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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Sep 18 - 12:00 AM | Sun Sep 20 - 05:55 PM

Roster Projection 1.0: Tracking our first 53

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Our time for watching practice has come to an end, and soon the coaches will need to make their decisions in cutting their rosters down to the league-mandated 53 players. The deadline to do so is September 5 at 4 p.m. EDT, and at that time the 2020 Patriots will start to come into focus.

There's still a week to go until Bill Belichick and his staff need to make those calls, but we'll get started early since our evaluation period is now over.

Here's a look at our projected 53-man roster, which is certainly not set in stone with plenty of work still to be done before the September 13 opener against Miami.

Quarterback (3)

Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham

Training camp opened with a "competition" that really came down to Newton against himself. As long as he was healthy and learning the offense at a suitable level it was tough to imagine him not winning the job. It appears as if that has happened, and given the uncertainty of the times it makes sense to keep both Hoyer and Stidham as backups.

Running back (4)

Sony Michel, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, James White

Michel doesn't appear to be suffering any lingering effects from his foot surgery and he and Harris showed some burst this summer. Burkhead is the most versatile of the backs while White remains a weapon in the passing game. Lamar Miller represents an insurance policy should one of the lead dogs get nicked up, and if he stays a roster spot will need to be found elsewhere. Rookie J.J. Taylor flashed some ability in practice but there doesn't appear to be room at this point.

Fullback (1)

Jakob Johnson

Johnson showed his willingness to bang heads last summer, and this year he looks like he could add some athleticism to the position. He was one of the team's most consistent performers in camp and should stick.

Wide receiver (6)

Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, N'Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers

Edelman remains the lone known commodity in the group. Sanu seemed to improve late in camp but still has trouble separating. Ditto for Harry. Byrd flashed great speed and gets open routinely but the production throwing his way was not there. Olszewski's improvement was apparent, although his hands were shaky at times while Meyers battled an injury and had a quiet camp. There may be only one spot for those two. Ross had a nice camp and likely earned a return trip to the practice squad. Thomas got a late start but his exceptional quickness warrants further examination.

Tight end (3)

Ryan Izzo, Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene

Izzo is another young player who has shown improvement. He looks to be the most versatile of the trio. Asiasi and Keene have looked comfortable catching the ball and could offer more options in the passing game at the position. Jake Burt and Paul Butler are in the mix as well and are practice squad options.

Offensive line (8)

Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Jermaine Eluemunor, Hjalte Froholdt, Mike Onwenu, Yodny Cajuste

Unlike the recent past, the health up front was a positive development this summer as only Cajuste missed any significant time in camp. Froholdt projects as an interior backup while the rookie Onwenu can play guard and tackle. There will also be added opportunities for offensive linemen (Justin Herron, Korey Cunningham) this season with the alterations to the roster rules, so expect plenty of movement from the practice squad to active roster among the young guys.

Defensive tackle (4)

Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart, Adam Butler, Beau Allen

The big question here is Allen. We haven't seen him on the field other than his cameo to watch the in-stadium practice on August 28. With no information to explain his absence it's tough to project his future. Given the lack of depth at the position I'll give him a spot for now but this is an area Belichick is likely concerned about. Xavier Williams, a sixth-year veteran who's been quiet since arriving after camp got underway, could provide some experienced depth.

Defensive end/edge (5)

John Simon, Chase Winovich, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise, Shilique Calhoun

Simon is an underrated force on the edge, doing the dirty work in the running game that often goes unnoticed. Winovich will be relied upon to apply some pressure, which he did in limited use as a rookie. Rivers had a strong camp but needs to stay healthy. Wise also flashed this summer while Calhoun's versatility in the kicking game makes him attractive.

Linebackers (4)

Ja'Whaun Bentley, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Brandon Copeland

This is a largely unproven group that Bentley will try to lead in just his third season. The two rookies have ability but will need to get up to speed quickly given the significant roles they project to receive. This is another spot that could use some more bodies. Copeland projects more as a special teamer, and rookie Cassh Maluia was involved in a lot of plays this summer and should stick around in some capacity.

Cornerback (5)

Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams

As deep and talented a position as there is in New England. Gilmore's presence allows Belichick the luxury of doing a variety of things with his coverage. Jackson had a strong camp and McCourty's professionalism is noticeable every day. Myles Bryant and D'Angelo Ross have versatility and show promise, which should make them attractive practice squad candidates.

Safety (5)

Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Terrence Brooks, Cody Davis

Losing Patrick Chung hurt the depth on the back end but Dugger looks like a keeper with his instincts and athleticism. There will be growing pains as there are with any young player but he should contribute immediately. Davis is a special teams demon who provides some depth as well.

Specialists (5)

Kicker: Nick Folk

Punter: Jake Bailey

Long snapper: Joe Cardona

Coverage: Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel

The veteran Folk has been the better of the two kickers, outperforming Justin Rohrwasser. The rookie may be battling an injury and should find a spot on the practice squad initially, but his lack of consistency this summer was glaring.

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