Today marks the beginning of mandatory mini-camp for the New England Patriots, but before we turn the page on OTAs, Erik Frenz of the Boston Globe recaps what we learned over the past three weeks. One player who seems happy with the team's progress is Shane Vereen. According to ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, Vereen thinks the OTA sessions were successful and he says he's getting even more comfortable in the offense.
As the team prepares to take the field for mini-camp Boston.com's Zuri Berry, ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe, and NESN's Doug Kyed each give their own preview for the upcoming mandatory practices. According to the four writers, some of the things to look out for this week will be the return of Alfonzo Dennard, Rob Gronkowski's participation, and the wide receiver competition.
Since the Patriots signed Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner this offseason, people have been comparing them with some of the best secondaries in the league. ESPN Boston's Field Yates and Mike Reiss debate whether they should be considered one of the top 5 defensive back groups in the NFL. Yates says yes, while Reiss still has concerns.
"I believe the signing of Revis has actually been underplayed locally, as my perception of him is as the best defensive player in football, not just the best cornerback," says Yates."With five capable cornerbacks in total, this group is ready to take flight into the top five in 2014."
One way to help your secondary is to have a strong pass rush and Patriots fans are hoping that linebacker Jamie Collins can provide in that area. Rich Garven of the* Worcester Telegram says that Collins ability to play any position will prove very beneficial for New England in 2014. Additionally, Comcast Sports Net*'s Phil Perry writes that Collins is playing faster and looks set to blossom in his second year.
"If his maturity level allows him to quickly pick up on multiple jobs this preseason, coach Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and the rest of the Patriots staff may be salivating at the ways in which they'll be able to use their jack-of-all-trades linebacker," writes Perry.
The Bleacher Report's James Christensen recently listed Collins as one of the winners of the Patriots offseason thus far along with fellow linebacker, Steve Beauharnais. Some of the other offseason winners included Roy Finch, Julian Edelman and Josh Boyce.
"While it is only 7-on-7 practice without pads, Boyce is still getting open against a talented secondary and gaining the eye of Tom Brady," says Christensen. "It will be interesting to see how much playing time he'll garner behind Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola."