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Monday, August 4, 2014
New England Patriots' projected roster

By Mike Reiss

Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Garoppolo has struggled in practice of late, but that is to be expected from a rookie. Mallett, in turn, has caught our eye with some strong play that we're curious to see if it transfers over to the game field in the preseason.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Starting to wonder if White might cut into some of Ridley's early-down workload, as it's been notable how many repetitions he's seeing in practice, especially on the goal line.

FULLBACKS (1)

Great story about a hard-nosed player who at one point went to the United Football League to keep his NFL hopes alive.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Back to just two tight ends, because something has to give with so many receivers, a No. 3 quarterback and a pure fullback. So that could mean both undrafted rookies Justin Jones and Asa Watson land on the practice squad, with D.J. Williams on the emergency list if he's not picked up elsewhere.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Thompkins has clearly been ahead of LaFell and Boyce in practice. It's hard to imagine the Patriots would let Boyce go after drafting him early in the fourth round last year, but at the same time, I don't think he's a sure-fire lock.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Stork sustained what appeared to be a lower-leg injury in the fifth practice of camp and hasn't been on the field since. Toughest call here was deciding between Connolly and scrappy Ryan Wendell, as both have played a lot of good football for the team.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

Added Kelly in this week's projection because he's been tough to block in one-on-one drills. No way a player like Moore gets through waivers to land on the practice squad, which is why he gets the final spot.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Thought Beauharnais had a nice week of practice, showing up with a big hit in the Oklahoma drill and commanding the huddle.

CORNERBACKS (5*)

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.

SAFETY (4)

Veteran Patrick Chung could always come back during the season in the event of injury. With rookie Jemea Thomas (sixth round, Georgia Tech) sustaining an undisclosed injury on the first day of training camp, he is edged out in this scenario by Wilson, who also contributes on special teams. It would work out nicely if Thomas could land on the practice squad to add depth, as this is a little light to start the season in the defensive backfield.

SPECIALISTS (4) 

One of the under-the-radar training camp competitions is at snapper, where incumbent Aiken is being challenged by rookie Tyler Ott of Harvard. To the layman, looks like Aiken has the edge right now.