With all the injuries the Patriots have suffered this season, it seems the team’s depth chart is in constant flux.
Now at the bye, and the 10th week of the season, it’s amazing how much has changed for New England from the start of training camp — let alone the end of last season.
The latest additions to the roster are defensive end Andre Carter, defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga and wide receiver LaQuan Williams (who may have a steep hill to climb if he’s asking for Chad Johnson‘s help learning the offense).
Check out how they fit in and how the depth chart looks heading into the Patriots’ Week 11 matchup against the Panthers below.
QUARTERBACK: Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett
After that game against the Steelers? Yeah, Brady can stay at the top of the depth chart.
RUNNING BACK: Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Leon Washington
Once Vereen comes back, he’ll immediately limit Blount and Bolden’s carries.
THIRD-DOWN BACK: Vereen, Bolden, Washington
Vereen will resume his third-down duties.
FULLBACK: James Develin, Michael Hoomanawanui
After getting cut out of camp, Develin has stuck around.
WIDE RECEIVER: Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, LaQuan Williams, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater
Dobson has made his way up the depth chart quickly this season. Dobson has to be considered the No. 1 receiver after leading the group in snaps for two straight weeks.
SLOT RECEIVER: Amendola, Edelman, Boyce
Amendola’s the top dog in the slot. Edelman’s been staying neck and neck for snaps lately, though.
TIGHT END: Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, Matthew Mulligan
As with Brady, after that game against Pittsburgh, we suppose he’s good enough to be No. 1.
LEFT TACKLE: Nate Solder, Will Svitek
With Sebastian Vollmer gone, this group gets a lot more shallow.
LEFT GUARD: Logan Mankins, Chris Barker, Josh Kline
The whole offensive line takes a hit with Vollmer’s injury since Marcus Cannon was the backup at both tackle and guard spots.
CENTER: Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Barker
If Wendell were to go down, Connolly would likely move over and Barker would become a starter.
RIGHT GUARD: Connolly, Barker, Kline
The Patriots are used to having better depth along the offensive line.
RIGHT TACKLE: Marcus Cannon, Svitek
Cannon played well against the Steelers.
4-3 DEFENSIVE END/3-4 OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Andre Carter, Jamie Collins, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette
The front seven gets a bit confusing now. The Patriots run their base defense out of a hybrid 4-3/3-4 and the sub with a front four. Jones and Carter could be categorized as 4-3 DEs, 3-4 OLBs, 4-3DTs and 3-4 DEs. Ninkovich and Collins can be 3-4 OLBs, 4-3 DEs and 4-3 strong-side linebackers.
4-3 DEFENSIVE TACKLE/3-4 DEFENSIVE END: Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, Carter, Marcus Forston
The Patriots tried playing Chandler Jones as 3-4 defensive end (five-technique), but he struggled to get off blocks. That moved the second-year player over to outside linebacker in the three-man front base.
NOSE TACKLE: Isaac Sopoaga, Jones, Vellano, Forston
Oddly, when Sopoaga isn’t in the game, Chris Jones (who’s a great pass rusher) typically moves to the nose spot.
LINEBACKER: Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, Collins, Chris White, Steve Beauharnais
Since Fletcher is the team’s starting dime linebacker, it appears he’s passed Collins on the depth chart.
CORNERBACK: Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Marquice Cole
This may be the Patriots’ deepest group. From top to bottom, Belichick isn’t afraid to play any of these guys.
SAFETY: Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Cole, Nate Ebner
It appears Harmon will be starting in Gregory’s place after the starter broke his thumb. If it got down to the end, I think Cole would play over Ebner.
KICKER: Stephen Gostkowski
PUNTER: Ryan Allen
KICK RETURNER: LeGarrette Blount, Leon Washington, LaQuan Williams, Matthew Slater, Devin McCourty, Josh Boyce
PUNT RETURNER: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins