not be joking about Tom Brady being traded, retiring or getting hurt. No click-bait tales of Rob Gronkowski hurting himself spiking a porcupine. No videos of Bill Belichick beating a statue in a staring contest or supposed pages of his high school yearbook showing him tabbing him "Class Clown."

Nope. Not gonaa do it. Can't do it. Won't do it.

But we do like to have a little fun. So what bigger joke could we safely pull off on this first day of April than predicting the Patriots starting lineup to open the regular season five-plus months from now.

Belichick often warns us throughout the offseason that the roster if far from set, that the team doesn't need to play a game tomorrow and that what it looks like on paper is, in fact, irrelevant.

What a joke it would be to try to predict the Patriots lineup against the [insert name of Thursday night opening opponent here] before the draft, prior to the end of free agency and with exactly zero offseason workouts, passing camp sessions and actual practices in the books.

What a joke that would be!

No, what a joke it is! The only April Fool's Day joke we thought we could hopefully get away with. (With a little semi-serious roster analysis mixed in for on-your-toes good measure."


QB – Tom Brady: No 12 survived his cliff dive. He dug out of the sand, avoided being eaten by Michael Jordan and will be back ready to roll come September.

RB – LeGarrette Blount: After rushing for more than 1,000 yards in a Patriots uniform over the course of two season, Blount will get his first-ever September start in New England. Or not, who really ever knows how Belichick is going to deploy his RB committee? Could Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, James White, Travaris Cadet, Stevan Ridley or some guy we're not evening thinking of at this point.

TE – Rob Gronkowski:The Offseason of Gronk has been overshadowed by the Globe Traveling of Tom. The most irreplaceable football player on the planet is No. 87 in your program and No. 1 in just about everything else. It's Gronk's world, we're just living in it.

WR – Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson:Dobson missed the boat on his Year 2 jump, but the third time is a charm, right? A second (or third) chance to make a first impression? Now or never. Do or die. Cliché of the day baby. Why not Aaron; why not now?

LT – Nate Solder: Despite the fact that the former first-round pick recently joined Twitter and dipped his toe in social media, Belichick will probably still allow the young lineman to protect Brady's valuable backside.

LG – Tre Jackson: Might as well call Jackson the other guard out of FSU. While many have position versatile Cameron Erving as a possible Patriots pick, Jackson sneaks in as better value later in the draft. For the second straight year a Seminole rookie gets a big role on the Patriots offense. Kind of reminds me of a few years back when everyone thought Belichick might draft Florida pass rusher Carlos Dunlap and instead he swooped in for fellow Gator Jermaine Cunningham. OK, bad example.

C – Bryan Stork: Whether his beard grows back in time or not, Stork has been anointed as the center of the present and the future as well as the glue that holds the New England line together. It's rare that a center has to prove he can live up to the hype.

RG – Ryan Wendell: No matter how many times people (and by people, I mean me) question Wendell as a starting-caliber player or capable guard, the veteran just won't go away. He's like the villain in a horror movie and he's back once again getting the job done in front of Brady.

RT – Sebastian Vollmer: Vollmer has been the best Patriots lineman when healthy for the last few years. He's again coming off a reported offseason surgical procedure. He's the right man in the right (tackle) place at the right time. Right?


LDE – Rob Ninkovich: Is there anyone more underappreciated or overlooked than Ninkovich. Only Brady is a surer bet to pencil into the starting lineup – the end has started 16 games in four straight seasons – and he's a statistical lock to get exactly eight sacks.

DT – Sealver Siliga: The big man of Samoan heritage has big shoes to fill stepping in for departed franchise legend Vince Wilfork. The Sealver lining is that he's shown the abilty to be a solid run force the last two seasons.

DT – Dominique Easley: A year ago the first round pick had a pretty quiet impact in a 11 games played. He should Easley surpass that in his sophomore effort and two years removed from the torn ACL suffered in college. Fingers crossed.

RDE – Chandler Jones: He's reportedly been on crutches. Jones says don't always believe what you read. Regardless, Jones remains the key cog in the pass rush and needs to be the edge force expected of a first-round pick. Deep Thoughts – Is Jones a 10-sack guy or a guy who once got 10 sacks? There is a difference.

LB – Dont'a Hightower:Can't have a modern opening day lineup without an apostrophe or hyphen, can you?

LB – Jamie Collins: The hunt for a Pro Bowl and All-Pro season starts on a Thursday night with all the world – coaches, players, media and fans – on the edge of their seat.

SS – Patrick Chung: A year ago no one thought Chung should start and that strong safety was one of the biggest needs on the team. Now, everyone assumes Chung will start and no one is talking about a need at safety. Nothing's changed on the depth chart. A lot changed on the field and in the trophy case at Gillette Stadium.

FS – Devin McCourty: After signing a deal worth nearly $50 million McCourty will be expected to start, take up the slack for the loss of Darrelle Revis in the back, lead by example, alleviated game day traffic in Foxborough and cure cancer. He can't live up to the contract and expectations, but he certainly better be on the field to open the year if he knows what's good for his mental health.

CB – Marcus Peters: Some probably aren't familiar with the former Washington Huskies star and would-be first-round pick. But you will be on draft night and then into the summer. Hey, the Patriots need a starting-caliber cornerback and the only way to get one of those at this point is the draft.

CB – Malcolm Butler: Assuming the Super Bowl hero can pull himself away from autograph signings and key-to-the-city ceremonies, Butler will be given the chance to be more than a blip on the Boston sports history radar.

CB – Kyle Arrington:The man who once gave up his number for a boatload of Pampers is now surrounded by bunch of NFL babies in the back end of the defense. He may have his flaws, but Arrington is the most experienced, consistent, proven cornerback Belichick has to turn to. It is what it is.

Or none of this crap will come true and I was just hoping you'd click on this story as a timid attempt at some April's Fools "fun." My crystal ball has been a bight foggy of late.

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