FOXBORO (CBS) — This Patriots training camp is going to be challenging for the team on many levels. Mentally, physically and on the field, the Pats have concerns. Here are four things to pay attention to as camp gets under way.
1. Can the Pats “ignore the noise”?
League-wide and nationwide, everybody is talking about the Pats in a negative way. How they mentally stay focused and forge ahead is going to be something to watch. When do they get tired of hearing Aaron Hernandez’s name? How will they try to block out the daily distracting questions? This is a proud group and now they are the focus of negative material.
2. Who is going to be able to grab “Tom Brady’s Trust”?
In the past, first-year receivers in the system have had trouble getting No. 12 to throw them the ball. Now, Tom is in a tight spot. No Wes, no Gronk, no Aaron and no Lloyd.
So now Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, Julian Edelman and whomever else in camp have to step up and raise their hands and say they can do the job. Tom also has to be open to not canceling out a guy when drops happen. This receiving corps could start to remind people of the Pats team in 2006, the team remembered for losing to the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
3. Can The O-Line Stand Up?
I got a chance to talk to team executives over the last couple of months and they are saying the same thing: As long as Tom is upright, the Pats will be dangerous.
Patriots assistant head coach/offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has done a fabulous job of making sure year in and year out, the Pats have one of the league’s best lines. He’ll have to do the same again this year. The offensive line will probably have to do more run blocking than pass blocking but it still has to be solid. This may be the most important group when all is said and done.
4. Veteran Safety
Finally, Adrian Wilson may be the most important addition. His addition reminds me of when the Pats cut Lawyer Milloy, and Rodney Harrison was there to bring guys together. Wilson is old school, no nonsense and right now that’s what this team needs. His impact on this team will show up early in camp. Pay attention to how he controls the middle of the field.
Follow Levan Reid on Twitter @LevanReid