When citing the New England Patriots' remarkable consistency, pundits often point out that the Patriots have won double-digit games every season dating back to 2003. Mind-boggling as that sounds, New England's lofty standards are attainable because of its ability to develop raw talent into reliable contributions.
2013 is no different, as the Patriots are teeming with young talent on both sides of the ball. Young stars like Chandler Jones and Stevan Ridley are generating national attention, and rightfully so. If things break right, those two could be among the elite at their respective positions by season's end.
However, championship teams are not just strong at the top, but all through the middle and lower classes of the 53-man roster. Depth is what allows teams like the Patriots and Green Bay Packers to thrive in spite of attrition, while talented squads like the Dallas Cowboys invariably wilt.
Thus, the Patriots will need players from the lower half of their roster to play important roles. None of the following will probably generate national attention or Pro Bowl berths, but each can fulfill a specific niche as a cog in the New England machine.
With that, here are five Patriots whose contributions this season may be unheralded, but important nonetheless.