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Today, we continue our Patriots prediction series by taking a look at players who could be considered a surprising camp survivor; a player heading into camp whom people may not have expected to make the roster that we think could make the roster. Lets get it started:
Richard Hill: TERRENCE WHEATLEY, CB
I think a lot of people have given up on Wheatley. He showed promise as a rookie, but then injuries have since derailed his career. I believe that he'll show enough in training camp that he'll make the roster as the 5th CB off the bench (behind Leigh Bodden, Darius Butler, Devin McCourty and Jonathan Wilhite), and as the 6th CB on the squad (behind Kyle Arrington in terms of playing time).
Stephen Verman: ROB NINKOVICH, OLB
Ninkovich was given some opportunities last year while Adalius Thomas was in the doghouse. He played in all but one regular season game and was able to register a sack, a safety, and two passes defensed. With little depth at outside linebacker this season, he will serve as an insurance policy in case Jermaine Cunningham is unable to make the position his own.
Marima: TORRY HOLT, WR
Holt just turned a not-so-spring-chicken-ish 34 years old in June but I just have a good feeling about this guy. He's had a solid career, is in great shape, has a great attitude and has been wooing me with his smoothness and stellar character. Of the 11 receivers heading into camp, he'll survive the competition.
Comedic.Sans: TORRY HOLT, WR
It might be because of the sheer number of WRs in camp, or because of the failed 2009 Galloway experiment, or because he's a little on the elderly side, but plenty of people have written off Holt already. Yet he might well be kept around because of the number of WRs around - he's of roughly the same type of WR as Tate, Price, and Matthew Slater, and thus can teach these guys a lot about how to be a 6'0"ish WR in the NFL - something Moss and Welker can't, being too tall and too short respectively.
Greg Knopping: GEORGE BUSSEY, OL
Okay, so I know this one is a little bit out there, but why not? While Bussey is undersized for a tackle (6-2), he can also slide into guard, which is important if he is to retain a roster spot. While the Louisville product, a fifth round pick in 2009, spent last season on the injured reserve and is definitely a long shot to make the roster, he is a hard worker (recently one of the winners of the Patriots offseason program), and could sneak onto the 53 considering how thin the Patriots are on the offensive line.
I'll also note that we had a couple of votes for Shawn Crable, but those have obviously been thrown out the window now. Our next prediction will be our seventh, and will focus on a possible overplayed storyline heading into 2010. As always, remember to include your own "surprise" camp survivors.
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