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New England Patriots: Evaluations From Day Four Of Patriots Training Camp

The first weekend of 2015 New England Patriots training camp is now in the past, and on day four the thousands of fans in attendance witnessed plenty of contact. I was one of those fans in attendance, and I found it to be the best day of camp thus far, from an evaluation standpoint. There was a lot of one on one drills, along with live team drills between the first team offense and the first team defense. So without further a due, here are my three biggest takeaways and evaluations from day four of Patriots training camp.

Aaron Dobson Shines Again: One of the biggest bright spots of camp so far has been the resurgence of third-year wide receiver Aaron Dobson. The former second round has stood out on multiple occasions, and none more evident than on Sunday. During eleven on eleven drills, Tom Brady threw a beautiful pass to Dobson down the sideline even though he was blanketed by Malcolm Butler. Dobson stretched out and made a phenomenal catch, erupting the massive crowd.

Dobson was targeted often by both Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo during practice. In addition, during one on one drills against the cornerbacks, Dobson beat out Logan Ryan making another great grab. Also, he made one move on Bradley Fletcher and left him in the dust.

Aaron Dobson.

Darryl Roberts Continues To Struggle: As one Marshall Thundering Herd succeeds during training camp with Aaron Dobson, the other on the roster, seventh round rookie cornerback Darryl Roberts, continues to have a tough time acclimating himself to life in the National Football League. Going into training camp, I had Roberts listed as my rookie sleeper that would stand out, as did Malcolm Butler last year, and Zach Sudfeld the year before.

For the second straight day, Roberts was toasted by wide receivers on multiple occasions. On Sunday, Roberts was beaten by Josh Boyce three separate times. The first was during one on one drills, where Boyce ran a flag to the corner of the end zone and Roberts did not even turnaround to look for the ball. That has been a common occurrence throughout camp.

The other two times came during team drills where Boyce just ran right past Roberts, and his only choice was to maul Boyce before the ball could get to him. He is certainly living up to his pre-daft billing of being to aggressive down the field.


Miscellaneous Notes: Jerod Mayo for sure came out firing at practice on Sunday. Twice during four on four drills in which two linebackers and two defensive tackles, would go up against three lineman and a running back, Mayo blew past James White sacking the quarterback. He then seemed to take it easy for the rest of practice, riding the bike heavily.

Furthermore, there was a bit of a scare for Patriots fans during practice as Julian Edelman came up limping after he caught a low placed ball from Jimmy Garoppolo where he was then tackled by Patrick Chung. He eventually walked it off, but then sat out the rest of team organized drills.

Also there was some very spirited competition between Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler during one on one sessions. Butler won three times, but Edelman got the last laugh spinning the ball in Butler’s face.

Stay tuned throughout the week for more training camp updates.

New England Patriots: Patriots Training Camp Day Three Evaluations

Day number three of New England Patriots training camp has come and gone, and now the real football has begun. Saturday marked the first time that the team has worn full pads during practice, which could only mean one thing, contact! Of course since the new Collective bargaining agreement came out in 2011, the amount of hitting teams can do in practice is limited, but there was certainly still some popping in Foxborough on Saturday morning. Here are my three biggest takeaways and observations from day three of camp.

1. Blount and Easley Back In Action: On Saturday morning, media members and fans were delighted to see the return of both LeGarrette Blount and Dominique Easley to the practice field. After failing his conditioning test on Wednesday, Blount had to spend the following days getting himself in shape so he could get on the field and help his team.

It was evident that Josh McDaniels wasn’t going to just hand Blount all the reps, he had to capitalize when he had them. When it came down to it, he did capitalize. He doesn’t look like he has missed a step at all since we saw him in February. During a drill in which a linebacker had to cover a running back one on one on a passing pattern, Blount made a phenomenal move on Jamie Collins leaving him in the dust as he reeled in a catch from Tom Brady down the sideline. In addition, during goal line drills, Blount showed his power once again plowing through the defense into the end zone. Although, he was stopped on his second attempt by rookie first-rounder Malcom Brown.


There was a report on Friday, stating the Patriots coaching staff was going to be cautious with Dominique Easley. This did not appear to be the case on Saturday as Easley was full go. Even though he was mostly phased out of first team reps by veteran Antonio Johnson, Easley did impress during interior lineman three on three drills. The drill was simulated with a center, guard, and tackle going up against two defensive lineman and a linebacker. Easley really gave it to un-drafted rookie center David Andrews during the drill. The two were really going at it, that could stem from their Georgia versus Florida college rivalry days.

Rookie Offensive Lineman Jumping Right Onto First Team: With the left guard position wide open, and with Ryan Wendell still on the physically unable to perform list, rookie guards Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson have been able to see plenty of action over the past three days. Many believed that Jackson would have the best chance at the starting job based on his size, but Shaq Mason was the one that really stood out on day three.

Mason was in the left guard spot during live team drills, and he stood his ground giving up zero sacks of Tom Brady. Furthermore, during the interior lineman drill period, Mason made a fantastic cut block on veteran linebacker Jonathan Freeny, taking his feet from right up under him.


Miscellaneous Notes: The story with the quarterbacks was very much similar to what it was on Thursday when I was at training camp. Tom Brady took the majority of the reps with the first team with a little Jimmy Garoppolo mixed in. Brady was borderline flawless, and Garoppolo still needs to make quicker decisions. Brady went seven of ten during seven on seven drills, and a perfect twelve for twelve during live team action. Garoppolo also went seven for ten, and seven for nine during team action.

The defensive back group continues to put things together with some bumps in the road, as expected. The two quarterbacks for the most part carved up the secondary. Nevertheless, there was some bright spots on Saturday. Logan Ryan shined by breaking up multiple passes from Tom Brady. That is key because Ryan is the most experienced corner in the Patriots system, which is scary. Second round safety Jordan Richards also continues to impress the doubters.

On Thursday he had a very nice interception of Jimmy Garoppolo, and today he made a great play by knocking the ball out of Scott Chandler’s hands in a one on one drill. The 6-7 Chandler towers over 5-11 Richards.

Lastly, the play of the day for me had to go to one Aaron Dobson. During one of the seven on seven periods, Dobson made an outstanding grab on a post corner route from Tom Brady, over former college teammate Darryl Roberts, who was all over him.

I will also be in attendance at day four of Patriots training camp, so stay tuned for more updates.

New England Patriots: Patriots Training Camp Day One Evaluations

Day one of New England Patriots training camp is officially in the books. Fans piled into the practice field stands and the famous hill, to watch their favorite team take the field for the first practice of the summer. Many fans most likely had a very tough time telling which players were which, because in typical Bill Belichick fashion he sent his players onto the field without jersey numbers. The only thing the casual fan could tell was that quarterbacks were in red, offense in gray shirts, and defense in blue shirts.

I was in attendance at practice, and because I spend too much learning every minute detail of these players, I did not have an overly tough time deciphering which players were which. Seeing how the players were in just shorts, t-shirts, and helmets there was virtually zero contact.

7/30/15 QBs and WRs
7/30/15 QBs and WRs

The lack of physicality made it very difficult for defensive players and offensive lineman to stand out. Therefore, I really limited myself to evaluating some of the skill position groups that were really on display. This meant predominately quarterbacks, wide receivers, and slightly tight ends and running backs.

The running backs that were out on the field today were Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, Tyler Gaffney, Dion Lewis, and James White. When it came to first team reps with Tom Brady and company, Brandon Bolden received almost all of the snaps when the offense was in shot gun, (which was almost every snap).

Furthermore, in goal line drills, the Patriots lined up in the jumbo set with six offensive lineman, with Gronkowksi and Chandler on the end, and Jonas Gray running the ball behind James Develin in the, “I” formation. Jonas Gray was big to begin with, now he looks significantly thicker, and Josh McDaniels seems to be looking to get him involved in the passing game.


Patriots fans got their first glimpse of Tyler Gaffney today, and it was in a limited role. He received decent reps, but mostly just running the ball in simulated goal line situations. He also got some special teams work in.

The wide receivers were harder to tell apart. Obviously Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are easy to tell apart, but players such as Josh Boyce, Brandon Gibson, and Chris Harper are not as easy. Amendola and Edelman looked impressive as always. Brady targeted Edelman more than any other receivers, connecting every time they attempted, with the exception of one post corner route in the back of the end zone, dropped by Edelman.

Both Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms saw a lot of time on opposite sides of the field. Dobson was with Brady and the first team, and Tyms with Garoppolo and the second team. Garoppolo targeted Brian Tyms a total of six times throughout the day during team drills, going four for six, based on my observations, and as expected they were all fade routes and skinny posts. Dobson was on the field a lot with Brady, but the ball did not come his way very often.

At tight end, there are few words to say other than, Rob Gronkowski is a freak. He caught multiple passes in traffic from Tom Brady, the most impressive being a skinny post route in which he caught the ball while shaking off Tavon Wilson like he was nothing, and spiking the ball in the process. In addition, Jake Bequette did not impress at tight end. He has the physical stature to be a beastly blocking tight end, however he has stone hands, dropping passes on multiple occasions.

Quarterback was by the far the easiest position to evaluate, given the fact that there was only two quarterbacks on the field. Tom Brady impressed as he always does in training camp. His passes were pinpoint and he also showed a little bit of athleticism. Early on in practice Brady caught a fade in the corner of the end zone from Julian Edelman. Then later on he caught another pass down the sideline from Julian Edelman on a reverse pass, this time he only needed one hand.

garops patriots.com

Many were probably expecting to see a slightly improved Jimmy Garoppolo from the one they had seen in December. If you went to Patriots training camp with these expectations, you left disappointed. His first pass of the day was an interception to rookie Matthew Wells or Jordan Richards. He simply can’t throw the ball down field and he seems to be afraid to even try it. Brady certainly does not have a cannon for an arm, but he makes decisions quickly and gets rid of the football. Jimmy panics when his first read is gone, looks around and then dumps it off to James White. If it were a real game situation he would be put in the turf fairly quick.

I hope to attend training camp more in the coming days, so stay tuned for more updates and analysis of the Patriots practices.

New England Patriots: Five Positions To Watch At Patriots Training Camp

It is one of the callings of fall. The days are slowly getting shorter, the grass is freshly cut, and the man in the visor swinging his whistle ferociously, who is better known as the hoodie, is once again patrolling the practice fields of Foxborough. Patriots training camp is upon us. After a very tumultuous offseason in which the Patriots were under heavy fire most of the time, (even though they had just won the Super Bowl) it is time to strap on the pads, buckle up the chinstraps, and play some real football.

This year, more than in years past the Patriots have a plethora of question marks heading into training camp. Who is going to make up for Revis? How will they replace Wilfork? Is this the year Chandler Jones finally makes the leap? Position battles will highlight this summer, given the vast amount of starting roles up for grabs.

If you are going to training camp, you will realize that there is a bunch going on at once as the team breaks off into positional groups. Therefore, your probably thinking to yourself, what positions should I pay closest attention to? Well, here are the five most important positions to watch out for at Gillette this summer.

5. Quarterback: I trying my best to not mention, “deflate-gate” in this article, but I can’t get around it. There is a very good chance that Tom Brady will miss time early on in the season, so now more than ever Patriots fans need to evaluate the back up quarterbacks.

Personally, I will be watching Jimmy Garoppolo very intently. We need to see how he progressed over this offseason. The offseason between a players rookie season and their second season, is the most important of their career. Garoppolo was fully healthy, and I expect nothing less than vast improvement from what we saw in week seventeen last season against the Buffalo Bills.

Photo: masslive.com
Photo: masslive.com

In addition, Matt Flynn will battle with Garoppolo for the back up job. Many are sleeping on him, for good reason. He has never won a quarterback battle in training camp, and he has been apart of about three. Nevertheless, he was a very reliable back up for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, and always answered the bell when called upon.

4. Safety: The Patriots are now set for the next five seasons at free safety with Devin McCourty receiving an extension worth 47.5 million back in March. However, the safety spot opposite of him will be vastly important in 2015. In today’s NFL, you have to be prepared for passing situations on every down. The Patriots will certainly realize this early on in the season. With all the talented young players in the front seven, Bill Belichick maybe tempted to finally, “turn the dogs loose” up front.

Along with the weak secondary, opposing teams will want to throw the ball given these reasons. With teams throwing the ball non-stop the Patriots need another safety that can cover. That means Duron Harmon needs to have a big camp. Other than Harmon the rest of the safeties on the roster such as Tavon Wilson, Patrick Chung, and Nate Ebner are all tackle machines who can lay the boom, stop the run, and contribute on special teams.

None of the those players however can pass cover. Also, it should be interesting to watch second round pick Jordan Richards. I was not in the minority of being very skeptical of Bill Belichick for taking Richards that high in the draft. He seems like another Nate Ebner, which is all fine and well, but you can get that player in round five.

3. Running Back: No more Shane Vereen in New England, means it is time for a battle for the third down back role. One of the most important positions on the Patriots roster, because for a vast majority of the time your protecting Tom Brady. In my mind, the battle will come down to three players; Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, and James White.

Last preseason, James White did not impress. He was soft and did not show that burst that he had in college at the University of Wisconsin. Travaris Cadet had a decent season in 2014 racking in thirty-eight receptions. Lastly, Brandon Bolden has seen little time at the third down back role, and when he did in 2013 he had a tough time getting on the same page as Tom Brady.

brandon bolden

Bolden’s pass blocking ability is better than any other running back currently on the roster. That is what makes this battle an intriguing one. Which player can put all three phases together, Running the ball, catching the ball, and pass blocking. Personally, I am going with the hulk, Brandon Bolden. Why? He has the most experience in the offense, and two years is enough time to fix the deficiencies he showed in 2013.

2. Guard: With no more Dan Connolly, and Ryan Wendell recovering from a shoulder injury, Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo will be rotating his young guards around. Tre Jackson was drafted in the fourth round of this years draft along with Shaq Mason.

It would be better off for the Patriots to have a rookie take over the role of Dan Connolly, as oppose to players such as Josh Kline and Jordan Devey. They have proven time and time again that they can’t get the job done.

If neither Jackson or Mason can grasp the complex Patriots system, expect to see Marcus Cannon to slide over to guard. Lets hope we don’t have to see that. Don’t be surprised if there is a repeat of the offensive line debacle of last September this year.

1. Cornerback: Obvious choice here. No more Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Alfonzo Dennard, or Kyle Arrington on the roster, thin would be putting it lightly when talking about the cornerback depth chart on the Patriots. What the Patriots need to do is rely on the few veterans they have right now. Tarell Brown and Bradley Fletcher.

I am in the minority, but I believe that Bradley Fletcher will bounce back and be a serviceable player. The real player to focus on is Malcolm Butler. A young player that shined in year one, and shined in the brightest moment. Can he finally break the trend of Patriots cornerbacks flopping in year two?

Darryl Roberts will also be a player to keep an eye on. He is a seventh round rookie that looks to have the physicality of a player like Brandon Browner. Logan Ryan will receive a ton of reps as well, however he has also proven he can’t fill the cleats. He is targeted immediately when he is on the field.

Photo: Masslive.com
Photo: Masslive.com

New England Patriots: Eight Players Placed On Physically Unable To Perform List

Late Monday afternoon the New England Patriots placed eight players on the physically unable to perform list, (PUP). This means that due to injury these players won’t be ready for the start of training camp. These players are Dominique Easley, Dane Fletcher, Brandon LaFell, Ryan Wendell, Matthew Slater, Chris Jones, Chris White, and Vince Taylor. In addition, quarterback Matt Flynn was added to the non-football injury list.

Jan 1, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn (10) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Players can be taken off the list at any time, and more can be added. Don’t be surprised to see players such as Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo, and Dont’a Hightower be added to the list seeing how they were all absent from OTA’s and minicamp. They are all reportedly recovering from offseason surgeries.

Most of the players currently on the list won’t be hurt by missing time. For the most part they are all veterans who have established roles on the team. However, somebody like Dominique Easley may be hurt by missing time. For the majority of the offseason he has been looked upon as a player that was on the brink of a breakout season.

Now that Easley will be missing the start of camp it will further delay his progression. Last year was basically a red-shirt for him in the National Football League, as he was only available for eleven games. Even in that time he wasn’t nearly as effective as he was in college. I certainly wouldn’t write off Easley’s season just yet, but it is definitely cause for concern that his knee injury from 2013 is still causing him to miss time.

On the bright side, Ryan Wendell’s absence can be seen as a good thing by Patriots fans who have a, “glass half full” mentality. The most under looked position of need in Foxborough this year is the guard position. With Dan Connolly retiring, the Patriots now have to scrap pieces together, as they have done so many times before, and put together a serviceable interior unit.

With Wendell sidelined to start camp, it will give players such as Josh Kline, Shaq Mason, and Tre Jackson valuable first team reps. That is very valuable early on in training camp as we learned last season when a player like Jordan Devey was thrown into the fire in September. The result was Tom Brady spending the majority of his time on the turf. I expect to see much of that this coming September as well. It wouldn’t hurt to still have Logan Mankins still around would it.


Rookies Tre Jackson and Shaq Mason will benefit most from Wendell’s absence. It is more probable than not that Tre Jackson will be a starter at some point this coming season. It may not come in week one, but when Josh Kline or Jordan Devey once again get exposed, he will be forced into action like Bryan Stork was least season. Also, Jackson seems to have a great skill set for a guard. At 6-4, 326 pounds he is massive in size and he has meat cleaver like hands that can pack a punch.

Shaq Mason is a bit undersized. He may be more of a work in progress given the fact that he is transitioning from center to guard. Nevertheless, the experience can’t hurt.

In the end, the Patriots currently on the physically unable to perform list, will miss valuable practice time, but their veteran mentalities will allow them to come right back to football form when they are ready. However, someone like Dominique Easley may be taking yet another step back in his pro career.

Three Rookies That Will Surprise Patriots Fans In 2015

One of the most exciting parts of training camp every year is getting to see the new rookies on your team. You have spent hours watching game tape and highlight reels of their college careers, now it is time to see what they look like playing against the big dogs.

For the New England Patriots, the only rookie that fans are expecting to shine is first round pick Malcom Brown. The remaining rookies are all question marks. Most first-year players go through a huge transition year, and it is hard for them to truly show their abilities as a rookie. Here are three Patriots rookies that I believe will contribute in 2015.

Geneo Grissom: Drafted at the end of the third round out of Oklahoma, Geneo Grissom has all the physical attributes to be a successful defensive edge player in the National Football League. Bill Belichick praised Grissom the night he drafted him, preaching about his versatility. ” He didn’t play like a linebacker in there. You probably wouldn’t think he’s that light. You wouldn’t know by the way he played.”

Grissom at Oklahoma played predominately as a defensive end with his hand in the dirt. ” He was way undersized at 260 pounds, but he competed well. ” Another compliment from Belichick on draft night. In 2014, Grissom moved to more of an edge outside linebacker role, where you have to think is where he will spend most of his time in New England. With a lack of depth at linebacker, Grissom will have his chances to prove himself in game situations.

Photo: boston.cbs.local.com
Photo: boston.cbs.local.com

Tre Jackson: If any Patriots rookie were to jump right into a starting role this season, fourth round pick Tre Jackson would be a very solid candidate. With Dan Connolly now retired, the Patriots are left without a starting guard next to Ryan Wendell. Veterans like Josh Kline and Jordan Devey most likely won’t get the job done, therefore Jackson may have the best chance at starting.

In 2014, Bryan Stork took over the starting role at center almost immediately. Stork was a teammate of Jackson’s at Florida State playing under offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who has been a long-time friend of the Patriots organization. Tre Jackson is much bigger than Patriots guards of the past. He is a powerful space eater, as opposed to a more nimble player like Ryan Wendell.


Darryl Roberts: The Patriots cornerback depth chart as of right now is paper thin. All players right now are on an equal playing field, which could help seventh round rookie Darryl Roberts. A Marshall product, Roberts is a very athletic and physical corner. He played up on the line in college and loved to get his hands on the receiver. Much like Brandon Browner, it would be to a fault at times.

Roberts has the size to be a pro cornerback at 6-0, 182 pounds. In addition, his pro day numbers were very impressive as he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and a 6.7 three-cone drill. Had he been invited to the combine he would have ranked second among all cornerbacks in those categories.

Roberts like many other cornerbacks, has been labeled as very confident. His self-proclaimed nickname is, “Swagg.” Furthermore, his college defensive coordinator Chuck Heater seems to think that his seventh round selection will give him extra motivation. ” He’s fighting every day. That’s a great attitude to have. It’s an edge.” ¬†Many already think that Roberts was passed over too many times in the draft. The analytical powerhouse that is Pro Football Focus had Darryl Roberts as their fourth biggest steal of the draft.

In conclusion, all three of these rookies will have success in some way, shape, or form in 2015, but Darryl Roberts will soar above the rest. Much like Malcolm Butler last season, Roberts will shine during training camp and it will lead to significant game time in the regular season. With game time comes chances to make plays, and when given those chances you can win your team the Super Bowl. Just ask Malcolm Butler.

New England Patriots: Pre Training Camp 53 Man Roster Projection

With training camp rapidly approaching, Patriots fans are getting ready and anticipating the upcoming battles for roster spots that makes the month of August so exciting. This year more than in recent years, there will be an abundance of Patriots competing for jobs. With so much upcoming competition, it is time for the annual 53 man roster projection before training camp. Here is how I think the roster will look come week one against Pittsburgh.

Quarterback: Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Flynn.

The expectations seems to be that Tom Brady will miss some game time in 2015. Whether it is four games or one game, odds are he won’t be on the field opening night. He will need to hand it over to Jimmy Garoppolo, with Matt Flynn providing solid insurance behind him.

Photo: masslive.com
Photo: masslive.com

Running Back: Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, James Develin, Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray.

For most of the season, LeGarrette Blount will be the main running back in the Patriots offense, but in week one he will be suspended for violating the league’s drug policy. Behind him will be a plethora of running backs fighting for game time. Brandon Bolden and Jonas Gray will battle it out for touches in the, “power back” category, along with Travaris Cadet and James White fighting for the, “Pass catching back.” Tyler Gaffney is an unknown right now, he seems to have the ability to contribute in both roles. James Develin as always is the reliable fullback/tight end hyrbid. I see a rookie like Dion Lewis landing on the practice squad.


Wide Receiver: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Brandon Gibson.

Not many surprises here. Aaron Dobson will make the roster, now that he is fully healthy he can really show his ability. Brian Tyms gets chopped here because of his lack of versatility. He can run one route and that is about it. You can’t make a living off the go route unless your name is Randy Moss. Brandon Gibson has shown that he can provide a little bit more of a spark than Tyms.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, AJ Derby.

I have seen Michael Hoomanawanui as a player that has been on the chopping block all offseason. I personally thought he would be gone by now. Maybe their method is to let, “Hoo-Man” play out training camp and try to prove himself. If he shows anything, theres a small possibility they get a draft pick for him. If not he gets cut. A 1.5 million dollar cap hit is too much for a run blocker. James Develin can take over that role. Jake Bequette will be interesting to say the least, however I don’t believe he will impress enough.

Tackle: Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming.

With Tom Brady’s ascending age, the Patriots ability to protect him will be pivotal in their success. With two top tier tackles they shouldn’t have a problem. In addition, Cameron Fleming is a rising talent on the offensive line. I’m not sure why Cannon is still on the team, but they love him in Foxborough. He is their utility guy that can do it all.

Guard: Ryan Wendell, Tre Jackson, Josh Kline.

With Dan Connolly gone the Patriots need insurance at the guard position, something they didn’t have when they let go of Logan Mankins last year. That was almost a detriment to the season. There will be a battle back up between Josh Kline and Jordan Devey. Neither have impressed too much over their careers, but Kline has shown at times he can step up, and Devey never has.


Center: Bryan Stork, Shaq Mason.

Bryan Stork has his starting job locked up, now he has a little back up behind him with rookie Shaq Mason. He plays both guard and center coming out of Georgia Tech. It is hard to think that Ryan Wendell will go back to center at any point given the limited amount of talent at the position.

Defensive End: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom.

There will be a lot of rotation at defensive end this season with the addition of Jabaal Sheard. It will finally give a player such as Rob Ninkovich the chance to catch his breath as oppose to playing about ninety percent of the snaps. Also, rookies Flowers and Grissom should be intriguing prospects. Grissom in particular given his athleticism he reminds you of Jamie Collins in a way. Look for Zach Moore to land on the practice squad.

Defensive Tackle: Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley, Chris Jones

Another spot were there will be plenty of competition because of the loss of Vince Wilfork. Furthermore, reports have been that Zach Moore has put on significant size so look for him to receive reps at defensive tackle during camp. Joe Vellano gets cut for the second year in a row.

via blog.masslive.com
via blog.masslive.com

Linebacker: Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Dane Fletcher, Matthew Wells.

Many believe that Dont’a Hightower will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list. However, many have reported that he is ahead of schedule in his rehab leading me to believe that he will be ready. Also, keep an eye on the health of Jerod Mayo as he recovers from a torn patellar. If he doesn’t prove to be healthy look for Belichick to pick up a veteran that was cut from another team.

Cornerback: Malcolm Bulter, Logan Ryan, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, Darryl Roberts.

It is simple, with such as lack of talent the Patriots need all the bodies they have at cornerback. Expect all five of these players to see the field often early on as rotation will be key in figuring out which player belong on the field. Much like the offensive line at the start of last season.

Safety: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner.

It was very clear on May 1st when the Patriots drafted Jordan Richards, they were drafting Tavon Wilson’s replacement. He is a guy that struggles in pass coverage, can play the run, and is great on special teams. Exactly like Wilson. Expect Devin McCourty to be on the field about one-hundred percent of the defensive snaps, and for Chung and Harmon to rotate depending on the situation.

Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Chris White.

After Stephen Gostkowski just inked his new contract with the Patriots should once again be in the tops of the league in special teams. Joe Cardona was the top rated long snapper in this year’s draft and his snaps have been clocked at over 40 miles per hour. That is certainly worth noting.

New England Patriots Training Camp Battles: Malcom Brown Vs. Sealver Siliga For Nose Tackle


After eleven seasons of patrolling the middle of the Patriots defense, Vince Wilfork has taken his talents to Houston to play under former defensive coordinator Romeo Crenell.

With his departure the Patriots are now left with a literal huge hole to fill at the nose tackle position. There will be plenty of competition during training camp this summer and two players that will be going at it for a starting role will be Malcom Brown and Sealver Siliga.

Going into his rookie season, Malcom Brown will have a huge transition period this year. At only twenty-one years old, Brown will be one of the league’s youngest players.

Brown is extremely strong and much like Vince Wilfork applies pressure in the backfield by pushing the guard backward into the running backs.

Brown doesn’t get after the quarterback so much, but he does collapse the pocket well with his extreme size. Bill Belichick is not afraid to start a rookie if they can grasp the system. How well he adapts will determine whether or not he becomes a starter as a rookie.

Sealver Siliga has been a nice surprise since he joined the Patriots in 2013. At 6-2, 325 pounds Siliga takes up a ton of space in the middle of the defense. He is very difficult to move, which makes it difficult for other teams to run up the middle.

Many believe that Siliga can take over the role of Vince Wilfork. It would be very difficult due to the fact that Big Vince is much more athletic and quick on his feet. Siliga is very statue-like in the center.

What has derailed Siliga’s career thus far has been injuries. He spent of last season on temporary injured reserve. If he stays healthy throughout the summer, he will more than likely be the starter come week one. However, that is a monumental if.

In conclusion, rookie first-round selection Malcom Brown will most likely be the starter at nose tackle come week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The reasoning for this is because Brown seems to have all the raw talent and maturity players need to succeed at the pro level. Siliga should be able to take over the position, but once again his inability to stay on the field and his ability to stay accountable will hurt his chances.