There were four changes in this week's roster prediction — two in, two out — but it was a unique week since this edition came before Saturday's game. Because the upcoming week is so important, I'll release some extra roster predictions, so check back Sunday, Wednesday (or Thursday, we'll see) and Friday just before the big set of cuts comes down Saturday.
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett
Note: These three are set. Nothing to see here.
Running Backs (4)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead
Projected to PUP List: Kevin Faulk
Note: Sammy Morris came off the list this week to make room for another defensive lineman. Morris' permanent home is in the Foxboro area, so I wouldn't be shocked if the Patriots released him and told him they'd call him in a pinch.
Wide Receivers (7)
Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Chad Ochocinco, Taylor Price, Brandon Tate, Wes Welker, Matthew Slater
Note: This is the same group from last week, but Saturday will be an important night for Edelman and Tate after each missed time with an injury. If given the opportunity, they've got to prove they can be assets in the first-team offense.
Tight Ends (2)
Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez
Note: Lee Smith was removed this week in favor of a defensive lineman. If the Patriots need a blocking tight end, they can use tackles Nate Solder and Steve Maneri in that role.
Offensive Linemen (9)
Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Matt Light, Steve Maneri, Logan Mankins, Rich Ohrnberger, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Wendell
Projected to PUP List: Marcus Cannon
Note: Wendell is closer to returning. He's been working out to the side of practice, and he's been walking around the locker room without any sign of injury.
Defensive Linemen (9)
Mark Anderson, Andre Carter, Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Love, Eric Moore, Myron Pryor, Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright
Projected to PUP List: Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick
Note: Ellis was projected to PUP in last week's edition, so he is activated in this week's roster prediction. Moore was also added due to the uncertainty surrounding Jermaine Cunningham's injury. (Cunningham is listed with the linebackers.) Moore was a casualty of the numbers game in previous editions, but he would add some important depth to the edge of a four-man front.
Jermaine Cunningham, Dane Fletcher, Gary Guyton, Jerod Mayo, Rob Ninkovich, Brandon Spikes, Tracy White
Note: This seems to be a pretty solid crew, although White will receive competition from Niko Koutouvides and Ricky Brown.
Kyle Arrington, Leigh Bodden, Darius Butler, Ras-I Dowling, Devin McCourty
Note: Dowling has returned after missing about three weeks with a hamstring injury, but Bodden missed the last week of practice for unknown reasons. Belichick did say Bodden looks healthy, for what it's worth. If Arrington, Bodden, Dowling and McCourty don't have any serious health concerns this time next week, the Patriots might only carry four cornerbacks and go with safety James Ihedigbo, who would add more special teams value than Butler.
Sergio Brown, Patrick Chung, Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders
Note: It was a big development to see Sanders return from a hamstring injury. He's a strong candidate to start with Chung.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, long snapper Matt Katula, punter Zoltan Mesko
Note: Gostkowski has struck his field goals well, which makes it even stranger that he hasn't handled kickoffs yet.
On the Bubble (12)
Offensive lineman Thomas Austin, outside linebacker/defensive end Markell Carter, defensive lineman Landon Cohen, safety James Ihedigbo, linebacker Niko Koutouvides, running back Sammy Morris, defensive lineman Darryl Richard, tight end Lee Smith, defensive lineman Gerard Warren, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, cornerback Malcolm Williams, tight end Will Yeatman
Note: Ihedigbo is a solid candidate to make the team, but with the Patriots out of training camp, the media hasn't been able to see Ihedigbo participate in a full practice, which makes it impossible to judge his production thus far.
A Little Further Away (8)
Safety Josh Barrett, linebacker Ricky Brown, wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, kicker Chris Koepplin, tight end Garrett Mills, linebacker Marques Murrell, wide receiver Jeremy Ross, defensive lineman Kade Weston
Note: I'm curious to see what Barrett can bring to the table after missing a ton of time with an injury. He returned this week, and the Patriots should throw him in against the Lions to see him perform.
Long Shots (13)
Wide receiver Tyree Barnes, offensive lineman Mike Berry, tight end Carson Butler, offensive lineman Jonathan Compas, wide receiver Buddy Farnham, running back Eric Kettani, defensive lineman Aaron Lavarias, running back Richard Medlin, defensive end Clay Nurse, defensive end Alex Silvestro, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, offensive lineman Mark Wetterer, offensive lineman Corey Woods
Note: For the first time I can recall, Farnham immediately worked with the safeties during positional drills at the start of one practice this week. It seems to be a day-by-day, drill-by-drill thing for him and his position.