Patriots Camp Battles

In New England team depth is always an issue head coach Bill Belichick looks to address. If players can play more than one position, they are put into practice at those other positions. This "versatility" as Belichick likes to call it, helps overall team depth and builds competition for roster spots. Competition is the main focus of training camp with a number of heated battles to focus on.

PHOTO: New England Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel (22) is congratulated by teammate Rodney Harrison (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Patriots Camp Battles
By Staff

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Duane Starks vs. Chad Scott vs. Tyrone Poole vs. Randall Gay for starting CB spot opposite Asante Samuel. With Gay out nursing an undisclosed injury, Poole has the edge for the starting job mostly because of his familiarity with the defense. Samuel has played his way into a starting job and Starks figures to be in the mix even though he played only sparingly in the preseason opener. Scott has come on of late and is a factor; although it's possible that one of the veteran corners doesn't make the team. The competition will be intense throughout the summer especially since rookie third round pick Ellis Hobbs figures to be on the roster.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: James Sanders vs. Guss Scott for backup safety spot. Scott seems better suited to play free safety and Sanders on the strong side, but Scott has worked in both spots and has an edge over the rookie, who admitted to being slow making his reads in the preseason opener. He was slow to react to some of the run plays against the Bengals, which is a critical part of the game for a strong safety offering run support.

Tom Ashworth vs. Brandon Gorin for starting job at right tackle. Neither distinguished himself in the preseason opener, but this may come down to which player shows the versatility to play left tackle as well since the Pats need to account for Matt Light's backup. Ashworth struggled at left tackle when playing with the reserves, but earned the start at right tackle ahead of Gorin. Both players saw time on both edges. There is a chance Gorin might draw the start this week.

Cedric Cobbs vs. Kory Chapman for the backup RB job. With Cobbs back in Foxborough nursing an undisclosed injury, Chapman made a move to challenge for his roster spot, carrying 13 times for 62 yards against the Bengals while adding two receptions for 18 yards.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WR Deion Branch has picked up this summer where he left last season when he won the Super Bowl MVP award for his 11-catch effort in the Pats championship win. He has been the most consistent performer in camp, beating defensive backs regularly on different routes and catching everything thrown in his direction. He sat out the preseason opener, but his play in camp has been stellar to say the least. He is emerging as the team's go-to receiver.

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