(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2013.)
NAME: Jeff Tarpinian
2012 STATS: 3 games (0 starts), 1 tackle
INJURY STATUS: No known injuries.
CHANCE OF MAKING 53-MAN ROSTER: 45%
WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: Tarpinian had a quiet season in 2012, but that may in part be attributed to a serious head injury that ended his rookie campaign. Now entering his third season, he still has potential to supplant veteran Niko Koutouvides, who turned 32 in March, as a core special-teams player.
WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: While the Tarpinian's battle with Koutouvides will be one to monitor, rookie Steve Beauharnais could also prevent Tarpinian from making the 53-man roster. The Patriots may be reluctant to expose Beauharnais, a seventh-round pick, to waivers. Tarpinian is still practice squad eligible, and the chances of being able to keep Beauharnais on the 53-man roster and Tarpinian on the practice squad may be better than the reverse (Beauharnais on the practice squad and Tarpinian on the 53-man roster).
CLOSEST COMPETITION: LB Steve Beauharnais, LB Niko Koutouvides, LB Mike Rivera