|Five Patriots who might be feeling bubblicious||08.08.10 at 5:25 pm ET|
With 17 practices in the books and the first preseason game of the season looming Thursday, it’s not too early to start making roster predictions. While there are mortal locks to make the team (and mortal locks to be cut loose) there are always a few players who are on the bubble at this time of year. In particular, based on what has transpired so far, these five players might need a positive preseason to help land themselves a final roster spot:
Wide receivers Torry Holt and Sam Aiken: Their fortunes are tied together. When it comes to Holt, it’s not that the new veteran has necessarily had a bad training camp — it’s just that he hasn’t done much of anything to show up on anyone’s radar screen, positively or negatively. As for Aiken, he does have special teams experience over Holt, but last year’s special teams captain appears to have been usurped by a variety of candidates for the role of punter protector. If Aiken’s role on special teams is lessened, so are the chances of him making the team. But the bottom line is that right now, with youngsters Taylor Price and Brandon Tate both having a good camp, it could come down to Holt and Aiken for the final wide receiver spot.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Seems like we’ve been here before. Green-Ellis was considered someone who was on the bubble the last two preseasons, but in each case, ended up doing enough to merit a roster spot, thanks in large part to some impressive production in the preseason. (In his defense, he’s also managed to put up some good numbers when called upon in the regular season — he rushed for 50-plus yards on three occasions in 2008, including a 105-yard performance against the Bills.) With four running backs in front of him on the depth chart (Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and Fred Taylor), his fate could be tied to how many wide receivers they decide to keep — if they go with an extra pass catcher, Green-Ellis could be on the outside looking in when cuts come down. He could also sneak in if the team feels Taylor isn’t durable enough for another 16-game season.
Cornerback Terrence Wheatley: He’s seen a lot of time this summer with the special teamers, and could nose his way onto the roster if he continues in that direction. But there’s no denying the fact that Wheatley is starting to run out of time. There have been some positive moments for him, but they’ve been few and far between.
Defensive lineman Ron Brace: Brace is the only player currently in camp who hasn’t been pads yet, which means it’s a pretty safe bet that no matter what happens with him this week in the days leading up to the Saints game, he won’t play on Thursday night. I don’t think the Patriots would release him after one season, but what has transpired for him thus far has to be considered tremendously disappointing, especially after he told the media in training camp that he was embarrassed after what transpired his rookie season and wanted to re-commit himself to the game.
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