The “rhetoric” won again Tuesday night, as football was overshadowed by deflated footballs.
The New England Patriots are five days into training camp, however, and we’re getting a pretty clear picture at some of their biggest positional battles.
Since the Patriots are facing two suspensions to start the season, our 53-man roster projections actually will be 55-man roster projections this summer.
Let’s look at the 55 players who should make the Patriots’ roster if the season started today:
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Flynn
This is based on the assumption Brady will be suspended to start the season. If his suspension is thrown out, Flynn, who hasn’t even started practicing yet, would be off the roster.
RUNNING BACK (6)
LeGarrette Blount, James White, Jonas Gray, Travaris Cadet, Brandon Bolden, James Develin
Blount is suspended one game to begin the season. White, Gray or Cadet could be off the roster when he returns. The competition for the Patriots’ third-down role still appears wide open.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Brandon Gibson, Matthew Slater
Brian Tyms had to be carted off the field Tuesday, which could open the door for Gibson to make the roster. Dobson is a solid backup for LaFell, and Gibson has the versatility to fill in at any receiver spot.
TIGHT END (3)
Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui
Hooman was a favorite target of Brady’s on Tuesday during the Patriots’ two-minute drill to end Day 5 of training camp. Jimmay Mundine or Jake Bequette would really need to impress during the preseason to pass Hooman on the depth chart.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Nate Solder, Ryan Wendell, Bryan Stork, Tre’ Jackson, Sebastian Vollmer, Shaq Mason, Cameron Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline
This is a solid unit that has improved drastically since Week 1 of the 2014 season.
DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
Chandler Jones, Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Malcom Brown, Dominique Easley, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, Zach Moore
The Patriots did a nice job adding youth to their defensive line this offseason. Moore or Branch could be on the onside looking in if Chris Jones regains his health before the season.
Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Jonathan Freeny, James Morris
The Patriots could elect to carry six linebackers, but the versatility of Ninkovich, Sheard and Grissom will help boost the team’s depth, especially if they elect to run a 3-4.
Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Tarell Brown, Robert McClain, Darryl Roberts
It was a toss-up between Roberts and Bradley Fletcher for the fifth cornerback spot. Neither has exactly proven he deserves a roster spot, but Roberts has upside and youth on his side. Butler, Ryan and Brown have been the Patriots’ best cornerbacks this summer.
Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Tavon Wilson
Wilson is having a strong start to training camp, and he’s just as much of a weapon on special teams as Nate Ebner. Wilson’s $1.342 million cap hit could hurt his chances of making the roster, however.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona
The Patriots have elected not to bring in competition for any of their specialists.
LB Dane Fletcher, LB Chris White, DT Chris Jones
Fletcher tore his ACL late in the 2014 season, a source told WEEI.com’s Chris Price. White and Jones have yet to be spotted on the Patriots’ practice field, which isn’t a great sign for their recovery.
Last three in: Tavon Wilson, Alan Branch, Darryl Roberts
Last three out: Matt Wells, Nate Ebner, Tyler Gaffney
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@SteveB7SFG