The New England Patriots trimmed, shuffled then reshuffled their roster, and now it’s time to look forward to Week 1 of the regular season.
Here’s our best guess at what the Patriots’ depth chart looks like with the season opener around the corner:
Practice squad: Danny Etling
Hoyer, shockingly, didn’t pass Brady on the depth chart this summer. There’s always next year.
Practice squad: Ralph Webb
Burkhead and Michel were banged up this summer, and their status for Week 1 is still unclear. Initial reports indicated both players should be good to go for the regular season, but then their injuries lingered through the preseason.
Based on Patriots roster cuts, it seems the Patriots expect to have at least one of those players against the Texans. Hill isn’t a bad player to fall back on if necessary. Michel might have some work to do before rising up the depth chart.
Practice squad: Ralph Webb
Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears called White one of the best third-down backs in the NFL this week. He’s not wrong. White likely will be counted on heavily through the first four weeks of the season.
Develin has no backup and no competition.
Chris Hogan/Phillip Dorsett
Practice squad: Jace Billingsley, Riley McCarron
Suspended: Julian Edelman
Some Patriots fans are losing their minds with panic over this group. All I can say is: Calm down, and what are the Patriots supposed to do about it at this point? It’s not as if they didn’t try to address the position over the offseason.
Dorsett did enough in the preseason to show he can be a No. 2 through the first four weeks of the season. Hogan is coming off an eight-catch, 126-yard, one-touchdown performance in Super Bowl LII. Patterson is fine as a No. 3 with other offensive weapons on the roster. And Hansen serves as insurance in case one of those three players goes down with an injury.
The Patriots looked like they had great wide receiver depth as recently as July. Then Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell and Braxton Berrios all didn’t work out. And the Patriots couldn’t prepare for Edelman’s suspension during free agency and the draft.
So, if there’s not a trade available, then what are they supposed to do? They get by until Edelman returns.
Dwayne Allen/Jacob Hollister
Practice squad: Stephen Anderson
Hollister and Allen likely will split time as the No. 2. Hollister is the receiving option, and Allen is the blocker.
LT Trent Brown, RT Marcus Cannon
Practice squad: Cole Croston, Eric Smith
We expected the Patriots to keep a fourth offensive tackle. Instead, they took a risk and slipped Croston onto the practice squad.
LG Joe Thuney, RG Shaq Mason
Practice squad: Cole Croston, Eric Smith, James Ferentz
Thuney and Mason are solid as starters, and Karras is a top backup. Schwenke has 30 games of starting experience.
Practice squad: James Ferentz
The Patriots are in good shape here.
Trey Flowers/Deatrich Wise
Practice squad: Trent Harris
We had a tough time deciding whether to project Wise or Clayborn as the first-teamer. Clayborn hasn’t been a regular starter — serving instead as a situational pass rusher — since 2013. Wise started four games for the Patriots last season. Wise started Week 1 and 3 of the preseason, while Clayborn started Week 2. We’ll go with Wise.
Malcom Brown/Lawrence Guy
Practice squad: Vincent Valentine
We also had a hard time deciding between Shelton and Brown as the starter. They could even both start with Guy coming off the bench. It’s likely Shelton, Guy and Brown all get a similar share of snaps no matter who is on the field first. Butler is the third-down interior rusher of the group.
Dont’a Hightower/Kyle Van Noy/
Ja’Whaun Bentley/Elandon Roberts
The Patriots only ran 15 percent of their snaps last season in a “regular” defense, so we project a starting defense with just two linebackers.
Stephon Gilmore/Eric Rowe
Jackson and Crossen have solid upside, but we’d put McCourty on the field before the rookies if Gilmore or Rowe go down with an injury.
Practice squad: Jomal Wiltz
Injured reserve: Duke Dawson
Dawson is eligible to return from a hamstring injury after Week 8.
Devin McCourty/Patrick Chung/Duron Harmon
It’s surprising the Patriots don’t have a practice squad safety on the team over Wiltz. If McCourty, Chung or Harmon suffer an injury, then the Patriots likely would go to three cornerbacks and two safeties over giving McCourty a starting share of snaps in a new position.
K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona
The Patriots enter their fourth consecutive season with the same group of specialists.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images
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