Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, James Anderson
Bubble: Steve Beauharnais, Chris White, Josh Hull, Darius Fleming
Long shots: Ja'Gared Davis, Cameron Gordon, Taylor McCuller, Deontae Skinner
BREAKDOWN:** The starters are set with Mayo, Hightower and Collins with Mayo appearing poised to return to the middle based on what we saw in the spring. That group is solid, especially if Collins' late-season promise is fulfilled and the Patriots have a versatile, athletic playmaker in their midst for years to come. Anderson is exactly the type of experienced veteran needed to provide depth. Beauharnais will likely stick as well, as he looks to expand what was a limited role as a rookie in 2013. White and Hull are special teamers and there may only be room for one. Fleming is an interesting player who has suffered through some horrible injury luck with his knees. If he's healthy he could surprise. The Patriots haven't kept as many linebackers on the roster in recent years and that could make life real tough on the rest. Davis was on the roster as a special teams player a year ago and perhaps could join White and Hull in that battle. Gordon, McCuller and Skinner are undrafted free agents looking to find their way in the league, although Gordon's athleticism flashed a bit in the spring.