The New England Patriots have gathered a whole lot of talent this offseason via the draft, free-agency, and contract extensions.
At some positions, some may say they gathered too
much talent. While this is not a bad problem to have, it is still a problem nonetheless. Cuts have to be made, and players must fall on the depth chart.
Who will be in the starting mix?
Steven Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden
From what I have heard, Steven Ridley has been getting most of the first-string snaps, and he has not fumbled once so far in training camp. That looks like a good sign for the second year player out of LSU, who amassed 441 yards rushing in his rookie season on just 87 carries.
Brandon Bolden, the undrafted rookie from Mississippi, has reportedly been extremely impressive in the first few days of camp, while second-year player Shane Vereen has struggled. However, Vereen was a second-round pick, so it is definitely too early to give up hope. Danny Woodhead is Danny Woodhead; a versatile third-down back who is small and shifty and should be a lock to make the roster.
I think all of these players will make the final cut, as each one of them can help the running game in a unique way.
Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Donta’ Hightower, Rob Ninkovich, Bobby Carpenter, Tracy White, Dane Fletcher
This position is loaded with deep talent. I think that the locks for starting jobs (or a least a lot of playing time) are Mayo, Spikes, and Hightower. These guys have been phenomenal in camp and are proven leaders. Ninkovich is a strong pass-rusher who can also stop the run.
Carpenter has apparently been great in camp so far, even if his seven year career up until now has been a disappointment. Tracy White is a solid special team’s player, which could give him the edge over Fletcher. However, I will put Fletcher on the roster just because he has shown in the past that he is capable of making big plays and that he is familiar with the system.
Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch, Donte’ Stallworth, Matthew Slater, Julian Edelman
Yes, I have Gaffney, Branch, and Stallworth all on my list. Why? Because they have all been impressive in camp thus far. I was hesitant to put Stallworth on it, but after hearing Coach Bill Belichick talk about how much he has matured on and off the field as a player and a leader I decided to change my mind.
Lloyd and Welker are obviously locks, as well as Slater (he is the special teams captain). Edelman could be in for a surprise cut, but I think his value on special teams is too great. Odds are that Gaffney is a lock as well due to his versatility at the receiver position.
There is a [good] chance that Branch and Stallworth will be fighting for that last spot, but I think there is also a chance that they both make it. Both players have apparently made some incredible catches over the last few days and their rapport with quarterback Tom Brady is evident.
No matter who gets cut at the receiver position, it is clearly the deepest part of the roster.