By: Steve Balestrieri
The New England Patriots have finished their first three preseason games and now enter the final stretch of summer before the games begin in earnest in September and the heavy lifting begins.
We did our Roster 3.0 in July after the first week of camp. Now after three preseason games, it is time for version 4.0.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff has some tough decisions to make this week. (FILE:USPresswire)
The cut-down to 75 players will be on August 27, with the 53 player limit on August 31. Teams will be able to sign players to the practice squad on September 1. All players are listed, players in bold are projected keepers.
Well things just didn’t work out as planned for Tim Tebow, I think the Patriots viewed him as a long term project and want to keep him around. Unfortunately, due to injuries and other considerations, he’s going to be let go.
Running Backs (4)
Flipping Blount and Bolden from our last projection, Blount has played fairly well and is now a fixture on the return teams. Bolden flashes but can’t put a consistent effort on the field and is now hurt again. Winn is a candidate for the practice squad.
The Patriots will be keeping a fullback this season after all, they’ve worked Develin around a bit and he’s gotten some work in as both a fullback and tight end. He’s another one who is playing a lot of special teams; a good indicator that they team is going to keep him.
Wide Receiver “X” (3)
Thompkins has worked his way onto the roster and has been arguably the most impressive player on the offense so far this summer. He can play just about anywhere and is primed to be a big part of the passing game. Dobson is learning and needs to add some strength to beat the jams at the line of scrimmage.
Harrison has yet to take the field yet so he’ll either be placed on the PUP list or on IR. He’s very intriguing because of his size and hopefully we’ll see something from him on the field sooner rather than later.
Wide Receiver “Z” (3)
No changes here, Amendola has really clicked with Brady and if he can remain healthy should have a big season. Boyce and Edelman are backups who can line up either in the slot or out wide.
Tight End (4)
‘Sunshine’ Sudfeld has stepped up his play and is becoming a valuable target in the passing game. Gronkowski may not be on the PUP List since talk is they are eyeing a return around Week 4. Fells is banged up and Hooman nabs the final slot.
Solder and Vollmer are locks as solid starters, Svitek was a good quality pickup and can spot start if needed and has been playing guard due to the injuries. Zusevics lands on the roster.
Mankins is locked in at one position and Connolly is fighting it out with Cannon although both are hurt now at the other. Cannon has the versatility to play guard or tackle. Health is the big question here.
Defensive Ends (5)
Jones and Ninkovich are locks as the starters. Jones has beefed up this off-season as well as kept his burst and is primed for a big season. Francis can play inside or outside and the team has utilized Benard in the same fashion.
Have the Patriots under Belichick ever cut ties with a 3rd round pick after just one season? I can’t remember it ever happening, but I think they do with Bequette at this point who is getting swallowed up on the edge. Cunningham is hurt and hasn’t played.
Defensive Tackles (4)
Anthony Rashad White
Wilfork and Kelly are going to be an excellent pair, but after that there is a big drop-off. Both Wilfork and Kelly are on the wrong side of 30 and need to have their workloads monitored. But the depth in the interior is very thin, Armstead was supposed to ease that but has yet to take the field….what they do with him is going to be an interesting call.
If they choose to PUP him, he has until the 6th game to get ready. They can’t designate him for the IR/Return list unless he’s on the roster for Sept. 1,Forston is a logical pick for the third DT, and Vellano who got the start against Detroit gets the nod over Grissom for now because of the injury Grissom suffered on Thursday night.
This position is riper than any other to have augmented by waiver wire pickups after the Aug. 31 cut-down date.
While it seems kind of a thin group, this group can mix and match and could conceivably be narrowed down to five since both Ninkovich and/or Adrian Wilson can play LB in sub-packages.
Dowling runs out of chances as he can’t win a roster spot from the trainer’s room or the lower fields working out with training staff. The only issue here is that both Cole and Ryan bring a similar skill set to the table, although the team has given Ryan a ton of work with the first and second team units both inside and outside.
This unit received a shot in the arm this week with the return of Devin McCourty who, although he’s practiced, has worn the red non-contact jersey all throughout training camp. They’re still mixing and matching with this group so they are not set for starters yet other than McCourty. Ebner makes it on STs value although both he and Wilson could conceivably go.
Special Teams (3)
No changes here, Mesko holds off Allen who may be practice squad bound.