Devin McCourty making a tackle
The Patriots roster has undergone significant change in recent years. Here's a quick look at the team as of early Tuesday, as they prepare for the season opener.
Like most teams, the Patriots have dealt with their share of injuries in training camp. While dealing with losing starters DE Ty Warren (IR, hip surgery), CB Leigh Bodden (IR, shoulder), S Brandon McGowan (IR, chest) and OL Nick Kaczur (back surgery) is difficult, projecting the status of moderate-term injuries can be equally as challenging or more so.
Projected key contributors like rookie OLB Jermaine Cunningham, rookie TE Aaron Hernandez, second-year WR Julian Edelman and others have all missed significant time in training camp. At the very least, all were set back in camp due to injury and won't be quite as ready for opening day. At worst, the injuries will linger into the season opener against Cincinnati and will test the team's depth from day one. All teams' depth gets challenged during a long NFL season, but New England's may already be facing a test before the 2010 campaign even gets under way.
--S Jarrad Page is on board after being acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs this past weekend in a trade. Page is taking up the roster spot vacated by Brandon McGowan, who is out for the season with a pectoral injury.
--LB Marques Murrell figures to get significant playing on the outside now that Derrick Burgess has been released. The competition for a starting role will be tough and whoever wins that job for Week 1 certainly won't have his spot etched in stone.
--LB Shawn Crable is back in New England after being signed to the practice squad Monday. Crable was initially released earlier in camp following two disappointing seasons in New England in which injuries limited his production.
--OL Rich Ohrnberger is also back. The Patriots signed him to the practice squad Monday after releasing him on cut-down day. WR Darnell Jenkins and S Sergio Brown were also re-signed to the practice squad.
--The Patriots claimed offensive tackle Steve Maneri from Houston off waivers and also acquired linebacker Tracy White in a trade from Philadelphia. Maneri is an undrafted rookie free agent from Temple; White is an eight-year veteran with most of his experience coming on special teams.
DRAFT PICKS TO STICK
Rd. 1/27, CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers -- Top pick has seen plenty of reps in camp and is battling for a major role on defense, if not a starting job early in his career.
Rd. 2/42, TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona -- Big, soft-handed target has shown his abilities as a blocker and pass catcher in camp and drawn praise from Tom Brady. Will be a major part of the offense in a variety of roles as a rookie.
Rd. 2/53, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, Florida -- Looking to make the transition from college defensive end, Cunningham has missed weeks of practice and the first three preseason games with an unknown injury. At this point his rookie season, and expectations on his potential impact, are diminishing.
Rd. 2/62, ILB Brandon Spikes, Florida -- Spikes elevated to the first defense when Gary Guyton went down with a camp knee injury, and the rookie looks like he'll remain in the starting lineup to open the regular season. A good fit for the tough inside job in the 3-4, he'll be the thumper next to the more athletic Jerod Mayo.
Rd. 3/90, WR Taylor Price, Ohio University -- Price flashed early in camp but has regressed in recent weeks and caught just one pass for 7 yards in the first three preseason games. He'll be near the bottom of the receiver depth chart.
Rd. 4/113, TE Aaron Hernandez, Florida -- Hernandez was lighting up the practice and game field until an injury sidelined him after the second preseason game. Depending on his health, he's still expected to get his chances as a spread, slot option in the Patriots' various passing sets.
Rd. 5/150, P Zoltan Mesko, Michigan -- Mesko has been rather inconsistent in the summer and preseason, but baring any last-minute change the punting job is his.
Rd. 7/247, DL Brandon Deaderick, Alabama -- Deaderick had a leg up on the defense thanks to his college career in Nick Saban's Patriots-like 3-4. He took advantage with plenty of preseason reps and could win a reserve job on the line.
Rd. 7/248, DL Kade Weston, Georgia -- Technically, Weston was the first rookie to stick with the team, landing on IR with an unknown ailment after clearing waivers in the middle of camp.