Patriots Minicamp Opens
The players are ready, or so they should be, and the coaches are ready. Today kicks off the first real test for many of the team's new acquisitions as mandatory minicamp begins.
There will be plenty of evaluation to do. The team has a glut of bodies at a number of positions giving rise to what will surely be intense competition for a roster spot. The main areas of interest at this point will be focused on the draft picks, the secondary and the log jam of bodies at linebacker. The players returning form injuries are another storyline worth keeping an eye on.
Camp, which is closed to the public, is only the first step of the evaluation process. The team will work on installing packages, getting the players familiar with the system, and check out how they respond during drills.
Some camp battles to watch are:
The logjam at linebacker, which is something many Tedy Bruschi and Chad Brown fans have been looking for. Will Ted Johnson work with Brown, Beisel or another of the young insider linebackers? Bruschi won't be participating, so the competition between the new guys and the youngsters is going to be key.
Defensive backfield, is one area certain to have new faces in the mix as starters, especially at safety. Rodney Harrison is certain to man one position, but the other should be up for grabs. Guss Scott returns from injury hoping to land the job, but he'll have plenty of competition with James Sanders, Eugene Wilson, Dexter Reid and newly signed Antuan Edwards.
The corners, Tyrone Poole is expected to man one side, with Duane Starks possibly the other. Both will have to perform well to keep a spot ahead of players like Randall Gay, and Eugene Wilson who were the starters at the end of last season. Chad Scott waits in the wings along with Iowa State product Ellis Hobbs and recently resigned Hank Poteat.
Offensive Line, Logan Mankins will likely get his reps at the guard spot vacated by the now Cleveland Brown Joe Andruzzi. The other guard spot is open for competition along with the right tackle position. While Tom Ashworth returns from injury, it will be interesting to see how well the battle for the tackle position unfolds. Adrian Klemm has moved on to Green Bay where he's fitting in with their line. That leaves Brandin Gorin to compete with Ashworth for the top spot at Tackle. Victor Leyva and some of the youngsters hope to compete for a roster spot as well.
It will be interesting to see how much gas in the tank former starter and longtime New England favorite Doug Flutie has. Flutie's signing, along with the draft selection of Matt Cassel, led to the release of former Louisville quarterback Chris Redman. Flutie will be puching Rohan Davey for the lead duties as Tom Brady's clipboard holder, but don't expect Flutie to take it easy. In spite of his age, Flutie has always been a competitor, and that isn't expected to change now. If his option is to win the #2 spot instead of the #1, then he's likely to try just as hard to get the job.
Romeo Crennel has moved on to Cleveland and Charlie Weis to Notre Dame. The Patriots will be working on their coaching changes as well as their player development this weekend. Eric Mangini is expected to fit in well as the new defensive coordinator for Crennel with little adjustment. The offensive side is more of a question. The team has no offensive coordinator listed, so whomever gets to take on Charlie Weis' duties should be more of a team thing then one particular person. Expect Belichick to be watching, analyzing and adjusting through the weekend.
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