About a week ago, I put forth my first 53-man roster projection. Since that time, we’ve seen another preseason game and players have begun returning to practice that had previously been out. That being said, this is still a tough roster to project. There are going to be some good players getting cut. Changes from the first projection come at wide receiver, defensive line, linebacker, and safety as I go a little top-heavy on defense.
Without further ado, let’s go to my second stab at a roster projection.
No changes here. The Pats could have the best QB situation in the entire NFL.
Running Backs (4)
Kevin Faulk opens the season on the PUP list. When I started putting this thing together, I was going to put Vereen on IR. However, he’s back at practice so that option is out the window. Sammy Morris is a tough cut. I think the Pats will again try and get FB/TE Garrett Mills on the practice squad.
Wide Receivers (6)
Slater makes the squad by virtue of his value on special teams. I cut Brandon Tate from the team even though he has returned to practice. He didn’t show much as a wide receiver last season and with the missed time, I don’t see him making that up. There are other players who can return kicks, and that position has less value with the new kickoff rules.
Tight Ends (3)
Rookie free agent Will Yeatman is challenging Lee Smith for a roster spot. I have Smith on here right now because of his draft status but another solid preseason performance from Yeatman and this could change next week.
Offensive Linemen (9)
There are no changes here from last week. I think that the Pats will be scouring the waiver wire once the big roster cuts begin for interior line help. Rookie Marcus Cannon starts the year on the non-football injury/PUP list.
Defensive Linemen (9)
Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick start the season on the PUP list in this scenario. I cut Eric Moore because the Patriots have better options at defensive end right now. Mark Anderson has shown to be a better pass rusher than Moore, so there’s really no need to keep him on the team. I am moving Mike Wright to IR for the season because he has yet to practice, and after missing a chunk of time with a concussion last season, I have a bad feeling about him. He gets replaced by Gerard Warren, who was a pocket collapser at defensive tackle in Week Two of the preseason.
I added newcomer Ricky Brown to this list. Dane Fletcher and Brandon Spikes have both been out with injuries and both are too valuable to cut. Also, neither seems bad enough to place on IR, so Brown is kept for depth purposes.
At the beginning of the week, I was going to place Dowling on IR, but he has returned to practice. Therefore, there are no changes to this list from last week. I get nervous with five corners because an injury can limit what the team can do, but I address that at the safety position. Depending on how Butler finishes the preseason and how Dowling does when (if) he plays, this could be another position looked at on the waiver wire.
I hate the idea of keeping five safeties, but at this point this position is so fluid anything can happen. Nothing short of cutting Chung would surprise me here. Sanders returned to practice this week, so his performance bears watching. Ihedigbo is a quality special teams player and has rotated in at safety with the Jets, so he has some value. Both Chung and Meriweather have experience playing the STAR position (covering the slot receiver), so they help with the depth at corner. Brown has seen his first unit reps increase, so cutting him doesn’t make much sense at this point. Stay tuned here.