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Sunday, 04 August 2013 16:02

Latest New England Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: August 4th

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Training camp is by no means over, but it is well underway and with that in mind, we take a look at what the 53-man roster might look like when it comes time to start the season.

Quarterback:

Tom Brady, Ryan Mallet (2)

Tim Tebow has made improvements during camp and, it is possible that the team takes him on as the #3 quarterback with the hopes of developing him for the future. However, all of the negatives – mechanical flaws, indecisiveness and inaccuracy – are still there in a major way and you have to think that it would be wiser to use that roster spot on help at a different position, while finding a more polished quarterback in the future.

Running Back:

Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, Brandon Bolden (4)

Bolden’s ankle/foot injury has given Legarratte Blount an incredible opportunity to take hold of the final running back spot, but to this point, the big, and surprisingly elusive running back, has failed to do so.

Wide Receiver:

Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Julian Edelman, Michael Jenkins, Kenbrell Thompkins, Mathew Slater (7)

Boyce and Dobson have both performed well so far during training camp. Boyce has been the better of the two, using his quickness to separate from defenders out of cuts. Initially, he displayed inconsistent hands but has recently turned in very good performances, including a few days of not dropping any balls. Dobson has struggled getting off the line but has demonstrated a highlight reel ability to make plays going over the top of defenders. The Patriots are hopeful that Dobson provides them with the type of deep threat that has been lacking in recent years.

Thompkins, the less notable rookie, has actually been the best of the three. At 6”0, 195 lbs., he is an impressive route runner, with good hands and also has the ability to make plays down the field.

Thompkins emergence likely means that New England will hope that Mark Harrison, who has been sidelined to this point, falls through to the practice squad. At 6"3, 235 lbs., Harrison is an athletic freak. The Rutgers product runs a 4.46 40-yard dash and has a 38.5 inch vertical. At 35 inches, he also has a longer wingspan than any wide receiver from the 2013 draft class. Via The Connecticut Post. The Patriots don’t have many X receivers right now and while it would be adding another rookie to the mix, it is hard to pass up someone with the physical gifts that Harrison possesses.  

Tight End:

Rob Gronkowski, Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui, Zach Sudfeld (5)

There is reason to be skeptical about whether or not Ballard will return to pre-injury form. He was given a day off on Saturday and to this point, has not looked as mobile as he did as a member of the Giants.

Sudfeld, is an impressive physical specimen, who has the ability to fulfill both Gronkowski’s and the recently departed Hernandez’s roles. The biggest questions surrounding the undrafted rookie are whether or not he can stay healthy after failing to do so in college and how quickly he can learn the playbook. If Sudfeld is able to keep himself on the field and his talents translate to the NFL level, New England will be able to sustain its two-tight end attack.

Fells, who has good hands and impressive agility for a guy his size – 6”4, 272 lbs. - has performed well so far during camp.

Offensive Line:

Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Will Svitek, Marcus Cannon, Markus Zusevics (8)

Carrying eight offensive lineman may be stretching things a bit thin, particularly on the interior of the line, but with Nick McDonald failing his physical, the Patriots simply don’t have many quality backups and would be better off carrying eight or signing a veteran who is cut from another team. 

Defensive End:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Michael Buchanan, Marcus Benard (5)

You can get an in-depth read on Benard in this article from nesn.com’s Doug Kyed. Pro Football Focus ranked Benard as one of the NFL’s best pass rushers per snap in 2009 and 2010. In October of 2011, as a member of the Cowboys, Benard was in a motorcycle accident that ended his season and altered his career. The following year, while with the Browns, he suffered an injury during training camp and was cut. Benard is a legitimate threat off the edge and has also seen time on the interior of the defensive line, working in Nascar packages that resemble what the New York Giants run.

Defensive Tackle:

Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Armon Armstead, Marcus Fortson (4)

There is no timetable for Armstead – at least not one that the Patriots have made public – who it was revealed recently underwent surgery to treat an infection. There is not much depth at the tackle position and, fans and the organization alike not only look to Armstead to be a strong contributor, but to also help pace the lines elder statesmen, Wilfork and Kelly.

Linebacker:

Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Don’t’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Dane Fletcher (5)

We know what we’re getting with Mayo, the question is what will year two look like for Hightower and what type of season will Spikes have as he looks to cash in when his rookie contract expires at the end of the year?

Collins has had a good camp so far and put his athleticism on full display Saturday, undercutting a pass from Ryan Mallet for the interception.

Cornerback:

Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Ras-I Dowling (5)

While Dennard appears to be staying, Dowling’s spot is in serious jeopardy after sustaining yet another injury. The severity of the injury is unknown but if it forces the third-year corner who has played a grand total of 9 career games to miss significant time, his time in New England may be up. It should also be said what a shame this would be, given how productive a camp he’s had up until the injury and the team’s lack of corners who can consistently stay with receivers down the field.

Safety:

Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon (5)

After working at the cornerback position the past two days, including all of Friday, McCourty took off the red non-contact jersey and returned to his regular safety position. He picked off a Ryan Mallet pass and looked excellent throughout the practice.

Harmon also recorded an interception and has performed well during camp.

Special Teams:

Steve Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, Danny Aiken (3)

According to Andy Hart of Patriots Pro Football Weekly, Gostkowski had a rough day on Friday, at one point missing six-straight long distance field goals. Last season, Gostkowski made 13 field goals from 40-49 yards but made just two field goals from 50+ yards – via espn.com.  

Bobby Krivitsky

CLNS Radio contributor. Writer for Sports Illustrated's NBA blog KingJamesGospel.com and for Celtic-Nation.com. Analyst for Citrus TV in Syracuse. Former Manager of the Syracuse University Basketball Team. @Bobby_k91