By: Steve Balestrieri
With the New England Patriots finishing their first week of practice on Friday, it’s time for the “too early roster predictions” for the 53 man final roster for 2012.
Based on observations through the first week of camp, this how we see the roster panning out today:
QB (3) Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett
RB (4) Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Spencer Larsen
WR (6) Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater
TE (3) Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Visanthe Shiancoe
C (1) Dan Connolly
G (4) Logan Mankins, Brian Waters, Donald Thomas, Ryan Wendell
T (4) Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Darrion Weems
DE (5) Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Trevor Scott, Jake Bequette, Jermaine Cunningham
DT (4) Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Fanene, Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick
ILB(3) Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, Tracy White
OLB(3) Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Bobby Carpenter
CB (5) Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard, Sterling Moore
SS (3) Patrick Chung, James Ihedigbo, Josh Barrett
FS (2) Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson
ST (3) Stephen Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, Danny Aiken
Total players: 53
At QB, no surprises although the battle for the #2 spot hasn’t materialized, Ryan Mallett has struggled with his reads and is too slow to get rid of the ball. Brian Hoyer remains entrenched there.
At RB, I have Spencer Larsen just edging out Brandon Bolden and Eric Kettani for the final spot…but there is awhile to go in camp and Bolden has had some nice moments. See how the pre-season games play out.
At WR, Donte Stallworth leapfrogs Deion Branch for a final spot. Stallworth has shown that he still possesses very good speed and his comfort in this offense along with the return of Jabar Gaffney who has shined, puts Branch behind the 8-ball for now. Branch has been battling injuries but hasn’t shown his normal game yet.
At TE, I originally had Daniel Fells beating out Visanthe Shiancoe but he’s still shelved. Now Shiancoe is hobbled by injury. But for now he gets the nod.
The entire OL roster is in a state of flux right now, Robert Gallery retired although I had him at a backup only because he could play G or T. No one knows if Brian Waters will return or not and if Logan Mankins will be ready to go or on PUP for the first six games. If (and it’s a big if) Mankins and Waters are ready, I think Dan Connolly gets slid over to C and Dan Koppen is the odd man out. So this prediction may need a lot of tweaking soon.
I had mistakenly thought that Markus Zusecics had passed his physical this week and was in the mix at T. Not sure where I saw that, but with him still out, Darrion Weems gets the vote here just over Matt Kopa.
No big surprises on the front seven, Jermaine Cunningham had a strong start to camp and we’ll see if he can keep it going. Myron Pryor can’t stay on the field and gets the axe as does Gerard Warren, but don’t close the door on Warren just yet. Ron Brace doesn’t make it this time around. Linebacking corps appears to be solid and set.
Secondary stays as is unless someone suffers an injury or makes a big change in play. If Alfonzo Denard is hurt for a long period of time that may land him on IR for the year and open the door for either Will Allen or Marquice Cole for his STs play. Tavon Wilson and Josh Barrett could see a lot of action in the dime this season as they replace a LB with an extra safety.
Special Teams remains solid and in place with no changes expected.
Stay tuned to PatsFans as we’ll bring you the latest from training camp.
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