By: Jake Mackey
Patriots training camp is set to kickoff on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium in just over a month. That means it is time to get acquainted with back up quarterbacks and un-drafted rookies who we will hear all about during August then forget about them come October. Furthermore, the start of training camp means that we can key in on some of the positional battles that will unfold. Here is a quick preview of a handful of battles that should occur throughout camp:
Nickel back, Cyrus Jones vs. Justin Coleman: The corner back position in 2015 for the Patriots was surprisingly decent given the lack of talent on the depth chart. However, the nickel corner spot was a detriment at times. There was a rotating door of players such as Leonard Johnson, Bradley Fletcher, and finally Justin Coleman. Coleman was the best of the bunch, but struggled down the stretch and especially in the postseason. Coleman, an un-drafted rookie last year will have to compete with second-round rookie Cyrus Jones for the nickel back spot this summer. Jones stands at 5-9, 197 pounds which is perfect frame for a nickel back. Belichick is not shy about starting a rookie right away, especially at corner, that is why I expect Jones to win this match up.
Sixth receiver, Aaron Dobson vs. Nate Washington: The Patriots typically carry somewhere in the range of five to six wide receivers on their depth chart come week one every year. In my opinion, it is safe to say that Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and even Keshawn Martin are locks to make the squad. That leaves fourth-year receiver Aaron Dobson and 12-year veteran Nate Washington as the odd men out fighting for one spot. Washington played in a similar offensive scheme in Houston last season where he had 47 receptions. I would expect him to translate well into the Patriots offense much like Keshawn Martin did last season coming from Houston.
Dobson for the past three years had been nothing but un-matched potential. He has all the physical tools to be a stud receiver, but injuries have plagued his career and this very well may be his last chance in Foxborough. Absences from other receivers in mini-camp allowed Dobson to shine. However, I have learned with Aaron Dobson to never get my hopes up, therefore I am going with Nate Washington to win this competition.
Sums up Dobson’s career quite perfectly,
(GIF Credit: gifdsports.com)
Running back, LeGarrette Blount vs. Donald Brown: LeGarrette Blount certainly has had his fare share of success in New England. Playoff games against Indianapolis come to mind first when you think of Blount’s career. Nevertheless, the soon-to-be 30-year old running back is at the tail-end of his career and his 2015 campaign does not give many hope that he can be a reliable every down back in 2016.
Donald Brown is a newcomer to Foxborough, and at 5-11, 210 pounds you would not think that he could be a bell-cow back, but when you flip on the tape you might think differently. In the end, Bill Belichick seems to have an affinity for Blount therefore I will take him in this battle and I would expect Brown to be looking for a job at the end of training camp.