Projecting the Week 1 roster


Bill and Nick.jpg

Our beat writer Shalise Manza-Young had her 53-man roster projection in the paper the other day and, with the first cut coming down at noon today, I figured it was time for me to weigh in with another one of these.

One caveat here: I’m projecting the roster for the Cincinnati game, which means there are 54 players below. Quinn Ojinnaka will be on the suspended list for Week 1, so another one of these guys will have to be cut before Ojinnaka goes back on.

Here’s my best guess, for now …

QUARTERBACK (2)
Tom Brady
Brian Hoyer
Comment: The team was fine with going into last season with just two quarterbacks, and Zac Robinson hasn’t given the Patriots sufficient reason to carry three this time around.

RUNNING BACK (5)
Kevin Faulk
BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Laurence Maroney
Sammy Morris
Fred Taylor
Comment: For all the hubbub around Maroney, it’d be risky to go into the season with Taylor and Morris — both in their mid-30s and carrying extensive injury history — and without a younger tailback with a track record. No. 39 is the only guy on the roster who fits that description.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)
Sam Aiken
Julian Edelman
Randy Moss
Taylor Price
Brandon Tate
Wes Welker
Comment: Aiken is the only player of the above that isn’t a lead-pipe lock to be kept by the team in some capacity, though Price could (wink-wink) turn an ankle or something this week.


TIGHT END (3)
Alge Crumpler
Rob Gronkowski
Aaron Hernandez
Comment: Same as it has been, and will be.

OFFENSIVE LINE
(9)
C/G Dan Connolly
C Dan Koppen
C/G Ted Larsen
OT Mark LeVoir
OT Matt Light
G Stephen Neal
G/OT Quinn Ojinnaka*
OT Sebastian Vollmer
G/C Ryan Wendell
Comment: George Bussey is out, after the Ojinnaka trade, and Larsen makes it, since he might be a little tougher to sneak on the practice squad than Thomas Welch.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
DL Ron Brace
DE Brandon Deaderick
DE Damione Lewis
DE Gerard Warren
DL Myron Pryor
NT Vince Wilfork
DE Mike Wright
Comment: The Patriots no longer have the front-line talent (Richard Seymour, Ty Warren) they were once accustomed to, and the team’s top three ends over the last six years (including Jarvis Green) are all gone, and that means they need numbers here to combat that drop-off with fresh legs.

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OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5)
Tully Banta-Cain
Derrick Burgess
Jermaine Cunningham
Rob Ninkovich
Pierre Woods
Comment: Banta-Cain and Burgess are your starters, and Cunningham’s on the team. After that, it seems like the competition between Ninkovich, Woods and Marques Murrell is heated — all appeared on multiple first-team special teams units against St. Louis. So we’ll take the two experienced hands over the new guy there.

INSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
Eric Alexander
Gary Guyton
Jerod Mayo
Brandon Spikes
Comment: Tyrone McKenzie is out and Alexander (who had been running with the first-unit special teams groups before missing the Rams game) is in. Hard to see McKenzie making it, since his game-day value to the team, as it stands now, might be minimal.

CORNERBACK
(5)
Kyle Arrington
Leigh Bodden
Darius Butler
Devin McCourty
Jonathan Wilhite
Comment: Relatively simple. Bodden, Butler and McCourty are locks, Wilhite is part of the rotation in sub packages, and Arrington makes it on special teams value. Terrence Wheatley hits the waiver wire, two years after being taken 62nd overall in what’s fast becoming a lost 2008 draft.

SAFETY (5)
Sergio Brown
Patrick Chung
Brandon McGowan
Brandon Meriweather
James Sanders
Comment: Brown would be the surprise here, but he looks like a special-teams keeper, even if it looks like a real long-shot that he’ll ever make an impact defensively.

SPECIALISTS (3)
k Stephen Gostkowski
LS Jake Ingram
P Zoltan Mesko
Comment: This one’s not brain surgery.

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* — Suspended for Week 1

BREAKDOWN
Offense: 25
Defense: 26
Specialists: 3
Total: 54