Brandon Spikes,(here with LB Dane Fletcher) returned to practice this week and should boost the defense

The New England Patriots were blown out of their third pre-season game against the Detroit Lions on Saturday night, in much the same fashion that they were last year against the Rams. While some will point to the very vanilla schemes (and they were) on Saturday night, the fact remains that in the one-on-one matchups the Lions dominated the Patriots on both sides of the ball.

So with that in mind we bring you our Patriots 53 man roster projection 3.0. While there is just one pre-season games to go, based on what we’ve seen to date, this is the team we’d field if the season started today.

OFFENSE

 Quarterbacks (3) – Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett no changes here, Hoyer’s position as backup is safe. Mallett will need some time to get more acclimated to the offense.

Running Backs (5) – Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Sammy Morris no changes here. Morris with his special teams acumen gets a spot for at least the first six weeks as Kevin Faulk starts the season on PUP

Wide Receivers (6) – Wes Welker, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater No changes here. The fact that Ochocinco struggled in pre-season isn’t surprising, it takes time to learn the Pats complicated offense. But is anyone worried yet that Deion Branch is invisible so far? Brandon Tate did nothing to help his own case on Saturday. On kickoffs, he seemed tentative. He will need a big game on Thursday to stick around.

Tight Ends (3) – Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Will Yeatman No changes here. Yeatman got all the snaps with the first unit offense in the 3 tight end set. Smith may end up on the practice squad and Mills was cut loosed

Offensive Line (8) – Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Matt Light, Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Rich Ohrnberger, Steve Maneri Marcus Cannon begins the season on NFI while he recovers from cancer. If Dan Connolly is hurt worse than imagined this could change. OL was manhandled by Detroit badly.

DEFENSE

 Defensive Line (10) – Vince Wilfork, Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis, Jermaine Cunningham, Kyle Love, Myron Pryor, Gerard Warren, Andre Carter, Eric Moore, Mark Anderson  No changes although with Mike Wright back to practice, he could push Mark Anderson for the final spot. Kade Weston was let go, but they may bring him back to the practice squad. They may place Ron Brace on IR but other than that there is no way he’ll make the squad. Warren was one of the few bright spots in Detroit.

Linebackers (6) – Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton, Dane Fletcher, Rob Ninkovich, Tracy White White still gets the nod here, but may be pushed by Niko Koutouvides or Ricky Brown. Good news is that both Spikes and Fletcher returned to practice this week.

Cornerbacks (5) – Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler, Ras-I Dowling Butler survived the first round of cuts and I believe he’ll stick. Jonathan Wilhite was cut loose and that wasn’t a shocker. Dowling will have to get up to speed quickly.

Safeties (4) – Pat Chung, Brandon Meriweather, Sergio Brown, James Ihedigbo James Sanders was the shocker being cut loose, he was the communicator in the secondary. But it seems that the Pats are placing the onus of that task onto Pat Chung and not Meriweather. That is just judging by their comments and the fact that they chose Chung to speak at the gala last night. Ihedigbo gets the nod over Josh Barrett but just barely as both are very good STs players.

Specialists (3) – Stephen Gostkowski (k), Zoltan Mesko (P), James Dearth (LS)

The Pats cut loose Matt Katula and signed former Jet James Dearth. Mesko has had a very good pre-season and Gostkowski now seems fully healed from his injury last season.

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