The New England Patriots’ 53-man roster won’t be finalized all season, and it will take a while for the depth chart to round into shape
Fresh off the preseason, head coach Bill Belichick has a general idea of how his first-team offense and defense will look, but competition could continue for some starting spots, like third-down back, guard and defensive tackle, into the regular season.
Here’s how NESN.com sees the Patriots’ depth chart looking, heading into Week 1:
Starter: Tom Brady
Reserves: Jimmy Garoppolo
— Garoppolo outplayed Brady in the preseason, but there’s obviously no quarterback controversy in New England.
Starter: Brandon Bolden
Reserves: James White, Dion Lewis, Travaris Cadet
Suspended: LeGarrette Blount
— Blount will take over the starting role when his suspension is up. Bolden is the only big back on the roster for Week 1.
Starter: Dion Lewis
Reserves: James White, Travaris Cadet, Brandon Bolden
— Lewis had the best preseason of the Patriots’ running backs. This competition probably isn’t over, however.
Starters: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola
Reserves: Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Matthew Slater
PUP: Brandon LaFell
Practice squad: Kenbrell Thompkins, Nathan Palmer
— The Patriots likely will go small at starting wide receiver to begin the season. We also could see Cadet play wideout.
Starter: Rob Gronkowski
Reserves: Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui, Michael Williams
Practice Squad: Asante Cleveland
— Chandler could be listed as a co-starter at tight end until LaFell returns off PUP in Week 7, since he’s more talented and experienced than the Patriots’ current backup wide receivers.
Starters: Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer
Reserves: Marcus Cannon, Michael Williams
Practice Squad: Cameron Fleming, Blaine Clausell
— Williams, officially listed as a tight end, will begin the year as the Patriots’ fourth-string offensive tackle, a position he played for two years with the Detroit Lions.
Starters: Josh Kline, Tre’ Jackson
Reserves: Shaq Mason, David Andrews
Practice Squad: Chris Barker
— This is the biggest question mark on the roster, and it won’t be completely solved until starting center Bryan Stork returns from short-term injured reserve.
Starter: Ryan Wendell
Reserves: David Andrews, Josh Kline
Short-term injured reserve: Bryan Stork
— Wendell is likely to start at center until Stork returns, which means Kline or Mason will start at guard. The Patriots could elect to have Andrews start at center with Wendell at guard, too.
Starters: Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch
Reserves: Dominique Easley, Malcom Brown, Khyri Thornton
PUP: Chris Jones
Practice Squad: Jimmy Staten
— Siliga and Branch are likely to start, but Easley and Brown should receive a ton of playing time. Easley will earn most of his stripes on third down, rushing the passer.
Starters: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich
Reserves: Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom, Rufus Johnson, Eric Martin
— Jones and Ninkovich likely will be the starters, but Sheard will rotate in and play on third down. It will be interesting to see how many snaps Flowers and Grissom earn as rookies.
Starters: Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo
Reserves: Rob Ninkovich, Jonathan Freeny, Eric Martin
PUP: Dane Fletcher
Practice Squad: Darius Fleming, Brandon King, Alex Singleton
— If one of the starting linebackers gets injured, Ninkovich likely would move from defensive end to linebacker, and Sheard would start on the line.
Starters: Malcolm Butler, Tarell Brown
Reserves: Bradley Fletcher, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman
Practice squad: Daxton Swanson
— It appears Butler and Brown are the starters. Fletcher likely will begin the year as the No. 3 corner, but the Patriots will adjust their secondary based on matchups.
Starters: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung
Reserves: Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner
Practice squad: Brandon King
— McCourty will be on the field for every snap, and Chung will be for most of them. Harmon likely will play a lot on passing downs, and Richards and Wilson could play near the box in a linebacker-esque role.
Starters: K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona
Thumbnail photo via Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports Images