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Patriots.com News Blitz - 6/29/2012
Mike Rodak of ESPNBoston.com believes that wide receivers Deion Branch and Donte' Stallworth will likely be battling against one another in training camp for a roster spot, with it coming down to "which of the two veterans has more left in the tank." Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and Jabar Gaffney will be at the top of the depth chart according to Rodak, with Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman also projected to make the squad due to their special-teams prowess. "Stallworth will have to prove himself this preseason to unseat Branch," writes Rodak.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com writes that Rob Gronkowski is a candidate to begin training camp on the active/PUP list as the TE continues his progress from offseason ankle surgery. "At this point, I don't see any clear reserve/PUP candidates outside of tight end Jake Ballard, meaning I think every player outside of Ballard has a chance to practice at some point in training camp," writes Reiss. Other players noted as potential active/PUP candidates include Logan Mankins (ACL), Sebastian Vollmer (ankle/back), Jonathan Fanene (left knee), and Daniel Fells (leg). Players on active/PUP can be activated at any time.
Mike Reiss also points out that the re-signing of safety James Ihedigbo appears to be a sign that the Patriots would prefer to keep Devin McCourty at cornerback. "That’s where McCourty was exclusively in offseason practices attended by media members," Reiss notes. "While McCourty played safety in sub packages late last season and in the playoffs, it looks like that move was more a result of a safety shortage than a real desire to move McCourty."
Greg A. Bedard of The Boston Globe expects the Patriots to allow SS Patrick Chung to play out the final year of his contract. "The Patriots have basically two roads to go down: see if Chung accepts a second-tier extension ($3 million-$5 million per season with about $10 million guaranteed), or see what happens after the season," writes Bedard. "Bet on the latter." Bedard believes that Chung has the ability to be a star on the Patriots defense, but has to prove his ability to stay on the field. "Until Chung proves he can reach the low bar of even 900 snaps in a season, the Patriots are better off being cautious and using the franchise tag ($6.2 million this season) as leverage."