There's still more than a month to go before training camp but with the players enjoying some downtime it provides an opportunity to further assess the roster. While we've had very little to judge on the field thus far, we did get to watch four practices to gain an idea of how players may be used and which ones fit it where.
This is particularly noteworthy for the newcomers, specifically the veteran newcomers. Veterans generally arrive with some sort of track record from their past teams so we have an idea of their ability. But Bill Belichick often says it's not about what a player has done; it's about what they do once they're here.
With that in mind we thought we'd take a look at the veteran newcomers who are working their way into the Patriots system. Some have glowing resumes like Michael Bennett. Others have yet to prove themselves in the NFL like Maurice Harris and Matt LaCosse. Jamie Collins is returning to the place where he began his career.
So the newcomers fall into some different categories, but this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question will try to determine which one will make the biggest impact.
Which veteran newcomer will make the biggest impact for the Patriots this season?
Patriots.com's Erik Scalavino says …
An argument can be made that Kyle Van Noy was New England's best defensive player during the playoffs last season. He emerged as a versatile, play-making linebacker who could be utilized almost wherever he was asked … much like Collins was during his first stint with the Patriots.
Now that Collins is back in Foxborough, a tandem of him and Van Noy on the outside, with Dont'a Hightower and youngster Ja'Whaun Bentley on the inside, could make for one of the most dynamic linebacker groups this club has seen in more than a decade.
Collins certainly left New England under less than idea terms when he was traded to Cleveland in 2016, but he seems to have put the past behind him. During spring practices, he looked and sounded like a player with something left in the tank and something to prove on the field. If he can stay focused on football this season, Collins has the potential to give the Patriots defense some new and interesting dimensions.
Patriots.com's Paul Perillo says …
Few would question the ability Bennett brings to Foxborough. Just pop in a tape of the Patriots win over Seattle in the Super Bowl and watch No. 72 for the Seahawks disrupting the offense throughout. Even last year at the age of 33 Bennett was still a factor, finishing with 9 sacks for the Eagles.
But even more impressive than his pass rushing ability was the attitude Bennett conveyed during minicamp. He spoke like a veteran who couldn't wait to be part of the Patriots organization and one that is truly excited to be part of such a winning program. He showcased a determination to add to that success, and said how he always watched the Patriots defense and wanted to be a part of it.
Now he gets that chance, and with the motivation he had on display it's hard to imagine him not enjoying a solid season. Bennett has the versatility to contribute inside and out, and Bill Belichick will find ways to maximize his potential. Look for Bennett to have a big year.