New England Patriots roster battles aren’t getting any clearer five days into training camp. If anything, the decisions Bill Belichick will have to make at the end of the summer are only becoming more difficult.
Here’s our latest crack at a 53-man roster projection.
In: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett
Suspended: Tom Brady (four games)
— I don’t see the Patriots bringing in another quarterback to back up Garoppolo, since Brissett has been mostly solid for a rookie.
RUNNING BACK (5)
In: Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount, James Develin, Brandon Bolden, James White
Out: Joey Iosefa, Tyler Gaffney, Donald Brown, D.J. Foster
— I’m going chalk here because Iosefa, Gaffney, Brown and Foster haven’t quite done enough to beat out Blount, Bolden or White five days into camp. That could change, however, with solid joint practices and preseason games.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
In: Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Keshawn Martin, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater
Out: Chris Harper, DeAndre Carter, Devin Lucien, Aaron Dobson, Nate Washington
— Dobson currently has the best chance to beat out Martin, but Harper and Carter also have stood out in training camp. Martin is more consistent and dependable. Dobson has been good, but I’m still not buying it.
TIGHT END (3)
In: Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Clay Harbor
Out: Steven Scheu, Bryce Williams, A.J. Derby, Bear Pascoe
— I came this close to putting in Williams, an undrafted rookie free agent, over Harbor. I’ll give Harbor the benefit of the doubt for now, but Williams could eventually pass him if the veteran stays on the physically unable to perform list for too long.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
In: Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Joe Thuney, Bryan Stork, Shaq Mason, LaAdrian Waddle, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline, David Andrews
Injured reserve: Jonathan Cooper
PUP: Tre’ Jackson
Out: Chris Barker, Cameron Fleming, Ted Karras, Kyler Kerbyson, Jon Halapio, Keavon Milton
— I had to get creative to whittle this list down to just nine players. Cooper is dealing with a foot injury, and the Patriots could store him on injured reserve and bring him back after six weeks.
DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
In: Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Shea McClellin, Geneo Grissom, Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Trey Flowers
Out: Woodrow Hamilton, Joe Vellano, Anthony Johnson, Rufus Johnson, Frank Kearse, Markus Kuhn
— I had a very difficult time leaving Kuhn off this roster projection. I could see him making the roster over Grissom or Flowers.
In: Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Brandon King, Jonathan Freeny
Out: Kevin Snyder, Ramon Humber, Elandon Roberts
— The Patriots’ real linebacker depth is in the defensive line group: Ninkovich and McClellin.
In: Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones, Justin Coleman, Jonathan Jones
Out: V’Angelo Bentley, Cre’von LeBlanc, E.J. Biggers, Darryl Roberts
— Jones is currently outplaying Roberts. Biggers has a shot to beat both young players out.
In: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner
Out: Cedric Thompson, Brock Vereen, Vinnie Sunseri
— Thompson and Vereen both are making strong cases to make the roster. They’ll need to prove it in the preseason. Vereen has the positional versatility to play cornerback, too, which can only help.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
In: K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images