- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Examining the New England Patriots' roster:
Might be the best quarterback depth chart, from top to bottom, in Bill Belichick's 15 years as coach.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
The Patriots are always good for a surprise, and we've had our antenna up at this position since early July. If there's a surprise, we'll play a hunch at this spot with Stevan Ridley, whose low snap total Friday (11 snaps) in a "dress rehearsal" game caught the eye. Meanwhile, Roy Finch lands on the practice squad.
The Patriots are relying on him a lot, given their shortage at tight end.
TIGHT ENDS (2)
A position to monitor on the waiver wire and in free agency to see if any options present themselves, similar to last year with Matthew Mulligan.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Last week, we had Brian Tyms making the club but not counting against the 53-man roster because of his four-game suspension to open the season. But the fact he hasn't received any playing time with Tom Brady has me rethinking that scenario. I wonder if Boyce could generate any trade interest from teams who might have been high on him in the 2013 draft. Assuming there's nothing there, it feels generous to keep him based on his training camp and preseason performance, but the depth might be needed, especially with a thinner tight-end situation. But one thing to consider is that he is practice-squad eligible.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
LT Nate Solder
RG Dan Connolly
LT/RT/RG Marcus Cannon
LG Josh Kline
OT/G Jordan Devey
The feeling here is that the Patriots' best line to start the season is the one they finished with in 2013, which isn't probably the way they planned it to go, in part because of Stork's injury that has sidelined him since the fifth day of training camp. Sixth-round pick Jon Halapio would wind up on the practice squad in this scenario, which would make this writer look foolish for declaring him a sure-fire lock back in July. The hope would be to have him clear waivers and land on the practice squad.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
DT Chris Jones
DT Joe Vellano
DE Zach Moore
Moore has been improving and the feeling here is that the sixth-round pick from Concordia-St. Paul wouldn't make it through to the practice squad. If things unfold this way, the Patriots probably hope that Jerel Worthy will.
Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season. Butler, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, is the surprise story of the preseason.
The toughest decision was between Chung and Tavon Wilson, and perhaps they both stick -- or both go. The reason Chung gets the nod is that there's a chance Wilson could still stick on the practice squad if he clears waivers, based on new eligibility rules.
Things are looking settled here as specialists had a highlight Friday with Gostkowski's 60-yard field goal.