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Initial roster cuts coming with vets in focus

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  August 26, 2012 11:03 AM

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All NFL teams have to cut their rosters from the maximum 90 to 75 by 4 p.m. Monday. Some teams have already started the process. Wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots, who have to trim 10 players, start today and finish on Monday.

Often times these initial cuts are about making sure you have enough healthy bodies to get through the final exhibition game, in the Patriots' case against the Giants on Wednesday night, when the starters will barely play.

But one thing to watch out for is the early release of veterans.

If you have a respected veteran on your roster that you know you're not going to keep on the final 53, then you usually do them the courtesy of an early release so they get a jump on finding another job before the mass dumping of players on Aug. 31 at 9 p.m.

The Patriots did exactly that with safety James Sanders last year. He was quickly picked up by the Falcons.

The players who we'll be watching the next 24 hours: center Dan Koppen, receiver Donte' Stallworth, and defensive tackle Tim Bulman.

Bill Belichick has great respect for all three, but especially for a 10-year warrior like Koppen. That being said, Koppen has played much better of late. Nick McDonald, whose versatility could have led him to take Koppen's spot, suffered a right arm injury against the Buccaneers and that may put McDonald's spot in jeopardy. And if guard Brian Waters wasn't expected back, Koppen's chances for making the team would greatly increase with Dan Connolly likely moving full time to right guard.

Other possibilities: Deion Branch, Gerard Warren, Will Allen, Tracy White and Donald Thomas.

Branch, Warren, White and Thomas seem like long shots for the initial cuts. We feel Branch will make the 53.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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