Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Tough Cuts At D-Line, Wide Receiver

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The New England Patriots have just one more preseason game before they must trim their roster to 53 players.

The Patriots cut down from 80 to 75 players Tuesday by releasing linebacker Ramon Humber, tight end Steven Scheu and offensive lineman Keavon Milton and placing running back Dion Lewis and offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer on the physically unable to perform/reserve list.

Here’s how NESN.com Patriots beat reporters Doug Kyed and Zack Cox see the 53-man roster shaking out.

QUARTERBACK
Doug Kyed
In: Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo (2)
Suspended: Tom Brady (four games)

Out: None

No surprises and no need for a fourth quarterback on the roster.

Zack Cox
In: Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo (2)
Suspended: Tom Brady (four games)
Out: None
It’ll be interesting to see how the Patriots handle the QB reps in their preseason finale, but this is set in stone.

RUNNING BACK
Kyed
In: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, James Develin, D.J. Foster, James White (5)
Out: Tyler Gaffney, Joey Iosefa
PUP:
Dion Lewis
I’m still not convinced Foster or Gaffney will make the 53-man roster. I believe Gaffney could be easier to slip onto the practice squad, however.

Cox
In: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, James Develin, Tyler Gaffney, James White (5)
Out: D.J. Foster, Joey Iosefa
PUP: Dion Lewis
Thursday is a potential make-or-break game for both Gaffney and Foster. The Patriots have seen far more of Gaffney — he probably has more touches than any non-quarterback since the beginning of camp — but Foster, who was injured early on, was the more impressive back against Carolina. Right now, I’m giving the edge to Gaffney, but I’m not ruling out Foster.

WIDE RECEIVER
Kyed
In: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Keshawn Martin, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater (6)
Out: DeAndre Carter, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Devin Lucien

The Patriots reportedly shopping Dobson in a trade isn’t a great sign for his roster status.

Cox
In: Danny Amendola, Keshawn Martin, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater (6)
Out: DeAndre Carter, Chris Harper, Devin Lucien, Aaron Dobson
With Martin now healthy, Dobson must light it up against the Giants to surpass him on the depth chart. If Amendola begins the season on the PUP list, though, there’s a chance the Patriots could keep both.

TIGHT END
Kyed

In: Martellus Bennett, A.J. Derby, Rob Gronkowski (3)
Out: Clay Harbor, Bryce Williams

Derby had a drop Friday, but he’s been good enough all summer to overcome it and warrant a spot.

Cox
In: Martellus Bennett, A.J. Derby, Rob Gronkowski (3)
Out: Clay Harbor, Bryce Williams
Adios, Bear Pascoe and Steven Scheu. It’s now a three-horse race for the third tight end spot, and my money’s still on Derby.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Kyed

In: David Andrews, Marcus Cannon, Jonathan Cooper, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason, Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, LaAdrian Waddle, Ted Karras (9)
PUP: Sebastian Vollmer, Tre’ Jackson
Out: Chris Barker, Cameron Fleming, Jon Halapio

With Bryan Stork cut, Vollmer and Jackson on PUP, and Cooper and Mason banged up, the Patriots need Karras for depth at guard.

Cox
In: David Andrews, Marcus Cannon, Jonathan Cooper, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason, Nate Solder, Ted Karras, Joe Thuney, LaAdrian Waddle (9)
PUP: Sebastian Vollmer, Tre’ Jackson
Out: Chris Barker, Cameron Fleming, Jon Halapio
Cooper’s return to the practice field was a promising development for a Patriots team that’s shallow at guard, especially with Mason still sidelined with a broken hand. I also like the rookie Karras to stick around over Fleming.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Kyed

In: Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, Chris Long, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Markus Kuhn, Vincent Valentine (8)
Out: Woodrow Hamilton, Rufus Johnson, Joe Vellano, Anthony Johnson, Geneo Grissom

Grissom was the final cut on our 53-man roster, and keeping Kuhn over Anthony Johnson was a tough decision. The Patriots like to rotate their defensive tackles, and Johnson wouldn’t fit into a rotation with Branch, Brown and Valentine as adequately as Kuhn. An edge rusher, like Flowers or Sheard, could fill Anthony Johnson’s role as an interior pass rusher. It’s tough to keep Grissom after the Patriots acquired Barkevious Mingo. The Patriots likely could stash Anthony Johnson on their practice squad.

Cox
In: Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, Anthony Johnson, Chris Long, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Vincent Valentine (8)
Out: Geneo Grissom, Woodrow Hamilton, Rufus Johnson, Markus Kuhn, Joe Vellano
Mingo, the newcomer, whom we’ll get to in a second, bumps out Grissom.

LINEBACKER
Kyed
In: 
Jamie Collins, Jonathan Freeny, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Dont’a Hightower, Brandon King, Barkevious Mingo, Shea McClellin (7)
Out: 
Elandon Roberts, Kevin Snyder
Mingo and McClellin are hybrid players, able to play defensive end or outside linebacker. They can provide depth at both positions.

Cox
In: Jamie Collins, Jonathan Freeny, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Dont’a Hightower, Brandon King, Shea McClellin, Barkevious Mingo (7)
Out: Elandon Roberts, Kevin Snyder
Mingo called himself a linebacker Monday, so I’ll put him here, even though he also can play defensive end. I see Snyder and Roberts following Ramon Humber out the door, though Roberts — a surprise starter against the Panthers — should land on the practice squad.

CORNERBACK
Kyed
In: Malcolm Butler, Justin Coleman, Cyrus Jones, Cre’von LeBlanc, Logan Ryan (5)
Out: Jonathan Jones, Darryl Roberts

LeBlanc makes it over Jones and Roberts for now, but the final preseason game ultimately could decide this competition.

Cox
In: Malcolm Butler, Justin Coleman, Cyrus Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Logan Ryan (5)
Out: Jonathan Jones Darryl Roberts
LeBlanc, Roberts and Jonathan Jones all have a shot at the fifth cornerback position. LeBlanc’s been the best of the bunch during the preseason, but any of the three could play his way into a roster spot with a strong performance Thursday night.

SAFETY
Kyed
In: Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Jordan Richards (5)
Out: Vinnie Sunseri
This might as well be set in stone.

Cox
In: Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Jordan Richards (5)
Out: Vinnie Sunseri
No change here.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Kyed
In: 
P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona, K Stephen Gostkowski (3)

Cox
In: P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona, K Stephen Gostkowski (3)

IDEAL PRACTICE SQUAD
Kyed: WR Carter, OT Fleming, RB Gaffney, DT Anthony Johnson, DE Rufus Johnson, CB Jonathan Jones, LB Roberts, CB Roberts, TE Williams, DE Grissom
Cox: WR Carter, WR Lucien, LB Elandon Roberts, CB Jonathan Jones, OT Fleming, RB Foster, DE Geneo Grissom, CB Darryl Roberts, DE Rufus Johnson

Thumbnail photo via Robert Duyos/USA TODAY Sports Images

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