BOSTON (CBS) -- As we ready for the "Regular Season Dress Rehearsal," or preseason game No. 3 Friday night at Carolina, let's jump in and do what everyone tries to do this time of year: Predict the 53-man regular season roster.
Let's begin by duly noting that Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio are known for making all kinds of roster moves at this time of NFL season. What the roster looks like now could be slightly different from what it will look like in Week 1 against the Steelers -- especially on the back end.
So here's my guess for the Patriots 53-man roster:
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
We all know what is hanging over this position. When, and if, a decision comes down on Brady, at least No. 12 can breathe and deal with it. As for Jimmy, his Week 2 outing at New Orleans (28/33, 269 yards, TD, INT) gave us a glimpse into what he can be. He already looks better than half of the QBs in the NFL.
Running Backs (6)
LeGarrette Blount*, Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, James White, Dion Lewis, James Develin (fullback)
*Blount is suspended for Week 1
The wild card in this group is Cadet. He has proven pass-catching ability, but he's been on the shelf. He'll have to show something after returning to the field this week, and it all depends on his health and how much Bill likes him. It will likely come down to Cadet vs. Lewis for the final spot in the running backs corps.
Bolden has become a special teams stalwart, so he should make this crowded group.
Wide Receiver (5)
Julien Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Reggie Wayne, Matthew Slater
Assuming both Edelman and LaFell are healthy, this means that Aaron Dobson may be on the outside looking in. I'm hoping undrafted free agent Chris Harper makes it to the practice squad.
Tight Ends (3)
Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui
New England should be all set with this trio, although one has to wonder if Belichick would keep the newly-acquired Mike Williams as an o-lineman/blocking tight end.
Offensive Line (10)
Left Tackle: Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon
Left Guard: Shaq Mason, Josh Kline
Center: Bryan Stork, David Andrews
Right Guard: Ryan Wendell, Tre' Jackson
Right Tackle: Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming
The X-factor could be how newly-acquired OT/TE Mike Williams looks in the final two preseason games and practice. Versatility is a big word with this group, as well as health. There is still time to see how it plays out.
Defensive Line (9)
Defensive End: Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, Geneo Grissom
Defensive Tackles: Alan Branch, Dominique Easley, Malcom Brown, Sealver Siliga, Trey Flowers
The end position should see a rotation of Ninkovich, Jones and Sheard while the inside will feature Siliga, Branch, Easley and Brown. The tackles have big shoes to fill with Vince Wilfork in Houston.
Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Morris, Jonathan Freeny
The starting trio of Mayo, Hightower, and Collins has a chance to be among the best in the league if they can stay healthy. Both Morris and Freeny have had strong camps and earned spots on the roster.
Defensive Backs (10)
Malcolm Butler, Tarell Brown, Logan Ryan, Robert McClain, Bradley Fletcher, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner
(Daryl Roberts on IR or practice squad)
There are lots of question marks in the secondary as the team looks to re-tool after the loss of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington.
Malcolm Butler has been solid all camp as the starting left corner, but the question is who will start at right corner? It could be veteran Tarell Brown if he's healthy. Logan Ryan began camp in a position to take over on the right side, but he's seen his time with the top unit decrease throughout camp. Daryl Roberts started the preseason opener, but got hurt and has been out ever since. The Patriots also have veterans Robert McClain and Bradley Fletcher, although both could be in the mix to replace Arrington.
Devin McCourty doesn't want to play corner and should be at his usual safety spot. Second-round draft pick. Patrick Chung will be a starter while Duron Harmon should see a lot of playing time too. Jordan Richards is also a guy Bill Belichick likes.
Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson are big on special teams and will likely compete for a spot. It will be interesting to see how this crowded backfield sorts itself out.
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
Punter/Holder: Ryan Allen
Long Snapper: Joe Cardona
Follow WBZ-TV's Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.
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