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Roster Preview: Quarterbacks

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            In little more than three weeks, 23 days to be exact, the veterans will report to Bryant College for the start of training camp on July 26. Between now and then, we will preview the players on the roster by position, as we do each year.  

The first position preview is quarterback, where there is no question who the starter is. Since Drew Bledsoe was drafted No. 1 overall in 1993 he has been the man for the Patriots. His status as the franchise quarterback was solidified for the foreseeable future when he signed a contract extension in March that could total as much as $103 million over the next 10 years.

In addition to being among the most productive signal callers in the league year-in and year-out, he is also among the most reliable and durable players in the NFL. Bledsoe, entering his ninth season, has missed just six games in his career, three of which came in his rookie year, despite taking a constant pounding to the tune of 136 sacks over the last three seasons.

New England made a commitment to Bledsoe with the extension, which should keep him in a Patriots uniform until he retires. With him in place for the long haul, the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster are in a battle for backup roles, with the only question being how many reserves Bill Belichick will keep.

The team signed Miami's Damon Huard after the season ended, choosing to release veteran John Friesz, who never expected to see the final year of the three-year contract he signed in 1999 fulfilled. Huard spent three seasons with the Dolphins and performed well as a backup to Dan Marino and Jay Fiedler. His experience and performance in that role should give him an edge in the competition.

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            Last season New England kept Michael Bishop and Tom Brady on its roster as well. It would seem unlikely that Belichick would keep four quarterbacks again, especially with Bledsoe locked up for as long as the team wants. However, Belichick has also made a habit of saying he keeps the best players available to him, so long as they can create a role for themselves.  

Bishop is the most athletic quarterback on the roster. Last season the team tried to use him as a short-yardage and long-ball specialist, but the results were mixed. The third-year player was sent to Frankfurt to compete in NFL Europe this summer on a full-time basis, but again his play was not particularly exceptional. If the team feels he can progress in a specialized quarterback role, he can certainly provide a changeup for the opposition. However, if the team only goes with three quarterbacks, Bishop would seem to be the most vulnerable.

            [
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            Brady, a sixth-round pick a year ago, saw limited duty as a rookie and still has some developing to do. During the recent mini-camp, Belichick named the Michigan product among those players he felt had made the most progress during the offseason, an uncommon show of praise by the coach. Brady is very much the standard pocket-passer, and his experience in big-time college football has helped him adjust well to the rigors and bright lights of the NFL.  

One positive for the quarterback group is that all four players have seen game action. However, Bledsoe is as big a key to the team as you will find. While the other three may be able to step in for spot duty on occasion, any extended period without Bledsoe would spell trouble.

            [
7979.jpg

]()

            In little more than three weeks, 23 days to be exact, the veterans will report to Bryant College for the start of training camp on July 26. Between now and then, we will preview the players on the roster by position, as we do each year.  

The first position preview is quarterback, where there is no question who the starter is. Since Drew Bledsoe was drafted No. 1 overall in 1993 he has been the man for the Patriots. His status as the franchise quarterback was solidified for the foreseeable future when he signed a contract extension in March that could total as much as $103 million over the next 10 years.

In addition to being among the most productive signal callers in the league year-in and year-out, he is also among the most reliable and durable players in the NFL. Bledsoe, entering his ninth season, has missed just six games in his career, three of which came in his rookie year, despite taking a constant pounding to the tune of 136 sacks over the last three seasons.

New England made a commitment to Bledsoe with the extension, which should keep him in a Patriots uniform until he retires. With him in place for the long haul, the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster are in a battle for backup roles, with the only question being how many reserves Bill Belichick will keep.

The team signed Miami's Damon Huard after the season ended, choosing to release veteran John Friesz, who never expected to see the final year of the three-year contract he signed in 1999 fulfilled. Huard spent three seasons with the Dolphins and performed well as a backup to Dan Marino and Jay Fiedler. His experience and performance in that role should give him an edge in the competition.

            [
5406.jpg

]()

            Last season New England kept Michael Bishop and Tom Brady on its roster as well. It would seem unlikely that Belichick would keep four quarterbacks again, especially with Bledsoe locked up for as long as the team wants. However, Belichick has also made a habit of saying he keeps the best players available to him, so long as they can create a role for themselves.  

Bishop is the most athletic quarterback on the roster. Last season the team tried to use him as a short-yardage and long-ball specialist, but the results were mixed. The third-year player was sent to Frankfurt to compete in NFL Europe this summer on a full-time basis, but again his play was not particularly exceptional. If the team feels he can progress in a specialized quarterback role, he can certainly provide a changeup for the opposition. However, if the team only goes with three quarterbacks, Bishop would seem to be the most vulnerable.

            [
7733.jpg

]()

            Brady, a sixth-round pick a year ago, saw limited duty as a rookie and still has some developing to do. During the recent mini-camp, Belichick named the Michigan product among those players he felt had made the most progress during the offseason, an uncommon show of praise by the coach. Brady is very much the standard pocket-passer, and his experience in big-time college football has helped him adjust well to the rigors and bright lights of the NFL.  

One positive for the quarterback group is that all four players have seen game action. However, Bledsoe is as big a key to the team as you will find. While the other three may be able to step in for spot duty on occasion, any extended period without Bledsoe would spell trouble.

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