By: Jake Mackey
As training camp rapidly approaches, the annual questions of who will get cut and who will stay start to arise. The talk of which players will earn starting roles and which back up quarterback will show the most improvement typically dominate conversation throughout July and August. Nevertheless, I prefer to dig deeper and look into the storylines that may arise during camp. Here are few to keep an eye on.
Who will step up at corner back? Last year at this time, Patriots fans were expecting the likes of Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain to be the starters at corner come week one. A year later, neither are on the squad, and Malcolm Butler is a Pro-Bowl player. Behind him however, there are still many question marks. Logan Ryan going into year four will be as he is expected to be, which is very sporadic. One game he will be shutting down DeAndre Hopkins the next he is getting toasted for two touchdowns by some middle of the road receiver. The third spot is a complete toss up. Justin Coleman was mediocre at best last year as an un-drafted rookie, Daryl Roberts is an unknown heading into year two after being on injured reserve all of last season, and Cyrus Jones is a second-round rookie. I would put my money on Jones winning the starter job this season due to the lack of talent around him.
Who will win the job at running back? There are certainly a lot of touches to be had when it comes to the running back position in Foxborough. Dion Lewis is certainly the most talented of all the running backs, but he is better suited to catch the ball out of the backfield, rather than touting the rock. LeGarrette Blount seems to be the most probable option when it comes to carrying the ball, however in recent years he has not proven to be that. In fact, Mike Reiss of ESPN questions whether or not his spot on the roster is a lock. Ultimately, it will come down to Blount and veteran cast off Donald Brown. One of the two will be looking for a job come week one.
Excited for the return of Dion Lewis?
(GIF Credit: SBNation.com)
What will the offensive line look like? The demise of the 2015 New England Patriots was greatly due in part to their sub-par offensive line late in the season. Tom Brady was hit the most amount of times a starter had been hit in any game since 2006 in the AFC Championship, and somehow they were within a two-point conversion of sending the game to overtime. This season, offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia will be coming out of retirement to help patch the pieces back together. Nate Solder is coming off a bicep injury that ended his season in week five last year, and the guard spots are complete toss ups between Shaq Mason, Tre Jackson, Jonathan Cooper, and Josh Kline. The center spot is still unknown as well after Bryan Stork’s disappointing 2015 campaign and David Andrews playing solid when Stork was absent for multiple weeks.