Paul's Calls and From the Hart, in conjunction with Quick Kicks, present the way-too-early Patriots roster projection.
If you can't beat em, join em! That's the case for PFW this week as we throw our hat in the roster projection game. One preseason game is in the books. Another is a day away. But we're still two weeks from the cut down to 75 players, never mind the final cut to 53.
A lot will change in terms of transactions, injury and player development between now and the day Bill Belichick will actually have to hand in his final list of cuts. So while he doesn't have to think about his final 53 at this point, we are looking way ahead and doing just that. Take it with a grain of salt and feel free not to hold us to any of these crazy-early projections. But please, enjoy the read.
Quarterback (3): Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett
Running back (4): BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley, Sammy Morris
Shane Vereen's limited practice time could mean a red-shirt year on IR, while Kevin Faulk could serve as insurance as he gets extra time to recover from his torn ACL on PUP.
Tight end (3): Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Will Yeatman
Yeatman has been more impressive than rookie fifth-round pick Lee Smith to this point.
Wide receiver (6): Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, Taylor Price, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater
Brandon Tate's lack of involvement in practice makes his inclusion difficult, assuming Price and Edelman aren't dealing with long-term injuries themselves. Slater sticks around as a versatile special teamer who fills a variety of roles in practice.
Offensive line (9): Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Rich Ohrnberger, Thomas Austin, Mark LeVoir
The backups here are tough to sort through. Ryan Wendell has missed almost all of camp, otherwise he'd get the nod over Ohrnberger. If he's healthy enough to avoid IR, we'll swap those two. Steve Maneri also may push LeVoir out of a job.
Defensive line (10): Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Gerard Warren, Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis, Myron Pryor, Andre Carter, Eric Moore, Jermaine Cunningham, Mark Anderson
The veteran additions, coupled with a potential change in defensive approach, have pushed the young guns out of jobs. The bevy of signings leaves no room for Kade Weston, Darryl Richard, Brandon Deaderick and Ron Brace, although the final two could return from PUP if needed.
Linebacker (6): Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, Gary Guyton, Rob Ninkovich, Tracy White
Counting Cunningham, Moore, Carter and Anderson as defensive linemen shrinks the numbers at linebacker. Two undrafted rookies – Aaron Lavarias and Jeff Tarpinian – have a shot to stick.
Safety (4): Patrick Chung, James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather, Sergio Brown
Pats are looking for depth here and Josh Barrett could easily be added to the list if healthy. He's also a terrific special teams player, particularly covering kicks.
Cornerback (5): Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite
The only question here is the status of Ras-I Dowling. He's only practiced once so it's tough to give him a spot. If he's not ready he'll wind up on IR and spare Butler and/or Wilhite for now.
Specialists (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, Matt Katula
Again, not much to discuss.
PUP/NFI (4): Kevin Faulk, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Deaderick, Ron Brace
Some insurance for down the road.