FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ depth chart looks a lot different during AFC Championship week than it did in Week 1.
Gone are the Jerod Mayos and Rob Gronkowskis, and in their places are rookies and castoffs. Yet, the Patriots are fighting for their eighth Super Bowl appearance as they plan for the Denver Broncos.
It seems like the depth chart changes week to week, either because a new player has been placed on injured reserve or because a young player has begun to step up. On Saturday night in the AFC divisional round against the Indianapolis Colts, rookie linebacker Jamie Collins got a boost in starting reps after Brandon Spikes was placed on injured reserve.
Check out the latest projected depth chart below.
LeGarrette Blount appears to have a stranglehold on the starting running back slot. And why shouldn’t he? Blount has been the best offensive player on the Patriots the last two weeks, and there isn’t a running back playing better than him left in the postseason — and that includes the Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch.
With wide receivers Aaron Dobson out with a foot ailment and Kenbrell Thompkins sidelined with a head injury, Austin Collie took some reps on the outside against the Colts.
It was discovered when Nate Solder went out with a concussion that Logan Mankins is the team’s backup left tackle. Will Svitek would likely come in at right tackle if Cannon went down.
Defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga has been a healthy scratch the past three weeks, so Sealver Siliga and Joe Vellano get a boost on the depth chart at nose tackle.
With Spikes out, Dane Fletcher became the starting middle linebacker, and Jamie Collins played next to Dont’a Hightower in nickel. Both players went wire to wire on defense, playing all 66 snaps.
Midway through Saturday’s game, cornerback Logan Ryan replaced Kyle Arrington in nickel. That could be because Arrington’s groin injury had acted up again, or it’s possible Patriots coach Bill Belichick thought Ryan was the better man for the job. Ryan might not hold onto that starting spot by Sunday’s game against the Broncos, but since he was the last man playing that role, he gets the No. 1 slot for now.