FOXBORO, Mass. — This upcoming week is the most important one of all for a huge chunk of players who are living on the roster bubble. Rosters must be trimmed to 75 players by Tuesday, and they've got to get down to 53 players Sept. 4.
The Patriots have played three preseason games, but there are still a handful of questions remaining.
Here is the latest edition of NESN.com's roster predictions, and one big name has been left off the list for the first time.
Defensive Linemen (7)
Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright, Gerard Warren, Damione Lewis, Myron Pryor, Brandon Deaderick, Ron Brace
Note: Brace played well Thursday, but he left with an apparent ankle injury. He's had a tough time returning from injuries to this point in his young career, and his ability to bounce back from this might be significant for his roster spot.
Jerod Mayo, Tully Banta-Cain, Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton, Tyrone McKenzie, Jermaine Cunningham, Derrick Burgess, Rob Ninkovich, Marques Murrell
Note: Murrell has been up and down, but he appears to be getting many more reps than Pierre Woods.
Leigh Bodden, Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite, Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Terrence Wheatley
Note: None of these guys played well Thursday (Arrington didn’t play due to an injury), and Wheatley left the game with an injury. Obviously, it was a tough night for the cornerback crew.
Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, Patrick Chung, Brandon McGowan
Note: No changes here, but Meriweather's knee injury is something to keep tabs on. It didn’t look serious, but you never know with these things.
Offensive Line (10)
Matt Light, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Sebastian Vollmer, Dan Connolly, Mark LeVoir, Ted Larsen, Ryan Wendell, George Bussey, Quinn Ojinnaka
Note: Ojinnaka won't count against the Week 1 roster limit because he is facing a one-game suspension. This makes it a virtual guarantee that he makes the team.
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer
Note: Brady has completed 33-of-42 passes (78.6 percent) for 425 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions during the preseason. So that’s good.
Wide Receivers (6)
Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Sam Aiken, Brandon Tate, Taylor Price
Note: Edelman's injury situation is something to keep an eye on. Injuries hurt his momentum during his rookie season, and you've got to wonder if the college quarterback is having a tough time adjusting to the physicality of the pro game.
Running backs (4)
Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Note: Green-Ellis replaces Laurence Maroney this week. It would still be surprising if Maroney didn’t make the team — although maybe the Patriots can find a trading partner — but if he's got no use in the third preseason game, where does he fit in?
Tight ends (3)
Rob Gronkowski, Alge Crumpler, Aaron Hernandez
Note: Gronkowski and Hernandez are going to keep stealing the spotlight from each other. Hernandez didn’t play Thursday due to a knee injury, and Gronkowski had three catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Note: The kicker got paid this week, so that’s a good thing.
Note: Mesko had one great punt Thursday, pinning the Rams to their own 4-yard line, and he averaged 37.2 yards per attempt in the game.
Long Snapper (1)
Note: Nothing to see here.
On the Bubble (10)
Linebacker Eric Alexander, safety Bret Lockett, defensive lineman Kyle Love, running back Laurence Maroney, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, defensive lineman Darryl Richard, wide receiver Matthew Slater, offensive lineman Thomas Welch, linebacker Thomas Williams, outside linebacker Pierre Woods
A Little Further Away (3)
Linebacker Dane Fletcher, offensive lineman Eric Ghiaciuc, offensive lineman Brian Simmons
Long Shots (12)
Safety Josh Barrett, safety Sergio Brown, tight end Carson Butler, running back Thomas Clayton, wide receiver Buddy Farnham, wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, tight end Rob Myers, wide receiver Rod Owens, quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Chris Taylor, safety Ross Ventrone, defensive back DeAngelo Willingham
Left guard Logan Mankins
Projected to Miss Due to Injury (PUP or IR)
Offensive lineman Nick Kaczur
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