FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots are just three games into the 2013 season, but injuries have already taken a toll on the team’s depth chart.
With Shane Vereen out, Brandon Bolden got a big chunk of snaps in the third-down role against the Buccaneers. He had a solid game, so that trend may continue moving forward.
Kyle Arrington got banged up against Tampa Bay and got hit with a pass interference call, so it would not be surprising to see Alfonzo Dennard take more reps in the base defense. Typically, Arrington has been the starter across from Aqib Talib when there are two cornerbacks on the field. But Dennard has played very well this season.
New England hasn’t made many moves over the last two weeks, but there have still be some shake ups on the roster. Going into Week 4, here’s how we see the updated depth chart:
(Italics indicates injured.)
Quarterback: Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett
Who else would be at the top of the depth chart?
Running back: Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, LeGarrette Blount, Leon Washington
Bolden proved on Sunday that when healthy, he’s ahead of Blount. Blount got the mop up duty since he’s probably the most dependable at holding on to the ball. Bolden started and got more snaps than Blount. Ridley is still on top because he got the most carries in the first three quarters.
Third-down back: Bolden, Washington
With Vereen out, this looks like Bolden’s job to lose. Washington may take some carries away when he’s healthy, but not many if Bolden keeps looking impressive.
Fullback: James Develin, Michael Hoomanawanui
Hoomanawanui has played mostly as a tight end and H-back. Develin has been the team’s primary fullback.
Wide receiver: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater
With Amendola out, Edelman has been the top dog in this group. Dobson looked a little better than Thompkins on Sunday, but the undrafted rookie was still the player getting snaps in two-receiver sets, while Dobson was mostly in when there were three wideouts on the field. Boyce seems buried behind the two rookies.
Slot receiver: Amendola, Edelman, Boyce
When Amendola comes back, Edelman will likely stick as a starter outside.
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Hoomanawanui, Zach Sudfeld, Matthew Mulligan, Develin
Sudfeld has been slightly disappointing so far, but he’s still receiving more snaps than the blocking tight end, Mulligan. Sudfeld will have to prove himself on Sunday to still get on the field once Gronkowski returns.
Left Tackle: Nate Solder, Will Svitek
If Solder went down, Svitek would be the guy to step up in his place. Svitek can play the left and right side, but he doesn’t look like the backup on the right side.
Right Tackle: Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon
Cannon came in for Vollmer on Sunday when the the regular right tackle went down. I expect him to start if Vollmer can’t go.
Guard: Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Cannon, Chris Barker, Svitek
Cannon is also the team’s third guard. That kind of versatility should keep him around in New England for a while.
Center: Ryan Wendell, Connolly
If Wendell went down, Connolly would slide over to center. If it happens while Vollmer is out, Barker would have to get some reps with the starters.
Defensive end: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette
Buchanan is still the player coming in on third down. Bequette looked pretty good in limited action against the Buccaneers. He’ll have to prove himself in that mop-up duty.
Defensive tackle: Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Joe Vellano, Chris Jones
Jones has been inactive the last two games while Vellano continues to serve as the team’s rotational tackle. Vellano struggled in Week 1, but looked much better the past two weeks.
Third-down interior rusher: Jones
On third down, when Buchanan slides into defensive end, Jones moves to defensive tackle to rush inside.
Linebacker: Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Spikes, Jamie Collins, Dane Fletcher, Chris White, Steve Beauharnais
Beauharnais has been inactive the last two games while White as been on the 46-man roster. Hightower is still getting snaps over Spikes in the nickel defense.
Cornerback: Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Marquice Cole
After Arrington got flagged for pass interference against the Buccaneers, Dennard started taking his snaps in the base defense. That may continue Sunday against the Falcons.
Safety: Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Cole, Nate Ebner
Harmon has been the third safety in the past two games. He seems to have passed Wilson for good on the depth chart.
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
Punter: Ryan Allen
Longsnapper: Danny Aiken
Kick returner: Washington, Blount, Slater, Boyce, McCourty
Punt returner: Edelman, Washington, Amendola, Thompkins, Boyce