New England Patriots 2011 Predictions: Starters for Regular Season Week 1

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIAugust 2, 2011

New England Patriots 2011 Predictions: Starters for Regular Season Week 1

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    Can you believe it? We're in the midst of training camp and the 2011 NFL season is right around the corner. 

    As we creep closer and closer, we can now think about who the potential starters are for our favorite teams.

    In this case, who will be in the starting lineup for the New England Patriots come week one?

    (Keep in mind that New England tends to exclude the fullback position from their offense.) 

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Quarterback: Tom Brady

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    Well, this a no-brainer...Tom Brady is the NFL's reigning Most Valuable Player, of course he's a starter. 

    However, there is recent news regarding New England's quarterback position, and it's likely that Ryan Mallett will be the team's third-string quarterback entering 2011 as the team recently cut ties with Jonathan Crompton, according to ESPN Boston

Running Back: BenJarvus Green-Ellis

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    BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for a stellar 1,008 rushing yards for the Patriots last season as he made his case to be the team's lead-back. 

    However, Green-Ellis has yet to participate in any practices so far due to a being a restricted free agent with a second-round tender placed on him. 

    If Green-Ellis misses much more of training camp, then I'd expect Danny Woodhead to emerge as the team's starting back field.

    However, it doesn't really matter who starts at running back, as New England defines the term "running back-by-committee."

Wide Receiver: Chad Ochocinco and Deion Branch

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    New England will have quite the dynamic offense in 2011 with Chad Ochocinco and Deion Branch being the team's starting two wide receivers.

    Ochocinco and Branch should combine for huge numbers with Tom Brady slinging them passes. 

Slot Receiver: Wes Welker

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    Wes Welker is the NFL's best slot receiver and will be a force to be reckoned with in 2011.

    Welker will be 100 percent healthy as he's a year removed from rehabbing a torn ACL and should cause multiple problems for opposing teams defensively. 

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski / Aaron Hernandez

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    Rob Gronkowski is New England's "traditional tight end" while Aaron Hernandez is more of a slot receiver, but both are listed as tight ends.

    In a lot of cases, Gronkowski and Hernandez find themselves on the field with each other at the same time. 

Left Tackle: Matt Light

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    With the recent news that the Patriots have re-signed Matt Light, it's almost guaranteed that he'll be the team's starting left tackle from day one.

    Light will start at left tackle until Nate Solder is able to take the reigns of protecting Tom Brady's blind-side. 

Left Guard: Logan Mankins

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    New England is so fortunate to have Logan Mankins agree to his franchise tag contract offer as he's one of the league's top offensive guards.

    Matt Light and Mankins side-by-side is extremely dependable and a strength to the team's offensive line. 

Center: Dan Koppen

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    The 31-year-old Dan Koppen is the man who anchors New England's offensive line.

    Koppen is a solid run blocker and pass protector, but his best attribute is his leadership in the locker-room. 

Right Guard: Dan Connolly

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    Dan Connolly is probably most well-known for his amazing kick-return against the Green Bay Packers, but he's a serviceable offensive linemen. 

    Connolly will likely be slotted in as New England's starting right guard. 

Right Tackle: Sebastian Vollmer

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    Sebastian Vollmer will be entering his third year as a New England Patriot and is coming off of his first career Pro Bowl appearances.

    Vollmer is a solid offensively tackle that excels in pass-blocking. 

Left Defensive End: Albert Haynesworth

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    The newly acquired defensive linemen Albert Haynesworth will be New England's starting defensive end in 2011.

    Haynesworth is a massive force along the defensive front and could potentially emerge into a role that was similar to what Richard Seymour was during his time as a Patriot. 

Nose Tackle: Vince Wilfork

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    Vince Wilfork is the anchor to New England's defense and is without a doubt the Patriots starting nose tackle in 2011. 

    Wilfork tallied up 57 tackles in 2010 for the Patriots, which was the second highest in his seven-year NFL career. 

Right Defensive End: Ron Brace

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    With defensive end Mike Wright still recovering from a severe concussion that his suffered during week 11 of last year, Ron Brace will likely be New England's starting defensive end come week one.

    Brace has been rather inconsistent for New England despite have major upside. 

Left Outside Linebacker: Rob Ninkovich

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    With the recent release of Tully Banta-Cain, Rob Ninkovich suddenly emerges as one of New England's starting outside linebackers.

    Ninkovich played in all 16 games last season for the Patriots as he tallied up 61 tackles while accumulating four sacks. 

Left Inside Linebacker: Brandon Spikes

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    Brandon Spikes will be entering his second year in the NFL and this will be his second year as one of New England's starting inside linebackers.

    Spikes was very productive his rookie season as he racked up 61 tackles while only suiting up for 12 games. 

Right Inside Linebacker: Jerod Mayo

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    2010 was Jerod Mayo's break-out year as he recorded 174 total tackles, good enough for most in the NFL, and is on the verge of emerging into the league's best inside linebacker.

Right Outside Linebacker: Jermaine Cunningham

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    Jermaine Cunningham is a young and promising outside linebacker.

    2010 was Cunningham's rookie season as he tallied up 35 total tackles for New England.

Left Cornerback: Devin McCourty

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    2010 was one amazing season played by rookie Devin McCourty.

    McCourty emerged as New England's number one cornerback and has the chance to become one of the league's most dominating cornerbacks as he snagged seven interceptions last season 

Strong Safety: Patrick Chung

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    Patrick Chung had a very productive 2010 season as he recorded 96 total tackles, which is good enough for his career best. 

    Chung will be only entering his third year in the NFL but has major upside and the potential to be a top-tier strong safety. 

Free Safety: Brandon Meriweather

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    2010 was almost like a lost year for Brandon Meriweather.

    Meriweather was benched several times due to his inconsistent ability to tackle and to cover receivers. 

    There is no question that Meriweather has talented, but it's a matter of him growing and maturing into his possible role as a New England Patriot. 

Right Cornerback: Leigh Bodden

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    Leigh Bodden was New England's top cornerback in 2009, but missed all of 2010 due to a shoulder injury.

    Now that Bodden is healthy, he'll team up with Devin McCourty to create one of the league's best cornerback duos.