The New England Patriots are just two days away from almost-real football.
The Patriots will take on the New Orleans Saints in their first preseason game Thursday, but first they’ll compete in two joint practices.
Let’s first take a look at the Patriots’ projected depth chart based on what we’ve seen at training camp.
Tom Brady/Jimmy Garoppolo
— Jimmy Garoppolo is the starter in Weeks 1 through 4, and Brady is the starter from Week 5 on. Thus, co-starters.
Dion Lewis+ (PUP)
— Gaffney is above Brown because he’s been in the system for two years, and he already has a week’s worth of more practice reps. Brown is still dealing with a hamstring injury.
— The Patriots could keep both Develin and Harbor, but since they play similar roles, it might make more sense to keep just one.
Danny Amendola+ (PUP)/Chris Hogan
— This isn’t to say that Dobson, Harper or Carter has a better chance of making the roster than Mitchell. I’ll say that again and bold it this time: Dobson, Harper and Carter do not have a better chance of making the roster than Mitchell. Mitchell is a lock as a fourth-round pick, while those other players are on the bubble. So, why are they above Mitchell on our depth chart? Because if the season started today, and if injuries caused any of the reserve receivers to start, it’s likely Dobson, Harper or Carter would play over Mitchell, since he’s a rookie and they have more experience in the Patriots’ offense. This likely will change by the end of the preseason, when Mitchell has proved he grasps the playbook.
Rob Gronkowski/Martellus Bennett
— The Patriots will likely run a two-tight end base offense this season. Derby has impressed of late at camp.
Nate Solder/Sebastian Vollmer+ (PUP)
— With Vollmer on PUP, Cannon is running with the first team at right tackle over Waddle, Fleming and Milton.
Tre’ Jackson+ (PUP)
— Kline, Cooper, Mason and Karras have all received snaps at right guard in camp, but Thuney has been a mainstay on the left side. It wouldn’t be shocking if Karras leapfrogged Jackson.
— Stork might have had an edge on Andrews before suffering a concussion in training camp. Andrews has received first-team reps for over a week now.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
Alan Branch/Terrance Knighton/Markus Kuhn
— Brown is a near lock to start in the Patriots’ base defense. Kuhn is receiving a ton of first-team reps right now, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Branch, Knighton and Kuhn (if they all make the roster) rotate at defensive tackle next to Brown.
Jabaal Sheard/Rob Ninkovich
Chris Long/Shea McClellin
Geneo Grissom/Trey Flowers
— Sheard and Ninkovich should start, but Long and McClellin will have roles. It’s possible only one player out of Flowers, Grissom and Johnson makes the 53-man roster.
Jamie Collins/Dont’a Hightower
Rob Ninkovich/Shea McClellin
— Ninkovich and McClellin are listed as linebackers because the Patriots have run 3-4 base alignments where both players line up as outside linebackers and drop into coverage during practice.
Malcolm Butler/Logan Ryan
— Jonathan Jones, Roberts, Biggers, LeBlanc and Bentley are still fighting for the fifth cornerback spot, but Jones appears to be the favorite for now.
Devin McCourty/Patrick Chung
— Harmon is a pseudo-starter, because he’s carved out a role in the Patriots’ nickel package. Ebner is off playing rugby at the Olympics, which has given Vereen and Thompson chances to shine.
Stephen Gostkowski/Ryan Allen/Joe Cardona
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images