Every year it happens. Bill Belichick pulls the rug out from at least one unsuspecting veteran. Sometimes, it is a recent pickup (case and point: Fernando Bryant). Other times, it can be a veteran that has been on the team for years (case and point: Lawyer Milloy). With at least one veteran count bound to be a surprise, we continue our Patriots prediction series by looking at one possible veteran player who could get the boot come late August/early September.
Richard Hill: GERARD WARREN, DL
Warren isn't a veteran on the team, but he's been a well-known FA pick-up. I think he can make the team, but I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't. With a young player like Ron Brace already on the roster, an old player like Warren, with nearly the same skill set as Brace, looks to be the guy to get cut. I think most people are expecting Damione Lewis to be the cut player, so that's why I'll go with my surprise as Gerard Warren.
Stephen Verman: PIERRE WOODS, OLB
Woods has been a great special teams player and contributed now and then to the defense, but with so many young players on the roster, the Patriots are running out of room for special teams-only players. For a brief time Woods looked like he might break out and become a viable starting option, but it never happened. The Patriots gave a chance to Woods as an undrafted player in 2006, and they will be happy with his service. If cut, I hope he finds a spot on another roster.
Marima: TERRENCE WHEATLEY, CB
David Patten doesn't really qualify as a surprise since he'll turn 36 in August, the Pats only just picked him up in February and right now the roster looks fairly stacked at wide receiver. So, if a third-year, barely-used player counts as a veteran, then Wheatley is the next man down. Since being drafted in the second round in 2008, Wheatley's contributions amount to playing in only 11 games with three tackles and two passes defended. The surprise is that such a high draft pick (62 overall) hasn't been able to produce due to injury or coaching choice.
Comedic.Sans: JAMES SANDERS, S
More of a surprise camp trade - James Sanders. He probably projects as a mere backup, if Chung and Meriweather truly live up to expectations with their respective high draft positions. McGowan has his set TE-eater role, so Sanders might well be struggling to get snaps, which is a waste of a talented player and good leader (and guy who's being paid starter money, which is always a consideration). He might be traded to a Safety-hungry team, and there are a few around.
Mike Dussault: BRANDON McGOWAN, S
Brandon McGowan. McGowan started off like gang busters in 2009 only to see his time significantly reduced after the back-to-back losses to the Saints and Dolphins in favor of James Sanders' steadying presence. With the addition of special teams stud Devin McCourty, as well as the projected emergence of Patrick Chung, McGowan could be too much of a one trick pony to stick on. The good news is that he's a fairly solid depth player should injuries hit the safety group. Having four good safeties is a luxury at the start of camp, but it could be a surplus by the end.
Greg Knopping: DAMIONE LEWIS, DT
When the Patriots picked up Damione Lewis earlier in the offseason, I think a lot of people expected him to be a lock for a roster spot. Best case scenario, he could start at defensive end and be a force on the inside in sub-packages. But when the Patriots picked up Gerard Warren, it looked as if only one of the two veteran defensive tackles would make the roster. I think Warren will end up making the roster because of his mammoth size (6-4, 325), strength, leadership qualities/experience, and versatility. He can play nose or end in the 3-4, as well as defensive tackle in four man sub-packages. I also believe that the emergence of Myron Pryor will serve to make Damione Lewis expendable.