by Scott Benson

The Patriots will need to make 10 more roster moves today to finalize their 53 man roster by the league’s mandated 6:00 PM deadline.

The team released 10 players yesterday, including veterans Monty Beisel, Chad Brown and Eric Warfield, while disabling LB Barry Gardner, and sit at 63 players (not counting WR Deion Branch, who did not report, hence the * in the entry title) this morning.

The final composition of the roster is always interesting. How many will they keep at each position? Where will the last cuts be made? Here’s a few thoughts.

Offensive line (3) – The Pats are at 12 players currently, and most published reports suggest they will keep only eight. That would leave only Nick Kaczur, Russ Hochstein and just one other player as the depth. Doesn’t it seem they should have more offensive linemen than that? In any event, tackles Randy Hand and Wesley Britt are battling guards Dan Stevenson, Gene Mruczkowski and Billy Yates for one, or better yet two, roster spots here. At minimum, three of the moves happen here.

Running back (1) – It seems certain that the Pats will place Patrick Pass on the PUP list to account for one of today’s roster moves.

Receiver (0) – Under this scenario, rookie receiver Kelvin Kight makes the final 53, though I have to acknowledge that one of today’s moves could involve him. Considering the uncertain short term of Chad Jackson, it seems unlikely.

Defensive end (1) – Most observers tend to think the Pats will keep five players here, which means Marquise Hill and Santonio Thomas are fighting for one spot. Toss up. Thomas has been OK at times this pre-season, but Hill seems to land on his feet in these situations.

Defensive tackle (2) – They have four players right now. What do they need, two? Mike Wright, one of the defensive ends, can fill in here if needed. LeKevin Smith could be another draft choice to miss the final roster, and this seems like it could indeed be the end for fan favorite/fan pinata Dan Klecko.

Inside linebacker (1) – Some suggest that the Pats will keep all ten linebackers currently on their roster. If this is true, then ILB’s Eric Alexander and rookie Corey Mays will survive. Right now, they have 3 OLB’s and 7 ILB’s (though one of them, Mike Vrabel, is probably headed back outside, so a 60/40 split seems more accurate). I wonder if one move will come from here.

Cornerbacks (1) – Will they keep four, or five? With former corner Artrell Hawkins back at safety, the Pats could feel comfortable going with four. If so, either Chad Scott or NFLE guy Antwain Spann will go.

Safeties (1) – You have to figure the Pats keep six safeties. Unless they IR Tebucky Jones, that means either Guss Scott or rookie Willie Andrews goes. Andrews could contribute as a return man as well as swinging between corner and safety. He gets the nod over Guss.

If it breaks out like this, the biggest roster surprises are OLB Pierre Woods and Andrews, one a street free agent, the other a seventh round draft pick. But don’t forget Ryan O’Callaghan, the rookie tackle that won a starting job in his first training camp.

The biggest surprise overall is that the Patriots and Deion Branch have probably burned every bridge that would have allowed his return to the team.