Patriots Projected Depth Chart: LeGarrette Blount Passes Jonas Gray

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The New England Patriots’ depth chart is due for another shake up before the playoffs begin.

Defensive linemen Chandler Jones (hip) and Sealver Siliga (foot) are practicing and set to return from injuries soon, which should only strengthen an already stout defense. Since the Patriots’ unofficial depth chart is just that: unofficial, let’s take a look at how the Patriots’ roster is projected to look over the next four weeks and beyond:

QUARTERBACK: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
TB12 has managed to stave off the rookie despite a slow start to the season.

WORKHORSE RUNNING BACK: LeGarrette Blount, Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden
Gray picked the worst week ever to show up late to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots had signed Blount just one day earlier, and the veteran has been playing his butt off in his second tenure with the Patriots while Gray has found a not-so-comfy seat on the bench. Bolden actually received more offensive snaps (seven) than Gray (two) last week against the Green Bay Packers, but I can’t see that lasting.

THIRD-DOWN BACK: Shane Vereen, James White
White only has been active for two games, and a Vereen injury would be the only way he receives a considerable amount of snaps before the season is over.

FULLBACK: James Develin
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui also can play fullback in a pinch.

WIDE RECEIVER: Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Brian Tyms, Aaron Dobson, Matthew Slater
There was supposed to be competition for LaFell’s “X” receiver spot entering the season, but the veteran has made every word about that training camp “battle” look foolish by putting together his best NFL season. Dobson could be placed on injured reserve soon since he was barely playing, and he suffered a hamstring injury Sunday against the Packers. Dobson didn’t practice Wednesday in San Diego.

TIGHT END: Rob Gronkowski, Tim Wright, Michael Hoomanawanui
Gronkowski played his highest percentage of snaps this season against the Packers in Week 13. Wright finally is receiving more playing time than Hoomanawanui and Amendola over the past two weeks.

TACKLE: Nate Solder (LT), Sebastian Vollmer (RT), Cameron Fleming, Marcus Cannon
Fleming is nursing an ankle injury, but he should take over the “eligible” tackle role from Cannon once he’s healthy.

GUARD: Dan Connolly (LG), Ryan Wendell (RG), Josh Kline, Jordan Devey
It took Wendell five weeks to re-gain his starting role in the Patriots’ offense, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to relinquish it anytime soon.

CENTER: Bryan Stork, Connolly, Wendell
The Patriots have valuable depth in Connolly and Wendell if Stork suffers an injury or falters.

EDGE DEFENDER: Chandler Jones (injured), Rob Ninkovich, Akeem Ayers, Zach Moore
Ayers is listed as a linebacker on the Patriots’ official depth chart, but when the Patriots have gone to their base defense over the last two games, Ayers will leave the field to make way for fellow midseason pickup Jonathan Casillas. Ayers has primarily played defensive end with the Patriots, though that could change when Jones returns from his hip injury.

INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE: Vince Wilfork, Chris Jones, (Sealver Siliga — injured reserve), Alan Branch, Dominique Easley
It will be interesting to see how the defensive line shakes out when Siliga returns from his foot injury. Jones and Branch have played well in his absence. Easley should continue to see playing time as an interior pass rusher on third down.

LINEBACKER: Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Ayers, Jonathan Casillas, Darius Fleming, Chris White
When Jones returns, Ayers likely will begin playing more linebacker combined with his role as an edge rusher. Casillas has played well in his limited role since coming to New England.

CORNERBACK: Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard, Malcolm Butler
Butler is the only player in this group that hasn’t started a game yet, but even he has received considerable snaps as an undrafted rookie. Arrington hurt his ankle last Sunday against the Packers, but a source familiar with the situation indicates he’ll play Sunday against the Chargers.

SAFETY: Devin McCourty (FS), Patrick Chung (SS), Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner
Harmon has served as the backup deep safety this season, meaning he comes onto the field when the Patriots play Cover 2 or ask McCourty to play in the box. Wilson came on the field last week when Chung briefly left the field with an injury.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Danny Aiken (LS)
Ninkovich played long snapper against the Packers when Aiken was out with a concussion.

KICK RETURNER: Amendola, Blount, Chung, Vereen, Slater, LaFell
Amendola has kept the kick-return role despite the Blount acquisition.

PUNT RETURNER: Amendola, Edelman
Amendola has usurped primary punt-return duties from Edelman. When the Patriots use two punt returners, Edelman takes the deep part of the field, while Amendola fields the shallow portion.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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