The New England Patriots enter their final preseason game on Wednesday night with at least five position battles that have some players' roster status hanging in the balance. Rosters must be cut down to the final 53-man squad on Friday, and this will be the last chance for some players to show their value for head coach Bill Belichick.
One veteran who could be in jeopardy is center Dan Koppen, an anchor of the offensive line throughout the Brady-Belichick glory years. The local Boston College grad and one-time Pro-Bowler sat out last season with an injury, and Dan Connolly filled in without missing much of a beat. Alec Shane of Pats Pulpit writes that the center battle is one position to watch, with Brian Waters' potential return perhaps forcing either Connolly or Koppen out the door:
Unlike Connolly, Koppen is a center and a center alone, which means he may become expendable if Belichick decides the more versatile linemen are the way to go. Connolly filled in admirably last year, but I'd still argue that Koppen is the better center, and if Tom Brady had his way, he'd go back to Koppen. - assuming he can return to 2010 form. That's a big if, and so Koppen needs to show this team why he deserves having Tommy B touching his ample backside. Of course, this might all be a moot point if Waters does in fact retire, as Connolly will slide over to guard and open the center slot up for Koppen, with Ryan Wendell and his awesome mustache as the primary backup.
This would be Koppen's 10th season in the league, the entirety of which has been played in Foxborough. He played in only one game last year, breaking his ankle in the first half of the season opener. It was expected he would reclaim his starting center spot once healthy, but the veteran could be a casualty if Waters does indeed return.