Insiders Analysis: Possible Roster Cuts

The New England Patriots have to trim their roster to 53 players by 6 pm Saturday night. Some of those cuts will be of players who were long shots to make the roster, but others will be the surprise release of veterans. Patriots Insider looks at the team, position-by-position to provide this analysis on the final cuts.

Insiders Analysis: Possible Roster Cuts
By Patriots Insider Staff

It's NFL Roster cut down day today. For players on the bubble it's a day of nervousness, possibly even dread. For some, their fate has already been decided, it's merely a formality at this point, and they've prepared for the worst. It's never easy on the player or the coaches, but that's the way is.

The roster cuts for all 32 NFL teams has been changed slightly from Sunday evening to Saturday at 6:00pm. Each team has to trim it's current roster from the 65-man limit they are working with including NFL Europe exemption players. The Patriots have 70 players on the roster as of September 1, which means they will need to submit 17 names to the league office today giving those players their release.

Up to 8 of those players released today can be resigned by the team as members of the practice squad. Practice squad players cannot, by league rules, have more than 9 active games on their resume in order to qualify for the squad. This means, a number of players released today are prime candidates for the PS tomorrow.

PI staff have assembled a list of players the team is expected to retain. This is a "best guess" scenario, but based upon information gleaned from players, coaches, other team sources and our own experience.

PI will bring you an update to the list once the official cuts are released to the media.


Players By Position:

OFFENSE - (24)

DEFENSE - (26)

SPECIAL TEAMS - (3)

Players receiving an injured / PUP exemption:

LB, Tedy Bruschi

Players on injured reserve (I/R)

LB, Ryan Claridge

KEY: (PS) -Practice Squad, (IR) - reserve injured list


INSIDERS ANALYSIS

There are a number of position battles that are too close to call, so take our prediction with a grain of salt. Consideration was given to players who if cut, were gone vs other players who if released could be resigned to the practice squad.

Receivers: P.K. Sam vs David Terrell, vs Andre Davis vs Bethel Johnson is the toughest to call. The thought that Sam can go on the practice squad is one thing that tipped the scales in Terrell's favor assuming the staff think they can get Sam through waivers. If they don't, then consider Terrell done with Sam taking his spot. Throwing a wrench into this is the injury to Andre Davis. Should the Davis injury turn out more serious, look for the team to think about shuffling spots around, likely keeping Johnson ahead of Davis.

* At press time there was a remote possiblity of WR, Peerless Price entering the mix which would shake up the battle for the last spot. WR, Cedric James and WR, Michael McGrew's status remains unchanged, they are not officially listed on the roster at this time.

Running Backs: Depending upon injuries to the players on the roster, and their severity, this may make a spot for Kory Chapman, but that cannot be counted on. Both Chapman and Eckel are viable candidates for the practice squad, and should get a strong look for one of those spots. Expect both to be released with one or both being resigned Sunday.

Linebackers: The other tough position battle to call, due to the numbers involved. As much as the Patriots love their linebackers, there are just too many on the roster not to cut some. Wes Mallard has made a strong case for taking a spot away from current special team linebackers already with the team. It's possible Mallard is getting the kind of credit he deserves inside Foxboro, which means bad news for one of the existing players who held that job last year.

Eric Alexander, who has practice squad eligibility is probably on the outside looking in hoping for a PS position. Grant Steen and Andre Torrey best hope is the PS as well. Which leaves veterans Larry Izzo, Tully Banta-Cain and Don Davis looking in.

Davis is in the most precarious position. His age, and the fact that some of the team's newly acquired talented safeties can fill in for what Davis did last season, are his biggest obstacles. If Banta-Cain is healthy, Davis is probably out. If Banta-Cain's injury is more serious, then Davis gets his spot, with Banta-Cain possibly on IR.

Tight End: The TE position would likely only carry three spots on the roster, but Jed Weaver is making things tough. Weaver has been a solid blocker as well as showing a strong talent for to catching the ball on third and long. With Christian Fauria and Ben Watson's pass-catching prowess, the team isn't looking for another receiver, which plays to Weaver's best asset, his blocking ability.

The thought here is that Watson hasn't refined his blocking skills, although the team has faith he can do so over the season. Fauria isn't much of a threat to drive the pile backwards, so may be close to losing his spot, but his hands keep him in. Weaver can do a solid job of both, something the team needs. Should Daniel Graham get injured, Weaver would be the best blocking end on the roster.

If the team sacrifices an extra LB for a TE, Weaver gets the nod. If not, then he's out. Jacobs is a candidate for the practice squad.

Other Postions: DL: Mike Wright is worth keeping around for a longer look. He made an impression in his time during camp and the final preseason game. He should get a chance to make the practice squad. OT: Brandon Gorin hasn't played due to injury. While Gorin was fighting for a starting job with Tom Ashworth, the emergence of rookie Nick Kaczur might spell the end of Gorin. Expect the team to sequester him on IR. OL, Jeff Roehl played TE during camp for a while, even catching a pass. If Weaver is gone, expect Roehl to make the PS. S: Ray Ventrone has solid hitting ability, it's his coverage that's a liability. He'll get caught in the number game at safety, but expect consideration for the PS as well. He's an upgrade over Dexter Reid.

Players on the PUP list may be activated at any time before week 7 of the season at which time they will count against the 53-player limit. Players on I/R do not count against the team limit, but are ineligible to play for the rest of the season.

For more on who's been cut, who's expected to be cut, you can visit the Patriots Insider message boards where a number of PI writers and Insiders are answering your questions.


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