Here is my take on the unit (Assumes Samuel comes back). I will start with my shocker.
Eugene Wilson - It would be a bit of a shocker but what if Wilson is banged up and may miss some early games. His play has been inconsistent of late and injuries don't help his cause, he gets a visit from the Turk and gets cut.
2) Hobbs - I disagree with Breer I would keep Hobbs on the outside, in general the better CBs should be on the edge.
3) Gay - Top nickel back.
4) James - His performance has only been ok but I think BB prefers vets and James apparently has some potential to play FS.
2) Sanders - He can look shaky but provides some decent backup ability at either safety spot, may start week 1 and 2 at FS.
3) Merriweather - May start the year behind Sanders quickly moving in as the starter. I agree with Breer he still has a ways to go as a CB but can hit, has a good feel for the game. IMO he is better suited to play Safety.
4) Andrews - Backup FS and also can be used to play the slot CB. I believe he played some CB in college.
5) Baker - Backup, backup, backup safety and special teams
Richardson - Has been OK, I think he will be able to slide the PS without too much of an issue.
Wesley hasn't been impressive
Mitchell - I haven't heard anything about Mitchell good or bad. Richardson may get the spot by default
Hawkins stays nearby on the 'shadow
' roster and Troy Brown provides some slot CB capability when he goes on board.
"If Samuel returns, that would likely allow the team to kick Ellis Hobbs into the slot in sub packages and bring Gay off the bench to play outside. Hobbs is ideally suited, with his short-area burst and tackling ability to play inside, and having someone with the athletic ability to play outside would all the Patriots to put him there."
On two young DBs: Willie Andrews was impressive last night; Mike Richardson was just OK. Andrews is really showing the quickness and instincts to play slot corner and plays with an edge, something that comes up in tackling. Richardson, on the other hand, always seems to be efforting just to keep up, and you could see him – and S Eugene Wilson – overextend to keep up with Keary Colbert on the Carolina receiver’s long touchdown.
For the first time, Brandon Meriweather looked a little shaky covering out of the slot. Maybe it’s because his early playing time was limited. Whatever it was, he had a couple of tense moments. There was one third-quarter play, where he took a bad step and got beaten pretty badly by Carolina’s Taye Biddle over the middle. On the flip side, his tackling was very solid and consistent last night, and all of this adds up to one conclusion: Last night, he looked like a safety and not a corner.
Quick hit: This scenario projects that Samuel will return and that rookie Mike Richardson either winds up on the practice squad or on injured reserve (his left arm was in a sling after Friday night's game, which might have been a result of a fourth-quarter tackle on tight end Dante Rosario). Veteran Tory James is the tough cut.
Quick hit: Health will be a big factor here (which could affect the cornerback spot), as Eugene Wilson might have sustained a setback of sorts while defending the 48-yard touchdown pass to Keary Colbert Friday night. Wilson stayed on the field for the ensuing extra point but walked off gingerly and did not play again. This scenario assumes he will be healthy. If he isn't, that could mean James sticks at cornerback, with Meriweather getting more of a look at safety.