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Patriots 53-man roster projection 4.0: What things look like following Derek Rivers injury, second preseason game

Ryan Hannable
August 20, 2017 - 10:10 pm

It was a busy week for the Patriots.

There were two joint practices with the Texans in West Virginia before Saturday’s second preseason game where the first teamers all saw roughly a quarter of action and then the rest of the roster took over in the 27-23 loss in Houston.

Also, rookie defensive end Derek Rivers reportedly suffered a torn ACL in Wednesday session and will miss the entire season. This will have an impact on the final 53-man roster, which will be finalized Sept. 2.

Here is how we see the final 53-man roster looking like as of now.

Quarterback (3): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett 

Brissett could be a player cut to make room for another player at a more valuable position, but as of now we still see him hanging on.

Running back/fullback (5): Mike Gillislee, James White, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James Develin

Brandon Bolden is the player to watch here. One thought is the team could potentially cut him and look to bring him back in the coming weeks once a spot opens up. He was a free agent for most of the offseason and it appeared there wasn’t much interest in him across the league, a sign he wouldn’t be claimed by another team. Right now, he doesn’t have a spot on the roster because of some other players finding themselves having roles on special teams.

Wide receiver (6): Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, Matthew Slater

No changes here. These players are all locked in and there’s just no chance for any other receiver to crack the roster just because of how good these six players are. One thing to maybe consider is what if Slater isn’t ready for Week 1? Is his injury serious enough to place him on injured reserve and have him be a player designed to return during the year? At this point it doesn’t seem like the injury is serious enough for that to happen, but it's worth keeping in mind.

Tight end (3): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnessy

The battle for the third tight end spot will come down to the last day and seems to change by the week. Right now, we have O’Shaughnessy getting the nod over Matt Lengel and undrafted rookie Jacob Hollister. Lengel has been injured so hasn’t received the reps and Hollister didn’t see as much playing time against the Texans as he did against the Jaguars. O’Shaughnessy is a core special teams player as well, which gives him a big advantage.

Offensive line (8): Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, Tony Garcia, Cameron Fleming

No changes here as well. LaAdrian Waddle reportedly suffered a concussion in the joint practices with the Texans and didn’t play in the game. His lost time may be enough to give Fleming the edge as the final swing tackle. Seventh-round pick, tackle Conor McDermott seems like a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Defensive line (8): Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Trey Flowers, Vincent Valentine, Kony Ealy, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr., Geneo Grissom

With Rivers gone for the year, it gives Grissom a great shot at making the roster. Undrafted rookie Adam Butler is a name to keep an eye on, but as of now he is the odd-man out, although he could find himself on the practice squad.

Linebacker (6): Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Shea McClellin, David Harris, Harvey Langi

No real surprises here. Langi’s spot could have been in jeopardy before Rivers’ injury, but now it is almost a certainty he will play a big role on the edge. Roberts’ rib injury doesn’t appear to be serious, but his roster spot isn’t as big of a lock as some think, but he should still make it through.

Cornerback (6): Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones, Kenny Moore 

This might be the position with the most discussion, led by Cyrus Jones. We’ve always believed he has a spot on the 53-man roster mostly because of his ability to return punts and take the pressure off of Edelman and Amendola. Justin Coleman is the odd-man out, as we have Moore as perhaps the 53rd player to make the roster. The team seems to like him a lot and is using him a lot on special teams, which usually is a good sign for a bubble player to sneak on to the roster. Moore has made a ton of plays throughout training camp to standout.

Safety (5): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner, Brandon King

Jordan Richards will likely be one of the final players to miss out on the 53-man roster. The former second-round pick is entering his third season in the league and Bill Belichick hasn’t been afraid to cut these players before. Due to who is above him on the depth chart he hasn’t seen much playing time and when he has in the preseason over the years, it’s been a struggle.

Specialists (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona

No questions at all here.

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