Hey folks! Before I get started, I would like to express somewhat a new era for my blog here on Patsfans. Some of you may be wondering what happened to the blog over the period in time inÂ whichÂ it has beenÂ inactive; unfortunately, due to personal reasons, it had to be put aside and make way for moreÂ importantÂ factors in life.
The aforementioned personal reasons are starting to get back to normal and I aim to put an even higher level of commitment into the blog and in to Patsfans.com as a whole with some new segments which will start with week one of the regular season, when the Patrios open up at home to the Arizona Cardinals; a game which the UKPatriots, one of the more recognised Patriots fan clubs and one which I help run, will be attending.
On the note of the UKPatriots, this is the place to be when it comes to news and information regarding the game. I am very heavily involved as a moderator for the fan club in organising the events which those of you who are making the 6, 560 mile and 12-14 hour round-trip Â will be attending. I aim to bring you the best coverage of that event as possible and all the information you need to know regarding events on that weekend.
Anyway, enough with the ramblings on. Here comes my first stab at projecting the final 53 players who will be named on the team sheet come week one of the regular season…read, enjoy, by all means scrutinise and make sure you leave a comment and rating at the bottom.
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett.
Running Back (4)
Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead,Â SpencerÂ Larsen (FB).
Wide Receiver (6)
Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth, Julian Edelman, Mathew Slater.
Tight End (2)
Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez.
Offensive Line (9)
Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Donald Thomas, Nick McDonald, Ryan Wendell, Dan Koppen.
Total Offensive Players: 24
Ras-I Dowling, Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Sterling Moore, Marquice Cole.
Patrick Chung, Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson, James Ihedigbo, Nate Ebner.
Linebacker/Defensive End (7)
Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich, Bobby Carpenter, Niko Koutouvides, Jeff Tarpinian.
Defensive Line (9)
Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Jonathan Fanene, Brandon Deaderick, Chandler Jones, Jake Bequette, Jermaine Cunningham, Trevor Scott, Ron Brace.
Place Kicker - Stephen Gostkowski
Punter - Zoltan Mesko
Long Snapper - Danny Aiken
- At Quarterback, Mallett is far from ready to take the reigns therefore we are forced to keep three on the roster once more. Hoyer has little trade value as it is and still serves as the best possible backup should Brady go down injured. Mallett hasn’t got long left to startÂ producingÂ in training and on the field inÂ pre-seasonÂ before the Patriots start to wonder if they need to look elsewhere for the heir apparent to three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.
- At Running Back, Brandon Bolden has been turning heads but right now I’m not one hundred percent certain Vereen is quite ready to take over Woodhead’s role entirely. Woodhead is receiving the top reps as kick returner which makes it look like he’s here to stay. Previous trends of the Patriots with McDaniels suggests they will take three true running backs with an added Fullback in the mix and we know how he likes to utilise those Fullbacks; he did aÂ tremendousÂ job with Heath Evans. Â Bolden could sneak in and make that five in total, or potentially replace someone like Woodhead if he was seen to be expendable. For that to happen however, someone is going to have to prove themselves as a kick returner.
- At Tight End I have only projected two selections and the most obvious ones. Daniel Fells and Visanthe Shiancoe are both hurt and, unless one of them steps up very quickly and produces in pre-season, it’s unlikely either sill make the roster. Both could be PUP/IR candidates. Worth noting Alex Silvestro has been impressing after his switch from the Defensive End position and could find himself a roster spot here if the Patriots elect to use a third Tight End. Right now it seems unlikely.
- At Wide Receiver, I have missed out Branch who appears to be losing step by step every year. Edelman stays in because of his Special Teams value as one of the better punt returners in the league however I feel there could be a threat to his position or that of Stallworth’s; Jeremy Ebert is a binky of mine and I’m rooting for him to make the team. He does need to show a little bit more however after a drop in the team’s game against the Saints and a muffed punt in training camp.
- The Offensive Line has a lot of question marks hanging over it right now with injuries to starters Vollmer and Mankins, along with Matt Light’s retirement as well as last year’s starting Guard Brian Waters’ absence; as he is not here yet we have to assume he is heavily leaning towards retirement. If Waters does return I see Koppen as very expendable with some struggles in camp and don’t count second year player Kyle Hix out if he can perform; his height, frame and athleticism could make him an intriguing prospect for Belichick.
- The Patriots will probably look to load up on Defensive Backs this year which is why I have projected five Cornerbacks and five Safeties. Dennard has a pulled hamstring and unless he can get back on time is an IR candidate. Cole has shown nice versatility and has covered the slot well when asked so could very well make the team. If they opted for both him and Dennard, then it would make one of the team’s Safeties expendable.
- At safety I have included Ihedigbo because of his Special Teams value, his knowledge, experience and the fact he was a very vocal member of the secondary last year which we so sorely lack. Ebner has a lot of potential there too and has shown up a little at Safety in camp so I can see the Patriots keeping a spot open for himÂ also.
- The Linebacker corps suffered a big blow when Dane Fletcher, who tore his ACL in last week’s game, was waived this week. He featured heavily in our plans and his absence now frees up a spot for someone new and I have inserted Tarpinian into his place. He has Special Teams value and will learn from the experience. Carpenter and Koutouvides have been seing regular reps at both Linebacker and Special Teams and project to fit in nicely. Tracey White isn’t able to stay healthy and is ageing therefore doesn’t make the cut.
- The Defensive Line was a little tough to project in ways. Scott gets in on his performances the last couple of days, despite aÂ lacklustre first pre-season game. Justin Francis shows flashes in camp however I was unimpressed…he sill could sneak in but I struggle to find a role for him and he is certainly a practice squad candidate unless he can find some sort of ‘injury’ for the IR or PUP list. BraceÂ hasÂ flashed highly in camp, would feature in well with the team’s goal line packages and looks fitter than he has ever been so heÂ earnsÂ one of the final spots.Â CunninghamÂ by all accounts has shown markedÂ improvementsÂ also gets the nod. The rest are all locks without question. Â Myron Pryor has seen little love and has been injured therefore is an IR/PUP candidate; he is a young and telented prospect therefore I see him featuring in the Patriots plans somewhere…he could easily find himself making the final cut if he can get healthy and show some production through pre-season.
Like what you read? Check out the rest of my blog â€™4th & Longâ€™ for more! If you would like to comment and offer your insight into this article, feel free to leave your thoughts! You can follow me on twitter; @DamoJarrett