10 Storylines For Patriots Training Camp

We may never again see Tom Brady connect with a receiver the way he did with Randy Moss in 2007, but his new connection with Brandon Lloyd might be as close as it gets. Lloyd is about the same age that Moss was when he came to New England, and he's averaged eight touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards in the past two seasons. We know that Lloyd has worked well with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in the past, but in camp we'll all get to see how he looks working with his new quarterback. As evidenced by veterans like Joey Galloway and Chad Johnson, sometimes that connection isn't so easy to get started.
Brady To Lloyd
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
We may never again see Tom Brady connect with a receiver the way he did with Randy Moss in 2007, but his new connection with Brandon Lloyd might be as close as it gets. Lloyd is about the same age that Moss was when he came to New England, and he's averaged eight touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards in the past two seasons. We know that Lloyd has worked well with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in the past, but in camp we'll all get to see how he looks working with his new quarterback. As evidenced by veterans like Joey Galloway and Chad Johnson, sometimes that connection isn't so easy to get started.
He was arguably the most dominant player in the entire NFL last year, but an ankle injury suffered in the AFC Championship Game made him little more than a decoy in the Super Bowl. After offseason surgery, all eyes will be on Gronk's ankle throughout training camp and the preseason games. If the 23-year-old hopes to improve upon his record-setting 1,327 yards and 18 total touchdowns, he'll need to come out of the gates at full speed and full strength.
Gronk
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
He was arguably the most dominant player in the entire NFL last year, but an ankle injury suffered in the AFC Championship Game made him little more than a decoy in the Super Bowl. After offseason surgery, all eyes will be on Gronk's ankle throughout training camp and the preseason games. If the 23-year-old hopes to improve upon his record-setting 1,327 yards and 18 total touchdowns, he'll need to come out of the gates at full speed and full strength.
How Devin McCourty transformed from a rookie with seven interceptions to a second-year player who lost all sense of finding the football is a mystery that nobody on the Patriots' coaching staff could solve last season. McCourty better have figured it out himself, both for his own career hopes and for the strength of the entire defense. For him and the defense to be successful in 2012, McCourty doesn't need to become Deion Sanders, but he needs to be reliable enough to actually keep his position at corner. If he's improved enough, it might not be immediately evident at camp. If he still has trouble making plays on the football, though, it'll be hard to hide.
Devin McCourty
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
How Devin McCourty transformed from a rookie with seven interceptions to a second-year player who lost all sense of finding the football is a mystery that nobody on the Patriots' coaching staff could solve last season. McCourty better have figured it out himself, both for his own career hopes and for the strength of the entire defense. For him and the defense to be successful in 2012, McCourty doesn't need to become Deion Sanders, but he needs to be reliable enough to actually keep his position at corner. If he's improved enough, it might not be immediately evident at camp. If he still has trouble making plays on the football, though, it'll be hard to hide.
The Patriots actually used their first-round picks in this year's NFL draft -- both of them. They selected defensive lineman Chandler Jones out of Syracuse and linebacker Dont'a Hightower of Alabama. Both could have immediate impacts this season, and that will all start in camp.
First-Round Picks
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The Patriots actually used their first-round picks in this year's NFL draft -- both of them. They selected defensive lineman Chandler Jones out of Syracuse and linebacker Dont'a Hightower of Alabama. Both could have immediate impacts this season, and that will all start in camp.
There's no way around it -- somebody's getting cut. Now, whether that's veteran Brady bud Deion Branch, or Donte Stallworth, or Julian Edelman or anyone else is not known right now. But those players and a few more will all have to practice as if their jobs are at stake.
Receiver Battles
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
There's no way around it -- somebody's getting cut. Now, whether that's veteran Brady bud Deion Branch, or Donte Stallworth, or Julian Edelman or anyone else is not known right now. But those players and a few more will all have to practice as if their jobs are at stake.
The Patriots aren't a running team, so the roster battle for carries isn't as big here as it might be in other cities. Still, there's no more BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and there's almost assuredly no more Kevin Faulk, so someone other than Danny Woodhead is going to have to emerge. With the eve of training camp release of Joseph Addai, will it be Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen? We'll find out soon.
Running Backs
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The Patriots aren't a running team, so the roster battle for carries isn't as big here as it might be in other cities. Still, there's no more BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and there's almost assuredly no more Kevin Faulk, so someone other than Danny Woodhead is going to have to emerge. With the eve of training camp release of Joseph Addai, will it be Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen? We'll find out soon.
Bill Belichick isn't afraid to send any player packing if they don't impress in camp, as Brandon Meriweather learned last season. Could there be another big name on the cutting block come late August? We shall see....
Surprise Cuts
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Bill Belichick isn't afraid to send any player packing if they don't impress in camp, as Brandon Meriweather learned last season. Could there be another big name on the cutting block come late August? We shall see....
The Patriots had just one kick return for a touchdown last season, on a punt against Kansas City by Julian Edelman. It will be interesting to see if anyone emerges as the Pats' kick returner in camp, and if they can actually find the end zone as well.
Kick Returns
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The Patriots had just one kick return for a touchdown last season, on a punt against Kansas City by Julian Edelman. It will be interesting to see if anyone emerges as the Pats' kick returner in camp, and if they can actually find the end zone as well.
The Brady-McDaniels relationship worked out pretty well in 2007, and with Josh back at offensive coordinator he’ll have plenty of tricks up his sleeveless sweatshirt. He’ll now have two tight end threats in Rob Gronkowski and the versatile Aaron Hernandez at his disposal, and Brandon Lloyd has enjoyed success in both stops with McDaniels (in Denver and St. Louis). It’s hard to believe anything will be different in New England.
Josh McDaniels Is Back
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
The Brady-McDaniels relationship worked out pretty well in 2007, and with Josh back at offensive coordinator he’ll have plenty of tricks up his sleeveless sweatshirt. He’ll now have two tight end threats in Rob Gronkowski and the versatile Aaron Hernandez at his disposal, and Brandon Lloyd has enjoyed success in both stops with McDaniels (in Denver and St. Louis). It’s hard to believe anything will be different in New England.
It will be a lot of fun to see what sixth round Nate Ebner can do on a football field. Just check out his Rugby highlights. He was a special teams standout at Ohio State, and if his rugby talent can translate over to football, Ebner could be an exciting player to watch during camp.... and beyond.
Nate Ebner
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
It will be a lot of fun to see what sixth round Nate Ebner can do on a football field. Just check out his Rugby highlights. He was a special teams standout at Ohio State, and if his rugby talent can translate over to football, Ebner could be an exciting player to watch during camp.... and beyond.
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