The patriots have 88 men on their training camp roster following the release of CB Thad Turner and OL Kyle Hix. The patriot's roster is full of young talent, more young talent than the team can fit on the roster. Three plus-sized drafts and a constant flow of undrafted free agents are to thank for that. So it's especially important this year to maximize each roster spot with players who can contribute in more than one area. Here are a few ways we can do just that.
1. Rob Nincovich -> Long Snapper: For most of last year Matt Katula was the teams long-snapper, but an injury at the beginning of camp has kept him sidelined. Nincovich has been taking the reps at long-snapper in his absence. The down side of doing this is Ninco wouldn't be able to put in the same sort of practice time with Mesko and Gostkowski that a full-time long-snapper could. But if it can be pulled off, Nincovich's versatility could open up an extra space on the roster for someone else.
2. Take Advantage of the Youth at Runningback: Entering last season the Patriots had easily one of the oldest running-back cores in all of football. This year, the opposite could be the case. Between Danny Woodhead, BJGE, Ridley and Vereen the average age at runningback would be 24. Any running-back is susceptible to injury, but more youth means more durability and if the Patriots can carry 4 running-backs instead of 5 it would benefit the rest of the roster.
3. PUP Kevin Faulk and Marcus Cannon: Neither player will be ready to play Week 1. This would give the patriots six weeks or more to tinker around with the roster spot vacated by Faulk and Cannon. This would also provide insurance for the 4 younger backs on the roster in case of injury.
4. Carry Four Safeties + Ras-I Dowling: With the departure of Jarrad Page the patriots are left with only 4 safeties clearly deserving of a roster spot (Merriweather, Chung, Sanders and Brown). However the patriots tend to carry five safeties. The next to in line for a roster spot would probably be Brandon Mcgowan and Josh Barrett. However, if neither of them are deemed worthy of a roster spot, Rookie CB Ras-I Dowling has the versatility to play just about anywhere in the secondary and might allow the patriots to only carry four true safeties with Dowling cycling between positions. Just a thought.
A lot of it is also going to come down to which of the young guys can, and can't make it to the Patriots practice squad. Sometimes it works out. Last year both Dane Fletcher and Sergio Brown spent time on the practice squad until eventually making it to the roster. But in other cases, like Ted Larsen last year, players don't make it through waiver and go on to have success elsewhere.
Here's my first attempt at a 53-man roster.
Kevin Faulk, Marcus Cannon