(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2012.)
NAME: Will Allen
2011 STATS: 15 games (6 starts), 43 total tackles, 3 passes defensed -- with Dolphins
INJURY STATUS: No known injuries
CHANCE OF MAKING 53-MAN ROSTER: 45%
WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: Allen is an experienced veteran at positions where the Patriots are relatively young. Last season, injuries hit the defensive backfield hard, and a lack of depth was exposed, with players such as Phillip Adams and Nate Jones brought in midseason as stop-gap measures. Keeping Allen on the roster would likely prevent against this. The 33-year-old had an interception during organized team activities, where he also appeared to cross-train as a safety. In the event of another wave of injuries, Allen would provide stability.
WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: The Patriots have invested high draft picks (cornerbacks Devin McCourty and Ras-I Dowling; safeties Patrick Chung and Tavon Wilson) in their defensive backfield in recent seasons, while cornerback Kyle Arrington and safety Steve Gregory also appear primed for major roles. That leaves very little room for Allen to earn a significant role in the defense, barring injuries. During organized team activities and minicamp, second-year cornerback Sterling Moore served as the team's sixth defensive back in dime packages, not Allen. At safety, Allen will face stiff competition from James Ihedigbo and Josh Barrett, two players who will likely have the edge over Allen for their contributions on special teams.
CLOSEST COMPETITION: CB Sterling Moore, S James Ihedigbo, S Josh Barrett