Roster Projection: Dawson, Roberts on bubble through first week of Patriots camp

AMANDA SABGA/Staff photoNew England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts, shown here celebrating after sacking Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore, is among those on the bubble fighting for a roster spot this preseason.

Now that we’re a week into training camp, a picture is starting to form of who might make the final 53-man roster. Here’s a quick projection of how the final team might shake out based on what we’ve seen so far.

Quarterbacks (3)

In: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham

Out: Danny Etling

No drama here. Tom Brady still looks like Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer is still the clear-cut No. 2, and rookie Jarrett Stidham has shown enough to warrant keeping around. Danny Etling has been moved to wide receiver, and his prospects don’t look great at that position either.

Running backs (6)

In: James White, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (FB)

Out: Nick Brossette, Jakob Johnson (FB)

Barring an injury, the running back and fullback positions look set. Jakob Johnson in particular is as sure a bet to be on the practice squad as there is, given that the team will have a special 11th practice squad spot just for him by virtue of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program.

Wide receiver (6)

In: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Matthew Slater

Out: Gunner Olszewski, Dontrelle Inman, Jakobi Meyers, Ryan Davis, Damoun Patterson

PUP: Demaryius Thomas

Suspended: Josh Gordon

Maurice Harris has been the most impressive receiver at camp and should be a lock along with Edelman, Harry and Dorsett. Matthew Slater will make the roster for his special teams, leaving one spot up for grabs. Ideally this will go to Josh Gordon or Demaryius Thomas, but if neither of them are available, one of the less heralded players might have a shot. For now Braxton Berrios gets the nod by virtue of his involvement on kickoff and punt returns.

Tight end (2)

In: Matt LaCosse, Stephen Anderson

Out: Lance Kendricks, Ryan Izzo, Andrew Beck

Suspended: Ben Watson

Stephen Anderson has shown some flash during camp, giving him an edge over Ryan Izzo, Andrew Beck and Lance Kendricks so far. Matt LaCosse and eventually Ben Watson are the clear top options here.

Offensive line (8)

In: LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Joe Thuney, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon, OG/C Ted Karras, OG/C Hjalte Froholdt, OT Dan Skipper

Out: Cole Croston, Cedrick Lang, J.J. Dielman, James Ferentz, Tyler Gauthier, Tyree St. Louis

IR: Yodny Cajuste

Left tackle remains a big question mark. Isaiah Wynn will be the starter, but with him being eased back into action, Dan Skipper and Joe Thuney have gotten most of the first team reps. Rookie Yodny Cajuste is battling his own injury issues, so don’t be surprised if the Patriots sign a veteran tackle later in the preseason. 

Defensive line (9)

In: DEs Michael Bennett, John Simon, Chase Winovich, Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers; DTs Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennel, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton

Out: Keionta Davis, Trent Harris, Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry, Nick Thurman

IR: Byron Cowart

Derek Rivers has seen some action with the first team early in training camp and has occasionally been used as more of a linebacker. He’ll be a bubble player to watch, as will Danny Shelton. Byron Cowart, who is dealing with a minor knee injury, is a prime candidate to redshirt his rookie year.

Linebackers (5)

In: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, Brandon King

Out: Elandon Roberts, Christian Sam, Shilique Calhoun, Terez Hall, Calvin Munson

With Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jamie Collins back in the fold, this unit looks as deep and talented as it has been in years. Elandon Roberts may be the odd man out, with Bentley likely to usurp his role in the middle.

Cornerbacks (6)

In: Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Keion Crossen

Out: Duke Dawson, D’Angelo Ross

PUP: Ken Webster

Duke Dawson is the most intriguing bubble player in camp. The former second-round pick is battling for a spot amid a loaded cornerbacks group, but hasn’t been able to break through so far. It’s conceivable that Bill Belichick could keep him and carry seven corners, but he will have to really flash in the preseason for that to become a possibility.

Safeties (5)

In: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrance Brooks, Obi Melifonwu

Out: Malik Gant, A.J. Howard

PUP: Nate Ebner

Obi Melifonwu has gotten off to a great start, having made three interceptions through the team’s first four practices. Terrance Brooks has seen a lot of action with the first team, and both players have been heavily involved on special teams as well. Their play, and Brooks’ in particular, could spell trouble for Nate Ebner when (if?) he’s able to get back onto the field.

Specialists (3)

In: Stephen Gostkowski (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS)

Out: Ryan Allen (P)

Jake Bailey has a huge leg, the ability to take kickoffs and a cheaper contract than the more established Ryan Allen. He gets the nod, along with roster locks Stephen Gostkowski and Joe Cardona.

Mac Cerullo can be reached at Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.

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