My third and final 53-man roster prediction for the Patriots 2012 season. Here’s how it breaks down:

Quarterbacks - Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer

Running Backs – Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Jeff Demps, Brandon Bolden

Wide Receivers – Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd,  Deion Branch, Julian Edelman,  Matthew Slater

Tight Ends - Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells

Offensive Line - Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen,  Marcus Cannon, Ryan Wendall, Nick McDonald, Donald Thomas

Defensive Line - Rob Ninkovich, Kyle Love, Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Jermaine Cunningham, Jake Bequette, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Justin Francis, Trevor Scott

Linebackers - Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Bobby Carpenter, Jeff Tarpinian

Cornerbacks - Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, Sterling Moore, Alfonzo Dennard, Marquise Cole

Safeties - Pat Chung, Tavon Wilson, Steve Gregory, Nate Ebner

Specialists - Stephen Gostkowski (k), Zoltan Mesko (P), Danny Aiken (LS)

Practice Squad – Jeremy Ebert (WR), Alex Silvestro (TE), Matt Kopa (OT), Marcus Forston (DT), Eric Kettani (FB), Kerry Taylor (WR), Malcolm Williams (DB).

Roster Notes:

  • I thought long and hard about Brian Hoyer being cut and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was for depth at another position. Even if he makes the 53-man roster initially, he could be on the way out if the team wants to roll the dice with only two quarterbacks.
  • After being activated from PUP, tight end Daniel Fells should have the inside track to the team’s third tight end position.
  • Undrafted rookie Justin Francis secures a spot on the defensive line and showed flashes of potential in Wednesday night’s loss to the Giants.
  • Jeff Tarpinian lands on the roster after Dane Fletcher’s ACL tear against the Saints as well as his special teams ability.
  • I expected Alfonzo Dennard to make the team going into training camp, but he hadn’t been able to stay on the field. Wednesday night Dennard flashed and made several plays, including stripping the ball from Giants running back Andre Brown in the fourth quarter.
  • Nate Ebner made an impact this pre-season and seems to be around the ball constantly. He has made a much smoother transition to NFL defensive back than first thought. He has looked fluid, seems to know his responsibilities and doesn’t look lost on the field.
  • I still expect Brian Waters to return to the team in the next few days and if he does, I would expect one of the interior lineman to lose their spot on the roster.
  • On a final note, Jabar Gaffney could re-sign with the team after he gets healthy. After having a high level of competition going into camp, the wide receiver position is a little thin going into the season.

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