Training camp is an exciting time. It offers a new beginning for teams, players and coaches alike. Optimism abounds in every NFL city and certainly inside the borders of Patriots Nation where the defending champs appear well positioned for another Super Bowl run.
The opening of training camp brings the chance to see new Patriots in their first days of competition in their new home. It also showcases the return of veterans looking to build on previous seasons in New England.
With that in mind, PFW put together a list of the 10 players we're most excited to see this summer as training camp 2017 officially opens up in Foxborough.
10. Malcolm Butler, CB
At one point it looked like the former Super Bowl hero might be elsewhere in 2017, but Butler is back for at least one more season and could be part of one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL this fall.
9. Dion Lewis, RB
Can the veteran passing back return to the truly electric playmaking ways that made him a breakout star in the first half of 2015?
8. David Harris, MLB
Durable and productive for the Jets, the former Pro Bowler brings depth and potential with him across the Border.
7. Derek Rivers, DE
The top pick could have the chance to win at least a rotational role on defense, but getting to that point will begin with his work on the practice field.
6. Rob Gronkowski, TE
No player has more fun on the field and offers greater dominating upside than a healthy Gronk.
5. Trey Flowers, DE
The third-year, up-and-coming pass rusher is following up a huge Super Bowl that capped a sophomore campaign in which he led the team with 7 sacks.
4. Tom Brady, QB
Little more than a week into camp Brady will turn 40, but watching the G.O.A.T. continue to defy Father Time with his play is truly the stuff of legend.
3. Mike Gillislee, RB
After leading the NFL with 5.7 yards per carry a year ago the former Bills backup should be fun to watch running with some new teammates in the Patriots high-powered passing attack.
2. Stephon Gilmore, CB
The biggest free agent signing in New England history carries the heavy weight of hope and expectation in the back end of the defense.
1. Brandin Cooks, WR
The newcomer from New Orleans has both the skills and the personality to become a huge breakout star in his first season with the Patriots.