Bobby Carpenter Cut: Resetting The Linebacker Depth Chart

Aug 7, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (45) runs through a drill with linebacker Mike Rivera (47) during training camp at the teams practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

In a surprising roster move, the Patriots decided to cut veteran outside linebacker Bobby Carpenter. Carpenter was ultimately released in order to make room for Matt Tennant and Greg Salas, who were both obtained by the team on Saturday.

Carpenter, who was signed by the Patriots earlier in the offseason, was considered by many to be a sure thing to make the final 53-man roster. He had a strong training camp and showcased his value as both a versatile linebacker and great special teams player. But ultimately, there was something that Bill Belichick saw that made Carpenter expendable in his eyes.

Odds are that unless he was injured, we'll never really know exactly what did him in.

With Carpenter now off the roster, the Patriots linebacking corps became a little bit thinner. Let's take a look at how the Patriots stack up at the position:

Middle Linebacker (2)

Brandon Spikes, Mike Rivera

Outside Linebacker (3)

Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Tracy White

Carpenter was thought to be the fourth rotational linebacker that would come in for either Mayo or Hightower on given downs. But with him now out of the picture, we could see converted defensive end Rob Ninkovich back at linebacker, serving in that role.

Another thing we could see are safeties Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson, who play similar to linebackers, in to serve in Carpenter's projected role. Both are hard hitters and showed tremendous tackling ability during the preseason.

But whatever the Patriots decide to do to cover for that role, one thing they can't replace internally is the depth loss. With Tracy White still recovering from injury, Mike Rivera could be seeing a lot more reps than initially anticipated.

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