Preseason is finally over for the Patriots and it’s no time to start discussing who will make the final 53; who will be the 2011 New England Patriots! It’s been a fun off season which, once the lockout had ended, was full of twists and turns! Shock signings, trade rumors, cuts rumors andÂ predictionsÂ of Superbowl success have filled the air since we got back underway but none of that mattered. Now everyone has had a chance to prove their worth to the teamÂ and it’s time for the coaches to decide who they want to take through and build on all the preseason excitement surrounding this team!
That means it’s also time for us fans, bloggers and analysts to speculate…and then maybe cry out inÂ despairÂ when we get proven wrong…at who Bill Belichick willÂ beÂ taking through to the regular season. So here it goes!
You can use my previous predictionsÂ Predicting the Patriotsâ final 53: Version 2.0 as a reference to any changes I may or may not have made!
Quarterback: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan MallettÂ (3)
No change from my previous two predictions and no change to the depth order. There has been talk about Brian Hoyer having potential trade value however, Ryan Mallett is nowhere near ready yet to assume the role of backup! I would rather go with 2 QBs, but it’s in our best interests to go with all three right now.
Running Back: Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Sammy MorrisÂ (5)
No change again from either of my previous two projections. Some may object to me taking Sammy Morris through, but he has been getting regular reps on 1st team offense at Fullback which is both telling and Â justifiable. Dan Connolly, our starting Right Guard, assumed these roles in Morris’ absence last year and got hurt once in the process. I don’t want to see that again. Good running games need a designated Fullback and Morris is it!
Wide Receiver: Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, Taylor Price, Julian Edelman, Mathew SlaterÂ (6)
Again no change here. Mathew Slater proved his worth and fought for his spot well against the team in last night’s Preseason finale against the Giants. He got 1st team reps with the offense in Taylor Price’s absence ahead of Brandon Tate, who looked lack-luster on special teams and in the passing game. Slater recorded a big gainer for 64 yards with Tom Brady and made a couple of nice tackles on Special Teams. Â I expect Price to assume the 4th receiver role this year and even push for some reps at #3 and steal some from Deion Branch. Despite someÂ bogusÂ mediaÂ predictionsÂ of Chad Ochocinco getting cut, this will not happen.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Will YeatmanÂ (3)
Will Yeatman wins the 3rd TE battle. He saw reps with the offensive first team unit ahead of fellow rookie Lee Smith who has Practice Squad potential. He will join the two second year Tight Ends, allowing us to implement the 3 TE sets that were so successful last season with the cutÂ Alge Crumpler, whom he replaces.
Offensive Tackle: Matt Light, Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Steve Maneri (Tackle/Guard)Â (4)
No changes here.Â Steve Maneri makes it in as the 4th Tackle based on the fact he is versatile and can play Guard on both sides also. He has shown impressive stints so far during Preseason!
Offensive Guard: Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell (Guard/Center)Â (3)
No changes from my projections last week.Â Rich Ohrnberger comes out. He andÂ Ryan Wendell are both very similar players and,Â with Steve Maneriâs ability to play Guard, we can remove Ohrnberger to make way for another playerÂ elsewhere. WhilstÂ RyanÂ Wendell has been hurt, he is showing signs of coming back, and if it was between the two, I would have to take him. If Wendell canât remain healthy through to Week One of theÂ RegularÂ Season, he could hit IR with Ohrnberger taking his place. Ohrnberger could be a Practice squad candidate if heÂ doesn’tÂ make the team and clears Waivers.
Center: Dan KoppenÂ (1)
No change.Â Ryan Wendell will back him up.
Defensive End: Andre Carter, Shaun Ellis Â Jermaine Cunningham, Eric Moore, Mark AndersonÂ (5)
After seeingÂ Shaun Ellis play in yesterday Preseason match, I think it’s safe to say he will be used as a Defensive End in our new system. Ellis had his two best years at 4-3 end when the Jets made the temporary change. He may come inside, but I saw no evidence of that last night. No change to the others.
Defensive Tackle: Vince Wilfork, Albert Haynesworth,Â Kyle Love, Myron Pryor, Gerard WarrenÂ (6)
Despite some people’s speculation, Albert Haynesworth will easily make this team. He played last night like Ellis and showed us what he can do the very first play, collapsing the pocket and getting in the Quarterbacks face! As said last week, Ron Brace could be cut or go to IR, whilst Gerard Warren holds his spot and Mike Wright gets cut or goes to IR also. We stay with last year’s sack leader.
Linebacker: Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton, Dan Fletcher, Rob Ninkovich, Tracy WhiteÂ (6)
No change here. Tracy White makes it in successfully after a solid showing last night on special teams. As I said last week, had Jeff Tarpinian stayed healthy I would have him making the roster over White however he makes the practice squad or hits IR for the season.
Cornerback: Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, , Ras-I Dowling, Antwaun MoldenÂ (5)
Here’s where I throw my spanner in the works. Bill Belichick always does something that makes us scratch ourÂ headsÂ in disbelief and amazement; to be honest, would Darius Butler making way for Antwaun Molden be a big shock? Molden came in and made the most of hisÂ opportunitiesÂ whilst Kyle Arrington was out and Butler has had his time. theÂ PatriotsÂ have watched Molden ever since he came out of college and like him. He made some plays last night. Â We saw Ras-I Dowling for the first time last night and he did a solid job for us.Â Jonathan Wilhite is the victim.
Safety: Brandon Merriweather, Patrick Chung, Josh Barrett, Sergio BrownÂ (4)
After James Sanders was cut, Josh Barrett take his place. Barrett saw a lot of reps last night ahead of Merriweather and I believe this was to get a good look at what he could bring to the table against the best opposition possible. It’s widely known the coaching staff like this guy!Â Sergio Brown has been consistently getting some first team reps throughout Preseason also. These are the four I think we go with. RossÂ Ventrone to the practice squad!
Place Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
Punter: Zoltan Mesko
Long Snapper: James Dearth
No real explanation needed. James Dearth is the only change after he replaced Matt Katula who was cut earlier this week.
Sp there it is! My final 53 that I feel we could take through to the season!
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