By: Jake Mackey
It is official, training camp for the 2016 New England Patriots has come to a close. Cuts have been made, players have been injured, and Tom Brady’s month-long suspension has officially begun. We have learned a fair amount about the team in the past month, here are just some of the highlights.
The defensive line is not as deep as it appeared: At the start of training camp the Patriots defensive line looked as if it were extremely deep. The addition of Terrance Knighton looked like it would be one of the highlights of the offseason. In addition, Marcus Kuhn and Frank Kearse were receiving solid first-team reps throughout the first week or so of camp.
Then as the Saints came to town for the third week of camp, players started dropping like flies. Rob Ninkovich went down with a torn tricep and is now out four weeks with a suspension for use of a banned substance. Jabaal Sheard tore his MCL in the first preseason game and is expected to miss some time. Furthermore, Knighton, Kuhn, and Kearse all started to digress. Their play was lack luster throughout the second half of camp and it ultimately lead to their release.
Now Patriots fans have to bank on young players such as Trey Flowers, Malcom Brown, and Vincent Valentine to carry much of the workload along the defensive line to start the season.
Not all players shine in practice: Throughout the first two weeks of camp all the Patriots beat writers were saying how awful rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett looked. He was holding onto the ball for far too long, getting sacked, and just making very poor quarterbacking decisions. Then comes the first preseason game and he looked solid. Same thing the next week, and some would say that in Carolina he performed the best of all three quarterbacks. You would have been laughed at if you had said at the start of camp that Jacoby Brissett had a chance of starting, but now given the mediocre at best performance of Jimmy Garoppolo during the preseason, it should certainly be in consideration if things go south quickly.
Belichick is confident in his receivers: Bill Belichick said at the start of training camp that there was some of the best competition that he had ever seen at the wide receiver position. Players such as Nate Washington, Chris Harper, DeAndre Carter, Keshawn Martin, and Aaron Dobson are all fighting for playing time. You would have thought that come week one that the wide receiver depth chart would have been pretty deep, especially with Danny Amendola not having practiced yet.
As it turns out all those receivers I mentioned have been cut. Now the receiving depth chart is as follows; Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and Matthew Slater. That is pretty thin, with zero threat of any outside game. The Patriots have never been big on the deep ball since Randy Moss left, however they have always had a player with a big body that can run a post from time to time. Now they lack that. All defenses need to do the first four weeks is clog the middle of the field and they are all set.