I’ve been putting it off for a couple of weeks now, and finally I feel it’s about time that I gave you all my final 53 man roster for the 2011 season! I’m going to do it in Mike Reiss’ style, updating my final 53 after the next 2 preseason games, culminating in a final prediction on the eve of final cuts day!  So here it goes….

Offense

QB

Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett (3)

After going with just the two last season, we definitely go with 3 this season. Hoyer will continue to be Brady’s backup for the year as I don’t feel Mallett is ready yet to assume that role. Hoyer could potentially have trade value with performances throughout his time here, but it would not be in our best interests to let him go….yet.

RB

Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Sammy Morris (5)

There has been some debate over whether or not the Pats take 4 or 5 Running Backs. We need a Full Back and Morris can play that role, as well as act as a veteran presence for the two Rookies. Faulk will begin the year on PUP, and will be used if needed after week 6, but I personally think you will see him retire unless we have any real dire need at the position. Working out Portis was no coincidence. Vereen is hurt, and hasn’t been seen since very early on…if he can’t get fit and the injury is more serious than first perceived, you could see Vereen on IR and another player taking his spot.

WR

Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, Taylor Price, Julian Edelman, Mathew Slater (6)

Wide Receiver has been another intriguing position for the Patriots, and one that has sparked much debate. Welker, Branch and Ochocinco are all locks. Edelman is safe being Welker’s main backup and a key return man. It comes down to Tate, Price and Slater. Slater makes it in as a key special teams contributor, and it’s a toss up between Tate and Price. I will go for Price, who had a solid first preseason game and has been getting reps at punt and kickoff return….with Tate’s returns hindered by the new kickoff rule and time running out on him, he goes to IR or gets traded.

TE

Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Will Yeatman (3)

We go with the three Tight Ends. The first two are obvious locks, but the third spot is an interesting battle going on between Rookies Lee Smith and Will Yeatman. I had assumed it was Lee Smith’s to lose, but it appears Yeatman has overtaken him in both the passing and blocking game. They could swap spots yet again, with plenty of time left in preseason, so watch this space. Whichever one doesn’t make the roster will most likely be placed on the Practice Squad.

Offensive Line

Tackles: Vollmer, Light, Solder, Maneri (4)

Guards – Mankins, Connolly, Ohrnberger, Wendell (4)

Center – Koppen *Not Wendell will be the backup Center also* (1)

Maneri makes the roster as a backup tackle, with the abilities to play guard on both sides also. Belichick loves these versatile players. Wendell is in at Guard and as the backup Center to Dan Koppen. Providing these guys stay healthy, I fully expect this to be your offensive line for the 2011 season.

Total Offensive Players : 26/53

Defense

DE

Carter, Ellis, Anderson, Moore, Cunningham (5)

Carter and Ellis I have very high hopes for this year, especially after seeing Carter play against the Buccaneers. Anderson and Moore will play in sub packages and I expect Cunningham to have a productive year at DE; that’s IF he can prove to a starter in a 4-3 scheme. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill utilises him as an OLB in certain packages also although from what I saw last year, he may be better with his hand in the dirt!

DT

Wilfork, Haynesworth, Love, Pryor (4)

I originally thought about taking 5 Defensive Tackles through but back tracked in order to make room for a Linebacker to contribute towards Special Teams. Wright has been hurt throughout camp. I have him going on IR, leaving us with 4 Tackles. Ellis is more than capable of shifting inside a little in a 4-3 scheme.

LB

Mayo, Spikes, Ninkovich, Guyton, Fletcher, White (6)

We go with six Linebackers. Fletcher is playing like a beast and providing he recovers from what appears to be a minor injury, he is a lock! White makes the roster for the moment as my sixth man. He will be a depth guy at the position and a heavy contributor on Special Teams. However, there is a fierce battle going on between him and Koutouvides. For me, Koutouvides is a better all round Linebacker and, give him one more solid performance in preseason, and he overtakes White. Ricky Brown has been added into the fray too and could win a spot from the two of them late on in preseason.

CB

McCourty, Bodden, Arrington, Butler, Dowling (5)

McCourty, Bodden and Arrington are locks; especially after Arrington’s adequate showing being forced into a starting role as an Undrafted Free Agent last season. Dowling hasn’t been seen since the first couple of days at camp, a Rookie who has fallen victim to the lockout, but I feel he will be on the Roster and healthy as a backup Corner. The real battle is between Butler and Wilhite for the final spot. Butler makes it. I don’t like either of the two and neither have lived up to the what we expected them to be. Butler just offers a little more at Corner…and that is what we need. He will obviously need to be able to contribute on Special Teams, as will Dowling.

Safeties

Merriweather, Chung (Strong Safety), Brown, Sanders (4)

I know what a lot will say…Merriweather? He makes the team in his contract year. The Pats have been looking at safeties, but to add depth. Whilst Merriweather is another draft disappointment in some areas, I think Bill wants him to see his contract year out, and see if that ignites him! Chung is a lock to play strong side, and Brown and Sanders are more than adequate enough to back up the two.

Total defensive players: 24/53

Specialists

Gostkowski (PK), Mesko (P), Katula (LS) (3)

Obvious choices. Gostkowski looks absolutely fine coming off of his leg injury; the Pats are using rookie kicker Chris Koepplin in a lot of kickoff situations and have Gostkowski on a kick count however, that is a regular precautionary measure for kickers coming off of such an injury. Mesko is having a great preseason so far and looks like he has made the steps required to be one of the best punters in the league after a record breaking Rookie year. Katula makes it as long snapper despite a bodged snap in the Jaguars preseason opener on a PAT. The two have only just started working together as Katula replaced Ingram the same day Gostkowski went on season ending IR, so it takes time! Gostkowski has sung his praises since the incident.

Total Specialists: 3/53

Total count: 53/53

Keep your eyes peeled for Version 2.0 after week 3 of the preseason!

If you would like to comment or offer your insight into this article, feel free to leave your thoughts! You can follow me on twitter; @DamoJarrett




 

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