Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Who Replaces Rob Ninkovich?

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The New England Patriots are reigning Super Bowl champs, and somehow their roster seems deeper than ever.

The Patriots will have tough cuts at every single position, other than quarterback, when they have to trim from 90 players to 53 next month. It’s a good problem to have, but it will be difficult for head coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio, nonetheless.

Here’s how we see the Patriots’ 53-man roster shaking out at this point in the summer after 10 training camp practices.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Tom Brady
Jacoby Brissett
Jimmy Garoppolo

If the Patriots could find a way to hold onto Brissett while freeing up his roster spot, they surely would. Perhaps he catches the Foxboro Flu during the preseason and has to hit injured reserve? That sure would be a shame for Bill Belichick.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Rex Burkhead
Mike Gillislee
Dion Lewis
James White

Gillislee is banged up, so Brandon Bolden still is receiving first-team running back reps. Bolden’s is one of the toughest names to omit.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Danny Amendola
Brandin Cooks
Julian Edelman
Chris Hogan
Malcolm Mitchell
ST Matthew Slater

Slater hasn’t been spotted at practice lately, and we’re unsure of the severity of his injury. Wideout Devin Lucien has impressed lately, but it’s tough to crack into this wide receiver corps.

TIGHT ENDS (4)
Dwayne Allen
FB James Develin
Rob Gronkowski
James O’Shaughnessy

O’Shaughnessy is banged up, but Sam Cotton, Jacob Hollister and Matt Lengel haven’t done quite enough to earn a roster spot over him yet. That could change if O’Shaughnessy continues to sit out of practice and one of those players impresses in the preseason.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
David Andrews
Marcus Cannon
Cameron Fleming
Antonio Garcia
Ted Karras
Shaq Mason
Nate Solder
Joe Thuney

Offensive line is one of the tougher positions to evaluate in training camp, but players like Cole Croston, Jamil Douglas, James Ferentz, Jason King, Conor McDermott and Max Rich haven’t flashed enough to grab another O-line roster spot. The Patriots likely would love to keep McDermott around as a project.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
DT Alan Branch
DT Malcom Brown
DE Kony Ealy
DE Trey Flowers
DT Lawrence Guy
DE Derek Rivers
DT Vincent Valentine
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.

Rob Ninkovich retired, but there’s no other defensive end worthy of taking his spot on the team. If there was another edge rusher worthy, then Ealy might not even be listed above. Defensive tackle Adam Butler has been impressive and certainly could make the 53-man roster with a solid preseason. However, whose place would he take?

LINEBACKERS (7)
David Harris
Dont’a Hightower
Brandon King
Harvey Langi
Shea McClellin
Elandon Roberts
Kyle Van Noy

Langi wasn’t listed in our last 53-man roster projection, but he’s pushed the issue by taking regular first-team reps. It seems unlikely he’ll earn a starting role this season, but the Patriots clearly like him.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)
CB Malcolm Butler
S Patrick Chung
S Nate Ebner
CB Stephon Gilmore
S Duron Harmon
CB Cyrus Jones
CB Jonathan Jones
S Devin McCourty
S Jordan Richards
CB Eric Rowe

Cyrus Jones sticks on the roster again, though rookies Kenny Moore and D.J. Killings are nipping at his heels. If Slater isn’t ready to start the season, then safety Jason Thompson could be a candidate to take his place. Thompson is a special teams standout who is making plays in the secondary.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
P Ryan Allen
LS Joe Cardona
K Stephen Gostkowski

There’s still no competition in the specialist roles. Now that Ninkovich is retired, we don’t even know who the backup long snapper is.

Last man in: LB Harvey Langi

Last man out: DT Adam Butler

Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images

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