Patriots Depth Chart Reset: Sorting Out Starting Skill-Position Players

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The New England Patriots are six weeks into their 2016 campaign, which means head coach Bill Belichick must have a pretty good sense of what he has in his squad.

Belichick said early last month he wouldn’t really know his team until the middle of October. A layman’s take after six games and a 5-1 record: This group is pretty damn good.

We have a better sense of the Patriots’ depth chart after six weeks. Here’s how it currently looks.

QUARTERBACK
Tom Brady
Jimmy Garoppolo
Though appreciated, there turned out to be no reason for Belichick to get out ahead of any potential quarterback controversy this summer when he named Brady the Week 5 starter. This is Brady’s team.

RUNNING BACK
LeGarrette Blount
Brandon Bolden
Dion Lewis (PUP)
When Lewis returns, he’ll eat into Blount’s snaps, but Blount likely still will receive a fair share of carries.

SUB BACK
James White
D.J. Foster
Dion Lewis (PUP)

Lewis also will cut into White’s snaps in passing situations, but White still should have a role. Foster could either be headed to the practice squad or catch a bout of the Foxboro flu when Lewis is back.

FULLBACK
James Develin
The Patriots have Glenn Gronkowski on the practice squad as depth.

WIDE RECEIVER
Julian Edelman – Chris Hogan
Danny Amendola – Malcolm Mitchell

Matthew Slater
Mitchell has played more snaps than Amendola this season, but Amendola received more snaps in Week 6. Edelman and Hogan are the clear No. 1a and 1b right now.

TIGHT END
Rob Gronkowski
Martellus Bennett

A.J. Derby
Gronkowski has received more snaps than Bennett in consecutive weeks. Bennett still has a big role on the Patriots, but Gronkowski is a level above him on the depth chart.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE
LT Nate Solder – RT Marcus Cannon
Cameron Fleming
LaAdrian Waddle
Fleming has proven to be a capable fill-in at both left and right tackle so far this season.

GUARD
LG Joe Thuney – RG Shaq Mason
Ted Karras
Tre’ Jackson (PUP)
The Patriots must love Karras. He’s beaten out Josh Kline and Jonathan Cooper to keep his spot on the roster. The Patriots might wait to activate Jackson until they need him. Right now, they have plenty of depth between the active roster and practice squad.

CENTER
David Andrews
Ted Karras
Karras and Thuney both can serve as emergency centers.

INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
Malcom Brown – Alan Branch
Vincent Valentine
Woodrow Hamilton
Anthony Johnson
Hamilton has served as a rotational defensive tackle with Valentine out. Johnson is a third-down interior rusher.

PASS RUSH
Jabaal Sheard – Chris Long
Rob Ninkovich
Trey Flowers
Shea McClellin
Geneo Grissom
Ninkovich’s role is a bit yet to be determined in the Patriots’ defense. He’s an edge player, but plays both outside linebacker and defensive end. He also can play off-the-line linebacker in a pinch.

LINEBACKER
Dont’a Hightower – Jamie Collins
Rob Ninkovich
Elandon Roberts

Barkevious Mingo
Shea McClellin

Brandon King

New England’s linebacker depth chart is a bit of a jumble right now. Ninkovich will play on defense more than Roberts moving forward, but will be play more linebacker? We’ll see.

Belichick also implied Mingo might play more than Roberts against teams that run pass-heavy offenses.

McClellin’s role on the Patriots is TBA. He seems buried at both defensive end and linebacker.

CORNERBACK
Malcolm Butler – Logan Ryan
Eric Rowe

Justin Coleman
Cyrus Jones
Jonathan Jones
Justin Coleman has been inactive for the past two weeks after beginning the season as the Patriots’ No. 3 cornerback. Cyrus Jones filled the role in Week 5, got ejected from the game and was inactive Sunday. Rowe played well in his Patriots debut Sunday.

SAFETY
Devin McCourty – Patrick Chung
Duron Harmon
Nate Ebner
Jordan Richards

Harmon is a pseudo-starter as a nickel safety.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Stephen Gostkowski – Ryan Allen – Joe Cardona

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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