FOXBORO, Mass. — Over the next three days, the Patriots will be cutting more than two dozen players, but the roster transactions won't end there. There will surely be players heading to injured reserve and the practice squad, and they'll almost certainly sign another team's castoff, which happens on a yearly basis.
With practices complete, the players on the roster bubble have one more chance to prove themselves on the field Thursday night against the Giants. They might get one last film session Friday to show their mental aptitude, but the end of the line is near for many of them.
This is the fifth and final roster prediction of the preseason, but make sure to come back to read Friday's edition, which is the one that really counts.
In this edition, safety Josh Barrett was the last player in, and defensive lineman Gerard Warren, tight end Will Yeatman and wide receiver Brandon Tate were the last three out. Will anything happen Thursday to change that?
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett
Note: The only change here would come via trade, and I don't see that happening this season.
Running Backs (4)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead
Projected to PUP List: Kevin Faulk
Note: Just a prediction, but I think Ridley and Vereen will both be ready to play in the regular-season opener. Vereen might even debut Thursday against the Giants.
Wide Receivers (6)
Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Chad Ochocinco, Taylor Price, Wes Welker, Matthew Slater
Note: Welker should be fine, but Price's absence from practice was curious. If it was due to anything other than maintenance issues, Brandon Tate should be back in the mix.
Tight Ends (2)
Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez
Note: There's been some good debate surrounding the tight end position, especially my decision to only carry two on the initial roster. Rather than running through my opinion again, check it out from Sunday's roster prediction.
Offensive Linemen (9)
Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Matt Light, Steve Maneri, Logan Mankins, Rich Ohrnberger, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Wendell
Projected to PUP List: Marcus Cannon
Note: This group seems set. The only expendable player might be Ohrnberger if the Patriots feel Connolly and Wendell are healthy enough.
Defensive Linemen (9)
Mark Anderson, Andre Carter, Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Love, Eric Moore, Myron Pryor, Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright
Projected to PUP List: Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick
Note: This group hasn't changed, and Gerard Warren remains as the most difficult cut on the roster. If Cunningham returns to health, Anderson or Moore could get sent packing.
Jermaine Cunningham, Dane Fletcher, Gary Guyton, Jerod Mayo, Rob Ninkovich, Brandon Spikes, Tracy White
Note: This is a good crop of linebackers. I like White as the special teamer, but I can see Bill Belichick possibly rolling with Niko Koutouvides.
Kyle Arrington, Leigh Bodden, Darius Butler, Ras-I Dowling, Devin McCourty
Note: It would certainly be nice to see what Dowling can do against the Giants.
Josh Barrett, Sergio Brown, Patrick Chung, James Ihedigbo, Brandon Meriweather
Note: The Patriots carried five safeties last season, and it's possible again after the release of James Sanders — kind of like an "all hands on deck" mentality. Barrett and Ihedigbo aren't locks, though, as one could be released to make room for Brandon Tate, Lee Smith, Will Yeatman or Gerard Warren.
Long snapper James Dearth, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Zoltan Mesko
Note: Dearth replaced Matt Katula, and with the quick turnaround, it's obvious the Patriots aren't willing to overexert Rob Ninkovich by making him double up as a long snapper.
On the Bubble (9)
Offensive lineman Thomas Austin, outside linebacker/defensive end Markell Carter, defensive lineman Landon Cohen, linebacker Niko Koutouvides, running back Sammy Morris, tight end Lee Smith, wide receiver Brandon Tate, defensive lineman Gerard Warren, tight end Will Yeatman
Note: Tate remains the odd man out at wide receiver, and I'm not sure that will change unless he has a huge night in the return game against the Giants.
A Little Further Away (4)
Linebacker Ricky Brown, defensive lineman Darryl Richard, wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, safety Ross Ventrone
Note: It's obvious that Ventrone adds a nice dynamic to practice, but it's also interesting that the Patriots released him when they had 90 on the roster and then re-signed him when they had to get down to 80. It's crazy how things work for certain players who are trying to stay in the league.
Long Shots (10)
Offensive lineman Mike Berry, tight end Carson Butler, offensive lineman Jonathan Compas, wide receiver Buddy Farnham, running back Eric Kettani, defensive lineman Aaron Lavarias, running back Richard Medlin, defensive end Alex Silvestro, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, offensive lineman Corey Woods
Note: This portion of players is full of candidates for the practice squad.
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