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Patriots 53-man roster projection, version 2.0

08.02.13 at 4:39 pm ET
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One week into training camp, the 2013 Patriots are starting to come into sharper focus. Keeping in mind a lot can change over the next month, here’s another shot at what the 53-man roster might look like when the regular season opens. (Feel free to compare and contrast with our first one, released just over a month ago.)

Quarterback: (3) Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Tim Tebow

No changes to this list from our last projection. Tebow has struggled for a good portion of camp — and while it’s still an overall matter of value when it comes to carrying a third quarterback as opposed to an extra wide receiver or defensive back, right now we have him as the 53rd man on the roster.

Offensive line: (7) Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Will Svitek

There’s the starting five, plus a backup interior lineman (either Connolly or Cannon, depending on Connolly’s injury situation) and a backup tackle (Svitek, but he could be replaced as well before the start of the season). Tyronne Green could be a part of the roster at some point, as he has seen time running with the starters through the first week at right guard.

Tight end: (4) Jake Ballard, Zach Sudfeld, Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells (Rob Gronkowski on PUP)

Ballard has started to come around, while Hoomanawanui has distinguished himself as being steady, dependable and consistent through the first week. Fells could be a candidate to have his deal re-done, which could ultimately affect whether he stays or goes. Sudfeld is interesting — he has had some rookie moments, but right now the Patriots wouldn’t be able to get him through waivers and to the practice squad.

Wide receiver: (6) Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater, Kenbrell Thompkins

Lots of work for the rookies to this point, and it appears likely that at least two rookie receivers will make the opening day roster in Boyce and Dobson. If Thompkins continues his upward trend, he should be on the list as well. Like Sudfeld, Thompkins has put the team in a bit of a bind: He’s played too well to risk exposing him to waivers, so if they tried to get him through to the practice squad, he’d be snapped up. Michael Jenkins appears capable of helping this team, but he could be available for less cash if he re-signs after Week 1. If they do that, they could cut in other areas (LeGarrette Blount?) Mark Harrison and Kamar Aiken are practice squadders, at least right now.

Running back: (5) Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, Leon Washington

The same five we had the first time around, although Bolden has had trouble stringing together practices this summer because of injury issues. We still like his chances to make the final 53, at least at this point. Blount needs to continue trending in the right direction if he wants to guarantee a spot — it could come down to Blount, Fells and Jenkins in a race for the final skill position player.

Specialists: (3) Zoltan Mesko, Stephen Gostkowski, Danny Aiken

Same grouping as the first time, but rookie punter Ryan Allen could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Defensive linemen: (8) Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Marcus Forston, Justin Francis, Jermaine Cunningham, Marcus Benard (Armond Armstead on PUP list)

Some changes since our first attempt. Jake Bequette is the tough cut here, primarily because Cunningham offers some positional versatility due to the fact that he lined up inside at times last year, although he shouldn’t get too comfortable. (Bequette does have practice squad eligibility.) Armstead’s murky situation opens the door for Forston, at least for the moment. And Benard’s strong camp — at least to this point — lands him on the final 53. Jason Vega, Joe Vellano and Michael Buchanan are three possibilities for the practice squad.

Linebackers: (5) Dont’€™a Hightower, Jerod Mayo, Dane Fletcher, Brandon Spikes, Jamie Collins

No surprises here — same group we had in the last projection, and no one has done anything to change our minds. Collins has shown a feistiness (he forced two fumbles on Thursday) and the sort of positional versatility the Patriots crave. Just waiting to see how that might translate to game action. Steve Beauharnais has performed well enough to stick as a practice squadder, reminding some of Tracy White, who carved out a nice career in New England the last few years as a special teamer and linebacker.

Safeties: (6) Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory, Nate Ebner, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon

You have to feel good about the first three names on the list, and Tavon Wilson likely would be the top backup, while Ebner has special teams value. Harmon needs some seasoning, at least at this point in his career.

Cornerbacks: (6) Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, Marquice Cole, Logan Ryan

No-brainers with the first three, but after that it gets a little dicey. Dowling shouldn’t get too comfortable with his spot. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to rely too much on Cole or Ryan for significant snaps in 2013, as Cole is more of a special teamer and the rookie Ryan still needs an opportunity to grow into regular work.

Read More: 2013 training camp, roster projection,
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