Tom Brady throws a pass at Pats Camp (Photo By David Silverman)
The New England Patriots took the field for the first practice of training camp in 2014, football is underway!
Kenbrell Thompkins is making my prediction of him being the most improved 2nd year player and biggest impact for New England look good. He had a great day, making two outstanding grabs. He caught a great TD catch from Brady in the back of the end zone. I know he had a good camp last year, but there’s a different feel to him this season. He’s not double catching or dropping as many passes, and he’s running his routes more smoother. Thompkins is way ahead of any competition right now.
Danny Amendola looked good as well and caught a touchdown. He’s good in camp, always has been, it’s all about game time for him and stay healthy.
Brandon LaFell looked good for most of the day, but had a few drops. Something that has plagued him his entire career.
Gronkowskilooked good and didn’t look to be slowed down by last season’s injury. He was limited and did not play in the 7-on-7 drills or the 11-on-11 drills. We all know Gronk’s good, just need him to stay healthy throughout the season. Gronkand Brady stayed behind once the practice was over to get more work together.
Justin Jones, a monster size tight end, had a nice day at camp. He made a nice move on linebacker James Anderson for a touchdown grab.
Brandon Browner had a good day today. He swapped some passes away and broke up a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman.Browner looked huge out there compared to the other defensive backs. He will have an impact this season.
Darrelle Revis was good, but nothing overly impressive. He was beaten by Brady to LaFell for a touchdown. Revis did fit with this defensive and looks to have a good handle on it already.
CB Justin Green turned in the best day out of all the rookies. He was great in coverage and broke up passes to LaFell and Josh Boyce.
Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Mallett had their ups and downs today. Neither were impressive in their first day of camp. Garoppolo has a quick release and beautiful touch on his passes. He’s not scared to throw that’s for sure.
In the 7-on-7 drills Brady completed 4 of 9 passes, Mallett completed 4 of 7 passes, and Garoppolo completed 2 of 5 passes. In the 11-on-11 drills where the team went through red zone drills twice and worked the 2 minute offense, Brady completed 12 of 16 passes, Mallett completed 1 of 6, and Garoppolo completed 3 of 5 passes.
WR Aaron Dobson, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, ST Matthew Slater, linebacker Deontae Skinner, offensive lineman Chris Martin, defensive lineman Dominique Easley, wide receiver Jeremy Gallon and defensive lineman Tommy Kelly were not participating in practice. Skinner and Martin were not on the field.
Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork are walking to training camp practice today! (Photo From Patriots.com)
Here are the top storylines to watch during training camp.
Kenbrell Thompkins catches a touchdown pass against the Falcons last season. (Photo By Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
1. The receivers.
Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, and Brandon LaFell to be exact. I want to see how well LaFell is fitting in with Tom Brady and this offense. I want to see the chemistry between Brady and Amendola continue to develop. It will very interesting to see how much Thompkins has improved and if Boyce can make the team. Of course, when Dobson gets back, it’ll be interesting to see if he has improved.
James White in college. (Photo From Badgers sports.com)
2. The Battle to be running back #3
James White, Brandon Bolden and a few others will battle to be the number 3 guy behind Stevan Ridley and Shane Veeren. White is one to watch during camp. I want to see what all the hype is about.
Vince Wilfork (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
3. Vince Wilfork and Gronk’s return
Who else is excited to see them back on the field? I can’t wait to see how they’re moving after their injuries. Also we will see if any of the newly tight end will bust out behind Gronk.
Jimmy Garoppolo during the team’s mini-camp. (Photo By John Wilcox)
4. Jimmy Garoppolo vs Ryan Mallett
Everybody will watch Garoppolo because he was taking in the second round as the future behind Brady. We want to see him battle Mallett this training camp and pre-season. All eyes will be on these two.
Darrelle Revis (Photo From ESPN.com)
5. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner
I can’t wait to see these two out there. They are two great corners and I can’t wait to see them out there together at the same time going against Tom Brady.
I have broken down all the other positions on the Patriots and now finally I have reached the OL.
The Patriots offensive linemen are Chris Baker, Marcus Cannon, Braxston Cave, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Cameron Fleming, Jon Halapio, Josh Kline, Logan Mankins, Chris Martin, Nate Solder, Bryan Stork, Sebastian Vollmer, and Jordan Devey.
They both do considering they will compete against Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly. The two weak links for the Pats last season.
The Pats need change on the offensive line after Brady took 40 sacks, the most since 2001. I personally think the Pats are looking to Halapio and Stork to take over the starting role on the line this season.
Jon Halapio is a tough, gritty, and rough player, who plays like Logan Mankins. He’s a great blocker for the run and pass. He’s good enough right now to succeed Connolly. This will be a great battle to watching throughout camp.
Bryan Stork is a great player and should beat out Ryan Wendell. This is another battle to watch this season.
Logan Mankins did not have his best year last year. He isn’t horrible, but not in his best form. We will see what happens this year and the Pats plan for him.
Nate Solder is the best offensive lineman for the Pats and I expect him to continue to be. No need to worry there.
Sebastian Vollmer is a great lineman too. It hurt the Pats when he went down with a broken leg early last year. Vollmer should be healthy and ready to get back to form.
The rest will battle it out to be depth, or maybe push to start.
Stevan Ridley (Left), and Shane Veeren (Right). (Photos by Jared Wickerham/Elsa/Getty Images)
The Patriots will have a great competition at training camp with the running backs.
The Pats running backs heading into camp will be Steven Ridley, Brandon Bolden, Shane Veeren, James White, Stephen Houston, Jonas Gray, James Develin, and Roy Finch.
The Patriots training camp will have a great competition between Brandon Bolden and James White.
James White is someone who has been turning heads during OTA’s and mini-camp. Rumors are he will get a lot of touches this season. Already they are talking about the regular season. He’s a lock to make the team. White will go against Bolden for touches. They both could remain on the team, but White is looking to get a lot more touches than Bolden. White’s versatility drew the Pats in during the draft and he’s been showing it. He’s a good running back and great out of the backfield. He has nice explosives and speed. White is one to watch.
Brandon Bolden will be competing for a spot on the team and for touches this camp and pre-season. He will battle the unknowns of Houston, Finch, and Gray.
I will say Develin makes the team being the fullback to add another blocker and short yardage guy to the team.
Stevan Ridley is a great running back, but fumbling problems continue to plague him. He was in the dog house a few times last year due to fumbling the ball. Ridley is the number one back as long as he takes care of the football. His job with New England is on the line this season.
Shane Veeren is an excellent player. He can catch and run and New England loves it. Veeren is the guy who catches a lot of passes for Brady and makes things happen in the open field. He also runs really well.
Jerod Mayo warms up before facing the Saints. (Photo By Steven Senne)
I will be breaking down the defensive line and linebackers for the New England Patriots.
Currently the defensive line, and linebackers for the Patriots are: James Anderson, Steve Beauharnais, Jake Bequette, Michael Buchanan, Jamie Collins, Dominique Easley, Darius Fleming, Marcus Forston, Cameron Gordon, Dont’a Hightower, Josh Hull, Chandler Jones, Chris Jones, Tommy Kelly, Eathyn Manumaleuna, Jerod Mayo, Taylor McCuller, Zach Moore, Rob Ninkovich, Will Smith, L.T. Tuipulotu, Joe Vellano, Chris White, and Vince Wilfork.
I will start with the defensive linemen for New England.
The Patriots haven’t had a feared or consistent pass rush in years, will this be the year? The biggest complaint I have about the Pats line is they haven’t been consistent at getting to the QB. The AFC Title Game against Denver was embarrassing how much time Peyton Manning had to throw. The Patriots haven’t had a J.J Watt type or JuliusPeppers type pass rusher since their Super Bowl winning years.
Rob Ninkovich is the guy that gets key sacks in key situation, but isn’t consistent at pass rushing. He’s good, but he’s not in the elite pass rusher conversation. He’s not a pro bowler either. It could help him with depth behind him and being in a nice rotation this season.
Chandler Jones had a great year stat wise last season. He’s a good tackler, gets pressure on the QB, and will get at least a sack a game. The thing is, he’s not very consistent either. He did get better his second year in so it’ll be exciting to see how much more improved he’s in his 3rd year.
Jones should be better with more depth behind him and the freedom to be moved around which he excels at.
When Vince Wilfork went down it was devastating to the Pats defensive line and rush defense. The Pats struggled to really find a replacement for Wilfork especially after Tommy Kelly went down too.
After a crazy off-season for the nose tackle, he’s back with the Pats and healthy. He also will practice during training camp, which is huge for the Pats. Wilfork adds a great run stuffer and can get pressure on the QB. He also opens up more opportunity for Nink and Jones.
Tommy Kelly adds another big body guy on the line. He was having a good season until he went down for the season against the Bengals. When he and Wilfork is healthy, they helped the line out big time like last season before their injuries. They also have more depth too.
Dominique Easley is a guy I can’t wait to see on the field with the Patriots. He won’t be starting training camp practicing yet, but at some point I expect him to be out there. He’s a guy, if he stays healthy, and plays like he did at Florida, will be a beast for New England. He will increase the pass rush and play of the line. He has a motor, a won’t quit attitude, and a guy players will love.
The Pats added a veteran pass rusher in former Saints Will Smith.
He did not play in 2013, but in 2012 he had 58 tackles, and 6 sacks. We have no idea how Will Smith will look and if he will be anywhere close to his old form and provide anything for New England. He should bring a veteran presence to the defensive end spot and should add nice depth and rotation. In the situation and rotation, he will be with the Pats, it should help him big time. It might help him have a really productive year.
Onto the linebackers!
Dont’a Hightower put it all together toward the end of last season after a rollercoaster ride through most of the season. He was a much better player in the playoffs and seems to have finally hit his stride. He’s a good pass rushing linebacker when he gets the chance and good at stopping the run. He’s better off to not be in coverage, but was a bit better at it in the postseason.
Hightower is a guy with untapped potential and when he hits his stride he will be great. Maybe this is the season he puts it together for the entire season.
Jamie Collins broke out in a big way in the postseason last year. If he plays like that this season he will boost the linebacker position big time. Collins can do it all, rush the QB, stop the run, and cover.
Jerod Mayo the leader of the linebackers. He’s a do it all guy, and when he went down last season, no question hurt the defense. He’s coming back healthy and looks to pick up where he left off. Mayo is a pro bowl linebacker and I expect him to be next season.
James Anderson is a new addition the linebacking core and a veteran. He had 102 tackles last season with 4 sacks. He’s a solid pickup for New England and a good addition to the team.
There isn’t much depth behind those 4 but that will be a story to watch during training camp. We will see who else can add depth to that spot.
Brandon Browner during the Patriots OTA’s. (Photo By John Wilcox)
I’ve broken down the QB, WR, and TE groups, now it’s time for the secondary.
The Patriots have high expectations for the revamped secondary and will be one of the best secondaries in the NFL, at least on paper.
The Patriots secondary players are Kyle Arrington, Brandon Browner, Malcolm Bulter, Alfonzo Dennard, Patrick Chung, Kanorris Davis, Nate Ebner, Shamiel Gary, Justin Green, Duron Harmon, Travis Hawkins, Devin McCourty, Darrelle Revis, Logan Ryan, Daxton Swanson, Jemea Thomas, and Tavon Wilson.
Let’s go ahead and start with Darrelle Revis.
When he’s in man coverage, he’s the best corner in the NFL, at least he has been and the Pats hope he will be again this season. Patriots fans are most excited to see him and Brandon Browner in training camp and I’am too. Revis was good in Tampa’s zone defense, but not great. He wasn’t as good as he was when he played with the Jets, who played man. Revis loves to be on an island with any receiver in the league and with New England, he will be allowed to do that.
I expect Revis to be back to shutting down the top wide outs.
Brandon Browner is a monster. He’s a big and tall corner. He’s 6’4 and 221 pounds. He’s a real good corner, and can use his size to help against most wide receivers. He’s also a big hitter, just ask Wes Welker. This guy with Revis is suppose to do wonders for New England’s secondary that has been in need of HELP.
Alfonzo Dennard was the number two guy last year and will compete against Browner to be number two again. Dennard has proven to be a good number 2 corner, but not a number one guy. He was horrible when Talib went out against Denver in the AFC Title game last year. Dennard is good, and he will be an interesting one to watch in camp.
Logan Ryan is an excellent play maker. He showed more positives last year than negatives. He’s excellent in the slot and can move to play outside where he was successful at, at times. A very good player and I fully expect him to start over the likes of Arrington.
Duron Harmon is a lock for the SS spot, but anything can happen before the first regular season game, but it’s his right now. Harmon looked good when he was on the field last season. He’s better than anyone else the Pats have behind him on the team. He’s a tough, smart, good tackling football player. Harmon is competing against himself in camp. Let’s see how he handles the pressure.
Devin McCourty is a great free safety and I fully expect him to have another good year. He has the ability to intercept passes and be a play maker in the secondary. McCourty is a great leader for the defense.
Patrick Chung played with the Eagles last season, but before that was with New England. He has returned and we will see if he makes the team. If he does I believe it will be to add depth to the safety position and he’s a good special teams player. I can see him on special teams making an impact.
Tavon Wilson is another depth guy and special teams guy. He’s been solid on special teams and we will see him compete for that job with Chung in camp. Neither is a lock to make the team.
Kyle Arrington is the guy Patriots fans love to hate. He can be good, and he can be awful. He’s good in the slot, but pretty bad on the outside. The guy is great at being inconsistent.
Malcolm Bulter, Kanorris Davis, Nate Ebner, Shamiel Gary, Justin Green, Travis Hawkins, Daxton Swanson, and Jemea Thomas are guys I will not speculate on. We will see them in camp and see which one will make the team.