Training camp is an exciting time. It’s the beginning step in what all NFL players hope will be a six-plus month journey to the Super Bowl.
Camp brings a new season, a new time of opportunity for all players, coaches and teams. But with opportunity comes questions, plenty of questions.
Heading into the start if Patriots training camp 2012 the staff of PFW sat down to bandy about a few questions surrounding the defending AFC champs. Enjoy our responses and hopefully we’ll see you all one the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium!
Which position battle do you think will be the most competitive?Andy Hart: Defensive end looks to be the most intriguing spot on the roster. There are two starting jobs up for grabs. Those vying for the jobs have potential but are very much unproven.
Fred Kirsch: Running back is wide open. Frontrunners
Paul Perillo: Defensive line – Both inside and outside, there will plenty of options for Bill Belichick. Lots of bodies to sort through with newcomers Chandler Jones, Trevor Scott,
Erik Scalavino: The so-called “edge” positions on defense: defensive end and outside linebacker. There’s a good mix of young and old, new and returning players, several of whom have the versatility to play both spots, or even elsewhere in the front seven. Almost every spot is up for grabs, too.
Which rookie are you most excited to see in helmet and shoulder pads?AH: Easy, Chandler Jones. He’s the top pick. He’s supposed to be the answer to the team’s pass rush woes. He’s supposed to have freakish athletic potential. He’s been compared to Jason Pierre-Paul. He looked good in shorts this spring, let’s see what he can do in full speed, contact drills.
FK: There’s no doubt the Patriots saw something in Chandler Jones that convinced them to move up and take him in the first round of the draft. He has the measurables and pure athleticism to be special. It might take some time but I can’t wait to see him against NFL competition.
PP: Dont’a Hightower – There aren’t many guys his size (6-3, 270) with his athleticism and versatility. I can’t wait to see that combination.
ES: Jake Bequette, based entirely on the impressive production he had as an SEC pass rusher.
Which notable veteran do you think is most in jeopardy of losing his job/roster spot?AH: I think this one comes down to a pair of second-round disappointments. Ron Brace and Jermaine Cunningham could both be fighting for their roster lives. Neither has done much to establish anything in New England. Time is running out.
FK: Coming in second to running back as the most competitive position battle in my book is wide receiver, particularly the battle for the third spot behind
What storyline do you think will dominate discussion throughout camp?AH: Will the new additions on defense – rookies and free agents – be enough to make that unit a complementary factor on a championship football team?
FK: Clearly the biggest storyline will be how Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick decide to use their personnel on defense. Once the season starts that will change game to game of course but figuring out the competencies of the slew of new faces on that side of the ball will be their main concern in camp and will provide a ton of guesswork for the media and fans.
PP: Defense – How will the additions impact the group that struggled last year?
Which free agent are you most intrigued by?AH: I think
FK: When we interviewed
PP: Brandon Lloyd – Can he stretch the field and make some big plays to give the offense another dimension?
ES: I liked what I saw of Brandon Lloyd during spring practices and am anxious to see how much of a difference he can make in New England’s already explosive offense.