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News Blitz 7/20: Counting down to camp

A roundup of Patriots news

Much of what we find in Patriots news today has to do with previewing next week's start of 2017 training camp.

ESPN's blog, for instance, spotlights the cornerback position's potentially potent duo of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore.

"The Patriots view Gilmore as a clear-cut No. 1 corner, as evidenced by the top-of-the-market, five-year, $65 million contract they were willing to pony up to sign him as an unrestricted free agent," the writer posits. "Pairing Gilmore with the ultra-competitive 5-foot-11, 190-pound Butler could create a one-two combo that rivals some of the best in Bill Belichick's tenure."

On the other side of the football, The Boston Globe examines New England’s offensive backfield additions of Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee.

"With youth and fresh wheels, Gillislee and Burkhead will help drive the Patriots offense on the ground this season," predicts the author. continues its ranking of Top 20 Patriots with No. 4, LB Dont'a Hightower.

"Hightower is the leader of the defense and who the players turn to when things get tough," the piece declares. "Just look at last season following the trade of Jamie Collins, Hightower was the one who brought the unit together."

Hightower may be a leader on defense, but so is 33-year-old DE Rob Ninkovich, who spoke with The Providence Journal about his desire to continue helping the Patriots as an elder statesman in 2017.

"When I was younger, you see a guy who's my age [now] or older and you're like, 'Jeez, that's so and so? The Pro Bowler?' It's kind of one of those, it's sad... You have to monitor yourself and make sure you don't get to that point. ... I still feel really good. That's the one key."

Can you believe it's been 10 years since the Patriots went 16-0? To mark the anniversary, is comparing that squad to this year’s Patriots in an entertaining series of articles.

Finally today, former Patriots WR Wes Welker was back in New England this week. The now-Texans assistant coach offered a candid assessment of his fearless playing style and the potential long-term health ramifications that could result.

"I can't sit here and worry about it; I don't want to live my life that way," Welker told ESPN. "Is there a possibility? Maybe, I don't know… I'm going to try to do everything I can to put myself in a position where I'm healthy and hopefully good. At the same time, I'm not going to live my life worrying..."

Welker and his new team will visit Foxborough in Week 3 this September.

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