With Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of the season, the Patriots will have an extra roster spot they can use. Normally the Pats would only carry five running backs (including a fullback), but with an extra spot, I think there is a chance Bill Belichick will carry an extra back…
Right now, there are five locks at running back for the Pats: LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, Brandon Bolden, James White and James Develin. Barring any big injuries, those five will be on the roster, and they will get the bulk (if not all) of the playing time.
However, with an extra roster spot to play with, it is interesting to think about the possibilities Belichick has at his disposal. D.J. Foster is an exciting young kid out of Arizona State, and if he has a monster preseason, there is a chance he could sneak onto the final roster. I still think it is a fairly low chance, but the Pats love versatile players, and Foster is exactly that. Keep an eye on him throughout this preseason to see how he performs.
The other places I could see New England using that other roster spot would be along the offensive line, at cornerback or possibly wide receiver. The Patriots are absolutely loaded with interior lineman, and it is going to be tough to make those final cuts. If Belichick doesn’t want to waive someone like Tre’ Jackson, having that roster spot could really come in handy for the first four weeks.
The same thing could be said about the cornerback position, as it appears Jonathan Jones has moved ahead of Darry Roberts for that fifth corner spot. However, if Roberts proves himself in the preseason, the Pats could keep him on to give them more depth in the secondary, which is always useful in today’s NFL.
Finally, I have seen some people say the Patriots could carry six receivers with an extra spot open, but I really don’t see it. Unless Aaron Dobson goes absolutely bananas in the preseason, I don’t think he will make the final roster. Keshawn Martin proved more about himself last year than Dobson has done in his entire tenure in New England, and that will ultimately cost Dobson a spot on this team in 2016, at least initially.