Positional breakdown of potential inactive players for Week 1
QB: None- The Patriots have two QBs on the roster, with Tom Brady starting and Jimmy Garoppolo backing up.
RB: James White- It's possible that all 4 backs on the roster will dress for the game, but 3 of the 4 offer a similar skill set. Dion Lewis and James White have the closest skill sets, a scat back with a lot of shiftiness but not a lot of burst when running inside. The Patriots weren't going to the power running game, so having 4 guys who can catch the ball out of the backfield might not be necessary.
WR: Chris Harper- Harper doesn't offer a unique skill set in comparison to the receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are locks to start with Aaron Dobson offering size and speed on the outside. Slater will be active because of his All-Pro caliber play on Special Teams year in and year out. With the Patriots likely utilizing their receiving backs and tight-ends more this week, a 4th WR might not be necessary.
TE: Michael Williams- With the Patriots shifting away from a power running game, having an extra blocker at TE might not be necessary. Patriots will likely be passing out of 2 TE sets against the Steelers and Michael Hoomanawanui is more versatile in the passing game.
OL: Shaq Mason- The focus shifting away from a power running game likely makes Mason
DL: Khyri Thornton- Thornton was recently signed by the Patriots and is 5th on the depth chart at defensive tackle. Thornton's explosive, but raw skill set can develop behind the scenes while the Patriots utilize their top four defensive tackles.
ED*: Geneo Grissom- Grissom had a decent preseason, but didn't stand out like everyone else did at his position. I'm not sure what plans the Patriots have for the guy, but with Rufus Johnson able to play on Special Teams Grissom really doesn't have a case for the 46-man roster.
LB: None- The Patriots have only 4 traditional linebackers on the roster, but some of their edge rushers have experience at linebacker in case the team needs a player to play back there in a pinch.
CB: Justin Coleman- Coleman has been flying back and forth across the country the last five days and hasn't practiced with the team, so this is probably the easiest pick here. Coleman could be off the list later this season because he can contribute on Special Teams.
S: None- The severity of Wilson's injury might change this prediction. Wilson was a limited participant in practice this week, but given his ability to contribute as a dime DB and core ST he is more probable than not to play if his status is merely Questionable.
ST: None- Rather self-explanatory here.
Prediction: WR Chris Harper, TE Michael Williams, OL Shaq Mason, DL Khyri Thornton, ED Geneo Grissom, CB Justin Coleman, RB James White