A lot of moving parts, and that doesn't include second-year player Duron Harmon, who entered training camp as the leading candidate to seize the job, or third-year player Tavon Wilson, who is banged up and not practicing this week.
Unlike some other positions on the roster -- where a player can be locked into a spot as a sure-fire starter -- the Patriots are taking a look at a variety of options at safety next to McCourty. Some of the personnel changes at the position during practice have been package-specific.
Ryan, who led the team in 2013 with five interceptions, is an intriguing option because his playing time might be limited at cornerback behind Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Thus, a move to safety would find a way to get his playmaking skills on the field, which he is open to doing if called upon.
"I think it’s a challenge. I’m a smart football player [and] it helps me learn the defense in total by learning multiple positions," he said. "It’s something new and fresh and it’s something I compete to get better at each and every day."
At this point, no player has decisively separated from the pack to seize the safety spot next to McCourty.
It's possible that's the way it remains heading into the regular season, the Patriots using a variety of options depending on that week's game plan.