The New England Patriots’ locker room will be tense over the next three days.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ coaches and front office will review the game film from Thursday night’s preseason finale against the New York Giants and make their final roster decisions. They must cut 22 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday to whittle their roster to 53.
The Patriots’ most difficult decisions come at quarterback, running back and defensive line, where their roster is stacked with talented players. Of course, with the Patriots, surprises always are expected.
Check out NESN.com’s latest guess at who makes the 53-man roster cut.
QUARTERBACK (3): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo
Garoppolo might not have done enough to earn the backup role behind Brady after Thursday night’s preseason loss. Mallett stays for now, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he was cut or traded.
RUNNING BACK (4): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Brandon Bolden
Bolden has sat out the final two preseason games for undisclosed reasons. Jonas Gray and Roy Finch have had impressive moments this summer, but Bolden is more reliable.
WIDE RECEIVER (6): Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Matthew Slater
Thompkins, LaFell and Dobson have done more to prove they deserve roster spots than Josh Boyce has this summer.
TIGHT END (4): Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, James Develin, Tim Wright
Wright was quick to catch on to the Patriots’ offense, catching four passes Thursday night against the Giants.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Nate Solder, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline, Cameron Fleming, Bryan Stork, Jon Halapio
The Patriots have to pick five starters from the above group of nine players. Jordan Devey also has a chance to earn a roster spot. The offensive line competition is so tight, it’s just as likely that Devey starts in Week 1 as it is that he’s waived.
EDGE DEFENDER (3): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan
Buchanan suffered an ankle injury against the Giants. If it’s serious, Jake Bequette potentially could snag a roster spot.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Vince Wilfork, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Dominique Easley, Zach Moore, Joe Vellano
Vellano sat out Thursday night’s preseason finale, which likely means he ensured his spot on the roster. Moore has too much promise to risk being placed on the waiver wire.
LINEBACKER (6): Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Steve Beauharnais, Darius Fleming, Ja’Gared Davis
The Patriots might choose to keep just five linebackers, since Chandler Jones and Ninkovich can stand up in a 3-4. If they keep six, Davis is a better defender than Chris White.
CORNERBACK (5): Darrelle Revis, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler
Butler started again Thursday and played well. It would be shocking if he was among the Patriots’ roster cuts.
SAFETY (4): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner
Since Dennard, Arrington and Ryan can play safety, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Patriots keep just four players at this position. Wilson has made some nice plays over the summer, however.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Danny Aiken
No surprises here.
SUSPENDED (2): Brandon Browner, Brian Tyms
Tyms is worth keeping on the reserve/suspended list until October.
IDEAL PRACTICE SQUAD: RB Jonas Gray, RB Roy Finch, WR Josh Boyce, OL Jordan Devey, DE Jake Bequette, LB James Morris, CB Daxton Swanson, DT Jerel Worthy, WR Jeremy Gallon, FB/LB Taylor McCuller
Last three in: Mallett, Bolden, Davis
Last three out: Gray, Devey, Worthy
Photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images